“Straight Shooter (part 5 of 6)”
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester(p), Ande Parks(i)
Publisher: DC Comics
The Emerald Archer is at his best when he’s at his worst. In “Straight Shooter” Green Arrow has cheated on Black Canary, allowed a civilian to die, lied to his son, and was crucified to the ground with his own arrows by super-villain Drakon. How much worse can it get, right? Much, much worse! If you’re late to this story line you’re missing one of the great runs in modern comics!
“Straight Shooter” is without a doubt one of my favorite, all-time comic story arcs. We’ve got a hero, Green Arrow, with flaws so big you could drive a semi through them. A villain, Drakon, so dark and malevolent most other super-villains pale in comparison – and all he’s powered with are his bare hands and feet. And a story so multi-layered and complex that it rivals some “highly rated” movies I’ve seen lately. Now bear in mind this praise is coming from someone who’s written over a hundred reviews in the past year, I consider myself fairly reserved when giving praise. What I can’t reconcile is that this is the same writer of “The Outsiders”, which I consider to be the worst example of a team book in the DC Universe.
Writer Judd Winick has raised the stakes in “Straight Shooter” about as high as they can go. In fact, the final page shocker/cliffhanger is as dramatic as any I’ve read in a long, long time. Oliver Queen has broken all the rules when it comes to being a Justice League level super-hero; he’s probably not someone you’d want your kids to idolize. Two chapters ago Ollie slept with Joanna Pierce, the daughter of long-time friend and fellow super-hero Black Lightning. This issue Ollie is outright confronted about it by his son and sidekick Connor. If you’re expecting Ollie to break down in tears and beg forgiveness you’re obviously thinking about one of those tree-hugging Marvel characters (I’m kidding, you know that right? Please don’t write me hate letters). The exchange between Oliver and Connor is tense, terse and right on character. It’s a damned fine sequence of dialog.
Family matters aside the ongoing problem of rampaging monsters and the dirty doings of the Elevast Corporation are finally at their climax. Elevast’s hired gun, Drakon, has been summoned to the boardroom, looking pretty ravaged from his last encounter with Green Arrow. Drakon is directed to close the books on their problem, which up to now I’d assumed were the creatures wrecking havoc on Elevast’s construction site – turns out I was wrong and by a pretty wide margin. Regardless of how the final chapter in “Straight Shooter” turns out there’s no doubt to the finality of this chapter’s events.
Hester and Parks are up to their regular art tricks again this month. Though this issue was largely comprised of talking heads and only a minimum of action the scenes are paced very effectively. However, I have a problem with their take on Connor; he looks completely different than in past issues, I didn’t recognize him at all until he called Oliver “Dad”. The tone and atmosphere of this issue is dark, you can feel something bad about to happen. As such Parks spares no expense laying down the ink – seems everyone is depicted in silhouette or shadow. Finally, Hester does a nice job conveying Ollie’s inner turmoil, he experiences a range of emotions and they’re all sold quite well.
This was an exceedingly easy review to write. Six-part story arcs usually feel dragged-out and bloated, but in this case it’s just right. Judd Winick owns Green Arrow and his world. I wish that all of DC’s books were this well-thought out and mature. I realize that the DC audience is pretty wide, but kids are more hip then we’d care to believe. DC’s editorial bosses shouldn’t under-estimate the intelligence and capacity of their younger readers. I would have dug this story when I was 13; I’m sure as hell enjoying it at 34. Can somebody tell me why this character wouldn’t work as a feature film?
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