Friday, September 17, 2010
On September 28, 2010 the Direct To Video Feature Superman / Batman Apocalypse will be released. The DC Showcase Short attached to this feature is on the character Green Arrow.
In honor of the new animated DC Showcase short film I'll be doing this list of my top ten favorite comics on the hero of the piece Green Arrow.
10. Green Arrow v3 #75
Jericho: And The Walls Came Tumbling Down
Normally I dislike the work of Judd Winick, but I think that due to the excellent artwork of Scott McDaniel, this issue is just a terrific fight between the slighted Deathstroke the Terminator (who holds a grudge from GA stabbing him in his blind eye over in Identity Crisis, never mind that they were all Riggs and Murtaugh in his previous series).
The animosity is venomous and while I normally think that might be out of character for a professional like Deathstroke, I think in this case it's really just meant to be seen as really scary just how personal a vendetta this has become to an otherwise professional assassin who normally keeps things non-personal. McDaniel I think is a master at an exciting action piece and this issue certainly puts all those talents up front and on display.
Also for the historical buffs, at the close of the issue this would mark the first time Oliver has proposed to Dinah (The Black Canary) and actually had her say yes.
9. Dark Knight Returns #4
Possibly my earliest introduction to Green Arrow. A crazy, bald, one-armed Hippie, who manages to shoot a synthetic Kryptonite arrow with his one arm holding the bow and the string clenched between his teeth. Too awesome a Green Arrow moment not to include here.
I remember actually being a little disappointed when Green Arrow #101 rolled around and Superman didn't heat vision off the man's arm.
He just got blown up instead until 6 years later where he was brought back at the hands of Kevin Smith for a pretty decent run.
8. Justice League of America #94
"Where Strikes DemonFang?"
Most of this tale is a typical Justice League comic written by Mike Friedrich with some okay art by Dick Dillin. The few pages that Neal Adams contributes of course put the rest of the book to shame.
Those pages feature the head of the League of Assassins known as The Sensei or DemonFang and the introduction of Green Arrow's dark opposite Merlyn.
Wanting to test his mettle against the Green Arrow, he goes to work picking off the Justice League with specially treated arrows one by one, eventually leading to a face off where Green Arrow prevents Merlyn's arrow from assassinating his intended target, Batman.
7. Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86
"Snowbirds Don't Fly"
"They say it'll kill me...but they won't say when"
This landmark issue by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams was the first DC Comic to tackle drug use. Before that there was a Stan Lee penned Amazing Spider-Man arc where Harry Osborn got hooked on some fictional drugs.
Of course our man Roy Harper (Green Arrow's partner and sidekick Speedy) is hitting the heavy real stuff. When Green Lantern and Green Arrow track down a group of junkies after Queen got hit by one of Speedy's own arrows, they find Roy shacked up with the same junkies. At first Green Arrow thinks it's all part of an undercover sting, and Speedy even tries to come clean to both men about his drug problem, but they are just too blind to see it until he starts to shoot up right in front of them.
So this issue is pretty much famous because Green Arrow discovers Speedy is a heroine addict.
He doesn't exactly take the news very well.
I know Hank Pym probably has the crown for king jerk in comics for smacking around his wife an all, but GA much like Daredevil was always a flawed and human character. This makes him susceptible to things like infidelity and probably in many circles child abuse or at the very least neglect which played at least some role in both Roy's turn to drugs as well as his release from that same addiction.
6. Secret Origins #38
"Sometimes A Fool Notion"
Mike Grell pens the "official" post-crisis Green Arrow origin story along with a Speedy back-up story by Elliot S. Maggin detailing his affiliation with Green Arrow. It's funny how the official origin story went from being Oliver trapped on an island full of pirates who knocked him overboard to being a couple of guys growing weed on the deserted island GA washes up onto because of a drunk binge.
Of course with pirates back in the spotlight both in films and the news, I'm sure they wouldn't seem as dated these days as they may have been considered back in 1981. The artwork by Hannibal King really reminds me a great deal of Superman artist Dan Jurgens' work, though I suspect that may have more to do with the inks of Dick Gordiano, who was a frequent collaborator with Jurgens.
Also of interest is how Green Arrow's first trick arrow came about by what I like to call a happy accident. While shooting arrows on his private golf course one of shots he makes is into a stationary golf ball. Lifestyles of the rich and famous apparently involve golfing....WITH ARROWS!!!!
Later when a criminal attacks at a costume party Queen is attending that arrow is still tucked into his quiver and ends up slamming the thug in his privates stopping him cold.
I also like the joke about the Green Hornet, because as a comic fan who can tell the difference between Green Lantern, Green Hornet and Green Arrow, I can't tell you how many times I've had to correct someone on who they really mean.
5. v2 #63-66
"The Hunt For The Red Dragon"
Writer Mike Grell and artist Rick Hoburg put the final touches on the relationship between Green Arrow and Shado within the context of a crazy survival game orchestrated by Ronald Quaid. Quaid seeks to possess Shado for his private collection of rare art. Shado, who is a Japanese Archer of great skill who used to work for the Yakuza, is one of the last living individuals with a extremely rare Hiroyoshi tattoo on her entire arm.
This prompts Quaid to trick Green Arrow into believing that he is seeking out Shado in order to right past wrongs done to her family while in the Japanese-American Internment Camps from 1942 to 1945. Instead both are captured and brought to a private island where they are fitted with explosive collars that are set to go off after 24 hrs. If they can manage to find the key to the collar locks before Quaid can hunt them down, he claims he will let them go free.
This puts Shado and Green Arrow, who had been on opposite sides in the past issues of the series, in a situation where they had to watch each other's backs in order to survive on an island filled with death-traps that Arnold might've whipped up in the Predator movie. Not to mention she and GA had an already shaky relationship due to Shado taking advantage of him while wounded and delirious, so she would be with child.
Eventually the two use Quaid's obsessive collector's fetish against him along with his own traps and fake dummies placed strategically across the island to lure him out into the open. Green Arrow indicates after the last arrow he shot at them bled out Shado, that she is dead and will burn her body, destroying her precious tattoo in the process to simply spite Quaid.
Quaid then shoots at GA's chest striking him down and rushing to put out the fire. Green Arrow had actually placed his costume over one of the many dummies strung about the island and Shado was merely playing possum the entire time. Quaid and his men get their just deserts when GA and Shado send him running back to his helicopter with his own explosive collar.
4. Detective Comics #559
"It Takes Two Wings"
I was always disappointed when awesome covers like this one were featured in The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, but not the actual story. Because the minute I saw this cover I knew I wanted to track down the back issue and read the story inside.
What I discovered within is an Action-Packed Catwoman and Batman double-date with GA and Black Canary written by Doug Moench with pencils of the great Gene Colan.
Nothing beats Green Arrow calling you-know-who a Bat-Nazi or a Bat-Fascist.
That's almost as awesome as when Hal Jordan punched Batman in the face. I guess Batman sort of fills in for Hawkman as the opposite to Green Arrow's political spectrum.
Luckily Black Canary in her brand new costume (at the time) breaks the two up from ripping each other apart. You may recognize the new outfit from her days as part of the early Justice League International.
Turns out the two pairs are on the trail of the same dirty Star City chemical plant, Kemson Corp, due to Batman crossing paths with a kid whose Dad passed away due to corporate negligence.
Oliver circa 1985 can't help but crack-wise at the expense of President Reagan, while Batman just doesn't want thieves on his turf in Gotham City regardless of the back story.
Between the 4 of them it's a super-hero double-date with the guys bickering the whole time. This reminds me a bit of and perhaps inspired the Justice League Unlimited episode, "Double Date", in which Question and The Huntress sort of do the same super-heroic double-date with GA and Black Canary.
3. Green Arrow 4 issue Mini-Series
"All My Sins Remembered!"
"A Slight Case of Vertigo!"
"Hexagon of Death!"
"Showdown At Sea!"
A 4-part mini-series from the year 1983 written by Mike W. Barr with great solid pencils by Trevor Von Eden, along with some nice inks by Dick Gordiano.
This mini-series is a solid by-the-numbers murder mystery that also toys with the idea of giving Oliver Queen his fortune back. Initially Queen was pretty much a Batman clone with his Arrow-Car, Arrow-Cave and so on. Much like Wayne he had an unlimited fortune with which to bankroll his endeavors.
Then in Justice League #75 Denny O'Neil had the character lose his fortune and had him and pal Green Lantern pulling an Easy Rider of sorts as Hard Travelin' Heroes.
By this point the star of those critically acclaimed issues had burnt out and by this point having an old flame's mother Abby Horton leave her inheritance to GA made for some interesting exploration. Would he like most people get used to the idea of having money again? Would he handle her business differently then he did his own?
Of course most of the extended family including his old flame Cythina are none too happy about the recent turn of events putting Oliver in charge of the Horton empire. After some attempts on his life Oliver suspects foul play. Green Arrow also tackles his long time foe Count Vertigo.
This is a decent mystery unlike say certain other stories where somebody's brother did half the murders and then somebody else's wife did the other half and you're left feeling mislead by non-red red herrings.
Or the character reveal wasn't a character that you thought was dead or in some other comic you've never read either.
And it wasn't a long drawn out subplot that lasted for years which ended up tripping over itself like say what happened with the initial Hobgoblin reveal which due to a rotating creative team wasn't told properly until many years later.
Knocking these other weak murder mysteries is my way of saying that I think this mini series' mystery is pretty rock solid.
2. Brave and The Bold #85
"The Senator's Been Shot"
You might think a Bob Haney penned story with Bruce Wayne having to choose between a seat on the Senate and his crime-fighting career as Batman might feel a little out of place. But don't worry, I think you all know how he ultimately decided. :)
When Senator Paul Cathcart is shot and killed before he can help pass his Anti-Crime Bill (there has to be a Bill for this? And there are people who will vote against it? Ah Comics...), Bruce apparently is the only one who can fill the Senator's seat with his vast Anti-Crime Bill 'spierience.
His partner in this ongoing book that would team-up Batman with his fellow super-heroes is of course Green Arrow. The reason a somewhat silly tale that features both Batman and Green Arrow confessing their secret identities to the same shared psychiatrist friend Edmond Cathcart (the son of the aforementioned Senator) make it on my list is mainly due to the historical significance. Did I mention that Edmond agrees to self-hypnotize himself at the end of the story to forget both heroes true identities? Heh.
Anyway, Green Arrow's new costume 1st appears here as designed by artist extraordinaire Neal Adams which eventually would lead to not only a turning point in Green Arrow's attire and look from the clean-shaven Golden Age look to the bearded adventurer, but also lead to his character change from a rich playboy clone of Bruce Wayne into the hipster social activist, much to Hawkman's chagrin.
It doesn't hurt that Adam's art is really awesome and for the time conveys a heightened sense of realism unseen before in that age of comics.
1. Long Bow Hunters
Book One: The Hunters
Book Two: Dragon Hunt
Book Three: Tracking Snow
A 3 part mini-series from 1987 by writer/artist Mike Grell with gorgeous art that pretty much sets up the modern Green Arrow ongoing series.
This piece tackles some hard hitting points such as the torture of GA's long-time girl Dinah Lance aka The Black Canary and features Oliver seeking retribution for her violation through execution for the first time.
Just so you're aware, not only do I have no problem with GA taking out Prometheus in the more recent Cry For Justice mini series, but I'd just like to point out that if you go back to his first human kill here in this book, it was refreshing to have a book that wasn't tied down to some restricted notion of retribution equaling murder.
The killing in this piece, however, was instigated by the torture of his long time girlfriend now wife, Black Canary. Maybe a far cry from his Hard Traveling Hero days of "sticking it to the man for the little guy", but I think I enjoy Mike Grell's version the best.
Here he finds a kindred spirit in the Japanese Archer Shado for the first time and as she notes he truly becomes a hunter in this story feeling no remorse or pity for those who hurt his own.