Green Arrow Green Lantern Vol. 1

Finally.  Two of my favorite superheroes in one comic book!  Green Arrow Green Lantern, Vol 1 by Dennis O’Neil was a nice break from the Green Arrow-as-lead-hero graphic novels that I’ve been reading.  While each newer edition keeps improving on Green Arrow’s cannon, it is nice to have something new thrown into the mix.  In this edition, Green Lantern and Arrow join forces to find out what it means to be American and fight evil a long the way.  What’s not made clear is why they are finding out what America’s heart and soul is nor if they found it.  But there were some good moments a long the way.

GL GAWhat was nice is that Green Lantern stole the show from Green Arrow.  In the 80’s Green Arrow seems to have become cynical and cranky.  He seems to fight evil not because it’s evil but because he’s angry and wants to vent it onto the hapless crooks who cross his path.  Green Lantern on the other hand is naive as they come.  This combination created an interesting conflict in this volume.  Green Lantern is challenged to see that the world is not separated into clear-cut good and evil. Sometimes grey areas exist.  Green Arrow was pushed to get out of his mood and to actually like people and do something good for the well-being of others.

So who actually stole the show? Black Canary!  She springs up half-way through this volume and completely steals the show.  She doesn’t shy away from any confrontation and can judo chop like anyone’s business!  I’ll stand by her any day.  Maybe because I don’t know much about her character, but I enjoyed that it wasn’t just Green Arrow in this volume.  Having the other characters helped to round out the plot.  I’m looking forward to the next volume.  Hopefully it will continue to improve on what’s come before it.  This is definitely a must read for those that are attempting to read the Green Arrow cannon.

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Love, Volume 1: The Tiger

Love, Volume 1: The Tiger by Frederic Brremaud; No, this isn’t some erotic shifter paranormal romance.  It’s a graphic novel about literal tigers in the Southern Asian jungle.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to be about actually.  The front cover has a tiger attacking a panther.  And it is titled “Love”.  So I figured maybe it was going to show that love in the jungle was vicious and ultimately didn’t exist.  I was wrong.

TigerBasically tiger wakes up.  Tiger spots Tapir.  Tiger spends the entire time trying to attack Tapir.  That’s the overarching premise.  But along the way, the tiger meets other creatures.  A crocodile that can leap out of rivers and climb fallen trees.  And apparently tigers can get crocodiles to go away by clawing them.  The attack by the crocodile makes tiger angry, so when it comes across two panthers hunting a mouse it decides to attack both of them.  At this point it was clear to me that this tiger was bad news.

Tiger moves on from the hunt because he once again spots the tapir. Problem is that the tapir is at a lake where a female elephant is hanging out.  As the tiger waits to attack the tapir, a bull elephant, keen on mating with the female, gets run over.  Tiger doesn’t like this so he attacks the elephant, which goes badly for the tiger.  So as the elephants mate, the tapir escapes again, the tiger slinks off pissed and injured.  He comes across a man at his fire near his hut.  It doesn’t go well for the man.

I still don’t know what the point of this book is.  Either the author’s are trying to say that tigers are senseless killers, or that he was pissed that everyone else is getting some and he wanted wanted to get laid too.  There are better graphic novels out there.  I wouldn’t give this one any time.

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Station Eleven

There’s been a lot of talk about Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.  It was a finalist for the National Book Award and a bestseller.  It’s been on display at bookstores and libraries.  So it just so happened to be my book club’s latest pick.  I had high hopes for this book.  I like dystopian/apocalyptic novels, whether they be young adult based or adult based.  But I’m always interested in novels that aren’t made-for-film type young adult novels.

Station ElevenLaunching into the book, I brought a lot of baggage.  I’ve read The Passage by Justin Cronin, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. So I was wondering how Station Eleven was going to fit into this cannon of works.  Basically it’s the story of how the world collapses due to a flu and how individuals who survive the outbreak make a life after the collapse of civilization.

The writing is fluid and yet crisp.  There doesn’t seem to be a section that isn’t well thought out or a paragraph that is a waste.  The dialogue isn’t stilted and does more “showing” rather than “telling”.  The way in which the story is told is unique.  Beginning in media res the story flashes back to the past and then jumps forward to the future post-apocalypse world.  At first it was hard to keep track of where we were in the timeline, but quickly I settled into the flow of the novel.  It actually felt a lot like Lost (TV show), which I liked, so I was intrigued to see how it was all going to come together.

The one knock against the book is that it didn’t feel quite unique enough.  In fact, one of the novels that St. John Mandel mentioned as being referenced in her own work, The Passage, seems to be the precursor to her work.  I didn’t feel like she was doing anything new with her work, idea wise; they felt very similar.  What I did like about her work was that she asks different questions about what is civilization?, what ideas are better left off dying with the previous civilization? Which should be brought into the new world order?

All in all I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in good writing and dystopian novels.  It doesn’t go to the head of the class, but it does deserve an honorable mention.

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Green Arrow Hunter’s Moon

Wow.  So things just got dark for Green Arrow.  In Hunter’s Moon by Mike Grell, Green Arrow is in Seattle in the late 1980’s.  The crimes that he fights are a HUGE shift from the petty crimes he tackled in the collection from the 50’s and 60’s I’ve read previously.  In this collection it spans, kidnapping, bioterrorism, and gay-bashing.  But what I appreciate about the crimes and the way Green Arrow handles them is that the superhero becomes the vehicle for the reader to “fight back” against the crimes they see in their community.

Hunter's MoonWhich is why I liked the grittiness.  It makes the superhero seem more, what’s the word, real?  When the crimes the superhero faces are similar to those that we readers see in our day and age, I feel like the character actually becomes a hero and not another historical figure fighting crimes in a by-gone era. While that’s not bad, it doesn’t allow me to feel connected to the character.

The only critique I have for this collection is that there wasn’t enough time to really process the crimes.  When the streets are filled with gay bashers and Green Arrow tracks down the king pin of the gang leading out on the attacks and takes the guilt to justice in just ten pages, it seems to downplay the severity of the crime.

But then I wonder if this isn’t the writer’s compromise.  The writer wants to tackle the issues of the day, but knows that they have a diverse audience and some may either feel overwhelmed with such a prolonged exposure to such heavy crimes or they feel it’s too preachy.  So at the end of it all I give the writer kudos for evening bringing up these issues in a graphic novel.  At least he/she is starting a dialogue.

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La Dama Del Alba

Continuing my quest to read more Spanish literature, La Dama del Alba (The Lady of Dawn) by Alejandro Casona is my second read.  I had a third one but I had to abandon it because it just wasn’t grabbing my attention.  This time, however, I was into the book from page one.  I should clarify, this is a play, but it was still interesting.

La DamaSo the gist of the plot is that there’s this family in provincial Asturias (Northern Spain, along the Atlantic coast), who’s lost their oldest daughter.  There’s a mom, a grandfather, three children, a son-in-law, a field hand, and a housekeeper.   We never know what happened to the father, but it’s been about a year since the oldest daughter was assumed to have drowned in the river since she disappeared and all any one found was her handkerchief in the river.

One evening, a pilgrim (this is a part of Spanish culture due to many Christians traveling by foot on pilgrimage to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela) arrives at their door.  She just asks to rest and get warm.  The children immediately take to this strange lady who tells them stories and plays games with them.  The grandfather thinks he remembers her and just before she leaves he figures it out.  I have to stop here with the plot points because to keep explaining would ruin the ending.  From this point on the play takes a turn for the who-dunnit.  We are suddenly to wonder if the reality we know is actually what is happening.  And it’s all thanks to the lady (la dama).

I read it in Spanish, but for those of you who enjoy reading world literature, I’m sure there’s an English translation.  I got the idea for this book from one of Spain’s literary awards, so I’m sure if it has received some literary merit there, it’s highly probable it has been translated here.  If you’re interested in mysteries and the idea of fate and reality not being what we think, than I think you’ll enjoy it.

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The Green Arrow, Vol. 1

This was a tough read.  Partly because it was a collection of comics spanning several decades, authors, and traditions, and partly because it’s comic books written in a very elementary style.  It felt like reading Dick and Jane but substituting Green Arrow and Speedy.  After finishing the collection, I realized that this just proves the important distinction between comic books and graphic novels.  Comic books, at least these, are all about telling not showing and wrapping everything up in a nice candy coated four page spread.  After reading 500 pages of this it was like devouring an entire carton of marshmallows.  After a while all of the sweetness is overwhelming and you want to puke at the thought of eating another.

Showcase Green ArrowI normally would’ve dropped this book after the first few pages, but I’m determined to read as much of the Green Arrow cannon as my library system has in its catalog.  So I feel like to get to the good stuff I have to tread through the muck of the early works.  Plus there’s a certain bragging right to say that I made it through and that I hopefully will get later references to some of these early works.  Hopefully it’s going to pay out in the end. Otherwise all of this is an exercise in futility.

So far some of the highlights have been the crossover episodes with the Justice League, Green Lantern, and Batman.  The worst new character reference was the Arrowette episodes.  Apparently if you’re the female counterpart to the 1950’s Green Arrow, your cool arrows are bobby-pin arrows, powder puff arrows, and nail polish arrows.  Because that’s what every female super hero would carry with them to kick evil’s butt!

I would only recommend this for the die-hard Green Arrow fans.  If you aren’t or aren’t willing to torture yourself like I am, I’d start with any volume after this one.

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