Green Arrow/Green Lantern, Vol. 2

The Green Arrow/Green Lantern story arch matures in Volume two.  The authors have continued to tackle real-world issues that reflect the turbulent social period of the 70’s.  From Speedy being a heroin addict to racism, Green Arrow and Green Lantern use their superhero status and skills to do the best they can to keep society together. The authors, however, are using the green duo to bring these gritty issues to the forefront of discussion, which is what literature is supposed to do, isn’t it?

GA GLLike a good wine, the Green Arrow comics have improved with age.  I also think that having Green Lantern as a counterpoint to Green Arrow was good call on behalf of the authors/publishers.  Green Arrow can sometimes be grumpy and cranky while Green Lantern can be naive and vapid.  In Volume 2 Green Lantern finally has removed his rose-colored glasses, but hasn’t lost his people-are-inherently-good outlook.  This bodes well for Green Lantern who has succumbed to an intensely cynical mood, partly due to Speedy’s drug habit and partly because he (GA) is broke.

As I’ve mentioned in my previous reviews of the Green Arrow cannon, this is my first foray into the comic book world.  Being a literature teacher I’ve heard all of the arguments why comics are “bad” for kids to read.  And I have to say that the comics from the 40’s and 50’s are definitely flat and mind numbing.  But as the series has aged, I feel that there’s more grit/meat/content/purpose to the comics as the writers use their medium to speak to their audience.   These more mature comics I can support.  The purpose of literature is, after all, to get the reader to ponder the author’s view of a societal issue so that we are thinking about our own relationship to the observation.  If a comic book writer can accomplish this, than hats off to him/her.  I’d rather my kids/students would be reading something that will make them better thinkers and educated about life’s highs and lows.

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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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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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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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Green Arrow: Year One

As a kid I missed out on comic books.  I don’t know if it’s because the culture had changed and most us were watching our superheroes in cartoons or because my parents didn’t think it was proper reading material.  But that didn’t stop me from liking super heroes.  It just limited the ones I knew about.  The first super hero I was interested in was Batman.  And frankly, he’s still one I like to read about from time to time.  I didn’t like Superman or Spiderman, however; just not my cup of tea.  I did like X-men, but that’s mostly because of the movies.  When the terrible Green Lantern movie came out, I thought I’d get into him, but school started and I got distracted.  Then the show Arrow premiered and I encountered a new super hero to obsess over.  I’d never heard of Green Arrow before and I liked the story and the self-made hero motif.  Which is pretty close to Batman.  But what I liked about Green Arrow is he’s pretty much a modern Robin Hood which, incidentally, is one of my favorite childhood films.  So it seemed like a match made in heaven.

Year OneBeing the literati that I am I decided that I wanted to read the comics/graphic novels from the Green Arrow oevre.  So I did a wiki search and made my chronological list.  I’m OCD like that.  No jumping in in the middle of a series.  Luckily, my friends over at DC had the same idea.  They’ve revamped their universe and have tried to restart many of the story lines that our parents and grandparents grew up on.  So that’s where we get to Green Arrow: Year One.  This is the a new origin story that’s helped readers like me get into the hero.

Having watched the show I knew about Oliver Queen and his playboy origins.  So I was worried that this origin story graphic novel was going to be a copy of the show.  I was wrong.  It was just close enough that I didn’t feel it was too different from the show or vice versa, but it gave a unique spin on the story that was creative and intriguing.

So if you’re in the mood to read something in a day and be entertained with a good story and great illustrations, then I recommend this graphic novel.  Well done and a great way to launch a franchise.  It’s certainly hooked me.

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