Friday, March 19, 2010

Chronic Review: Green Arrow # 31

Green Arrow # 31
DC Comics

Script: JT Krul
Pencils: Federico Dallocchio
22 pages for $2.99

As I've previously stated, I'm not a huge DC guy, not because I have any passionate dislike for DC philosophically. It just takes a lot of continuity knowledge to understand anything these days, and I grew up a Marvel guy, continued with it, and I have more back story in the data banks to help me process what's going on.

Never been a huge Green Arrow guy, either, although I certainly have respect for Mike Grell. I'm pretty much "evented" out at this point, as well. So what the HELL am I doing chasing down part 2 of "The Fall of Green Arrow" for?

Well, I made the "mistake" of listening to the latest episode of Raging Bullets, pretty much the premier podcast if you're into DC. Nobody likes anything as much as Sean Whelan and Jim Segulin dig DC comics. So the mistake isn't listening to their show, because the passion is infectious and they dig deeper into these books than most shows would dare attempt. It's funny actually, that in episode #199 they claim to be doing "rapid fire bullet" reviews instead of their usual developed treatments.....and the show ran 150 minutes!

No, the mistake is that when you get done listening to Raging Bullets, you understand enough of what's going on where you find yourself wanting to read some of the damn books they cover! Such was the case with Green Arrow after listening to the Ragers cover Justice League: Rise and Fall, which represents chapter one in this Oliver Queen downward spiral.

It has always seemed to me that the best concepts and the best "event" books are based on things that are just dirt simple and matter. Now James Robinson has been penning this little mini-series called "Justice League: Cry For Justice" which has been met with mixed reviews. At the end of that thing, (spoilers coming) Green Arrow has suffered trauma to the point where he's crossing lines in the name of vengeance. Like...putting arrows in people's faces until they don't breathe any more lines.

That's the hook, and it's dirt simple, and it's compelling. "What would happen if a guy with already creative moral principles gets pushed to the brink and starts going postal?" I'm not saying this is an unprecedented achievement in storytelling, nor should it have to be.

What I'm saying is, this is organic storytelling that builds off of past events, remains true to the spirit of the character, and makes for good drama. How do you react if you're this guy's teammate? Friend? Wife? This is what I believe Brian Hibbs was getting at in his last "Tilting at Windmills" column on Comic Book Resources, in which he laments the rise of plot-based storytelling.

This Green Arrow plunge into darkness is not a plot-based storyline focused on the death of Prometheus and the almost certain impending demise of the Electrocutioner. That's not where the juice is. The juice is how this plays out for the man inside his tortured skull, and whether or not he's going to have anyone or anything left when he's done with his vendetta. This is character-based drama, and to me at least, it doesn't feel manufactured or artificial.

Things are shaking down in this book that matter. Forget leaving your toothbrush out or your dirty sock on the floor, this cat is drawing arrows on his wife:

That's just not bound to play well with her. I like this so much better than the "deaths" these characters routinely survive, because this will be playing out on screen. So many times we're promised "this time everything will change forever", usually because somebody dies. And then they're gone, and nobody cares, and the whole thing is forgotten until the character's improbable return from the grave. Lather, rinse, repeat. (I would say Brubaker's Cap is a notable exception to that formula, though. That character's disappearance was handled with care and depth on the page)

Well, Green Arrow isn't disappearing. He's murdering people, he's burning bridges, and one would think this is going to have to be dealt with on the page for a good long time to come. So I'm in for the duration, because this is bloody fascinating to me.

What's extra beautiful about the scenario is how organic it is. Eventually, this sort of thing would happen, would happen quite often, really. Reasonable people can come to very different conclusions about whether Ollie's actions are justified. I think he's dead wrong. I understand it, but I could never condone it. I don't think. That would be a deal-buster on the friendship thing, I think. My podcast partner would give him a high five and help him out, on the other hand. This whole thing is just more fun than most comic books allow themselves to be these days. Kudos to J.T. Krul for handling the whole thing with drama and respect for the character, and kudos to the DC braintrust for letting him run with this.

- Ryan

1 comment:

Sean Whelan said...

Thanks for the shout out. I loved your review. I totally agree with you on the "fun factor" of where Green Arrow is heading. The shake up for this character has really made things very interesting. The series relaunch should be awesome with the new creative team.