Book O’ The Week: Green Arrow #13

Words: Ann Nocenti. Pictures: Freddie E Williams II. Colours: Rob Hunter.
I’m currently quite conflicted about Green Arrow, and it’s a book that every month I’m finding myself wrestling with, because I want to keep getting it, but I’m not able to make a very compelling argument as to why. “Because Green Arrow is awesome” is a good one, but the current evidence does not support it well.

Green Arrow! Now with added Chinese Kung Fu Zombies!

For me, Green Arrow has always been a bit of a wobbly character. When you write a profile for him, you pretty much find yourself with Batman who went for a bow and arrows over a belt of gadgets. This is fine, as it sets him up for a more “heroic” comic, rather than “super-heroic”, more vigilante and and down to earth. And when you couple that with his more left-wing leanings, that’s where he works well. So when you put him up against Chinese ghosts, I start getting a bit concerned.

Since the New 52 gave us a younger, moustache-free Oliver Queen, I’ve been a bit worried about the way he’s been repositioned. His origin is still sound, he has some demons from his pre-Arrow days that serve to suitably drive him. But running Queen Industries in a maverick fashion, with a team of dedicated tech specialists to support his Arrow’ing, he’s becoming more James Bond than the socialist vigilante who served as such a great conscience for the Hero community.

Now he’s jet-setting, looking more like his Smallville counterpart than Robin Hood, and to be brutally honest, I’ve completely lost track of what the character is up to. The company may have kicked him out. He might be still there. I have no idea. I do know that he’s got some “Wolf Tech” which is awesome at finding/tracking people. Or something. Maybe it’s hungry. I don’t know, but it’s definitely “Tech” and important enough to warrant a mission to China. Because…look, I’ve lost track, okay?

The China setting is refreshing – too often comic stories happen in a place that can only be described as the United States of Generica – there’s very little that separates one city block from another, and if it weren’t for a helpful banner indicating the locality, you’d assume it was the back-lot of Universal Studios. China was visibly different, the story was culturally different – whether it was accurate I have NO idea, but it was a break from the endless sky-scraper genre of inner-city crime-fighting. Ollie fighting ghosts? That bit lost me.

I want to like Green Arrow, I really do. I love what the character used to be, and what he still could be, but I do not care for who he currently is. And it’s a real shame, because Williams and Hunter have done a great job of telling the visual tale – there’s a nice sense of action to the art at all times, and Nocenti’s story has felt refreshing, as I mentioned previously. But overall? Green Arrow isn’t working for me. Give him an orphan side-kick, a goatee and a real sense of right and wrong – that could bring me back into the fold. Until then…
RATING: 2 Trick Arrows Out of 5

~ by nick on October 4, 2012.

3 Responses to “Book O’ The Week: Green Arrow #13”

  1. The New 52 version of Green Arrow destroyed the character. His distinguishing mark was his maturity: now he’s just a young hero like (almost) everyone else, from Spider Man to Superboy. I understand they had to link the comic book to the upcoming tv series, but they could have done that in a far smarter way: for example, they could have created a comic series narrating his early days as Green Arrow, as Marvel did with “X – Men: First Class.”
    Another thing that made Green Arrow great was his group of very interesting and well defined supporting characters: this implies that removing ALL OF THEM from the series is another huge mistake DC made. Batman would be great even without Alfred, Robin, Commissioner Gordon and so on: Green Arrow needs “a little help from his friends” to be great.
    When you reboot a character, you can change everything but his spirit: DC didn’t follow this simple but essential rule, so they haven’t been faithful both to their tradition and to their public.
    I loved miss Nocenti’s run on Daredevil, so I was very excited when I heard she was going to write Green Arrow. I thought “She’s one of the very few writers who can fix up this mess.” I bought the 1st issue she wrote, and I think she did an incredibly bad job. The story is: 3 femmes fatales meet Oliver Queen and invite him at their home. Even the silliest superhero could easily understand it was a trap, but not Green Arrow: he shrugs his shoulders and flies with them. Guess what? Oliver ends up in chains! And the so-called cliffhanger is: will our hero get rid of the 3 femmes fatales? When I finished it, I thought that any high school student could have written a better story. Of course I won’t buy Green Arrow any more: it’s too painful to see how deep Oliver and miss Nocenti sank.
    A lot of readers must have thought the same thing, since Green Arrow’s sales are sinking very deep as well.
    From what you wrote in this post, it looks like she got slightly better, but you gave this issue 2 stars, so all things considered I won’t give her a second chance.
    It looks like it’s not a great period for writers, since some others I used to love got worse as well. I’ll give you 2 examples:
    1) Loeb’s works I read (all his Batman stuff + Daredevil: Yellow) were all fantastic, but recently I read 3 blog reviews stating he’s gone awful.
    Daredevil has always been Marvel’s Batman in a lot of ways (psychological deepness of the character, costume design, dark atmosphere, and so on): maybe Loeb is born to write about characters like Daredevil and Batman, and, when he tried to do something different, he failed. Or maybe he simply lost his magic touch, as miss Nocenti did.
    2) Milligan and Ennis put a lot of black humour in their earlier works, and this is what made them superstars. At some point, Ennis decided to change his style, to make it completely sharp and cynical, but, being a talented writer, he went on writing very well. Milligan, on the contrary, has become the shadow of his former self, since he stopped writing in a satiric, provoking and nonconformist way.
    DC didn’t help him, because they gave him 2 series (Red Lanterns and Stormwatch) that don’t have an ironic style at all. If you hire Michael Jordan, you must put him in a basketball team, not in a baseball one.
    I hope Loeb, Nocenti and Milligan will reach the peeks of their earlier works again.

    • Wow! That’s pretty much my thoughts on him as well! (Didn’t go there with the review, wanted to focus on the book.) There is definitely a disconnection between what makes Ollie a hero, and who he currently is.

      Thanks again for reading – glad to see a fellow DC fan so passionate about the books I’m reading!

  2. Thank you as well for your reply! : )

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