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Broken Arrow

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Green Arrow is getting another revamp. But will this new direction be any better than the last one? Based on the journey DC took to get here, the answer points to no. 

Green Arrow has had a long history at DC Comics. He was one of the few characters continually published from the Golden Age through the rough times of the 50s. Kevin Smith made the title a top 10 selling title during his time on the title and his run was followed by Brad Meltzer cutting his comic book writing teeth on the series.

So DC Comics has a lot of interest in keeping Green Arrow alive and well in their comic books, which is why the character continually goes through a series of revamps every so often.

The most recent revamp took place just under three years ago. The character was married off to his longtime love Black Canary in a big event with a lot of pomp and circumstance.  But the wedding, apparently, wasn't enough to increase sales to DC's liking. So we are faced with getting another revamp again this week.

Ollie Queen will now be protecting a mystical forest that grew overnight in his home of Star City. The Robin Hood analog has gotten a little more Robin Hood-y. But the derivative nature of this new path isn’t the only thing that makes it a textbook example of what not to do in rehabilitating a character.

The latest revamp takes place after the Justice League: Cry for Justice miniseries and for those of you who have not read this series, here is what happened. The villain known as Prometheus hid devices in many of the major cities in the DC universe. One was placed in Star City, home of Ollie Queen, the Green Arrow.  Along the way, the villain also hacked off the arm of Green Arrow’s ward, Roy Harper, now known as the Red Arrow, but that’s another story.

What these devices were supposed to do was transport the cities away into limbo. However, what the device in Star City actually did was explode and take a majority of the city with it. Tens of thousands of people died in the explosion, including Green Arrow granddaughter (his ward Roy’s daughter), Lian.

Through a quite unbelievable plot point, all of the heroes in the DC Universe could not defuse the bombs in their cities. Prometheus offered to get rid of the bombs if he was let go. Left with no choice, the heroes let Prometheus escape back to his home in Limbo.

However, Green Arrow was not so ready to let the villain escape justice. He tracked Prometheus back to his home, confronted him, and put an arrow into his brain pan.

This action caused a downward spiral for the character. His biological son Connor Hawke rejected him, his allies such as the Flash and Green Lantern turn against him, and his wife Black Canary leaves him. He was put on trial for murder, was acquitted, but still beats himself up about his actions.

On the surface, the events as I described them could conceivably seem like quality drama. They might have passed as such too, if the entire storyline didn’t fly in the face of logic, past continuity, and good story telling.

The Faustian deal the heroes made with Prometheus would have been gripping if there weren’t at least 50 ways around it. You have characters that can make anything happen just by saying what they want backwards and space cops that have rings whose only limitation is their imagination. I’m not a professional comic book writer, but I know I could have come up with something.

The destruction of Star City would have been shocking, if it wasn’t already used as a plot point in an earlier Green Arrow story. Villains destroyed a good part of the city in the pre-One Year Later Green Arrow series. Granted, there was no 5-year-old granddaughter caught in the blast that time, but still. 

Green Arrow becoming a killer and his friends’ reaction to it would be dramatic if he didn’t often use lethal force during Mike Grell’s run on the character. This is in continuity, it was even referenced in the “Fall of Green Arrow” arc, but every other character seemed to forget it.

But continuity, characterization and logical plotting didn’t matter. They were ignored. The powers that be needed Green Arrow to get from point A (happy, married, adventuresome Green Arrow) to point B (alienated, isolated, edgy Green Arrow) in the fewest steps possible. The plot points that took us there were not fully developed or given anything more than a cheap and flimsy emotional resonance. This was not organic storytelling. This was flimsy, pre-fab event construction. This is the McDonalds of comic book art—flashy and initially scintillating, but  imminently disposable and forgettable.

Yet, this new direction is supposed to be one that has us excited. It’s one that is supposed to make a great character even greater. What it really does is make us lose interest in Green Arrow and lose faith in the possibility that he will be written well. That seems counterproductive, doesn’t it?

Also out this week:

Superman #700:

I am a sucker for anniversary issues. They are signs that my favorite characters and concepts have stood the test of history. And DC apparently feels the same way as they are going all out this month. Their big three—Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman—all hit the big 700.

Superman’s anniversary issue is a little more special than just your typical anniversary issue. It is also a changing of the guard. James Robinson wraps up his run and his “New Krypton” arc in the main story, and J. Michael Straczynski gives us a preview of what new direction he will take the character when he takes over as writer. Add to this other tales and bonus features, you have more than just an anniversary, you have an event!

Various (W), Various (A), DC Comics, $4.99. Ongoing Series.

Hulk #23:

One of the major things driving this installment of the Hulk franchise was the mystery over who really was the Red Hulk and how did he get that way. Fans kept guessing and were searching the title’s pages for clues since day one. Everyone has their own theories and ideas of who the Red Hulk is, and has been posting their thoughts on message board after message board.

Well, secrets like these cannot go untold for very long. Even the most curious fan would lose interest after a while. As a result, fans of this series who have been guessing as to the identity of the Red hulk will finally find out if their guesses were right. This issue promises to, at long last, reveal the true identity and origin of the Red Hulk.

Jeph Loeb (W), Ed McGuinness (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Dynamo 5: Sins of the Father #1:

Dynamo 5 was a pretty interesting concept. Five illegitimate children of a superhero named Captain Dynamo each gain one of his five powers when exposed to the same radiation that gave him his abilities. Family in name only, the siblings are gathered together to protect the city their deceased father called home.

When we last left the team, they had their powers switched. As each member learns to deal with their new powers, an alien menace resurfaces. The last time the aliens attacked Earth, it took Captain Dynamo and some of the most powerful heroes the Image Universe had to offer to beat them back. Can a confused and disjointed Dynamo 5 have any hope of defeating them now?   

Jay Faeber (W), Julio Brilha (A), Image Comics, $3.99. Five-Issue Miniseries.

Power Girl #13:

A change in creative teams is always a cause for concern, especially when the change involves going from a team you trust to one that is questionable to say the least. That kind of change, in my opinion, is going on this week in this title as Judd Winick and Sami Basri take over the creative reigns.

Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner have created a fun and inventive look at the character, creating a female hero who is deeper than the cleavage of her costume. It would be a challenge for any team that followed them. But Judd Winick has been a spotty writer at best for me and Sami Basri is as yet unproven. I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt, but am not overwhelmed with confidence.

Judd Winick (W), Sami Basri (A), DC Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

Namora #1:

Namor, the Sub-Mariner, is a trend setter in one sense of the word. He got a similarly powered cousin almost 12 years before Superman. Take that DC!

The cousin in question is Namora and she first appeared in 1947’s Marvel Mystery Comics #82. She even had her own brief series during the waning days of the Golden Age. But she all but disappeared when superheroes fell out of favor in the 1950s, making only sporadic appearances during the Silver and Bronze Ages.

The character has been having a renaissance of late due to her appearance in the various Agents of Atlas series’. Now, as part of Marvel’s “Woman of Marvel” initiative, she is getting her own comic again. It’s only a one-shot this time around, but who knows where that could lead?

Jeff Parker (W), Sara Pichelli (A), Marvel Comics, $3.99. One-Shot.

Detective Comics #866:

DC’s other long running title featuring Batman might be easily overlooked in the hoopla concerning Batman #700, but this week’s issue of Detective Comics gives us a special issue as well. It will feature a stand-alone story written by one of the legendary names from Batman’s history—Dennis O’Neil.

O’Neil had a successful and fondly remembered run on the character with artist Neal Adams and is known for creating Ra’s Al Ghul. He also had a long tenure as the group editor for the Batman books.

His return to the character deals with an era-spanning tale focusing on the life and career of Dick Grayson from his time as Robin to his current incarnation as Batman. It’s a good chance for classic fans of the character or O’Neil to check back in after years away.

Dennis O’Neil (W), Dustin Nguyen (A), DC Comics, $3.99. Ongoing Series.

Sea Bear & Grizzly Shark:

Bears live in the woods, right? And sharks live in the ocean, correct? So, if you wanted to avoid a shark you’d camp in the wood but if you want to get away from bears, you’d cruise the ocean. That sounds like the way it should be, doesn’t it?

Not so fast. I am sorry to say, “they got mixed up.” The woods are being plagued by a Grizzly Shark, and the seas are being stalked by a Sea Bear. So there is no safe haven for anyone anymore.

Robert Kirkman’s art partners, Invincible’s Ryan Ottley & The Amazing Wolf-Man’s Jason Howard determine who would win between a shark and a bear once and for all. It is terror at its most goofiest.

Ryan Ottley & Jason Howard (W/A), Image Comics, $4.99. One-Shot.

Wolverine: Origins #49:

Wolverine: Origins was the second Wolverine ongoing series (yes, at one time there was only one Wolverine series! Can you imagine it?) and its mission statement was that it was to explore the untold aspects of the character’s past and see how they play against his present.

Well, it appears that mission is at an end as this issue begins the final storyline of the series. Daniel Way has been writing the series all along, and he will be the one to close the title out. Wolverine’s past has been fully covered, so where do we go from here? To the future, of course. And the future might be even scarier to examine than the past.

Daniel Way (W), Will Conrad (A), Marvel Comics, $2.99. Ongoing Series.

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William Gatevackes is a professional writer living in Mamaroneck, NY with his wife Jennifer and daughter Vanessa. He also is a comic reviewer for PopMatters, has written for Comic Foundry magazine and is the comic book movie editor for Film Buff Online. Links to his writing can be found at his website, www.williamgatevackes.com.

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