Monday, 15 April 2013

Monday Memories #15 - Green Arrow #2

Each Monday this year I'll be taking a look back at a random comic, prestige format issue, graphic novel or collection of reprints from amongst my 3,000 or so comics that date from 1962 to 2003 - I figured anything in the last ten years would be too recent to hark back to.

The comics are chosen completely at random and apart from a four week lead-in period, even I don't know what I'll be looking at in the weeks to come!

GREEN ARROW #2 - March 1988

Back in the late 80's, comics, you may remember, weren't just for kids. A lot of them got darker and grimmer and even dear old Green Arrow, that socialist, left-leaning liberal pinko of a hero from the 70's received a make-over. After a successful mini-series - The Longbow Hunters - Ollie ends up in his own ongoing series which, the cover states, is "Suggested for Mature Readers". Hardly surprising when we're dealing with drug trafficking and killers.

A recently released criminal, Muncie, suspected of multiple murders eighteen years ago, is enjoying his freedom pending an appeal. The only problem is Annie, the witness to one of his crimes who was ten at the time, is now willing to testify against him and send him back to prison. She's holed up with Ollie and Dinah and is the subject of an assassination attempt which is foiled by Ollie who's convinced the attacker is Muncie. Ollie fired an arrow at him but it bounced off.

Muncie gets rattled, though, and decides to go all out, leaving Ollie and Lt Cameron to discover a basement full of huge vats of beer from Muncie's father's bootlegging days before they discover the criminal has kidnapped Cameron's daughter. They track him down with the help of Annie who gets hold of Munci's gun, confronting the man who'd terrified her years before.

Scared himself after that showdown, Muncie manages to escape back to his house, followed by Ollie, and tries to escape via a lift to the basement which, unknown to him, Ollie had previously flooded by opening up the beer vats. The lift descends, taking Muncie to a beer filled grave, giving Ollie the opportunity for a one word quip:

Grell's run on Green Arrow is remembered fondly (by myself as well as others) but re-reading this issue highlighted how patchy it could be. The story's finale is dreadfully rushed; the narrative follows Ollie almost exclusively until a jarring first person stream of thought from Lt Cameron that isn't announced in anyway, forcing the reader to wonder why Ollie's suddenly talking about a daughter before realising it's Cameron's thoughts. At least the "Mature" themes of child kidnapping and possible abuse are handled sensitively for the most part if a little hurriedly.

I read somewhere that Grell never once had a character refer to Ollie as Green Arrow throughout this run, almost as if he were ashamed of the superheroic aspects of the character; even when Hal Jordan turned up for a couple of issues, he was in his civvies. I can't help but think of the current Arrow TV series where the main character is, again, never referred to as Green Arrow and wonder why that is?


  1. Good question, as we've seen they've made fun of the name "Green Arrow" and the whole dressing up in costume thing. I guess it's like a wave and wink to the audience that maybe thinking the same thing, but that doesn't make it right.

    I still don't get the glowing absence of the word Green in regards to the title of the show and the name of its hero. Just weird network executive thinking I guess.

    Grell's GA wasn't bad for the time, since as you already pointed out, that time period was all about being "mature", and "grim and gritty".
    Thankfully that's not the only version of Ollie out there, but good god, the reboot. Just ugh:(

    1. There's a nice article here which ponders the question "Is Warner Bros. Embarrassed By Superhero Tropes?" and references Arrow, the proposed Amazon not to mention the upcoming Superman film.

      I can't see why DC's parent company (who arguably own the most iconic heroes) won't just embrace them and run with it as Marvel has to such acclaim and financial success. The idea that the new Superman film will be "realistic" fills me with trepidation. As the article linked above says "I love Batman, but not every superhero has to have the same flavor."

      As to the GA reboot - I stuck with it until Ann Nocenti took over then ditched it as her writing was just awful.


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