Green Arrow. Issue 7. Comic Book Review

Damn that Arrow…

Green Arrow. Issue #7!
(Nocenti. Talibao. Leigh. Porter. Horie!)

Green Arrow is one of my favourite comic book characters.

It’s such a simple idea, as the best ideas tend to be. Take Robin Hood, move him to the modern day, throw in alliteration, and presto – you have a classic superhero. There’s some people out there who think he’s a Batman rip-off, which seems a tad off. Batman has his roots in classic literature, namely Sherlock Holmes, whereas Green Arrow has a slight folklore tint to him, ala the aforementioned Robin Hood.

Now the trick with a character in the style of Robin Hood is that he has to be a fun, daring do outlaw. If Batman is the Dark Knight, Green Arrow should be the White Castle, who runs through the fence rather than go over it. The best Green Arrow stories have this feel to them, stories such as Quiver (the best comic-book that Kevin Smith has ever written) and Archers Quest (where Brad Meltzer explores Oliver’s past via a nostalgic road-trip like setting). Green Arrow, as a character, peaks when they revel in the sheer joy of being a superhero who uses acrobatics rather than metahumanity to save the day.

And lately, that hasn’t happened.

I don’t think that’s the fault of the last few writers on the title. Winnick, for all of the faults fans have mentioned, did a good job making Green Arrow’s relationship with Star City into a cohesive whole that existed beyond mere trivia. Krul, on the flipside, told some rather good stories that served to make Oliver Queen feel like a fully-formed character who sought to protect Star City for the right reasons.

The problem is that these stories, well-written as they were, lacked that sense of fun.

It’s a problem Daredevil had, right before Waid came along. The characters had both gone down a dark path for a long time, and it felt like a change was needed. Even Krul’s reboot felt a tad too serious considering we ARE talking about a guy with an arrow fetish.

Enter Ann Nocenti.

I’m not especially knowledgable regarding Ann Nocenti’s work. I do know she worked on Daredevil and addressed issues such as racism and sexism while Matt worked at a non-profit urban legal centre (a genuinely good idea). She also introduced Typhoid Mary into Marvel canon, a character sorely undertilised. The above doesn’t scream ‘fun’ per se, but after reading Green Arrow #7…

… I have to say that Ann Nocenti gets the character completely.

This issue is ridiculously fun to read. It’s silly and escapist, as Oliver Queen tackles three fan-girls with a Shakespeare fetish. The comic-book seems to be a shift into the more absurd aspects of Green Arrow, bringing back the multi-purpose arrows and (please God) moving down the path of genius that will lead to the return of the Arrow Car, the Arrow Cave, and the Arrow Plane.

It’s also, surprising for a comic-book, fantastically charming. I was complaining earlier that making Oliver Queen into a James Bond figure by proxy of Green Arrow was ridiculous, but the idea of Green Arrow having a Roger Moore style ‘wink’ and chat-up lines works rather well here. It keeps things light, even as the situation grows dim, and at the same time slowly ebbs away from the dull machinations at Queen… I want to say Industries. Oliver running a company should never be the focus of a comic-book, it should be rooted in how Oliver’s need for adrenaline makes a normal life nearly impossible.

Kudos also has to go to the artwork. Tolibao really makes everything crackle, making the three fan-girls pleasing to the eye without coming off as mere fan-service. They’re drawn formidably, their mannerisms etched effectively enough that the twist of their villainy doesn’t negate what came before. Drawing subtle emotions in a comic-book can be difficult, but here it’s done in a very pleasing fashion.

The only real criticism?

Oliver still doesn’t have the facial hair that the character needs. I know it’s somewhat petty, but that’s an iconic part of the costume. I know there’s a Smallville influence here, it’s just that pushing Green Arrow towards the A-List he deserves shouldn’t negate the iconic history he represents.

And the Green Arrow trademark facial hair? It’s awesome.

Grade: B+

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