Ever wanted to read a comic but didn't know where to start? Interested in superheroes, manga, romance, webcomics and more? Look no further! We have all the recommendations you'll ever need.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Green Lantern/Green Arrow volume one

Writer: Dennis O’Neil
Pencils: Neal Adams
Inks: Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Frank Giacoia, Dan Adkins and Berni Wrightson
Colours: Cory Adams and Jack Adler
Publisher: DC Comics

What’s It About?
Hal Jordan is the Green Lantern: a sort of outer space policeman dedicated to enforcing law and order on Earth and in surrounding space with a ring that can create any construct he can imagine. Oliver Queen is Green Arrow: once rich, now poor, he fights on the streets for the underdog armed only with his bow and arrow and a ready wit.

Forced to question his faith in authority, Hal begins a journey to discover the “real” spirit of America with Ollie as his guide. Accompanied by one of Hal’s superior officers, the immortal Guardian, they set off in a battered pick-up truck to cross the country and reconnect Hal with his own species after so long out in space.

What’s Good About It?
Each story in this collection tackles a different social issue, either directly or by allegory. Several of the issues collected here take place in and around a Native American reservation, which includes a story about the reservation’s establishment treaty being broken by white-American loggers. There are also several stories about the exploitation of the poor by the rich, corruption amongst bosses and landlords, pollution and racial prejudice.  In addition to this there are allegorical stories dealing with issues such as show trials and over-population in a science-fiction context.

All this is set against the backdrop of two very different characters: the socially conservative Green Lantern and the liberal Green Arrow. The two characters butting heads elevates the allegories from a dull lecture to an interesting dialogue. Hal’s conservative reverence for authority and law, whilst usually wrong, is not universally wrong and neither is Ollie portrayed as infallible. The immortal Guardian’s gradual connection with mortal emotions over the series is also important, being as he is one of the greatest authority figures in Hal’s life. The Guardian also represents an authority figure coming to question, for the first time, their right to exercise authority over others and whether their own self-imposed definition of “the greater good” is worth the price to individuals.

This collection is best aimed at those who want their science fiction to mean something, to examine issues. The comics are old but, for the most part, the issues dealt with are ones that still hold some relevance today.

What’s Bad About It?
The stories in this collection were originally published forty years ago, so a few warnings need to be made. For one thing, collections like this weren’t published in those days so readers had one chance and one chance only to buy the comic and if they missed it, it was gone. So, if a story point carries over from one issue to another there’ll be a lump of expositional dialogue dedicated to it. In book format it seems pointless and at worst it has characters reminding each other of events that they can’t possibly have forgotten.

Similarly, the language of the characters will sometimes seem painfully outdated and that’s because it is a product of its time.

As dedicated as the creators were to portray America’s social problems, in particular racism, there are moments where they don’t fully succeed. The Native American characters are mostly sympathetic and well-realised individuals but they have an odd tendency to call every Caucasian they encounter “paleface”. Like the exposition and the outdated dialogue, this can be explained by age, whether it can be excused by the creators’ good intentions is up to the individual reader.

What’s the Art Like?
Modern comics use a lot of digital techniques to clean up their art, not to mention that modern authors have more precise instruments and greater preparation time on their side. Naturally, this means that older comics art will rarely be as well-presented as in modern comics. Take the following examples:

You’ll notice that the colour pallet is rather limited, colours often repeating in ways that are unnatural. In one panel in the first example the exact same green ink is used for the paint on the truck and for the landscape around it. These were limits that could be worked with, however, as can be seen in the second example where a very limited selection of blues are used to atmospheric effect portraying a fight scene in the dead of night.

This selection also shows the different sorts of setting the series uses ,from the down-to-Earth action of the fight between Green Arrow and the gun-toting thug, to the science-fiction of Green Lantern diverting a meteor shower with the power of his ring.

The art is rough but its by no means bad, something that can be said for most aspects of this series.

Other Information
The first thirteen issues of O’Neil and Adams’ run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow has been published across two volumes, retailing at about ten pounds each:
Green Lantern/Green Arrow volume 1 ISBN 978-1401202248 (Amazon)
Green Lantern/Green Arrow volume 2 ISBN 978-1401202309 (Amazon)

No comments:

Post a Comment