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Friday, 19 August 2011

Green Arrow: Crawling Through the Wreckage

Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Scott McDaniel
Inker: Andy Owens
Colorist: Guy Major
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: DC

What's it about?
Oliver Queen is a multi millionaire with a secret identity - he is also the masked vigilante Green Arrow, crimefighter of Star City.  We start this story one year after a large proportion of the city was blown up.  In the last year a wall has been built, effectively ghettoising the poorer parts of the city (sound familiar?); corporate fat cats are trying to turn a profit at the expense of human lives and a former criminal is the only one bothering to keep the peace in the ghetto.  Oliver is not happy with these developments.  But that's OK, because at the end of issue one we discover that he's now Mayor of Star City (and still moonlighting as Green Arrow).

He doesn't have any superpowers, just a bow and arrow, a liberal ideology and a desire to defend the people of his city.  He's always been the outsider, criticising 'the man' and now he's taken a role in government.  At heart, Ollie is an easy-going sort, but considering his home has been blown up and he's now in politics, he tends to comes across as rather grumpy.  Still, he's an entertaining character, one of my favourites, and this is one of the best Green Arrow books out there.
What's good about it?
Not only is this about one of my favourite characters, but it contains one of my favourite ever issues.  The master assassin Deathstroke has been hired to kill the mayor of Star City.  Deathstroke knows full well  that Ollie is both mayor and Green Arrow, but as he likes a challenge that's no problem.  The scenes in which he finds Ollie, fights him and is defeated are masterfully told.  They are a wonderful collaboration between writer and artists and the energy fairly leaps from the book.  As you keep turning the pages the emotions intensify, the action builds up and builds up until you get to the explosive last page, where you cannot help but feel a sense of triumph and justice.  Alas, I cannot post many scans from these scenes as it would spoil it, but trust me, it's a thrilling read.
Later on Mia, Green Arrow's teenaged sidekick, arrives on the scene.  She's great.  She's so much fun and unlike other female heroes she doesn't wear a revealing uniform.  She's also HIV positive, a fact that was revealed in the Moving Targets trade, the volume just before this one.  She is most definitely a positive role model for young women, HIV positive or not.  This picture is a wonderful portrayal of her:

Just look at her.  She's graceful, athletic and quite clearly having the time of her life.  I've read this book many times but only recently registered that this page featured Ollie.  The focus is very much on Mia, as it should be.

Normally we review trades that collect the start of a series, but this one is volume 8.  It's a set a year after something called the Infinite Crisis.   Infinite Crisis was a big 'event' for DC comics and after it finished all DC titles jumped forward one year.  This meant that the readers had no idea what had happened over the last year and had to start afresh.  This sounds new reader friendly but it didn't always work out like that as the issues with the one year later tag recapped past actions, past history and past events in such a way that is could be confusing even for long term readers.  However, unlike many other series, Green Arrow is actually new reader friendly.  The background is explained clearly and briefly in the first few pages and from then on it's straightforward.

What's bad about it?
Judd Winick gets a lot of bad press on the comic blogosphere, partly because he doesn't always write other people's characters well.  Green Arrow is not his own character, but this trade sits towards the end of a long run on the title, and by this point his Oliver Queen and associates is firmly established in character and written well.  What I'm trying to say is, the usual complaints about Winick's work don't apply here, and I don't really have any criticisms to make of the book.
What's the art like?
I think the art is a perfect match for the type of story Judd Winick tells.  It's a got a retro feel to it, which fits in well with Oliver Queen's old fashioned approach to crime fighting.  Green Arrow has his roots in the Silver Age, the 1950s to 1970s.  He's an idealist and a hippy, without the new age beliefs.  McDaniel's lines, Owen's ink and Major's colours combine to produce blocky pieces that throw you into the action.  There's some interesting uses of perspective, for example:
That's Deathstroke by the way.

McDaniels is good at action scenes and creative with his panels.  Some pages will have the characters scrambling to get out of danger in a path that takes them off the comic book page, others will have dramatic poses to highlight the hero of the piece:
There's a lot of vigour and energy in the artwork.  It feels like an action movie in paper format.  If you like big explosive films, like Die Hard, or Demolition Man, or any of those wonderful 1980s films about a hard guy in a dangerous situation you'll probably like this book.
Other information
ISBN: 1845764463
Price: £8.99

The rest of this series is collected into trades, and the reading order is as follows:

Quiver - this is written by Kevin Smith, who also did the films Clerks, Chasing Amy, Mallrats and more.
Sounds of Violence - also written by Kevin Smith
Archer's Quest
Straight Shooter
City Walls
Moving Targets
Heading Into the Light
Crawling Through the Wreckage
The Road to Jericho - This tells the story of what happened in the year between Infinite Crisis and Crawling from the Wreckage.

Amazon lists a lot of these as out of print, but they shouldn't be too hard to get hold of. Try eBay, your local comics shop or bookstore for copies.

After this, Green Arrow got another series, called Green Arrow/Black Canary, in which him and the Canary got married and continued their costumed adventuring.  This was also a pretty good series and we will be reviewing the first trade from it at a later date.  however if you want to find more Green Arrow books to read, the full trade reading order is located here or, you can look for the other books we've reviewed here.

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