Today’s Super Comic — Green Arrow #11 (2017)

I’m pleased to report that the current Green Arrow series is proving to be consistently fun.

Issue #11 concludes a thriller set on an underwater trans-Pacific railway. Green Arrow, Black Canary, and John Diggle must protect a train full of dignitaries from a mercenary who’s been hired to disrupt upcoming peace talks.

Between Benjamin Percy’s fast-paced script and Juan Ferreyra’s kinetic art, the story is in constant motion. The action is well-staged, the characters are likable, and though the situation is treated as serious, the book never takes itself too seriously—an important balance to strike.

It’s not breaking any molds, but it’s solid, straightforward super-heroics full of great action set pieces.

Writer: Benjamin Percy

Artist: Juan Ferreyra

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in Green Arrow vol. 2: Island of Scars (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Green Arrow #1-5 (2016)

The DC Universe Rebirth trade paperbacks are starting to come out, so I’m finally digging into some. I’ve heard good things about the new Green Arrow, so that seemed like a good place to start. And it was.

The first storyline breaks Oliver Queen down by ridding him of the wealth that had defined him, and it builds him back up by replacing that wealth with meaningful relationships.

A particularly welcome addition to the cast is Black Canary. The Green Arrow/Black Canary team has a lot of history, which unfortunately was erased during the New 52 reboot. They’re starting fresh here, and while that removes the weight of history from their interactions, their chemistry remains intact. The pairing seems just as natural as before.

Viewers of the Arrow television series would expect Oliver to have a younger sister, and he does, but it’s not Thea Queen. She’s Emiko, daughter of Robert Queen and Shado. Shado’s in a purely antagonistic role here, testing Emiko’s loyalties. The character definitely has some potential.

John Diggle, a TV show creation (if I recall correctly), has been fully integrated into the comics. (No Felicity, though.)

It’s a solid supporting cast that fills various voids in Green Arrow’s life…but the book makes sure he doesn’t get too comfortable, of course.

I still prefer the old continuity, but for at least this series, the current status quo is acceptable—thanks to the quality of these first five issues.

Writer: Benjamin Percy

Artists: Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: recent back issues; Comixology; included in Green Arrow vol. 1: The Death & Life of Oliver Queen (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Zero Hour #4-0 (1994)

zero-hour-4Zero Hour was the first company-wide crossover event I read, and the scope was suitably epic.

The superheroes of the DC Universe need to band together to save time itself, which is rapidly unraveling, creating all sorts of mysterious (and entertaining) anomalies. A young Batgirl in her prime appears in Gotham. People randomly disappear as their timelines are wiped out. The elder statesmen of the Justice Society of America stage a heroic last stand.

And at the center of it all is a classic DC superhero gone rogue. (Spoilers ahead, since I can’t really discuss this one without revealing the big bad.)

The most amazing part for me, when I read this at the age of 11, was the reveal of the villain. In the final pages of the penultimate issue, a green glowing fist clocks Superman, knocking him out cold, and then we see Hal Jordan, the definitive Green Lantern since the 1959, standing over him, taking credit for orchestrating this whole crisis in time.

It blew my young mind—the idea of a hero of this stature being the bad guy. And Green Lantern, now calling himself Parallax, is utterly convinced he’s in the right, which is an important ingredient in any great villain. He’s fixing time and removing all the mistakes. Basically, he’s playing God to bring about a utopian vision. And that never goes well.

It’s no work of literature, but it thrilled me back in the day. It lacks a central protagonist, but lots of great characters have their moments, especially Green Arrow in the final faceoff against his old friend. The Flash also gets a big heroic moment early in the series.

By the way, the numbering for this miniseries goes backward. So the first issue is #4, second is #3, and so on. It’s a countdown to the end of time. Happy New Year’s Eve.

Writer/Penciler: Dan Jurgens

Inker: Jerry Ordway

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Zero Hour: Crisis in Time (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 9 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Green Lantern #101-106 & Green Arrow #136 (1998)

green_lantern_vol_3_101Nearly fifteen years before X-Men brought its Silver Age versions into the much darker present, Green Lantern did the same. But not for an ongoing series, just a mere seven issues.

Following the events of the anniversary issue team-up in Green Lantern #100, a young Hal Jordan finds himself stranded ten years into his future, which was DC’s present. He learns his home city has been destroyed, he’s destined to become a villain and eventually die, and some fellow JLA teammates are dead. Kind of a lot to take in.

It’s a fascinating situation to put a superhero in. And it’s far more compelling to bring a character from the past to the present, rather than from the present to a possible future. The past and present are already established and fleshed out over years’ worth of stories, whereas we’re less familiar with a newly introduced future scenario that might never come to pass anyway.

The real treat, though, particularly when I read it in 1998, was seeing Hal Jordan back in action as a heroic Green Lantern at a time when he was out of the picture. I would’ve been okay with him sticking around longer. This storyline could have lasted a full year without feeling forced, and it would have given us more time to see Hal reconnect more with old friends and deal with more modern threats (this was shortly before the trend of decompressed storytelling in comics).

We at least get a nice little team-up with the then-current Green Arrow (Connor Hawke, as Oliver Queen was also dead then), as well as a battle between young Hal and older, well-intentioned villainous Hal (calling himself Parallax).

Though I would have enjoyed more, these seven issues remain a fun time on their own.

Writer: Ron Marz (Green Arrow issue: Chuck Dixon)

Pencilers: Jeff Johnson, Scott Eaton, Paul Pelletier (GA issue: Dougie Braithwaite)

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Green Lantern: Emerald Knights (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Green Arrow #26 (2003)

green_arrow_vol_3_26In the early-to-mid 2000s, the defining Green Arrow writer was Judd Winick. Kevin Smith had brought the character back from the dead, and Brad Meltzer wrote a solid follow-up to that storyline, but Oliver Queen’s second lease on life didn’t get any true forward momentum until Winick took over with #26 and guided the Emerald Archer through a nice long run with lots of character development.

With the first storyline acting as the “pilot,” Winick focuses on Green Arrow’s core essence—he’s the swaggering rich guy who looks out for the little guy. He also happens to be several years older and less prone to Batman-like brooding than that young Green Arrow you see on the television (not a criticism of the show, which I enjoy—just noting they’re different).

An impending new business development threatens innocent Star City residents with eviction, so Queen steps up in their defense. We meet a new character who will play an important role in the storyline, and a monster comes out of nowhere. All the while, Winick keeps the tone fun, and Phil Hester’s art is clean and engaging.

If you ask fans to identify the definitive Green Arrow run, you’ll likely get several different answers, including “none of the above.” But this was a consistently strong one that’s worth a look.

Writer: Judd Winick

Penciler: Phil Hester

Inker: Ande Parks

Cover: Matt Wagner

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Green Arrow vol. 3: Straight Shooter (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 12 and up

Today’s Super Comics — Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86 (1971)

green_lantern_vol_2_85DC Comics brought Green Lantern down to Earth in the early 1970s. GL partnered with Green Arrow, initially playing the role of Hal’s conscience, and the duo fought the most fearsome super-villain of all time—social problems!

Few mad scientists or bug-eyed monsters were in the mix during Green Lantern/Green Arrow, but the green guys instead tackled issues ranging from racism to pollution, as well as drugs in #85 and 86. It was a DC series different from any that had come before, one much more grounded than the usual imaginative sci-fi fare the publisher specialized in during those days. And for a little over a year, it worked because of the other team-up the title featured—writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams, two of the best in the business at the time, who excelled with down-to-earth takes on superheroes.

These comics aren’t subtle—they’re downright preachy at times—but they’ve got good messages for kids and adults alike. The drug storyline is not only a warning to stay away from drugs, but also a warning that the person you least expect can become hooked on them. In this case, Green Arrow’s former sidekick, Speedy, reveals he’s been using, and with the help of Black Canary, he strives to kick the habit. And this forces Green Arrow to confront the possibility that he may have failed in his most important duty—being the boy’s guardian.

Before this series, DC superheroes had seldom seemed so fallible or human.

Writer: Dennis O’Neil

Artist: Neal Adams

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Green Lantern/Green Arrow vol. 2 (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up

Today’s Super Comic — Green Arrow #17 (2013)

Green Arrow 17Green Arrow’s New 52 series became pretty amazing as of #17, thanks to excellent writing and artwork by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, respectively.

The story introduces the idea of Oliver not living up to his potential, and then it blows up his life in a way that evokes the classic Daredevil storyline “Born Again” without copying it. It’s one of my favorite story types, and one Green Arrow is a perfect fit for—the hero having to rebuild himself into something better. It works especially well in comics, as you get the character-development benefits of an origin story without having to rehash the same old tale.

Sorrentino’s gritty artwork grounds the events and suits a non-powered protagonist. Not only does each page fluidly advance the strong script, but they’re all fantastic to look at.

The whole issue screams, “Exciting fresh start!” This sort of thing is exactly what the New 52 should have been all along.

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Green Arrow vol. 4: The Kill Machine (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 13 and up