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 — Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #1-4 (2005)

Superman Shazam First ThunderSuperman and Captain Marvel meet for the first time! Well, the latter needs to be called “Shazam” on the covers because of trademark issues, but he’s Captain Marvel throughout the interior pages.

Written by Judd Winick and drawn by Joshua Middleton, First Thunder is an entertaining look at an early period in both heroes’ tenures, full of magical monsters and giant robots in need of smashing. The characterization is spot-on throughout, giving us fun interactions between the two leads as they bond over their unconventional career that so few can relate to. They don’t fight each other over any petty misunderstanding, but rather they become fast friends who enjoy teaming up.

And toward the end, the book takes a turn into genuinely heartfelt territory, and it sticks the landing with a fantastic final page. Appearances and powers aside, Captain Marvel is still just a kid, so Superman needs to be the adult.

A great, quick read for fans, young and old, of either character.

Writer: Judd Winick

Artist: Joshua Middleton

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; Superman/Shazam: First Thunder (TPB)

Appropriate For: ages 10 and up