Green Arrow #1
“Living a Life of Privilege”
Writer: J.T. Krul
Pencils: Dan Jurgens
Inks: George Perez
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Dave Wilkins
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
Some of DC’s characters have undergone soft reboots in the New 52 initiative, others have been left untouched and others still seem to have been rebuilt from the bottom up. Green Arrow falls in the latter category, and I can understand why DC opted for a radical change. At best, various Green Arrow titles have been mid-range sellers for DC, generally propped up with connections to events such as Identity Crisis and Brightest Day. Here, the creators set out to have the property and this new ongoing series stand up on its own. I find the younger vision of the title character here to be visually appealing, and I like DC’s willingness to adopt major change. But one can’t go so far as to suggest DC and the creators on this book have shaken things up. The unfortunate reality is that while the storytelling is capable and full of action, Green Arrow has been transformed into a rather generic super-hero character. Here, he’s Batman without the edge and with several “butlers” rather than one.
Oliver Queen is a thorn in the side of the board of directors of his Seattle-based corporation, Queen Industries. It’s an immensely successful concern, as people all over the planet use its products in their everyday lives. But Queen is forever globetrotting, leaving the board to chase him down to participate in meetings and discussions vital to the company’s future. Of course, Queen is a thorn in the side of others as well, but in his guise as Green Arrow. The archer hero is willing to take any risk to protect the lives of the innocent, and tonight, in Paris, he happens upon a trio of superhuman punks looking to entertain themselves by victimizing people who are weaker than them.
This isn’t the first time penciller Dan Jurgens has teamed with George Perez on inks. They worked together on a mid-1990s incarnation of Teen Titans, and their collaboration then was as attractive and crisp as it is here. Jurgens’ has always exhibited a fairly standard but attractive super-hero genre style, and he’s skilled at conveying confidence and power in his larger-than-life figures. But it’s the meticulous detail Perez brings to the mix that really makes the art. Just look at the detail in the cobblestone street on that double-page spread early in the comic. He also adds a lot of expressiveness to the characters’ faces, but at the same time, Perez, who’s best known as a penciller, never allows his dynamic style to eclipse the penciller’s. I was surprised when I heard Jurgens and Perez were providing the art for this series. After all, Jurgens is busy writing his own New 52 title (Justice League International), while Perez is writing and inking one of his own (Superman). I question how long they’ll maintain the Green Arrow assignment, especially Perez.
Dave Wilkins’ cover art is rendered in a radically different style than the interior art, but it’s nevertheless striking. Though it boasts a generic action pose and no backgrounds, it emphasizes the title character’s youth and therefore the changes the property’s undergone for this new series. The new costume design, though well rendered by all artists involved, might have been a misstep, though. Get rid of the G belt buckle, switch the mask out for shades and alter the color scheme a bit, and you’re looking at Hawkeye, another archer hero from Marvel’s Ultimate line.
I was surprised to see how many the title chaarcter has assisting him in his quest to protect the innocent and mete out justice, but given that the hero is depicted as being a man of unlimited means and accustomed to having employees, it makes sense in the context of the character’s new status quo. I was also surprised to find among his allies an uber-hacker, a woman named Naomi. I was immediately put in mind of Oracle, a character concept that was recently undone by DC’s decision to restore Barbara Gordon to her Batgirl identity. Readers aware of Oracle are going to compare Naomi to Oracle immediately, and she just doesn’t seem as interesting. Of course, that could be due in part to the fact we know next to nothing about her. Other than her skills and her name, the reader isn’t told anything about her, which isn’t an isolated characterization trend in this comic book.
The villain concepts here are disappointing. They’re such generic bad guys, I find it hard to get excited about the action. That they’re clad in regular clothes is a nice change of pace, and I have to admit the grotesque manifestation of Doppelganger’s powers is interesting. But then again, I have no idea what her powers are, other than growing an extra face and limbs. Is that a power? Seems more like a disability. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of writer J.T. Krul’s script is how he touches upon the phenomenon of real-world violence uploaded to the Internet as a form of entertainment or bravado. We’re told the bad guys are in the habit of recording their rampages and posting them online, and that mirrors a disturbing trend. Unfortunately, Krul only explores this idea briefly and superficially, and it’s the kind of novel concept that should be delved into more thoroughly.
After reading this first issue, I have no idea what the series is about. The plot is clear enough: hero beats up super-powered bad guys, but that’s all that happens. There’s no point to the plot. There’s no theme. There’s no clear motive for why the hero does what he does. I get that Krul is setting the stage here, introducing the characters, but really, he’s just introducing the readership to names. There’s little real characterization here. I desperately wanted to love this book, because I’m a fan of the artists (especially Perez), but there’s no enough in the writing to get me to came back for more. 5/10
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