Review by C.J. Bunce
Oliver Queen was dead, to begin with.
The average superhero fan today probably wouldn’t know Oliver Queen today but for three events: (1) the modernization of the character by writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Neal Adams in the 1970s, (2) his update to urban longbow hunter by writer/artist Mike Grell in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and (3) the literal resurrection of Oliver Queen in the early 2000s by the partnership of writer Kevin Smith, penciller Phil Hester and inker Ande Parks. No TV series would have arrived without the survival of the character thanks to these stories–reprinted and available in a deluxe hardcover for the O’Neil/Adams stories here, and in paperback reprinted only recently for Mike Grell’s stories here, here, and here. In light of Green Arrow/Arrow’s popularity today being greater than ever before in his 73 year history, it’s only fitting that DC Comics is releasing the third great chapter in the character’s history with Absolute Green Arrow this month.
Absolute Green Arrow, available here from Amazon.com, reprints Issues #1-15 of Green Arrow, Volume 3, in a matte black with gloss hardcover with slipcase in a sharp, over-sized, 9.6 inch X 15 inch format. It includes all of Matt Wagner’s stylish painted covers, previously released introduction by Smith and afterword by Hester, and original artwork in an appendix by Hester. If you ever wonder how much work the inker must conquer, just take a look at Hester’s pencil work and you’ll have a great appreciation for Parks’ inks.
Hester and Parks did shading and shadows like nobody else. Original art seen in full color as published in Absolute Green Arrow.
The first ten chapters form the “Quiver” story arc, and the last five the “Sounds of Violence” arc. This is the entire run of Kevin Smith’s stories for Green Arrow. Phil Hester took over writing and artistic duties for the next several issues with even better stories than found in these early chapters. But these Smith stories present a Green Arrow in a way a bit like Frank Miller played with Batman’s mythology in The Dark Knight Returns. Smith’s Green Arrow is not as innovative as the seminal Miller work, but it’s plenty fun, and each new chapter feels like Smith saw this opportunity to play with DC Universe characters like a kid in a toy store. You’ll encounter the Justice League, memorable encounters with Aquaman and Hawkman, and even a quirky adventure featuring Stanley and his Monster. Former sidekicks Roy Harper and Connor Hawke are here, too, but most importantly Oliver Queen rebuilds his relationship with long-time love interest Dinah Lance aka Black Canary. Difficult to come back from after being presumed dead.
If you can’t fit your characters into continuity, why not figure out another way to give fans what they want?
That’s what the CW did with a new promo for the final episodes of the season for Arrow and The Flash. The trinity of DC Comics’ A-list aside, what does the rest of the Justice League do to blow off steam? They practice their skills in their own secret athletic club–the “Superhero Fight Club.” There’s just one rule: There are no rules for the Superhero Fight Club.
So from Team Arrow, check out Arrow, Black Canary, Arsenal/Red Arrow, The Dark Archer, Ra’s Al Ghul, and The Atom, and from Team Flash, The Flash, Firestorm, Reverse Flash, Captain Cold, and Heat Wave:
The three-day Planet Comicon comic book and pop culture convention wrapped yesterday in Kansas City. The highlight of the day for thousands of attendees was the one-day visit to the show by Stephen Amell, star of the CW Network’s Arrow TV series. If you’ve been reading borg.com for very long, you’ll know I’ve been tracking the show as the world’s biggest Green Arrow fan, including spending the night with 7,000 other fans in San Diego for the show premiere with Amell and his co-stars back in 2012.
After hanging with his cousin (and CW star of The Flash) Robbie Amell last night at the Elite Comics after party at the Alamo Drafthouse, we got to meet Stephen today. As you’d expect, fans were happy to meet him, and he kept a cheery disposition throughout a whirlwind day of signing autographs and being featured on a panel at the convention.
Because he was only at the show for one day, that meant plenty of lines to get to see him–lines that barely even looked like lines.
But as typical with attendees at comic book conventions, everyone handled it all with great attitudes.
Much like was done for the successful Supernatural TV series from the CW Network (like the book we reviewed previously here at borg.com), Titan Books has released a new full-color photographic archive book for fans of the Arrow TV series. Arrow: Heroes and Villains is the first of three books coming our way this year featuring Oliver Queen and his cohorts.
More like a fan magazine or souvenir book in trade paperback form, with photos of the actors and details about their characters, Arrow: Heroes and Villains is the kind of book I would have been after for my favorite shows as a kid. Most of the photos are marketing shots for the characters, but it also includes snapshots from the series. Enough text is provided to get anyone who missed the first two seasons of the series caught up with each character and the major storylines up to the beginning of season three. It’s mainly an in-world book about the world of Oliver Queen, but also has interviews with show creators, and offers a behind the scenes look at the character development of key roles.
Grab a copy and get it signed by series star Stephen Amell next Sunday at Planet Comicon in Kansas City.
Split into two parts, plus a look at the Suicide Squad, Arrow: Heroes and Villains provides an essay on each of Oliver Queen, his parents, Thea, Walter Steele, Laurel and Sara Lance and their parents, John and Carly Diggle, Felicity Smoak, Tommy Merlyn, Roy Harper, Barry Allen, Frank Pike, and McKenna Hall.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
It’s a line by Alexander Pope in his 1709 poem, and Oliver Queen played out the saying fully in Arrow’s mid-season finale. Unwisely confronting the League of Assassin’s far more powerful Ra’s Al Ghul and covering for sister Thea by posing as the killer of Sara Lance, Oliver met his end. “Where Angels Fear to Tread” is also the title of the story arc that took the original run of DC Comics’s Green Arrow one hundred issues to get to–the original fall of the Emerald Archer. In the mid-season TV finale it was literally a fall–off a cliff after a pretty undeniable death via Ra’s Al Ghul’s sword.
But we all know that the death of a superhero is short-lived 99 percent of the time. In Issue #101 of DC Comics’ long-running Green Arrow monthly series Ollie met an untimely death in an exploding airplane, and yet the series continued for 36 more issues–without Oliver Queen. Series star Stephen Amell may have given a clue to a similar direction for the return of the series in January via a Facebook post after the show:
“Despite the title, our show is bigger than any one character. We’re going to prove that to you.”
The original, explosive death of Oliver Queen.
So we may see a period during the last half of Season 3 without Ollie. But a note to the show writers: just don’t take it too far.
It feels like the series has barely begun and the writers have taken the big leap. Where can we go from here? Taking a superhero book forward without the title superhero in the 1990s comic book series was a risk, and split those fans who were loyal to the classic Green Arrow and those willing to accept a second Green Arrow–Connor Hawke, Oliver Queen’s son, as a new Green Arrow. Three years was a surprisingly long run without Ollie, but ultimately the series was cancelled. Oliver was to be resurrected years later by Kevin Smith, Phil Hester, and Ande Parks in a second successful Green Arrow series.
One of our favorite artists is J.K. Woodward, known for his vibrant and life-like painting style, and his work on several successful series including Doctor Who/Star Trek: The Next Generation–Assimilation² reviewed here and Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s The City on the Edge of Forever reviewed here.
We haven’t featured any new original comic art lately so what better time than now to share borg.com’s recent commission of a Woodward painting, done as part of his donation to the Toe Tag Riot crowdfunding project (we reviewed Toe Tag Riot Issue #1 here).
Adding to our gallery of awesome Green Arrow and Black Canary original art, Woodward placed the Alex Ross era costumed duo on the streets of Star City. Green Arrow, sporting his classic look and Van Dyke beard, is ready to take out some vile foe off-screen, as Black Canary soars into the picture overhead on her trusty bike. Based on her facial expression, this superheroine means business.
Check out the full image, after the break…
If you’re not watching The Flash on the CW Network there’s no time like tonight to join in and get caught up. All the DC Comics fans who grew tired of the dark and gloomy nature of the DC Comics universe as realized in television (like Constantine) and the movies (like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy) have the alternative they have been looking for from this spin-off of CW’s Arrow.
Grant Gustin plays Barry Allen against all prior types. He’s more like Peter Parker than the Barry Allen of the Silver Age or more recent New 52 incarnations, and little like the older, more serious scientist in The Flash television series from the 1980s starring John Wesley Shipp. He’s cheery, funny, friendly, and generally a happy guy despite his obsession with his mother’s death years ago, having to deal with his father in prison for her murder, and the fact that his life has been turned upside down by a bolt of electric current from a particle accelerator.
And if the series isn’t enough for you, check out the tie-in comic book series The Flash Season Zero. Season Zero provides a supplemental story to the TV show but also is a jumping-on point for those who may have missed the first few episodes. Now only two issues in, you can get these back issues easily from any comic book retailer. The best reason to check out Season Zero? The return of artist Phil Hester to the part of the DCU he drew for many years as penciller on the monthly Green Arrow series. With multiple crossover episodes this season between The Flash and Arrow, hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Hester’s take on drawing Stephen Amell’s much younger version of Oliver Queen.
At long last DC Comics has released a trade edition of the 1980s Green Arrow monthly comic book series. The series that sprang out of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters is some of the best storytelling work by Grell on the relationship between Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. We previously reviewed the first trade edition re-released by DC, Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon, last December here at borg.com. When borg.com readers have requested recommendations for the best of Green Arrow, I’ve pointed them to back issues of this series along with the classic O’Neill/Adams “Hard-Travelling Heroes” books as a starting point.
Unlike the events of Volume 1, which piled on heavy issues ranging from sexual assault, to child abuse, to gay-bashing, prostitution, armed robbery, and biogenic weapons, Volume 2 is a more intimate look at Green Arrow and Black Canary behind the scenes, very similar to the approach taken by writer Matt Fraction in the successful modern Hawkeye series from Marvel Comics.
Green Arrow Volume 2: Here There Be Dragons, which reprints Green Arrow, Issues #7-12 from 1988, finds Dinah continuing to try to forge ahead on her own and move beyond her violent attack in The Longbow Hunters. She and Oliver have issues to work out, Dinah with determining what she wants from life and Oliver being haunted by his past. Together they make the perfect team, like any couple living in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying their town, Oliver perfecting his chili recipe, both commenting on the fact that PNW residents don’t use umbrellas despite the seemingly constant rain. Dinah is focused on her business at the floral shop, Oliver uses his resources to ward off criminals in Seattle one thug at a time.
This period of the Green Arrow series hit its stride without your typical superheroism, and although Oliver dons his costume a few times, finely crafted storytelling without the over-the-top action is why Green Arrow’s stories are unique among the medium. Oliver heads to Alaska to pursue a lead and inadvertently tracks a drug smuggling and car theft ring. Dinah, much like Laurel Lance in the current Arrow TV series, is feeling the pull to help others in the city outside the law.
Gotham is now two episodes past its pilot, with the premiere for Season Three of Arrow this week along with the pilot for The Flash. There’s one more DCU series–Constantine–coming later this month. We’ve seen the first entries of the DC Comics universe on TV for the Fall 2014 season, so how did the first of the season openers fare?
We had low expectations for Gotham. A series in Gotham with all the Bat-villains and Jim Gordon, but no Batman? Whose idea was that? Yet, tight writing and a story that proceeds at a fast pace coupled with a superb supporting cast of characters and actors behind the roles really make this a series we’re looking forward to each week. That “boy scout” lead role for cop Jim Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, must be a thankless job, and far less fun to play than all those villains, including the best reason to watch Gotham in Gordon’s partner Harvey Bullock played by Donal Logue. We reviewed the pilot earlier here at borg.com and we’re still happy with the direction of the series.
If the season opener is any indication of the course of Season Three of CW’s Arrow, then consistency is the theme for this series. We know these characters well now, and the actors all solidly fit in the shoes of our heroes, from Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen to David Ramsey as John Diggle, to Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak and Paul Blackthorne as Captain Lance, Arrow is a proven commodity.
Mix up Diggle’s role in Oliver’s team? Taunt us with a relationship between Oliver and Felicity? Kill off a major series hero? The writers are sure going to keep us on our toes this year.
The highlight of all the DCU series so far is the introduction of Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer–the man who would be The Atom. It’s not lost on anyone watching that we are seeing the former big screen Superman face off with the Green Arrow right before our eyes. As we saw with the NBC series Chuck, Routh is one of the best actors to pop in for guest starring roles. Let’s just not take too much time before we see him transform into The Atom. Please?
Nerd HQ wrapped this weekend’s panels for charity with some good Q&A sessions. If you haven’t seen earlier Nerd HQ panels, we at borg.com have been covering them since 2011 here when we saw Scott Bakula in San Diego at the inaugural event. Check out this link for past panels. We even got immortalized at the beginning of Zachary Levi’s introduction of Bakula as Levi was momentarily startled by a certain Tenctonese alien in the crowd in this video (“Ma’am, do you realize you have no hair on your head?”):
We’re still finding photos on the Web Comic-Con visitors snapping photos of us in that Alien Nation cosplay.
This weekend posted the first days of the panels from this year’s Nerd HQ here and here. Nerd HQ wrapped with more panels Sunday. Making his first appearance at Nerd HQ was the man playing one of our favorite characters, Arrow’s Oliver Queen, Stephen Amell:
The Winchester brothers returned again for this Supernatural panel with Mark Sheppard: