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.
As much as Oliver and Dinah work as a couple, specters of Oliver’s past continue to threaten their bonds. Oliver must face the beautiful and deadly archer-assassin Shado again, probably the best subordinate character of the entire 137 issues run of the Green Arrow series. On the run from the Yakuza, Shado prompts Oliver to revisit their own past together in flashbacks.
Artists contributing to this volume include Ed Hannigan, Dick Giordano, Joe Rubenstein, Frank McLaughlin, Paris Cullins, Eduardo Berreto, Randy Duburke, Arne Starr, and Gary Martin. Julia Lacquement provides the stunning color work that helped make the series stand out in its day. As to format, unlike most reprint trade editions, this volume is printed on good ol’ newsprint, which–much like the smell of bubble gum on trading cards–adds some nostalgia to readers’ enjoyment of the book.