Tag Archive: Black Canary


City of Heroes

If you haven’t watched last night’s second season premiere episode of CW’s Arrow, “City of Heroes,” then come back after you’ve seen it…

…and once you’re back… WOW!  What a season opener!  We couldn’t ask for more action and drama.  CW really delivered one of the best season two starts in recent memory.

At first… confusion!  John Diggle (David Ramsey) and Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) in an old plane flying over the island where Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was marooned for five years?  Parachuting to the island and revealing Oliver had used the island as a retreat from the turmoil he left back in Starling City was a great place to begin.  We don’t want Felicity and Oliver as love interests, but we can’t get enough of them working together, and from this episode it looks like she is a full partner in Oliver’s Starling clean-up business.  And she even had a new compound bow custom made for him.

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Damont Jordan Green Arrow and Black Canary

This year I continued my Comicon season by commissioning sketches from comic book artists of my favorite characters, Green Arrow and Black Canary.  I always like to let the artists do whatever vision they have with the duo and am always blown away by the results and at this year’s Planet Comicon it was no different.  It’s even better when you watch artists take on characters for the first time.

At Planet Comicon weekend itself, I met Greg Smallwood, who I found at Artists Alley with the forthcoming Dream Thief co-creator Jai Nitz.  Greg sketched this great piece for me, and I’d LOVE to see a series with this classic look.

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Black Canary never before looked more like she was going to take everyone out of commission with that sonic scream!

I also asked my friend Damont Jordan to give me his take on Green Arrow and Black Canary and gave him a few weeks after the Con to take his time with it.  Somewhere we started chatting up adding extra characters and I threw out the idea of something like “oh yeah, why not include Super Grover, too.”  And BAM!  Check this out:

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Cover Run Hughes cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

I’ve been meaning to get my hands on Adam Hughes’s Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes for some time now.  Hooray for Christmas presents!

Cover Run examines in great depth probably the best, powerhouse cover artist of Wonder Woman and Catwoman ever.  Hughes walks and talks us through the best and worst of his work and we learn a lot about him and his process.  It’s nice to confirm he’s well aware of these great influences that come through in his work, and his sometimes imitations of style from the likes of Maxfield Parrish, Kevin Nowlan, Mike Mignola, Gil Elvgren, Bob Peak, even Norman Rockwell and Edward Hopper, and a whole bunch of art nouveau.

Wonder Woman cover 184

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Barrowman in Arrow

If you haven’t started watching the CW Network series Arrow, yet, there’s no time like now.  You can catch up on past episodes online here,  and the next new episode will air in its standard time slot Wednesday, 7 p.m. Central/8 p.m. Eastern, January 16, 2013.

James Callis Dodger

The big news for the second half of the series’ first season is that Battlestar Galactica alumnus James Callis (Dr. Gaius Baltar) will be playing an international jewel thief named The Dodger who steals Starling City’s prized Sherwood Ruby.  The Dodger increases the tally from the 14 that we originally posted here back in September of characters taken at least in part from the DC Comics archive.  The villain, who in the comic book eventually became an ally of Oliver Queen, was created by long-time Green Arrow writer Judd Winick and artist Mike Norton in the recent Green Arrow and Black Canary series.

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Up until this week 13 confirmed DC Comics characters had been announced for the CW Network’s new TV series, Arrow, premiering October 10, 2012: Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell), his girlfriend Dinah Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Katie Cassidy), colleague in crime fighting The Huntress (Jessica De Gouw), the villain Deathstroke (not yet released), Speedy (formerly an alias of multiple characters but now Oliver’s sister Thea, played now by Willa Holland and referred to in the pilot episode by this nickname), the DCU villain Deadshot (Michael Rowe), Green Arrow Year One’s China White (Kelly Hu), Merlyn now Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), Queen Industries CEO Walter Steele (Colin Salmon), Judd Winick and Phil Hester’s Constantine Drakon (Darren Shahlavi)–a former nemesis of Oliver’s son Connor in more recent GA stories, Firestorm series character Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), and Mike Grell’s creation Moira Queen, Oliver’s mother (Susanna Thompson).

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Review by C.J. Bunce

The CW Network’s new TV series Arrow will not be aired until the Fall, but the CW previewed the entire pilot for the series last Wednesday and Friday to thousands of attendees at Comic-Con.  The auditorium erupted in cheers to several scenes in the series opener, starting some worthy buzz for this newest DC Comics Justice League superhero to hit the small screen.  Was it good?  Absolutely.  And even for a fan of the traditional character’s story, updates made for TV were well thought out and did little to detract from the core of what makes Green Arrow the unique character that has survived as a key comic book character for 70 years.  The pilot deftly managed to alter far less of the source material than, for example, the Green Lantern movie released in 2011, and in doing so created a truer, more refreshing story with appropriate nods to the past, and one that promises to survive, should it find its fan base.

Oliver Queen, played by Stephen Amell, is son of one of Starling City’s preeminent business magnates and head of Queen Industries, Robert Queen (played by Jamey Sheridan).  Oliver was on a yacht with his father and cheating below deck on his girlfriend Dinah “Laurel” Lance (a legal aid lawyer played by Katie Cassidy) with Laurel’s impressionable younger sister.  A surprise storm sinks the craft, the sister is sucked into the sea and drowns and Oliver, his dad, and a crewmember are left floating in a lifeboat.  Before running out of food Oliver’s dad kills the crewmember and himself to give Oliver a chance at survival.  All of this backstory is interspersed throughout the episode, building up to the revelation that the father and crewmember were dead by his father’s hand.  Oliver stays on the island five years until rescued by natives of another island sailing by.  By then he has become a sort of Grizzly Adams, hairy, physically strong and singularly adept at survival, including impressively wielding a bow and arrow.

When he returns home to Starling City, his mother, played by Susanna Thompson, is now romantically linked with his father’s former business partner and this does not sit well with Oliver.  Despite his numerous apologies, Laurel Lance has no place in her life for Oliver and blames Oliver for her sister’s death.  Oliver has his own sister, Thea (Willa Holland) a misguided youth tempted by parties and the like, and Oliver immediately returns to his role as big brother, irking the girl.  In one of the best updates to the traditional Green Arrow story, Oliver’s nickname for the sister is Speedy.  Green Arrow fans will know Speedy as the long-time sidekick of Green Arrow.  In the Phil Hester, Ande Parks, and Kevin Smith run of the Green Arrow comic book, a wayward girl with HIV named Mia was taken under Oliver’s wing, and she became Speedy, so there is some history with a female Speedy (in my view the best incarnation of his sidekick).  Hopefully the series will survive long enough for this to take on the Speedy story as its own fleshed-out subplot.  The first Speedy had drug issues, and you could see that history seeping into his sister’s character arc.

Laurel has been friends with Oliver’s best friend Tommy, played by Colin Donnell, since Oliver was presumed dead.  Tommy immediately steps back into a supportive role for his friend.  Another wealthy late-twenty-something guy like Oliver, Tommy surprisingly fit in well in the pilot.  A tad smarmy, he is the only one to really celebrate Oliver’s return and give him the “welcome home” party he deserves.  In his party scenes we see Oliver’s only similarity to Batman’s Bruce Wayne, a little window into the excesses shown by Christian Bale in his stints as the the caped crusader that were echoed in the traditional Oliver Queen.  Despite that slight similarity, series writers/creators Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim have shown Oliver to be a completely different superhero.  And this is best highlighted when Oliver begins cleaning up the streets of his former home, donning a green suede hooded outfit like Robin Hood.  The city is riddled with crime and nasty masked characters who try to kidnap Oliver, only for Oliver to kill them off one by one.  A superhero that kills is definitely against mainstream norms but it also has history with this character, most recently in the superb Justice League Cry for Justice mini-series, which left Oliver murdering the villain Prometheus in part for maiming the original Speedy, now called Red Arrow.

How often have you watched Batman let the Joker live after committing horrible crimes and wondered why he didn’t just end the Joker once and for all?  After Joker killed the second Robin (Jason Todd) in A Death in the Family?  After the Joker assaulted Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) and left her disabled in The Killing Joke?  It’s long overdue that the vigilantism that is the undercurrent of both Batman and Green Arrow comes through in a story.  It didn’t occur in the original Flash TV series, in any Superman movie or in the Green Lantern movie.  So the audience that previewed the new Arrow was introduced to an element never before seen in a major DC Comics character and they loved it.  And Amell, later in the panel, proved that he understands his character, saying, “You couldn’t expect that Oliver was going to undertake something so monumental without there being collateral damage.  You don’t have to agree with his tactics, but you should respect what he’s trying to do.”

The pilot set up a web of subplots that can be handled throughout the first season.  Oliver’s mother seems to be behind his kidnapping upon his return.  Why?  Who is she working with?  How does it relate to some secret Oliver’s father may have disclosed to him on the yacht?  Will Diggle be a friend to Oliver or spy for his mother?

British actor and genre favorite Paul Blackthorne (The Dresden Files) plays his American accent here as Detective Quentin Lance, Laurel’s father and an angry cop investigating the crime element in the city as well as trying to track the new hooded vigilante killing off local crimelords and their lackeys.  He also can’t move beyond his younger daughter’s death these five years later.  Adding further difficulty to Oliver’s covert superhero doings, after the botched kidnapping, Oliver’s mother hires a full-time bodyguard named John Diggle (played by David Ramsey) to accompany Oliver everywhere.  Initially easily ditched by Oliver, Diggle learns quickly, giving Oliver an extra obstacle to fulfilling his goal of secretly cleaning up the city.  Like Green Arrow in his history of DC Comics stories, his alias is not so expertly hidden and Tommy suspects that it is Oliver who is the new hooded vigilante–yet another future story element to investigate.  The pilot also included a few throwaway characters that probably shouldn’t survive the pilot–typical stereotypes that you’d stuff into a pilot as filler, including Roger R. Cross as Detective Hilton and Brian Markinson as villain Adam Hunt.  Does Detective Lance need a partner?  If there was a downside to the pilot it was too many second tier characters.

Diehard fans of any character or story will always wrestle with any change or update to a character when translated from its original source material.  Changes like updating Star City to Starling City actually help to pull the character from the comic book world into the real world, although my initial reaction was “why change that?” or “why not just place him in Seattle where he lived for decades as written by Mike Grell?”  I asked Neal Adams at Comic-Con to give me his take on the new series, and he’s just not interested.  Adams, along with Denny O’Neil, created the modern, cocky and cool Oliver Queen at the tail end of the 1960s.  The biggest changes to Green Arrow later came from Mike Grell, who really amplified the role of Dinah Lance into Oliver’s story, and made Green Arrow the ultimate urban hunter.  I think Grell would at least like the direction this new Oliver Queen appears to be heading.  Do I wish this was a scene for scene adaptation of Grell’s Longbow Hunters series or his other stories?  You bet.  But since nothing ever matches what you’d envision, this at least gets Green Arrow a long overdue screen adaptation (the rest of the key seven Justice League members: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and Green Lantern have had at least their own animated series over the years), keeps Black Canary as his love interest, and features Ollie showing his stuff as urban archer.  If the writers can keep the series interesting and fresh, people will watch and we can see some expanded stories if the series will last.  When I look at series like Supernatural and Smallville, whose early episodes seemed to me to be very thin, it should be a no-brainer for CW to make this series into something just as successful.  Amell later in the panel admitted that he hopes it makes it ten years.  Wishful thinking?

After the preview of the pilot, series stars Stephen Amell and Katie Cassidy and writers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim responded to some well thought out questions from the panel moderator.  During the pilot Amell’s voice seemed very familiar and I had to look away to figure out who I was hearing.  He sounds a lot like a young, cocky Tom Cruise, from around the time of Top Gun.  Amell’s command of the character comes through in his voiceovers and Cruise’s early “immature jerk” roles seem to be reflected albeit not intentionally in Amell’s performance as the cocky side of Oliver.  I know many don’t like voiceovers, but I am one who prefers the Harrison Ford voiceover Blade Runner to the edited version, so I thought the voiceover here was also a good touch.  Amell responded very passionately to questions about playing Oliver Queen.  Amell sounds like he is inside Oliver’s head, both in voice delivery and in the word choice drafted by the writers.

The series features an older cast than Smallville, less teen soap opera, less typical CW, and more adult drama, if maybe at the younger end of the adult set.  Writer Andrew Kreisberg calls the show a crime drama, a family drama and a romance.  But even with that age block the actors appeared youthfully ambitious and eager about their new gig.

When asked whether we’ll see Cassidy’s Laurel Lance turn into action heroine Black Canary, in particular donning the character’s signature fishnet stockings, it seemed clear that both she planned on it saying she is “definitely ready” and Kreisberg and Guggenheim couldn’t say no to the roar from the crowd.  Kreisberg said that fans would see this transpire “not as soon as you want, but a lot sooner than you think.”  The creators didn’t shy away from the fact that they wanted and selected attractive stars for the series, reflecting the attractive characters from the source material.  Amell was the first who auditioned for Oliver and according to the writers, he was immediately selected for the role.

A key scene in one of the trailers, reported here several weeks ago, shows Amell doing a nearly impossible feat climbing a series of workout bars.  Amell said no CGI was used, and he, indeed, did these scenes on his own.  One of the writers added that that was “something you won’t see in Batman.”

CW revealed Kelly Hu will be guest starring in a future episode as the DC villain, China White, first appearing in the 2007 mini-series Green Arrow: Year One.  As I had speculated this past February here, the writers acknowledged relying heavily on the modern origin story in Green Arrow: Year One, illustrated by the artist known as Jock.  Not a classic Green Arrow story by any means, it did seem to serve as backdrop for at least the pilot episode.  A very recent villain like China White seems to me to be DC Comics taking an easy route.  Why not some bigger villains?  At least Deathstroke was disclosed as another villain we can look for in the series.  The writers advised watching each episode for “Easter Eggs,” like this Deathstroke mask found in one of the show’s trailers:

All said, I had trepidations about taking my favorite character into his own series, but I am quite pleased so far and am looking forward to watching the full series in the Fall CW lineup.  The pilot for Arrow premieres to the rest of the world Wednesday, October 10, 2012.

I will feature the actual Arrow costume in a later post, as it was on display at the SDCC DC Comics booth.

One additional benefit to attended the previews of the pilot was a convention exclusive comic book for the series that I was happy to get my hands on, pictured here with a cover by none other than the great Green Arrow artist, Mike Grell:

Full trailers can be found in my earlier post here.

By C.J. Bunce

One of the Midwest’s best pop culture and comic book conventions was this past weekend, Planet Comicon, which has been Kansas City’s largest fan convention for more than a dozen years.  The show seemed to be bursting from its seams this year with thousands of guests, and appears to be outgrowing its venue at the Overland Park International Trade Center.

The film and TV headliners for this year’s show included Edward James Olmos, best known to sci-fi fans for his role in Blade Runner and as Adama in the Battlestar Galactica reboot series.  He signed autographs and took photos with fans both days of the show.  Here he is with Erin Gray, who appeared with other actors from the 1979-1981 TV series Buck Rogers and the 25th Century: 

Gray also appeared on an episode of the Syfy Channel’s Hollywood Treasure last year.

The other featured major guest from film and TV was Billy Dee Williams, best known as Lando Calrissian in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but also as Harvey Dent alongside Michael Keaton in the 1989 Batman film.  His current work includes a stint on USA’s White Collar.

Billy Dee also appeared at the show both days.  (I offered a woman in line $5 to say “Billy Dee, Billy Dee, Billy Dee!” when she finally met him but didn’t take me up on it.  And it’s OK if you don’t get that reference).

Early Saturday morning legendary comic book artist Michael Golden is getting fueled up before embarking on a sketch of Green Arrow:

Green Arrow by Michael Golden. How cool is that?

Michael is known for his work on such titles like Marvel Comics series The ‘Nam, GI Joe Yearbook, Star Wars, and Micronauts.  He is also the co-creator of the X-Men character Rogue.

I’ve been a fan of the different styles Mike Norton uses in his art for quite a while.  Here he is signing one of his comic pages for the Green Arrow/Black Canary series, where he did the pencil work and comic book legend Bill Sienkiewicz provided the ink work:

Mike is working on a creator-owned project currently and has previously worked on Runaways, Gravity, the Young Justice animated series comic book.  He was actively sketching pages for fans at the show and produced probably a dozen at least over the weekend, including this great image for me:

Unfortunately Bernie Wrightson wasn’t sketching at this year’s convention, but he was signing plenty of shirts and books for his Frankenstein book.  Wrightson’s horror artwork goes back several decades, with his first published comic work with House of Mystery in 1969.  He co-created Swamp Thing in 1971.  His work has appeared in Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella, and Batman: The Cult.  Here Wrightson is at a signing table with Freddie Williams II and his wife Kiki:

Freddie is well known for his work on his Robin series, and is currently one of the DC Comics top artists.  We reviewed his and JT Krul’s Captain Atom series here at borg.com a few weeks ago.  Freddie was busy creating sketches for fans and speaking on panels at the show.

Currently working on projects for Dynamite Comics, Bionic Man writer Phil Hester and Lone Ranger writer Ande Parks had pages of original artwork as well as copies of their books new and old that they were signing for fans, including a lot of low-priced original art from their run on the DC Comics Green Arrow series:

It’s great that these guys have tackled both the writing and illustration sides of comic book creation.

I got to catch up again with a couple well known Kansas City authors.  Here, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, two of the best known authors of Star Trek novels, talk with fans at the show.

The NBC TV series Heroes co-creator Tim Sale was signing books and art at his booth:

Sales’ past work includes art in Batman: Dark Victory, Batman: The Long Halloween, Daredevil: Yellow, Hulk: Grey, Spider-Man: Blue and Superman For All Seasons.  (What’s with these color titles, anyway?).  His unique stylized paintings on Heroes featured into the plot of the series.

I spent time chatting with Rob B. Davis, currently providing illustrations for a Sherlock Holmes series and past artist for Malibu’s Deep Space Nine comic book series, writer Jai Nitz, who was juggling signing copies of his Kato and Tron: Betrayal series while moderating different comic book panels at the show, borg.com writer Art Schmidt, local writer Justin Cline manning the front of the convention, and Todd Aaron Smith, who sketched this great Black Canary image for me:

Smith had provided storyboards for Family Guy and other animation art for shows like South Park and various DC Comics and Marvel Comics TV series.  Current Marvel Comics lead writer Jason Aaron could be found with some good lines of fans waiting to get copies of his various Hulk, Wolverine and X-men series signed:

The facility was packed wall to wall with plenty of booths selling everything from graphic novels to collectible action figures, original comic book art, and comic book back issues.  Here, Elite Comics comic book store owner William Binderup appears to be raking in some cash from sales of comics at his booth:

Show producer Chris Jackson seemed pleased with the success of this year’s convention.

And of course there were plenty of cosplayers.  Here a few Batman characters huddled for a photo:

But I think the best was this “Hello Kitty meets Stormtrooper” mash-up:

No doubt it would have been a far different Star Wars had Luke showed up to rescue the princess with this outfit.

 

As we predicted here last month, the CW Network is trickling out details of the new Green Arrow series Arrow.  The biggest news is that veteran of several Star Trek roles, Susanna Thompson, has been cast as Green Arrow/Oliver Queen’s mother Moira Queen.  Although not a regularly featured character in past Green Arrow comic book series (although Queen’s mom had a role recently in Green Arrow: Into the Woods), having a seasoned genre character actor like Thompson in the series should bring some credibility to the show that is to feature several young actors in lead roles.

Mike Mayhew’s take on Moira Queen

Susanna Thompson may be best known for playing the Borg Queen opposite Kate Mulgrew as Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek Voyager.  She also played the Romulan Varel in the excellent classic episode “The Next Phase”–

and Jaya the inmate in the episode “Frame of Mind,” both from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  She later played trill Doctor Lenara Kahn opposite Terry Farrell’s Jadzia Dax in the Deep Space Nine episode “Rejoined.”

Thompson as a Trill in Deep Space Nine “Rejoined”

She has played plenty of other roles, including characters in Alien Nation: Dark Horizon, The X-Files, Twilight Zone, Law and Order: SVU, Without a Trace, Cold Case and another queen, Queen Rose Benjamin on Kings.

Katie Cassidy on New Girl

And it seems like the best way to get a role on Arrow is to have guest-starred on last (and this) year’s best comedy series, New Girl.  Yesterday the CW released that Oliver Queen’s girlfriend Dinah Lance aka Black Canary will be played by Supernatural actress Katie Cassidy.  Although in Dinah’s best incarnation in the comic book series she ran a floral shop called Sherwood Florist in Seattle with Ollie, the creators threw that back story out the window and have Dinah as a lawyer.  Cassidy is the daughter of 1970s singer/pop star David Cassidy (remember The Partridge Family? “I Think I Love You”? Yep, that guy).  She actually looks a bit like her dad.

Katie Cassidy on Supernatural

So will the producers go the right direction with dark-haired Dinah who sports a blonde wig, or wimp out and make her dyed blonde like recent incarnations?  Cassidy has played roles both ways and looks like she could carry off the part (visually at least) either way.  Cassidy’s past roles include Zoe on 7th Heaven (with ex-Star Trek actors Stephen Collins and Catherine Hicks), Ruby on Supernatural, Trish on Harper’s Island, Ella on Melrose Place, and Juliet on Gossip Girl, along with roles in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010), Click, and When a Stranger Calls (2006).  Most recently she played Brooke on the “Wedding” episode of New Girl.

Katie Cassidy on Harper’s Island

Behind the scenes, costume designer Colleen Atwood will be creating the new supersuit for Green Arrow and hopefully Black Canary as well.  Originally it was rumored that Tish Monaghan, a veteran costume designer for films Insomnia, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008), Happy Gilmore, the Cats & Dogs series, the Twilight series, and the short-lived TV reboot of Bionic Woman would be doing the costume.

Cliff Chiang’s Black Canary

We reported earlier that Stephen Amell had been cast in the lead role as Oliver Queen.  Amell can be seen currently as Cece’s off-the-wall boyfriend on New Girl.  His high energy performance on that series may indicate he is a great choice for the role as the archer superhero.

We’ll share more about this new series as we hear it!

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by C.J. Bunce

(spoilers!)

DC Comics has released a hardcover compilation of both the Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special one-shot plus the first five issues of the “Dead Again/Child Support” storyline from Green Arrow/Black Canary Issues #1-5.  Judd Winick wrote the story with Amanda Conner illustrating the Wedding Special and Cliff Chiang pencilling GA/BC Issues #1-4 and Andre Coelho pencilling Issue #5.

On paper, the first chapter, the Wedding Special, is what you would expect.  Put together the two superheroes who have had an off-again/on-again relationship for pretty much decades, and after years of talking about it we get the first big superhero wedding since Clark Kent and Lois Lane.  Of course, they couldn’t just put the two characters together and give us a storyline of what it would be like to have a superhero couple, like “the early years of The Incredibles,” or something close to that.  Instead, they cram together some backstory, bachelor party, etc. and a wedding into a few short pages.  Only Batman is smart enough to return a negative on the RSVP.  As expected, the marriage is doomed from the start.  Someone gets wind of all the superheroes being in the same place at the same time for the wedding, nukes are launched, and it becomes another Justice League fight scene.

Worst yet, once the dust settles and Oliver and Dinah get home, we learn that a big element was missing from the wedding, as Ollie is an imposter and tries to murder Dinah on her wedding night, and she must kill him to defend herself.

Among all of this is plenty silliness and cartoony characterizations that amount to a light-hearted romp up just to the last scene.  It is difficult to expect anything else from a one-shot about a superhero wedding, so you either go with it or stop reading.  Flashing back to other incarnations of Green Arrow and Black Canary, such as those documented in the For Better For Worse compilation (to be reviewed here later), it becomes clear that this really is more of a superhero wedding–focusing on the costumed personas–more than a wedding of Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance.  And in chapter one you are left to hope for seeing that wedding someday.  Back in the prior volume of the Green Arrow series, as well as the volume before that, we did get a fair bit of family life, and the stories seemed pretty good at the time, with son Conner (Green Arrow 2) as well as Mia (the new Speedy) rounding out the family.  The past run at the trials of a superhero family was the closest thing we have seen to the clever The Incredibles film by Pixar.

I am not a fan of Amanda Conner’s trademark cartoony renderings of Black Canary.  She draws her looking ditsy, and combining the fact that Ollie and Dinah spend the first chapter swearing at each other in asterisks, etc., Green Arrow and Black Canary are caricatures of a reality show bridezilla-fest.  In stark contrast is Chiang’s excellent covers, which seem to nicely peg a great looking superhero team.  The colorist work is also well done–the entire book is finished in vibrant colors.

The rest of the Wedding Album consists next of Winick’s “Dead Again” storyline and there we begin to see some family taking shape.  The highlight is Cliff Chiang, the artist currently getting high praise for the New 52 Wonder Woman series.  Going back now and viewing his earlier work is great fun, as he definitely has his own, recognizable style.  And in the first chapter of the “Dead Again” story, we learn that the man who married Dinah, and who was killed by Dinah, was a shapeshifter called Everyman, and Ollie is held prisoner by a doppleganger for Athena, and the Amazons.  No doubt that Chiang’s work on Green Arrow/Black Canary and this Amazon storyline propelled him into the artist role for the current Wonder Woman series.

Chiang original cover art for GA BC issue 1

But you can’t knock Winick’s writing for the rest of the Wedding Album.  The story is great, beginning with Dinah and Mia arriving at the island of the Amazons to figure out why they took Ollie and Connor springing Ollie from their jail, including having to loan Ollie his underwear since Ollie was, of course, imprisoned naked by the Amazons.  The Amazons want Dinah (not Diana aka Wonder Woman) to lead and train the new Amazon warriors.  But in their escape Connor is shot and near death.  In the aftermath, the family comes together and in the last chapter “Child Support,” Oliver and Dinah actually get married.  The last chapter was illustrated ably by Andre Coelho.  Only once in the last few chapters does the story falter a bit, when we learn the reason Everyman finally made himself known to Dinah on their wedding night.

For the most part, the Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Album is worth checking out, if not for a good Judd Winick story, then to see more of Cliff Chiang’s nice artwork.

What better way to celebrate borg.com’s 100,000th site visit than share some news about one of our favorite superheroes?  Hollywood writer Jason McClain alerted me to this news item, as it’s no secret I’m one of the biggest Green Arrow fans around.  The news?

The CW Network has ordered a TV series pilot featuring Green Arrow that will, happily, not be related to the Smallville series’ spin on the character.  The producer/writers tapped to create the pilot are Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim, the two writers responsible for last year’s Green Lantern movie, and ex-writer for the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic book series, Andrew Kreisberg.

Kreisberg took over the comic book series after Judd Winick moved off the GA/BC title.  He teamed with artist Mike Norton after Cliff Chiang left the series.  I have read Kreisberg’s take on Green Arrow and Black Canary, and I liked it.  Kreisberg wrote some good modern stories featuring the trio in both a lighthearted and action-packed way.  He clearly knows the roots of these characters and their strong relationships with each other, and hopefully he can convey that into the script for the pilot and get it onto the small screen.  He also once acknowledged that there is no other superhero team out there that is a married couple, that that IS Green Arrow’s story.  Right on!

Here are some unsolicited recommendations for Kreisberg, Berlanti and Guggenheim to make the series get off the ground right:

(1)  You might view your TV show as an ensemble show like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  An ensemble genre work usually is better than a solo character-focused show (think about the failed series The Cape and why it didn’t work, for example) because although we all loved the title character of Buffy Summers, we loved supporting characters Willow and Xander even more.  And like the best Batman stories, letting the lead hero take the back seat once in a while is a good thing.  At the same time, I didn’t watch Smallville because Clark never donned the supersuit.  Show Green Arrow in action with the bow once in a while, but just not in every scene.

(2)  Take the best of the Green Arrow canon and it will easily translate to today.  The “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline that put both Green Arrow and Green Lantern on the map and made us want to know more about these characters was a road trip across America.  Something like the Winchester boys moving across country with every new episode in Supernatural.  You might laugh, but On the Road with Charles Kuralt, the CBS segment where he took an off-the-beaten path tour of America, lasted decades for a reason.  Viewers liked to see where he would go next.  You’ll have an unlimited number of settings for your story, too, if you keep the team moving, assuming they let you work with all three characters.

The Kid, Etta, and Butch--archetype for Ollie, Dinah, and Hal

(3)  Everyone likes a good “buddy picture.”  I have mentioned before how the “Hard Traveling Heroes” storyline reflected the 1969 world view, and 1969 entertainment.  Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid came out in 1969 and was still in theaters when Denny O’Neil wrote the classic Green Arrow and Green Lantern crossover.  Did some of the hit movie rub off on O’Neil?  Who knows.  If you pay attention, you’ll see that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is a buddy picture with three buddies, almost a “love triangle,” including some brotherly love between Butch and Ross’s character Etta Place.  That’s right, Katherine Ross’s role as the Kid’s girlfriend, and Butch’s pal, was as important to the film as each of the title characters.  Black Canary/Dinah Lance could have that same crucial role in a TV series about Ollie and Hal.

(4)  Even if Warner Brothers wants to keep Hal Jordan/Green Lantern out of the series, you must include Black Canary/Dinah Lance.  Don’t botch this by pulling ideas from the Dinah Lance of the short-lived Birds of Prey series.  It was good for what it was.  But you want dark-haired Dinah that sports the blonde wig used to go incognito, not the stilted friend of Oracle.  Green Arrow/Oliver Queen can go solo from time to time, but only when he can return to Dinah is he at his best.

(5)  Stay away from the DC 52 Green Arrow storyline and the obvious idea of having Oliver participate in some form of anti-big business Occupy Wall Street movement.  Sure, in real life, Ollie would be leading up the OWS marches, but I think most viewers don’t want a show about superheroes in current politics and as much as everyone hates greedy corporate America, more personal storylines will appeal to modern viewers.   The current series Leverage does this very well.  Think local.  Don’t have Ollie take on all of the world’s problems, have him take on each human problem bit by bit, maybe town by town.  It worked brilliantly for Adams and O’Neil.

Original Mike Norton art from a story under Kreisberg's turn as writer for Green Arrow/Black Canary

(6)  Oliver Queen is not Bruce Wayne.  He’s much more layered.  Queen is not a billionaire.  He lost all his money, and that allowed him to get interesting.  Don’t even waste time on his backstory as billionaire as it will only emphasize his role as a one-time obvious Batman knockoff.

(7)  Read up on your Mike Grell era of Green Arrow stories.  Grell was an ex-government intelligence guy who ended up writing spy novels and comic books.  He took the Neal Adams/Denny O’Neil Green Arrow and Black Canary and brought them into downtown Seattle and injected the backwoods survival skills and mixed it with street smarts.  He made Ollie the Urban Warrior.  This itself harkened back to the iconic Green Lantern Issue #76’s story whereby Green Arrow first takes on a greedy slumlord that Hal Jordan was unintentionally actually helping.

Personal sketch of Ollie and Dinah by Mike Grell

(8)  We know from past interviews that Andrew Kreisberg likes the role of Green Arrow and Black Canary as Oliver and Dinah–husband and wife.  Consider building on Mike Grell’s series, where they run the Sherwood Florist in Seattle by day.  And what the heck, work in Mia and Connor if you can.  And if you must update costumes, you gotta bring back Ollie’s goatee.  As Mikel Janin proved with his excellent recent update to similarly costumed Zatanna, Dinah’s fishnets can be optional.

(9)  The Flash TV series had a lot going for it.  One was the age of the actor in the lead roll, John Wesley Shipp, former soap actor.  He wasn’t 20-something.  He was 35 and looked like he could be a superhero in real life.  If you’re staying away from Smallville (a great move) then give us heroes who have had time to gain some wisdom, not some newbies who have no way of practically knowing all they would need to know in real life to get through their trials on the show (the TV series Bones is a big example of this glaring absurdity with its only-young cast that has knowledge you could only gain by being twice the age of the cast members).  Look for actors in their 30s or or even early 40s.

(10)  Suggested title?  If you take any of the ideas above, how about Hard Traveling, Hard Traveling Hero, or Hard Traveling Heroes?  Of course there are always other former storyline titles like Quiver.

I have no idea what limitations will be placed on Kreisberg & Co. as they work out the script for the TV series pilot.  Maybe they have no intention of including Hal and Dinah, but if they can, it could be something new and different and very fun.

If you want to see Andrew Kreisberg’s stories while writing for Ollie and Dinah, you can buy compilations, including: Green Arrow/Black Canary: Enemies List, Green Arrow/Black Canary: Big Game, and Green Arrow/Black Canary: Five Stages.

And Andrew, if you need help with story ideas, drop me a line.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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