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Tag Archive: Oliver Queen


  

Review by C.J. Bunce

Life in California is not all that sunny for everyone.  The fourth and last of our reviews of the initial release of graphic novels from new publisher TKO Studios looks at Goodnight Paradise, a peek into the day-by-day drudgery and dim chance of survival of the homeless.  When a homeless girl is found dead in a dumpster, the man who found her has enough information to find her killer.  Unfortunately his mind is addled through a rough life, alcoholism, and mental illness, and he’s struggling to put it all together.

Readers are introduced to a story “ripped from the headlines” like an old Law & Order episode, as real-world tech corporation Snapchat makes new millionaires and billionaires, and outside its doors across Venice Beach the poor and the homeless are getting shuffled away, the culture of the town turned upside down as real estate shifts and the past culture of the area is squeezed out.  The people living in the alleys all are at the end of their ropes, just to varying degrees.  As more young people hit the streets without income sources, those with mental illnesses run out of their prescription drugs to keep them in control, compounding their struggle as they spiral into confusion and anger.  Enter Tessa, a young woman who leaves home to come to the coast to see the ocean.  She befriends a small, tight group of people who protect each other.  When she videotapes a woman being drugged for sex by one of the new rich types at a party, she’s hunted down by his thug to protect the guy’s reputation.  But is everything as it seems in Goodnight Paradise?

Writer Joshua Dysart (Unknown Soldier, B.P.R.D.) creates a deconstructed superhero of sorts out of his homeless protagonist.  This man is like DC Comics’ Oliver Queen, but stripped of his money and his sanity, yet his sense of right and wrong remain intact.  Artist Alberto Ponticelli (Unknown Soldier), with colors by Giulia Brusco (Scalped), introduce readers to layered characters in scenes not using sleight of hand so much as revealing the realities of perception and bias.  Scenes that seem one way at first only are rediscovered by the reader to have their meanings changed when seen and explained from the perspectives of other characters–in a way Ponticelli shows the comic book medium can take advantage of.

Here is a preview of Goodnight Paradise:

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It’s arrival brought us a new age in superhero television series–arguably the best comic book TV adaptation since the original 1980s series The Flash that starred John Wesley Shipp.  It’s Arrow, the CW Network’s groundbreaking story of Oliver Queen starring Stephen Amell.  Unlike the successful Marvel Comics movie series, Arrow looked outside the comic book’s core stories and expanded the source material to allow the inclusion of B, C, and D level villains plus many superheroes, ultimately including most of the second tier Justice League members.  Surpassing the DC’s movie efforts and Marvel’s attempts at small-screen serials, Arrow has continued to make comic books come alive for four years since we first reviewed the world premiere viewing of the pilot at San Diego Comic-Con here at borg.com back in July 2012.

The stories have been different but loyal to its origins.  Instead of Star City or Seattle the stories were based in Starling City.  Sidekicks nicknamed Speedy became split into his sister Thea and Roy Harper.  Two Black Canary characters were formed from two sisters instead of the mother and daughter split in the classic stories.  And Green Lantern is not in the picture at all.  Along the way the series split off Barry Allen’s Flash into his own fun series, a dozen other heroes and villains joined DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and this year CW’s DC on TV ties in Supergirl.  So many untapped stories can now be told as the DC universe is apparently unshackeled barring only interconnected stories with Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman, who will be featured on the big screen next year instead.

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Tomorrow night the fifth episode of Season 5 airs.  For those fans who want to delve into an “in-universe” look at Oliver Queen and his efforts to save his city, Titan Books has released Arrow: Oliver Queen’s Dossier, a detailed, 160-page scrapbook of notes, newspaper articles, documents, and records collected by Starling City’s emerald archer as he investigated crimes in the first three seasons of the TV series.

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Westley The Princess Bride Cary Elwes

Oliver Queen, Supergirl, Firestorm, Captain Jack Harkness, Amy Pond, and Princess Buttercup’s Westley all set to appear

For more than a decade Planet Comicon has been one of the Midwest’s biggest comic book and pop culture conventions and that was no less so in 2014 when it became the largest attended event in the history of the Kansas City Convention Center.  Last year’s show featured William Shatner and the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and this year Planet Comicon is bringing in some of today’s biggest names from TV and movies featuring fan-favorite superheroes.

Stephen Amell Oliver Queen

The star of the CW’s Arrow, Stephen Amell will be attending the event along with cousin Robbie, who starred in Tomorrow People and is the new Firestorm on the CW’s The Flash.  Genre mega-star John Barrowman, Doctor Who and Torchwood’s Captain Jack Harkness, will also headline the Con this year.  Barrowman played Arrow’s key villain from seasons 1 and 2, the Dark Archer.

Amy Pond

Most famous for playing the Doctor Who companion Amelia Pond opposite Matt Smith, Karen Gillan will make a rare convention appearance this year in Kansas City.  Gillan starred most recently in 2014’s blockbuster hit Guardians of the Galaxy as Nebula. Also appearing from Guardians of the Galaxy is Michael Rooker, who played the blue-faced mentor to Star-Lord, Yondu, along with Sean Gunn, who was the physical on-set actor as Rocket.

Guardians Michael Rooker

Rooker appeared on The Walking Dead, and also appearing from that series will be Scott Wilson, known to fans for his role as Hershel Greene.  Wilson has starred in plenty of TV shows and movies, including The X-Files, CSI, The Last Samurai, The Twilight Zone, and the adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Radio Free Albemuth.

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Oliver Queen and trick arrow to save the day

More than 25 years after Frank Miller and Klaus Janson’s four-part prestige format comic book series/graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns changed the landscape for comic books thereafter, DC Animation produced a quality animated adaptation.  Released in two parts, we reviewed The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 here last year.   Part 1 was a faithful adaptation of roughly the first half of the original graphic novel.  It proved first and foremost that Christopher Nolan really pulled his key story elements in his Dark Knight trilogy of films from Frank Miller’s work.  Part 1 really keyed in on Nolan’s Bane character.  Both Part 1 and the Dark Knight trilogy failed to provide an exciting narrative, however, when compared to  The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, now on video.

Part 2 is every bit as faithful to the original as Part 1.  Commissioner Gordon has already stepped down and was replaced by a new commissioner whose first act is issuing a warrant for Batman.  The vacuous Doctor Wolper brings his patient The Joker to appear on Miller’s take on The David Letterman Show, only for The Joker to release a gas bombing that kills the entire audience as well as the host, leaving The Joker’s trademark grin on all their faces.  From the first sentences of Part 2, you know this is not a kid’s Batman film.  The Joker escapes and proceeds to bloodily murder everyone in his path until he confronts Batman in the bowels of Gotham City.  Here the classic confrontation between the long-time foes plays out exactly as it should.

Christopher Reeve poster

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By C.J. Bunce

The TV series Arrow has done some surprisingly good things with the classic DC Comics character Green Arrow.  Many elements of Green Arrow’s more than 70 years as a popular superhero at least get touched on in the series, and if you ask around, comic book fans and more mainstream TV viewers are watching, enjoying, and talking about the show.  It blends the best of the superhero genre, a good adventure series, and yes, a bit of the CW Network’s prime time “soap” formula.   Oliver Queen gets his billionaire status, he even has a potential sidekick in a sister with substance abuse issues he calls Speedy, he has his bow and arrows, and one thing that has helped define him for the past 50 years–his love interest, Dinah, now Laurel, Lance.  Without his Black Canary, you don’t really have Green Arrow.  Just look back to the best of Green Arrow’s past via writers Denny O’Neil and Mike Grell.  But if there is one thing missing in the TV series Arrow, it is the most obvious thing of all: the “Green”.  It’s not just a word describing the guy’s supersuit.  At least it doesn’t have to be.  In a time when the green movement should be at its strongest, it’s ironic that the creators of the show have shied away from the concept.  Sure, the new Oliver Queen is all about saving his city.  But the Oliver Queen we have all loved since 1971 is an activist–ever since he first chastised Green Lantern for not watching out for everyman, not just every alien.  Oliver is outspoken.  He is political.  He is progressive.  He’d probably be considered a social liberal today. This defines Green Arrow and it has for years.  Arrow–the series–is getting far closer to the core of Oliver Queen than the writers of the New 52 over the past year.

Granted it is difficult to make a mainstream TV lead be political like Green Arrow has been in decades of the comic books.  But even the New 52 writers have stayed away from the core beliefs behind Oliver Queen in favor of a more safe, merely anti-corporate, frustrated figure, who just happens to wield a bow and arrow (and to be fair the creators are pretty much adapting the modern comic book mini-series Year One, itself a reboot). And Jim Lee even had his artists nix the goatee–a physical element that has come back into style in recent years more than ever.   Why eliminate such elements when they could only help Green Arrow’s mystique–why take away the very traits that can make him modern?

So what does Green Arrow have to do with Great Pacific, a new series this month from Image Comics?

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Matt Fraction and David Aja’s new Hawkeye series is one of the best Green Arrow stories I’ve read in a good while.  It’s a strange thing, as I had no idea these guys could be interchangeable.  Sure, they both use bow and arrow as their chief weapon.  Green Arrow has been around since the 1930s and Hawkeye the 1960s so I must admit I looked at Hawkeye as a Green Arrow knockoff, nothing more.  After his supporting role as a good guy converted to bad in this year’s Avengers movie I figured I’d relegate him to the hundreds of other characters that don’t make it to my reading pile.  I was pretty underwhelmed despite some nice trick arrow moves in that film.  So I had no intention of checking out the Marvel Comics new Hawkeye solo series.  But a very Cliff Chiang-inspired set of covers to Issues #1 and #2 this week at the local comic hangout caused me to look closer, and Matt Fraction’s name caused me to flip through Issue #1.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A lot can be said for the DC Comics New 52 reboot, and without re-hashing every bit of that for the umpteenth time, one single high note comes to mind.  With so many #1 titles, with stories starting for the most part from scratch, it allows anyone to become a new reader, anyone to become a fan of something they weren’t a fan of before.

Oddly enough, when DC Comics said that they would have 52 titles, I actually believed them.  I am glad they didn’t stick with that approach.  Several books have been layered into the New 52, some relevant, some not.  Titles like Batman Incorporated and Huntress.  Another title I was surprised to see was Smallville: Season 11.  And I am surprised it is a good series adaptation.

Smallville, the TV series, at its high point had millions of fans.  Over its incredible ten-year run on the CW Network, it boasted both comic book fans and a mainstream audience.  It never grabbed me, but once in a while I’d watch an episode and could see the appeal.  As TV series are concerned, my preference was the earlier, slightly different but still similar Lois and Clark TV series.  That series featured Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane and Dean Cain as Clark Kent, and–one big difference from Smallville–Clark donning the Superman suit and cape.  Although I really liked Tom Welling in the remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog, it’s probably that distinction that kept me away from Smallville.

Smallville: Season 11 gives fans of the TV series Tom Welling finally portraying Superman, in the suit, and continues the story of the characters where the series left off.  This works like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, etc. series–so long as every other panel is drawn to look like the actors who played the characters on TV, this can work.  It actually works really well with Smallville Issue #1.

Writer Brian Q. Miller knows the characters enough to make you feel like you’re watching the show, with snappy dialogue and a relevant story.  He should, as he wrote for the TV series.  The banter between Clark and Lois is likely the best part of the first issue, with Lois as a particularly funny character.  Pere Perez’s renderings aren’t picture perfect but he often nails the actors’ appearances and their roles, enough so that Smallville: Season 11 Issue #1 hits all its marks as you’d hope.  Perez gives readers several good splash pages of Welling as Superman.  Better yet, Miller and Perez give a substantial part of the story to Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and his wife Chloe Sullivan-Queen.  Here the differences between Smallville and the New 52 series are obvious, including the fact Oliver is married, confirming Smallville as a parallel universe story in the DCU.   As much as I know diehard Superman fans love the current Action Comics series, by comparison I found Smallville: Season 11 Issue #1 more interesting than Action Comics Issue #1.  I was also surprised I prefer the Justin Hartley-influenced Green Arrow look, vibe, and story in Smallville to the current New 52 Green Arrow series.

At a dense 33 pages, including an alternate cover image and recap of the TV series season 1, with Smallville: Season 11 you’ll for once feel like you got your money’s worth.

As the #1 Green Arrow fan around, I’ve just got to say I was blown away by the first trailer for Arrow, just greenlighted for the Fall season on the CW Network.  If I can’t have the TV series that I see in my mind, then I’m glad the one that is actually getting to the screen looks this good.  For the first time since the Flash TV series DC Comics is expanding its cinematic reach with a focus beyond the tier 1 Justice League superheroes.  Arrow very well could be DC Comics’ first step toward a future Justice League movie that could try to compete with the enormously successful new multi-superhero Avengers movie.

Check out this great first look at the series:

Stephen Amell looks like a good choice for a young Oliver Queen.  And out of nowhere one of the best genre actors around shows up–Paul Blackthorne–Harry Dresden himself from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files.  Blackthorne, who was one of our top picks last year for the next James Bond, appears to be the second lead actor featured in the series, girlfriend Dinah Lance’s father, the man trying to find out who is behind the vigilante hero called Green Arrow.

As expected, the series is taking a Green Arrow: Year One approach, and Amell looks every bit the marooned Oliver Queen from artist Jock‘s visionary mini-series.  Amell is also reminiscent of artist Phil Hester’s initial Green Arrow tales written byKevin Smith, showing a shaggy bearded version of Ollie.

This second teaser focuses more on Oliver Queen, and gives us a look at Amell and how he plans to portray the character:

Nice arrow work with the tennis ball scene–a great idea for showing his skill.  And the cinematography doesn’t feel like the normal CW soap opera series we’re used to seeing.  I hope that trait carries through to the final product.

And check out his mini-Batcave-like retreat!  No question–I for one am looking forward now to this dark superhero series more than the new The Dark Knight Rises movie.

Finally, this mini-preview is a great snapshot of the show:

I initially didn’t care for the title, but the logo they are using with the target looks great.

Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Colin Donnell as Tommy, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, with Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Quentin Lance.  Based on the characters appearing in DC Comics, Arrow is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (Green Lantern), Marc Guggenheim (FlashForward, Eli Stone), Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13, The Vampire Diaries) and David Nutter (Smallville, Supernatural, Game of Thrones).  Melissa Kellner Berman (Eli Stone) is co-executive producer.  The pilot was directed by David Nutter from a teleplay by Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim, story by Greg Berlanti & Marc Guggenheim.

Arrow will begin airing on Wednesday nights at 8 pm on the CW Network this Fall.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

By C.J. Bunce

Yesterday we started in on what makes a great character, and who and how we determine our favorites, mentioning dozens of  favorites from different genres and different media.  The challenge?  Come up with your top 5 favorite fictional characters from anything.  When I was finished selecting them, I was surprised what they all have in common: a desire to protect others and defend the good against the bad.  I went through a ton of characters to whittle it down to five.  Most of my favorites I see as having some trait I want for myself, or guys I want to be like.  Along the way I carved away Boba Fett, the obscure but coolest of the “men with no name” anti-hero Western archetypes, and opted instead for another Star Wars character.  I lost Steve McQueen’s too cool cop Lieutenant Frank Bullitt for another cop that made the list and had to cut the other coolest guy (other than The Fonz), the no-named drifter from They Live.  I lost Thomas Magnum, the TV show private investigator, that, along with Batman, is up there at the top of my Sherlock Holmes influenced characters.  I cut big life-long heroes like the Six Million Dollar Man, Luke Skywalker, Tron, and even the awesome A.A. Milne creation Eeyore.  No room for Will Riker and Captain Dathon from Star Trek.  I love Dana Andrews’ noir detective Mark McPherson in Otto Preminger’s Laura.  Fred Gailey, who defended Santa Claus (successfully!) in court in Miracle on 34th Street, hung to the list almost to the end.  A top 10 list would have been far easier!

After a lot of soul searching–and this is not an easy exercise (try it for yourself!)–here is where I finally ended up.

When we first meet Uncle Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi, played by Sir Alec Guinness in the original Star Wars, he was an old man.  A miser living out beyond the Dune Sea.  Luke thought he was long dead.  Then he comes out of nowhere in the desert at just the right time to barely save our story’s hero.  Ben doesn’t remember the droids he supposedly owned a few decades ago.  Is he a bit absent minded?  Has the desert gotten to him?   Without Uncle Ben, Luke Skywalker would be dead, and he saves Luke’s life six times: first, from the Tusken Raiders in the desert, second, from an alien in the cantina’s hive of scum and villainy, third, from the Empire by getting Luke out of Mos Eisley, fourth, by releasing the Millenium Falcon in the Death Star, fifth, by guiding Luke from afar to destroy the Death Star in his X-Wing Fighter, and sixth, by keeping him alive after he is mugged by a snow beast on the frozen planet of Hoth.  Kenobi was part samurai warrior, part medieval wizard, part mystic, a monk, a veteran of the last battle of the Jedi.  And later we’d learn he was the reason Luke and his sister survived at all: he’d saved Luke as an infant by bringing him to the remote planet with twin suns.  He doesn’t have much time to mentor Luke, but what he does counts for a lot.  Kenobi proves nothing is more powerful than wisdom and experience.  Ultimately he sacrifices everything to save the galaxy by using his knowledge of the force to convert into a spirit, the only time this ever happens in the original Star Wars trilogy, so he can assist Luke along the rest of his journey.  Later on Ewan McGregor put a very nice spin on the character for the prequels, but the original played by Guinness can never be beaten and Guinness received the only acting nod from the Academy for all the great actors of the series.

DCI Gene Hunt was a cop, a cop played by actor Philip Glenister.  A good cop that blurred some of the rules of British law enforcement, but who was a product of his times, which was 1973 in the BBC TV series Life on Mars, and 1982 in the series Ashes to Ashes.  He is brash, rude, and mouthy.  He is kind.  He is crude and speaks in local colloquialisms that make non-natives have to rewind and view the closed captioning to understand what the heck he just said, and sometimes you still can’t tell.  He protects his team.  More than anything, this guy has angst.  Yet he wants to help others.  He wants to do the right thing.  He believes in justice.  He believes that sometimes a cop has to break the rules to get to the right result.  To find the criminal.  To protect the innocent.  He’s willing to stop and help a woman having an emergency birth.  He falls for a co-worker who herself is a mess and desperately lost.  He tolerates his bizarre group of subordinates, as he prefers them to everyone else, and he’ll join them for a drink at any time of day.  And he always drives a cool car.  He’s like a British version of Steve McQueen’s Bullitt, but with more layers and a lot more problems.  He becomes so involved in everyone else’s affairs that he ultimately forgets who he is.  I have seen Philip Glenister in little else, and wonder whether I like Gene, or I like Gene because Glenister played him.  Either way, nothing is as it seems in Manchester and Salford police departments.  And that leaves Gene to rise above it all and become the best cop in the best cop series ever made.

In the western movie Silverado, at the beginning of the film, Paden is dead.  At least he is left for dead, like real-life Beck Weathers in Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air.  Paden is played by Kevin Kline.  You can’t start much worse off than Paden, prior to being rescued by Scott Glenn’s character, Emmett.  All Paden has to his name is his 1800s long underwear.  He was trusting, befriended some cowboys who turned on him, stole his horse, his saddle, his hat, his ivory-handled Colt.  The whole rig.  But he really missed the bay horse the most.  They were laughing when they left him.  Thought it was real funny.  He walked for a little while but there was no use, so he gave it up.  Figured it was just bad luck.  He lies down to die.  And he gets a second chance.  But he’s not so much about revenge as looking out for the little dog one of his fellow riders mistreats.  He’s trying to find his place in the world, which just so happens to be managing the affairs of a saloon.  And you never know what Paden will care about.  Even if that means he must stop looking the other way.  He is a hero so he must act.  If that means risking his footing in a new town to defend a man against a racist saloon operator, so be it.  And if that means killing the men who run Silverado and the sheriff himself, his old friend, well then so be it.  Kline plays Paden as funny, serious, smart.  Sometimes warm, as when he is taking care of new friends, sometimes cold, as when he has to shoot a man.  Sometimes puzzling, like when he flirts with a woman the night her husband is shot dead.  Sheriff Cobb is using Stella to get to Paden.  “I don’t want you to get hurt,” Paden says.  Stella responds: “He can’t hurt me… if he’s dead.”  Paden is a complex guy who changes his luck in a time when getting by was good enough.

I’ve read everything I could get my hands on related to Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, as re-developed in DC Comics’ silver age, from 1971 forward.  Queen was a billionaire who lost it all.  He became “everyman.”  He ended up fighting crime as a vigilante and donned the outfit of Errol Flynn’s Adventures of Robin Hood and took his bow and arrow as well to fight crime.  He’s a bit like Batman, a sleuth in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes.  He became a force for social change and fell in love with a beautiful woman, Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, and they ended up together in Seattle running a floral shop.  They were members of the Justice League and rubbed elbows with the best superheroes around.  Oliver always was outspoken, sometimes offending everyone around him, yet everyone around him always respected what he had to say and they often took his lead.  He always fought for the underdog.  My favorite incarnation is my first revisit to comic books, Green Arrow written and drawn by Mike Grell, but O’Neil and Adams’ version is a close second.  In his first scene of the modern era, he must convince Green Lantern that he needs to stop protecting a slumlord and instead protect the tenants.  With his on-again/off-again, fiery relationship with Dinah, he became part of the only crime-fighting superhero couple, together ridding the streets of every kind of baddie.

The only one of the five of my favorite characters listed here that never veered from my #1 spot is Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce.  As the leading character in the TV series M*A*S*H over the course of eleven seasons, Alan Alda became the best actor on any TV series, and soldier/doctor Pierce became my favorite character.  He is defined by triage.  Triage in his job as he must discriminate between who has a chance to live and who won’t live.  Triage is his circumstance as he must decide to make the best or worst of being stuck in a place no one, even the local Korean refugees, wants to be.  His tools consist of scalpels, forceps, alcohol, and humor.  He takes the most depressing of dramatic situations and makes everyone laugh, and when the brilliant writing team gives us a serious story, he leaves us silent.  He gives us gut-wrenching performances, via a simple salute to Radar O’Reilly as he leaves for home to take care of the farm, to his reaction to the death of Colonel Henry Blake, to his interview responses for Movietone news.  He makes us laugh at his unending supply of practical jokes, against Hot Lips, Frank, Winchester, or B.J.  He is a hero, he’ll save the life of a North Korean soldier without flinching, and at his worst he freaks-out, asking those questions everyone wants to ask in the middle of a war, but doesn’t.  Why can’t we all just get along, as bunkmates, as co-workers, as Americans, as humans?  And he is calm when he needs to be.  Even when he is being bombed while trying to save lives after hours without rest.   With more than a dose of inspiration from Groucho Marx, Alan Alda conducted a one-man band of chaos in the middle of a stellar cast of characters.  It’s hard to believe M*A*S*H was a 30-minute show.  Never before or since has anyone come close to packing so much emotion, drama, comedy, and energy in such a small period of time, for so many years.  Although the writing of his character bottomed out in the last episode, what came before is what matters, and it explains why the series finale was the most-watched show ever.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow… we will take a day away from our favorite characters and Jason McClain will run down his recommendations to the Academy for the Ten Best Picture nominees, who will be announced by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Tuesday, January 24.  Come on back Tuesday bright and early for Jason McClain’s top five favorite characters, followed by Art Schmidt on Wednesday and Elizabeth C. Bunce on Thursday.

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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