Beek's Books - an ongoing collection of comic book reviews
A special Zero Hour Retrospective... see also my reviews of Xenobrood, Starman, Manhunter, Fate, and Primal Force.
 Green Arrow (DC)
by Chuck Dixon/Kelley Puckett, Rodolfo DaMaggio/Jim Aparo, Robert Campanella/Gerry Fernandez
issues #0-109
Rating: OK, Content: [super]

 What an odd way to number a series... It starts with #0, like the rest of the new titles to come out after Zero Hour, but then jumps all the way to #91! Maybe it's an attempt to pay homage to the original Flash series of the 50's which started at #105. Any way, this is the story of Connor Hawke, or as he's better known: Green Arrow. It starts with his origin and chronicles his early adventures.

 The first several issues focus on the appearance of Oliver Queen, a man who plays a pivotal role in Green Arrow's decision to become a costumed hero. Oliver is a world-wise, experienced archer whom young Connor Hawke has idolised, because (as we - and Oliver - later learn) he's Oliver's illegitimate son. He has been through some good times and bad times... increasingly bad times. Now he's ready to quit, and returns to the Buddhist monastery where he once studied - and Connor now studies - archery. When he leaves, Connor goes with him, his adventure beginning.

 I liked the use of this Oliver character as a vehicle to introduce the hero and provide the impetus for him to begin his crime fighting career. It gives the reader a sense that Green Arrow is joining the decade-long tradition of costumed heroics from DC, rather than just being the star of this month's hot new series. It's too bad Oliver (predictably) had to be killed off; he seems like an interesting character with a lot of potential. A series focusing on the "earlier adventures" they allude to would be good reading, especially his unlikely team-up with the nearly-omnipotent anti-hero Parallax (when Hal Jordan was - get this - the original Green Lantern).

 When Chuck Dixon took over the writing from Kelley Puckett early in the series, I was a bit jarred by the sudden appearance in the dialog of gunsel, mook, wonk and other words that I have never actually heard used in spoken English. In places, however (e.g. Connor's conversation with his grandfather), the dialog rang very true. And he treated Green Lantern (another new hero) with the appropriate respect: as a bit of a butthead.

 Whatever else you think of his writing, Dixon tells an action-packed tale. Hardly an issue of his went by without some guest star (e.g. Superman, Hal Jordan, Robin, Green Lantern, Arsenal, Black Canary, Thorn, Bruce Lee, Elvis) and/or a fight (often guns vs. arrows). While the action leading up to Oliver's death was exciting, the quick jumping from one place to another (issue to issue) afterward seems a bit chaotic and directionless. Green Arrow #101 was a melancholy reflection on a life lost heroically. But by #102 it as if Oliver had been dead (and mostly forgotten) for months. As Superman (scripted by Dixon himself) put it after Oliver's wake at Warrior's bar, "I'm told my own funeral was... how should I put it? Well attended. This seems so sad in comparison. Only a few friends in the back room of a bar." If Oliver were the icon they claim he was, I'd expect a bit more reaction than fits in this single regular-size issue. I was also disappointed with the little attention given to Moonday Hawke, Connor's mother, who has appeared only briefly.

 Newcomer Rodolfo DaMaggio's art is quite nice, and it's a shame that he's been lured to larger pastures (drawing Batman). His rendition of Green Arrow has a beauty that makes the various characters' comments about his sex appeal seem credible. This is important, because Green Arrow's inheritance of "babe magnetism" from his father, contrasting with the innocence of a young man who spent his adolescence in a monastery, is one of the especially unique traits of this character.

 One thing I like about Green Arrow is his attitude toward others. Due mostly to his innocence and his religious training, he relates to women as people, not as potential sex partners. And he treats his new male acquaintances as potential allies and friends, not rivals. I hope they leave Connor's sex drive in low gear, and preserve this. I don't believe they'll make him gay*, and I'd hate to see him lose this attitude by developing a libido and following in his father's footsteps. For now, Green Arrow is "a hero for the 90's" in the good sense of that phrase.

 *I think it would present some wonderful story possibilities, however. How would Connor respond to a growing awareness that he really isn't attracted to women? How would the "open-minded" but immature Kyle Rayner react if he learned that his tights-wearing-buddy Connor was gay? Would it enhance their "odd couple" partnership? Would Connor be vulnerable to blackmail if a Bad Guy found out he was gay? And if Oliver ever does reappear, how would the liberal-but-womanizing old rogue deal with the knowledge that he'd sired a homosexual?

 DC has introduced a platoon of new characters in recent years, through lame plot devices (Bloodlines), as "replacements" for established heroes (Superboy, Steel, Azrael, Artemis), in the course of regular stories (Alpha Centurion, Impulse), or just by launching a new series (Aztek, Teen Titans, Sovereign Seven). Green Arrow stands out as one of the better of them. Without super powers (just a knack with the bow and arrow, and some years of martial arts training) Connor exemplifies what a hero should be: a good person, doing good, for good reasons.

 For the record, the above review is intentionally wrong about the actual publishing history of DC, the character of Oliver Queen, etc. I just thought it would be fun to write a post-Zero Hour review as if Zero Hour (and Crisis on Infinite Earths) had affected the real world as well.
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