Yes, Green Arrow was very good

We’ve been increasingly amped-up and giddy lately about the arrival of Ann Nocenti to DC’s Green Arrow series, a return to comics for her which has been long overdue. And thankfully, wonderfully, she leaps straight into delivering a manic, unique comic and makes a character not many people formerly cared for (THIS IS A GENERALISATION) into somebody worth following.

Oliver Queen’s central ‘gimmick’ has been that he acts like a modern-day Robin Hood, dressed in green and firing arrows at villains. Rather than murderous spikes, however, these arrows tend to be trickshots which launch tasers, nets, bolas or any other kind of non-lethal trap at the enemy. In this issue alone, he fires one which launches a shield into the air and saves him from a volley of darts. The Robin Hood thing grows a bit thin when you also have to take in the idea that Queen is also heir to a massive fortune and runs a business for manufacturing new, developmental technology. Also, he tends to have a silly goatee and moralises a lot and can be incredibly tiresome. So Nocenti decides to do away with all that.

In this issue, Queen quits his job and meets some blonde triplets and agrees on a whim to go to their house even though that means flying a plane overseas and he has no idea who these girls actually are. They then seduce him, and take him to meet their daddy. Aye, that’s right – there’s a reason this story arc is called ‘Menage a quatre’, you guys. The story is smartly assembled, and takes the existing continuity for the character into a new place, without breaking what’s gone on before. His character seems to have exaggerated itself, but aside from that this is the same Oliver Queen, in the same life, doing the same things. He’s just doing them so much better.

Nocenti’s dialogue in this issue is a mixture of brash silliness and smart disassembly. Queen’s character is simultaneously boosted and taken apart by her pen, as his snide and asinine quips are forced to improve when faced with three mad blondes who seem to be his biggest new fans. In the face of their swiftly-delivered onslaught of both darts and dialogue, he is forced to step up his game – allowing Nocenti free reign to really have some fun with him. The issue reads like a fresh take on the stale Iron Man/Mr Terrific/Black Panther ‘scientist superhero’ formula, allowing us to enjoy the character and find him ridiculous all at the same time. We’re not meant to find him cool and awesome because he runs a company but does superheroics in his spare time. Instead, we’re offered a hero who makes obviously stupid moves but enjoys making them.

Harvey Tolibao comes on as artist for this issue, and his work remains snappy and stylish, frantic and dynamic. However, there are a few sequences where his vibrancy gets in the way of the story, and things become somewhat incoherent. The storytelling isn’t quite there yet, although the flair for visuals does mean we get to enjoy some madcap chase/fight sequences. Hopefully he’ll develop into the swing of things as the series goes on, and this problem will come up less often. Nocenti is so clearly having a ball with the dialogue that the book is going to need a bold artist to keep up with her madness. Regardless, the issue comes off as the first madcap step in what could well be a reinvention and reinvigoration for a character few people (GENERALISATION) could have ever previously said was their favourite. It’s off-the-rails loopy, but in the most enjoyable way possible.


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