Taking Aim At Arrow

ARROW 

(w) Greg Berlanti, Mark Guggenheim, (a) Omar Francia.
DC Comics
FREE, 32 pages
REVIEWED BY THOM OBARSKI OCTOBER 8, 2012

    We are a mere two weeks away from the premiere of The CW’s latest foray into the world of televised comic crusaders; this time serving up long awaited episodic escapades of the emerald archer himself, Green Arrow (aka Oliver Queen)! The character has certainly changed over the years from his inception in the 40’s as a Robin Hood inspired Batman clone (with some great work by Jack Kirby). The years of Adams and O’Neil gave the simple ‘rob from the rich give to the poor’ message a political stance and tuned him to modern social relevancy. He went gritty with Mike Grell in the 80’s; was killed off in Zero Hour (and subsequently revived by Kevin Smith) in the 90’s. Received an excellent original tale thru a dedicated Year 1 arc in the ought’s; and was included in the New 52 reboot last year. Sorry for the history lesson; my point is there’s a lot of history in this 70 year veteran and there hasn’t been a decade that hasn’t seen some form of Green Arrow. That leaves a lot of anticipation (and a lot to live up to!) for a character who has never received his own titular tale on either the big or small screen (save for an excellent 15 minute bonus featurette on one of the DCU’s animated DVDs).

    The various trailers have done a lot to put long time fans’ fears at ease while simultaneously building mainstream buzz. We’ve seen hints or flat out news for supporting Arrow foes and family members alike. Expect China White, Deathstroke, Huntress, the beginnings of a Mia, and possibly even a Black Canary! Just looking at the various trailers and teasers one can see just how deep they have drawn from Ollie’s rich history. Visually it looks like they’re injecting some grit and realism to match the uber successful Nolanverse in a nod towards Grell. You get some mirth (yes at times punny) in the dialogue taking a cue from the Kirby days. Arrows drive seems to be derived from a need for equality, staying true to both his origin and the influence of the immortal Adams. There are frames that look like they were storyboards directly taken from the pages of Year One. Even his costume is not unlike that of his most recent incarnation in the New 52 GA.

    Great, I can hear you thinking, why is this all in a comic review? While comics matching their mainstream counterparts to feed off some shared momentum is nothing new (see Avengers Assemble). A more unique approach, however, is using comics as supplemental material for that weeks episode; filling in shades of plot, characterization or backstory that couldn’t be fully fleshed out in the span of one 42 minute show. This is the tack that Arrow is taking, teaming up some rather big name DC comics talent with a production team from the show to bring us a weekly digital incarnation of his cinematic counterpart.

    So how will the Arrow comic stack up? Well lucky for us they gave out a free issue at SDCC to drum up some excitement; go ahead click the link above, it’s free with a comixology account (which is also free).


Read it. I’ll wait.


Right away you’ll notice some big names working on it, especially for what many might initially consider throw-away supplemental material. Cover (and lead artist on at least one of the following books) by the aforementioned Mike Grell whose Longbow Hunters arc tops a lot of people’s list for best GA story. Geoff Johns nabs a writing credit, which after his work and faithful handling on Green Lantern should make fans happy.

 

    The story is decent enough, if understandably simple given the book’s short 16 page count and 12+ rating. That coupled with the general level of shown violence is probably a fair indication of what to expect overall in terms of how inclusive they’re looking to make this rendition of Arrow. The art is similarly solid, stylistically a touch 2 dimensional; the thick, off colored line art feeling rather flash-esque and reminiscent of Viewtiful Joe style animation. All things considered its at least more readable than New 52 GA!

    Overall I’m excited to see how both creative teams utilize this interesting endeavor in cross-promotion. Luckily we don’t have long to wait as both the televised and comic iterations will be here Oct. 10! Let’s just hope he leaves the boxing glove arrows at home.