DC Comics is trying something new. In the wake of their Rebirth initiative, the publisher has rapidly expanded its content to include diverse new imprints such as
Young Animal, Wildstorm, Jinxworld, Wonder Comics, Black Label, Ink, and Zoom. As their lineup expands, it can be hard to figure out what to pick up each week. That’s what our team is here to help with, every Wednesday, with the DC Round-Up!
THIS WEEK: Oliver Queen’s series is cut short, but he’ll be back.
Note: the reviews below contain spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Green Arrow #50
Writers: Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: AndWorld Design
Today’s issue #50 marks the end of the Green Arrow series, at least for now. And it makes sense. The book was cancelled amidst slumping sales and DC’s decision to cut several of its weaker titles. Admittedly, I hadn’t been paying much attention to the series lately, but I took this cancellation as a chance to catch up on the book. And reading through these final issues, I came to a realization: Green Arrow plays a crucially important role in the DCU.
Each comic book series is suited to tell a particular type of story. Green Lantern explores the cosmic/sci-fi genre, while The Flash typically scratches more of a police procedural itch. Batman is all gadgets and fringe psychology, whereas Wonder Woman plays with the line between warrior and diplomat. But nowhere in the DC comics lineup can you find a better vehicle than Green Arrow for a story about wealth and inequality, or about clashing politics amongst family, or the struggle for social reform. It’s a timely story, which makes this cancellation seem all the more unfortunate.
Oliver Queen has never quite fit in with the other heroes. He’s a hothead liberal loudmouth whose idealism can grate on some of his more practical colleagues. How many near-brawls has he gotten into with Hawkman over the years? Ollie is the guy who once disbanded the Justice League amidst a shouting match with Batman and broke his hand on Superman’s jaw during a funeral. His temper runs as hot as his famous chili, and he never backs down from a good fight.
But while he has often clashed with his Justice League counterparts over the years, he also plays a vital role. Ollie is the social conscience of the league. He’s the one who lets them know when they’ve veered too far towards authoritarian tactics and he’s the one who keeps an eye out for the little guy when the League’s focus gets too broad. He bends the rules when needed and breaks them altogether if it’s the only way to protect the innocent. He’s the boots on the ground rather than the eye in the sky — Oliver Queen never loses sight of why the League exists, even if his default volume is shouting.
That’s probably why Martian Manhunter trusted him with the weapon that could end the Justice League.
This week’s issue delves into the contents of the deadly box that Ollie was entrusted with and explores the reasons that he might use it. It puts Ollie in a situation that he knows best; outcast, on the run, and with the odds stacked against him. Green Arrow is a character that’s always one step behind, doesn’t have a plan, and just rolls with the punches as best he can. He’s persistent as hell and blames himself relentlessly for whatever goes wrong. If anyone is going to keep the world’s super-beings in check it’s got to be this perfectly flawed and perfectly human man who never had a right to be counted among the gods anyway.
Recent issues of this series have shined a light on social issues, like the imbalance of wealth and the dangers of mob justice. Its stakes are much lower than most superhero books, focusing on social media crimes or corrupt politicians rather than end-of-the-world scenarios. There are themes of the 99% fighting back against the wealthy and of the people taking justice into their own hands when the system has failed them. Ollie aptly describes himself in these issues as a ‘social justice warrior’. It’s all very street level, very relevant, and very Green Arrow.
One of the best things about Oliver Queen is his relationship with Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. A leading character in her own right (she’s slated to headline a Warner Brothers movie well before he ever will), Black Canary is the perfect match for our favorite archer. Theirs has always been a somewhat inverted relationship, akin to Steve Trevor’s romance with Wonder Woman. In their dynamic, Dinah plays the part of strength, support, and reason, coming to Ollie’s aid when he gets in over his head and reminding him (usually unsuccessfully) to keep his emotions in check. She catches him when he leaps haphazardly into danger. The two share a love that is unbreakable but sorely tested. It’s honestly a wonder sometimes that she doesn’t leave him, which just underscores the way she echoes and balances out the man who doesn’t know when to walk away from a fight.
They say that if all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Well if you’re Oliver Queen, all you can do is shoot arrows at your problems until something gives. And that’s what we love about him — he just keeps shooting. We’ll keep coming back to this well, because there’s nothing as satisfying as a story about Ollie and some trick arrows standing alone against an unstoppable supervillain. Or against the Justice League. Someone’s got to do it.
“See you soon” is the last thing Green Arrow says in today’s final issue, and I certainly hope we do.
- Five issues into The Green Lantern by Morrison & Sharp, and I never want it to end. This week, Hal makes his bid to join the Blackstars and (of course) finds himself in a dire life-or-death situation. I can’t get over the style of this book — like adventures straight out of the 90’s, when Hal’s hair was awesome and every issue nearly killed him. Good times.
- Speaking of dire situations, Superman makes a bonehead mistake in Justice League #19 and finds himself in a dark place while the rest of the team is off having a time travel adventure with…future him?
- Doomsday Clock #9 is jam-packed with characters, including some you might have forgotten about. Firehawk, Platinum, Steel, Peacemaker…even ol’ Flex Mentallo makes an appearance. There must be at least 70 heroes gathered for the big standoff with Doctor Manhattan on the surface of Mars. It feels a lot like a Crisis story. It might actually be a Crisis story. Um, somebody hide the Flashes.
- Tom King is back to continue the Knightmares storyline in Batman. I just wanted to mention it because I complained last time that we had gotten away from it. But it’s back and it’s getting exciting.
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