This week: We wish a happy birthday to the Emerald Archer, and his ward
Speedy, Arsenal, Red Arrow, Arsenal in the special Green Arrow: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular.
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 verdicts.
Green Arrow: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular
Cover Artists: Dan Mora; Michael Cho; Daniel Warren Johnson & Mike Spicer; Neal Adams; Derrick Chew; Gary Frank & Brad Anderson; Howard Porter & Ivan Plascencia; Jen Bartel; Simone di Meo
The first of two announced 80th Anniversary specials for the year, Green Arrow: The 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular celebrates the 1941 debut of both Oliver Queen and Roy Harper in More Fun Comics #73. That same issue would also introduce Aquaman to the world, and his own 80th Anniversary special is coming later this year. We’re getting to what I feel is probably the end of these specials, I could maybe see a Plastic Man one before the end of this year. Maybe a Marvel Family one next year to celebrate the introduction of Mary, since Billy’s anniversary went unsung last year? Otherwise, the next bets aren’t for a few years with Superboy in 2025 and Black Canary in 2027. We could see more villains get a spotlight as Joker and Catwoman did, but even then we missed Lex Luthor’s 1940 debut. For big-name villains, I could see maybe Two-Face in 2022 (honestly this one kind of sells itself? Throw in that 2/22/2022 is a DC release Tuesday, and c’mon DC you’re printing money with this one)? Riddler and Mad Hatter in 2028? Who knows. But to me, I feel like the 80th-anniversary specials are winding down, and I’ll for sure miss them.
The Disappearing Bandit
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist and Color: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: Andworld Design
Tamaki and Rodriguez open the special with an absolutely rollicking Golden-Age story. It’s a perfect fit to look at that era of comics, and Rodriguez’s art hearkens back to those days of yore. The linework is sleek and clean, in a style that is reminiscent of the Golden Age greats like Green Arrow co-creator George Papp. The story itself is a fun one, highlighting the goofy trick arrows of the past, including the brand new nearly useless acrylic paint arrow. I couldn’t have asked for a better story to lead off the issue than this. It set a wonderful tone, even if several of the later stories would go a lot darker than this.
Green-Man and Autumn-Son
Writer: Devin Grayson
Art and Colors: Max Fiumara
Letterer: Ariana Maher
On top of Ollie, it was really nice to see the other members of the Arrow family get some small bits of spotlight. Brandon Thomas and Jorge Corona got to tell a Connor Hawke story, Mia Dearden shows up in Phil Hester and Ande Parks’ tale, Emiko plays a role in Ben Percy and Otto Schmidt’s reunion. But most importantly to me, Devin Grayson got to write Roy Harper again. Grayson is the writer that made me love Roy Harper in the first place. The first place I saw him was in her Titans series, where he was a smarmy jerk just trying to be as good of a father as he can. I also then got to read the mini-series she did focused on him. To my mind, nobody writes Roy Harper better than her.
The added bonus of this story is that it also featured Lian, and my heart leaped for joy. That’s a dynamic that I miss so very much, so every hint that it’s coming back has warmed my cold dead heart. The story itself was one in which Roy told Lian his origin in the form of a bedtime story in the tradition of the Navajo that had raised him prior to Green Arrow taking him in. It’s a wonderful story that pays a lot of love and care to two characters who haven’t seen a lot of it in recent years, and I hope that it’s a sign of what’s to come for both of them.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Art: Laura Braga
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Letterer: Becca Carey
And of course, no Green Arrow special could be complete without several stories that also feature Dinah Lance. In my opinion, the best of these was the story by Vita Ayala and Laura Braga, which celebrated the love the two characters shared but also highlighted the passion of their relationship. It’s a passion that leads to both moments of intense and hot lust but also leads to angry and heated arguments. It’s a wonderful action set piece that also details the highs and lows of their relationship. Braga’s pencils are fantastic and kinetic, and Lucas’s colors are warm and endearing.
Much like both the Robin and Green Lantern anniversary specials, this one did a fantastic job capturing different eras of the hero. An even harder task since both of those had multiple different characters to rely on to feel different, while this book just had Roy and Ollie. But the thing about Green Arrow is that even though the character has been largely the same over the last 80 years, the eras of his own books have been very distinct. That made it easier to denote when a story was taking place in this volume and that made it feel special. I don’t have room to cover every story in the issue, but almost all of them were stellar, be it Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott reuniting to tell a golden age story, Mike Grell returning to the character he made his name on, or Larry O’Neil paying tribute to his dad in a book I’m sure Denny would have loved to contribute to if he were still here. As probably one of the last specials like this for a while, I think it hit the target.
- It is an exceptionally light fifth week for DC Comics, with only four books total coming out.
- The Catwoman Annual ties off the current arc of Ram V’s series and continues to be just a great revitalization of the character. Giving Selina a fantastic home base and a cast of characters that is memorable and likable has allowed for a fantastic series so far.
- On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Teen Titans Academy Yearbook felt like it was trying way too hard to be in touch with the current youths, and continued to not stick the landing just like the rest of that series.
- Finally was the print edition of Infinite Frontier: Secret Files which premiered as a digital-first comic in smaller snippets. The shorts feature some of my favorite characters, and they help to set up the plot threads that will be visited in the main Infinite Frontier series.
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