Monday, September 5, 2011

Green Arrow #1

Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Dan Jurgens
Company: DC Comics

Well, I guess we should get the really important thing out of the way first.  Oliver Queen no longer has facial hair.  Well, he sort of does, if a permanent 5 o'clock shadow counts as facial hair.  It's a weird thing to really worry about, but the internet is a strange place, and I've seen more references to things like this than I ever figured we would.  It really shouldn't matter.  What should matter is what's on the inside of the book.  It's been awhile since we've had a Green Arrow title that registered on my radar.  Part of that has to do with the stories of late, mainly having to do with a crazed Oliver Queen who lives in a forest and has cut himself off from the rest of the world.  That and him having outright murdered Prometheus.  Since then, I really couldn't get into the character anymore.

That this first issue is penned by the same writer who crafted those stories, to say that I was a bit worried that the book would continue to be something to ignore would have been an understatement.  Part of the reason for that is that J.T. Krul, until a couple of months ago, had never written a story that I considered to be across the board good.  There have been bright spots in his books, but he seemed to heavily dip into the dark, emo, and unnecessarily grotesque way too often.  Then he wrote Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons and revealed a whole other side to his writing.  Yes, that too was dark, but it fit the world and, unconstrained by continuity, much more effective and interesting.  That there were so many other nuances and great back and forth between the characters surprised and pleased as well.

This first issue just so happens to be another comic that falls into J.T. Krul's ever expanding win column.  It isn't sexy, it isn't complicated, it's just a solid Green Arrow story.  One of the biggest changes that people are going to find with this book is the actual character of Oliver Queen.  There are some similarities to the old one, as his demeanor seems similar, but it's more or less a whole new take.  If you've read the Flashpoint Green Arrow Industries and have seen a few episodes of Smallville that have featured the character, then you've got a close approximation to what they've done with him.  He's younger, more tech-savy, and is a billionaire playboy with a desire to dress up and beat down bad guys.  He sets up everything you need to know rather quickly and then lets loose with the action and arrows as Oliver takes on a group of new super villains.  I think the notion of new technology and the support system in the way of an almost Oracle type figure named Naomi is actually a fun idea, one that allows the character to expand his arsenal and bring a few new things to the table that we haven't seen him do before.

Another thing that surprised me about this one was Dan (Superman/Booster Gold) Jurgens' art.  It's true that he's always been a very competent and talented artist, but with George Perez providing inks, his traditional style is elevated to new heights.  The design work for the character's spiffy new threads works, as it elicits an old meets new feel.  Also, his action and the way that he displays the technology (especially in a new collapsable bow) is downright snazzy.  It just has a very clean and approachable look to it, one that I think many people will look at and be drawn in by.

To sum up, Green Arrow isn't a knock your socks off kind of book.   There are, of course, a few issues to be ironed out, mainly some campy dialogue.  Still, it is a solid outing that proves that when Krul is given free reign over something, a good story can be found.  Here's hoping that this trend continues.

This is an advance review.  Green Arrow #1 hits comic stands Wednesday 09/07/11.

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