Monday, March 21, 2016

Superhero Media: Green Arrow Year One

Batman Year One was a landmark comic. It is largely responsible for the Batman we recognise today, rebooting and refreshing the character for the 1980s and foreshadowing the Batman we'd see in the films and animated series in the next decade. Naturally, comic companies can't let a good idea stand alone, so almost every DC character has their own "Year One" now. In a way it's good, keeping the origins of characters fresh and expanding on the often single-panel origins of the Silver Age. Green Arrow Year One tells a story that will be familiar to fans of Arrow, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen is stranded on an island and is forced to survive by building a bow out of an old Jeep. At this stage Ollie is a gifted amateur with a bow and arrow, idolising Howard Hill from an early age and striving to be good at one thing other than drinking and partying. 

But Ollie soon discovers that he's not alone on his island. Somehow he missed a huge heroin growing, producing and smuggling operation a few miles from his lean-to. Not to worry, with a few trick arrows and the help of an attractive young local, Oliver Queen destroys the heroin and alerts the US government. Given Ollie's socialist leanings and avowed criticisms of the US government, this is an interesting choice. Why not call the UN, Australian or even Chinese government[s] to deal with an island in the South China Sea and a group of Chinese criminals? I'm also unsure as to whether Ollie's inability to remember Chi Na Wai's name, instead calling her "China White", is a clever commentary on American White Privilege or a racist joke on the writer's part. Maybe both. 

Green Arrow Year One is an interesting companion piece to Batman Year One. Batman is reborn from his Golden-Age origins to a gritty and decadent 1980s Gotham, complete with corrupt businessmen, drug-choked streets and an indifferent White House. Green Arrow is firmly in the twenty first century, with an ignorant and entitled 1%, refusal to acknowledge non-American cultural tropes and the necessity of all heroes to be "grim and gritty". Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of an updated and expanded Green Arrow origin, but I'm having trouble reconciling this Oliver Queen with the one that hums his own theme song going into battle, or tells ARGUS where to shove it. Still worth a look, but reads more as an Arrow spec script than a Green Arrow comic. 

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