GREEN ARROW BY KEVIN SMITH
Writer: Kevin Smith
Penciler: Phil Hester
Inker: Ande Parks
Colorist: Guy Major & James Sinclair
Cover Artist: Matt Wagner
Letterer: Sean Konot
Rating: 8/10 Boxing Glove Arrows
I’ll be honest. If I had to pick between two guys with a large amount of wealth at their disposal, that dress up as vigilantes to dish out justice, I’m going to have to go with Green Arrow as my favorite. Sure, while I was younger I may have liked him more because there was a little hipster in me that wanted to like the less mainstream heroes (it’s sad but true) but as I learned more about these two characters my love for GA continued to grow. Yes, I watched the animated series like many Batman fans as I loved all things caped and crusading as a child, but that Bat Signal did not shine as brightly in my heart as it did for so many others. Sorry, Batman. I’m probably going to a special place in Arkham for typing that I like someone more than Batman on his special day.
So, while my seat at the Batman table of books my best friend had reserved for me was left empty, he was kind enough to know what hero would hit the mark as a birthday book. Enter Green Arrow by Kevin Smith. I got this as a gift the year I first started my comic collection back in 2016. It was also one of the first trade paperbacks I had owned. I remember feeling surprised to see the guy who played Silent Bob as the author (little did I know how much his name would come up in the comic book world). The first time I read through this book, I felt so much satisfaction from Smith’s portrayal of the character. It reminded me so much of the Justice League Unlimited GA where I first saw the character as a child. Now, almost three years later, It’s time to jump back in and see if it still has that magic.
The majority of this book takes place in an arc called Quiver which begins with a conversation between Batman and Superman that has us turning the page to see Oliver Queen lying over his grave, alive once more. After what seems like a small time-jump, we see the return of Green Arrow in Star City, looking like he has been alone and disoriented for months, using trash as makeshift arrows. After being taken in by a kind (and pretty rich) old man, GA cleans himself up and gets back on the streets to take down fascists, fat cats and someone killing kids known as the Star City Slayer. The toughest thing Oliver seems to be handling though with his return is why everyone has so much high tech stuff around him.
It’s pretty soon we realize that while Oliver has been brought back to life, he hasn’t been able to accept that he died. League members, friends and even people he is beating up are kind enough to point it out to the Emerald Archer, it’s just not sinking in. It’s not until Batman steps in, knocks him out, abducts him and then runs tests on him before showing him video proof of events that have happened after his most recent memories. One memory he has to face is the moment he killed his best friend Hal Jordan.
If Ollie thought things weren’t weird enough already, then enter Jason Bloodstone, aka Etrigan the Demon. Mr. Bloodstone is here to let GA know that he is a body without a soul and if it weren’t for some divine intervention, GA would have been slaughtered by demons. So who saved him this time? None other than his good buddy Hal Jordan, who now does work as the Spectre. Hal tells GA that he is the one who brought him back and while he did, he was instructed to only bring back a certain portion of Ollie. Someone wanted an Oliver Queen back on Earth before all the downhill stuff happened in his life. If your guess is that the soul of Oliver Queen is the one that made that request, then you hit the mark. While Soul Ollie wants to kick it in the great beyond instead of coming back down to Earth, he’s gonna have to resign to it when he’s needed to defeat the Star City Slayer before they make their final sacrifice.
From here, the remaining issues left follow Ollie along as he reconnects with a number of people. He takes in a young girl who he rescued at the beginning of this story, who looks into the possibility of being a new sidekick for GA. He gets to connect with his son Connor, who took up the mantle while he was dead in hopes of being closer to him. He checks in with other members of the League, or JSA, or whatever they go by. It’s also the time for us to get to know one of the best on-page comic villains, Onomatopoeia!
Kevin Smith to me did an awesome job bringing the Green Arrow I remember from the TV shows and putting him on the pages for me to enjoy. The guy uses a boxing arrow in this series so you can’t be expecting him to be walking around telling people whether they failed this city or not too much. No, he provides that corny good guy humor from decades-long since past of making a joke off a villains gimmick or quoting Elmer Fudd. Smith also does this well with maintaining a voice for Oliver that resembles that of someone who is from a past time. He plays with that dynamic well when it comes to interacting with other members of the superhero community. Once Queen’s memory is returned to him, the transition Smith does in character language is almost seamless as it truly feels like GA is picking up right where he left off. This was great to see when exploring the relationship with his son and rekindling the one he had with Dinah.
I know the larger portion of the book was supposed to be the big takeaway from Kevin Smith but I gotta say, Onomatopoeia stole the show of this whole book. Sith created a character that can really only be captured on page compared to animated or live-action. The villain does exactly as his name implies, he says whatever noise is happening. A toilet goes flush and he says “flush.” A gunshot makes a BLAM sound on-page and he says “blam.” Smith created a character with a great, yet simple idea and with the help of Sean Konot. Konot gave this character such an interesting voice with just the sound effects. While sounds on the page with action were bold and stood, feeling like each action could be heard coming from the page, Onomatopoeia matched them with simple on word matches. No bold lettering from Konot on this. No crazy font. Simple one word sounds that this masked villain gave in a way that felt like he was always calm and there was something more under the surface about this villain.
Ever tried to fire four arrows in one shot? Well, this series did with Phil Hester, Ande Parks, Guy Major, and James Sinclair. Tricky, but doable here as all four of these talents come together to give a series that feels like a blend of those Saturday morning cartoon days, and discovering New Frontier from Darwyn Cook. Hester brings that classic look while Parks’ inks help really define the characters’ designs while really complementing the colors from Sinclair and Major. Something about this article just fits so well with the Green Arrow character as it reflects how I see him. Despite crazy cult stuff, being reborn, and just generally facing down some awful stuff, the art balances serious tones but maintains shedding the same bright optimism Ollie gives.
The Finale Arrow
The first real words I remember hearing from Green Arrow was from the tv show. He said he wanted to look out for the little guy. This book kept that feeling alive with Ollie, despite dealing with a personal crisis, doing his best to protect others and ensure a better life for those being taken advantage of. He makes the most of his moments and gives me as a reader that classic superhero feeling at the same time. I definitely found some of the moments a little dated both in a funny nostalgic way and an “oh boy. I can’t imagine that being allowed in current stories.” Despite that, this book still remains a solid Green Arrow read for me and if you are as big of a fan of the Emerald Archer as I am, I would check this book out if you already haven't.