Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding Album

Image result

Here we see Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding Album, a perfect example of how not to structure issues and story arcs that flow into one another.

“The Wedding Album”…more like “The Schizophrenic Storylines”.  I really enjoyed each story presented in this trade on its own; the problem is, they never should have been grouped together like this.  This comic doesn’t know if it wants to be funny and lighthearted or super serious and introspective.  The result is something that isn’t satisfying at either end of the spectrum, and left me utterly confused as to how I was supposed to feel.

The comic opens on a brief summary of Ollie and Dinah’s relationship, before moving to the present day, showing the couple sharing an intimate evening at home. They’re flirting and kissing before Dinah stops them, claiming they should wait until their wedding night to make it more special.  There’s a few pages of quippy back and forth banter as Ollie tries to convince Dinah otherwise, before ultimately giving up.

 photo 20160920_173146_zpswgl1ublx.jpg

These may not be “life or death” situations, but they’re light-hearted and entertaining, and no doubt reflective of any number of real-life conversations had by brides and grooms who have decided to wait until their wedding night.  The scenes are fluffy, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fluff in between all of the deadly battles.

Even when a battle erupts at the wedding (because how could it not?) the story remains light.

 photo 20160920_173311_zps0bsmumbh.jpg

I don’t know what I love more: Batman commenting that he’s not there for the wedding, he’s there for the fight, or Dinah steadfastly ignoring the fighting around her as she focuses on retrieving her wedding ring. It’s near non-stop jokes and banter, and as I’m a personal fan of that style of writing, I had absolutely no problem with it here.

The comic’s tone shifts quite a bit after the wedding though, when Ollie attacks Dinah on their wedding night. Ready to stab her, Dinah grabs an arrow and drives it through her husband’s neck, killing him.

 photo 20160920_173338_zpsxzvk4sls.jpg

Obviously this is meant to be a big shocker, but did anyone actually believe this was really Ollie?  Being fairly certain that this was an imposter made it easier to stomach, and when Dinah maintained that Ollie was still alive, I fully believed her. The comic doesn’t make us wait too long to confirm this suspicion, informing us that he’s been kidnapped by the Amazons (with Granny Goodness still disguised as Athena), all in an effort to get Dinah to travel to Paradise Island and help train new warriors.

The banter returns as soon as we realize Ollie is alive, and his rescue is a rollicking good time of dodging arrows, jumping off cliffs, and wearing your son’s underwear.  Dinah and Ollie are reunited on a boat as they zip away from the island, seemingly overjoyed at finding one another again.

Unfortunately, the happiness is short-lived as Connor, who was instrumental in helping rescue his father, is shot on the boat by an unseen and unidentified foe.

 photo 20160920_173403_zps65dqfjrm.jpg

Okay, I wasn’t too concerned here. They wanted to add yet another layer of drama to the story, and while it was getting a bit tedious,  I was still invested enough to care.  I figured Connor would get treatment and be alright, while Ollie and Dinah hunted down whoever was responsible.

Nope. Instead, we learn that the bullet was laced with a toxin that couldn’t be treated; Connor is officially brain-dead.  Ollie stands by Connor’s bedside, lamenting what a terrible father he was and how he should have been there for his son during his formative years.  It’s a really dark, depressing point in the story, and doesn’t fit into the more light-hearted tone of the rest of the comic.  Seemingly remembering at the last minute that this is supposed to be a story arc all about Dinah and Ollie’s wedding, the writers decide to end on a happy note, with the couple having a small, intimate ceremony in front of a few close friends.

 photo 20160920_173505_zpsrckol3st.jpg

We’re supposed to say, “Awww” and be happy that the couple finally got their happy ending, except there’s sort of this big, dark cloud hanging over our heads in the form of Connor.  Why did those events need to happen in this storyline??  If it was something that they wanted to write into the comic, they couldn’t have at least waited a few issues, and made that the next story arc? Throwing that into the middle of the whole “wedding” storyline felt unnecessary and out of place. It was as though they didn’t want too many “fluff” issues, and thought by adding an  indescribably sad and painful twist that it would somehow validate the whole storyline. Honestly, It felt like the writers were too scared to churn out a comic that was strictly entertainment. Why is that?? What’s so wrong with allowing a comic to be light and happy for just a few issues? Or, if you don’t want to go that route, why would you begin the storyline with such nonstop comedy and banter?? I just don’t understand the thought process there.

Over all, I like the stories, I just think they should have been separated out.  The happiness of the couple’s wedding is seriously dampened by what happens to Connor, and the story can never really bounce back from that, no matter how much they tried to scrounge together a happy ending for the pair.  I’m happy Ollie and Dinah are officially married, I just wish it could have been under happier circumstances.

-Jess

Advertisements

Green Arrow/Black Canary: Road to the Altar

Image result

I’m a bit out of the loop on this one, since I honestly wasn’t even aware that Ollie and Dinah were officially back together.  Oh well, I caught up pretty quickly after Ollie proposed on page 2 of the trade.

It seems I’ve missed a couple major plot points though. Ollie is no longer mayor of Star City, and Dinah is now taking care of a young girl named Sin, who was being trained to become the next Lady Shiva.  Once again, I was able to catch on pretty quickly.

This trade comes with two stories: the first being whether or not Dinah will accept Ollie’s proposal; the second being how Dinah will cope with young Sin, and how she’ll keep her safe.

 photo 20160918_151710_zpsjszno7qe.jpg

It turns out, these two stories are intertwined.  The League of Shadows wants Sin, and the group attacks her school and steals her away.  Dinah and Ollie go after her, and Ollie makes a sacrifice that he knows will cost him Dinah: he arranges to have it look like Sin has been killed, so that the League of Shadows will stop their pursuit. Unfortunately, doing so involves letting Dinah think she’s dead too, at least at first.  Sin writes a letter for Dinah a few days alter explaining that she is safe, and that this was the only way to keep her safe.

At this point there’s a little speech about how Ollie is always so selfish, but that he finally made a choice in which he wasn’t thinking about himself, all leading up to the somewhat predictable outcome:

 photo 20160918_151611_zpsqwmn3qyo.jpg

For me, the trade ends here.  There’s a Black Canary Wedding Special that was included as well, but that was nothing more than a cliched story about Dinah turning into a sterotypical stressed out bride while Ollie coolly sat back making rational suggestions that were steadfastly ignored.

…Yeah, I really wasn’t a fan of that “special”.  There’s a two-page spread about Dinah and a few female superheroes lingerie shopping (complete with pictures, because of course) yet not a SINGLE reference to any deeper feelings or emotions the bride or groom might be feeling about, oh you know, finally tying the knot after all these years. It was a shallow story, and just not my cup of tea.

The rest of the comic was a pretty cut and dry trade.  There was never really any doubt that Dinah would say “yes”, especially given how much time she took to decide. You don’t write that kind of build-up to end in a “no”.  While I’ve always liked the Canary/Arrow pairing, for some reason I wasn’t as invested in the outcome of this story. Maybe it was because so many of the events were new to me that I felt a bit removed from the overall story, but I just wasn’t as drawn into their story as I could have been.  All in all a nice little story, even though the wedding itself wasn’t included in the trade. At least Ollie and Dinah will finally (hopefully) get their happily ever after..assuming they make it that far.

-Jess

Green Arrow: Quiver

Oliver Queen is back.

I’m going to pause to let that sink in for a bit.

Then again, if you’re reading this you most likely already know he’s back, because unlike me you’re not reading comics that were published sixteen years ago.  For all I know, you may not have even known Oliver was ever gone.

Well, he was, but thanks to the wonderful Kevin Smith (whom I believe should be sainted for bringing Oliver back) he’s made a triumphant, dramatic return.

Cue the trumpets and fanfare.

This newest Green Arrow comic (the third run of such a story) opens on the fate of Star City without a Green Arrow to protect its streets.  The standard corruption and crime is taking place everywhere, and as we see a man being attacked in an alley, his assailants are scared off by a strangely familiar man.

wp-1465784407456.jpg

Dirty and disheveled, Oliver is taken in by the man he saved, an elderly gent named Stanley.

Itching to get back into the game, Oliver spends the beginning of the comic unmasking corruption and catching criminals with his own personal style.  Of course, not all is perfect with his return.

Although Oliver is seen to be alive, we soon learn that he’s not quite all there.

wp-1465784471103.jpg

There is a large chunk of time missing from Oliver’s memory, with at least a decade missing.  This makes for more than one awkward encounter as he doesn’t realize all of the massive changes that have taken place.

At this point the story really takes off, with a lengthy explanation as to just how Oliver survived the massive explosion that vaporized his body.

The short story: he didn’t.

Oliver died in the crash, but we learn that just before his death, Hal Jordan sought to right his wrongs and visited Oliver in heaven, where Hal asked if he could bring Ollie back from the dead.  Oliver agreed, but only if his soul could remain in heaven.

Essentially, a soulless Oliver Queen body was brought back to life, and that’s who we’ve been following the entire story.

It’s a bit out there, but it was wonderfully written, with alive-Ollie even traveling to Heaven (thanks to Hal/Spectre) to speak with his own soul.

wp-1465784547852.jpg

Soul-Ollie doesn’t want to leave Heaven (who can blame him?) so he tells body-Ollie to go enjoy his life on Earth.

While all of this is happening, there’s a whole other plot revolving around a child-killer and a beastly demon, all which serve the purpose to draw Oliver’s soul out of heaven.

Oliver is tied to a table, and Connor is valiantly trying to save him from a horde of demons.  He’s being overwhelmed though, and Oliver must plead with his own soul to rejoin his body to save his son.  It takes some convincing, but ultimately Soul-Oliver does what’s right.

wp-1465784629891.jpg

Oliver’s body and soul are reunited, and the father-son duo fight together until the demons are sent back to hell.

The comic essentially ends at this point, with Oliver officially returned from the dead (and back in the main continuity.)  The story implies that Oliver and Connor will be spending some quality time together, getting to know each other again, as they happily walk off into the sunset.

I loved this comic even more than I thought I would. I have half a mind to drive to Red Bank, NJ (really only about an hour or two from here) and personally thank Kevin Smith for writing such a great Green Arrow story.

The story is just that good.

There is a lot going on in these ten issues, even more than I could possibly summarize in this post.  What’s truly impressive though is how well the entire story flows together.  It’s no easy task to figure out exactly how to bring a human character back from the dead, but Smith created a wholly believable scenario. If anyone would be responsible for Ollie’s return, it would be Hal, and seeing their reunion was quite moving.

Smith is clearly a comics fan, and has done plenty of homework.  He makes plenty of references to the main continuity to easily place this story within a larger framework.  There are references to Crisis on Infinite Earths as well as plenty of minor events throughout Oliver’s life.  My favorite references though were those to Hard Traveling Heroes, one of the last points in time Ollie seems to remember, when he and Hal traveled the country, righting wrongs.  I always appreciate when writers reference back to previously storylines, because it sets the stage for the comic at hand while also proving that the writer knows what the hell he’s talking about.  Given how well this comic was written and how many references to past events were made, I’d say Kevin Smith definitely knows comics (yeah, yeah, I know, he owns a comic-book shop, what did I expect?)

This story was a brilliant reintroduction of Green  Arrow, and provided plenty of context to appeal to new and old readers alike.  Ollie’s past is laid out in a believable, non-summarizing format while creating a truly original way to bring back a dead character.  I was plenty upset when Oliver died, and constantly wondered just how he’d be brought back. After all, he’s no Superman, so there are no metahuman abilities that could be exploited to explain his comeback.  Smith’s use of Hal Jordan and his desire to do right by his old friend felt completely believable, no small feat given the entire subject matter of this story.  It takes a skilled writer to pull off the “soulless body walking the earth while his soul resides in Heaven” story without feeling contrived, but Smith does it wonderfully.

Also, the comic makes an overt reference to “The Powerpuff Girls” at one point, and for that, Kevin Smith, I love you.

-Jess

Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon

If forced to describe this collection in one word, it would simply be:

Powerful.

It’s amazing how completely the tones of comics can shift from one trade to another on “the shelf.”  The last collection featured Wonder Woman preaching love and peace while fighting for the deities she believes in.

This Green Arrow trade could not be any more different.

Here we see a sharp deviation from the lighthearted tone of more recent comics to a much darker, grittier reality.

Set in Seattle, we see Oliver Queen and his lady love Dinah Lance (aka Black Canary) setting up shop (quite literally) as Oliver deals with the Seattle crime scene.

The first trade in this series, The Longbow Hunters, certainly had a dark tone, but this collection took that darkness to a whole new level.

Child torturing and murder. Gang Wars.  Brutal attacks on gays.  All of these topics are addressed without a filter in this comic.

Given such sensitive topics, I approached this trade warily, worrying that there would be gruesome, gratuitous images that would detract from the story and turn my stomach more than anything.

Somehow, this series manages to convey serious topics with a healthy dose of respect, without whitewashing the harsh realities.

Perhaps the best example of this delicate balance is shown when a young woman, Annie Green, is forced to relive the traumatic events of her childhood in which she was abducted and tortured repeatedly:

wp-1454438658486.jpg

The panels are drawn in such a way to perfectly convey her terror, without resorting to grotesque details of what actually happened.  I felt for her character without wanting to turn away from the story.  I don’t deny that such things (and in fact, things much worse) happen in real life; that doesn’t mean that they need to be abused and immortalized on the page.  I was impressed with the way such a sensitive topic was handled.

The small details are what truly make this comic.  The hints and subtle allusions, rather than laying everything out for the reader, are what make the story powerful.  As Annie learns that her attacker is being released from prison, rather than have her vocalize her distress, we are instead given a single, very powerful image to convey her emotions:

wp-1454435941053.jpg

While her voice remains calm, she is clearly deeply upset by this news, digging her nails so hard into her palm that she draws blood.  The inclusion of such a detail was more powerful than I would have expected, and proves that a story doesn’t have to talk down to its readers or vocalize every emotion to get a point across.

What I love about these Green Arrow comics, and what is quickly raising Oliver Queen on my list of awesome heroes, is the focus on small-town crime and corruption.  Many of the other superheroes I’ve read about lately have been focusing on large-scale, worldwide threats: angry gods, alien invaders; they’re all threats to the world as a whole.  Green Arrow stays closer to home in these issues, fighting crime on a grassroots level.  In this way it reminds me of the earliest version of Batman comics, but with a much more skilled hand at the helm of the story.

The focus on more personal stories, as well as the skill with which the stories are told, easily make these Green Arrow comics some of my favorite trades to read.  The stories may be darker, presenting a much less positive outlook on life, but they represent a harsh reality that too few people want to acknowledge.  These issues are a sharp slap in the face to anyone who believes we live in a perfect society.  For that reason these comics are important reads both for DC fans and non-fans alike, and ones I would heartily recommend to anyone looking for a realistic, moving story.

-Jess

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters

Ever since reading Green Arrow:  Year One, I have been really excited to read more about this character.  That particular trade set the bar pretty high though, and I worried that future trades might fall short.

Luckily, Green Arrow doesn’t disappoint, and his turn in this collection is just as good.

I can’t decide why I liked this trade better: the artwork or the story.

Truth be told, both are equally good, with the artwork complementing the story exceedingly well.

In this collection, a (slightly older) Oliver Queen has just moved to Seattle with Dinah Lance, and is hunting down a serial killer while being pulled into a mystery surrounding another archer in town,  a mysterious woman who has been brutally assassinating a slew of older men.

With all of this going on, the story feels complete, filling in the gaps that are so often overlooked in other comics.

The personal interactions between Oliver and Dinah were especially poignant, with Oliver realizing he wants children, while Dinah proclaims that she will never have them:

wp-1453774734084.jpg

This scene was particularly powerful, and more than a little sad.  Addressing the harsh realities of being a superhero, the reader can’t help but pity the characters and the personal lives they can never lead.

I found the artwork particularly striking, feeling more akin to the painterly style of Green Arrow: Year One than the recent collections I’ve read.  Not only was the artwork itself well done, but the styling of the pages themselves created a very unique reading experience.

wp-1453776787611.jpg

I love the symmetry in this panel (as well as the fact that it’s not technically a “panel” since it’s not blocked in like the rest).  This image is uncontained on the page, a technique I’ve seen used numerous times in comics and one I’m a particular fan of.

There’s just something about the non-traditional layout that appeals to me.  I’ll admit, when you’re not familiar with it, it can be difficult to follow which panel you’re supposed to read in what order, as it doesn’t always follow a standard left to right, top to bottom flow.  The quality of the images as a whole more than make up for that, though.

wp-1453777348399.jpg

Honestly, look at this.  There is so much more depth and emotion on this page than can be found in an entire issue of some older comics.  Plus, this represents the “show, don’t tell” style so perfectly, of which I am most definitely a fan.

Truth be told, reading this after coming straight off of the brevity in Justice League International was certainly a major shift. There aren’t very many moments in this comic to approach lightly.  The overall tone is much more serious in nature here, feeling more akin to certain Batman trades I’ve read than some of the more recent JL or Superman issues.

Although I like the comedic aspect (and it’s certainly a little more fun to write about), I still really enjoy these more serious comics.  They end up feeling a bit more substantial than some of the lighter storylines, and help to provide a complete range of emotions on “the shelf”.

Now I’m just left wondering if Green Arrow and Black Canary ever do get to have a kid together.  I certainly hope so. (Because you know, that was the only plotline in this trade. I’m not overlooking another more complex, in-depth storyline that doesn’t involve the two of them. Nope, didn’t happen.)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I get way too emotionally invested in some of these characters.  I may need an intervention soon.

Arrow/Canary luv luv.

-Jess

Green Arrow: Year One

It wasn’t until after I finished this trade that I realized it was the first Green Arrow solo comic I had read.  The closest I had come up until this point was the Green Lantern/Green Arrow crossover a few months back.  Having realized that, I recognized that Green Arrow’s origin story was a noticeable gap in my comics knowledge.

I have no basis for comparison since I never read his original origin story, but based on this trade alone I’d say Green Arrow is pretty freaking epic.

Sometimes I’m not too fond of origin stories.  Don’t get me wrong, I love learning a character’s backstory and what drove them to their life choices, but sometimes in comics these details are glossed over.  Especially in the Golden/Silver Age comics, a backstory is one, maybe two pages, with a basic outline of what drives the character without any real substance behind it.

With this Green Arrow trade, I feel like I have an acute understanding of the transformation Oliver Queen made to become Green Arrow.

That is what this trade is about, after all.  A transformation.

With the opening pages, we learn that Oliver Queen is essentially an entitled, spoiled, dangerously reckless rich kid, with no concern for anyone but himself.   He doesn’t care about anyone or anything, and has absolutely no drive in his life.

Due to an unfortunate sequence of events, Oliver ends up on a boat with his trusted friend and employee, Hackett, who has betrayed him in order to steal money.  Hackett’s true feelings about Queen are revealed as he pulls a gun on his former employer:

wp-1449252574476.jpg

Although Hackett’s actions are despicable, his words ring true; Oliver is spoiled, selfish, and the epitome of wealthy ignorance.  Does he deserve what’s happening to him? Absolutely not.  It can’t be denied, though, that he’s a very unlikable character at this point in the story.

Through a momentary spurt of humanity, Hackett can’t bring himself to shoot Queen point blank, and so throws his unconscious body into the ocean.

Oliver miraculously survives and washes ashore a seemingly abandoned island.  Here we see the beginning of his transformation.  Starved and desperate for water, Oliver pulls from some deeply-buried survival instincts to fashion a makeshift bow and arrows.  Likewise he creates a covering for his head to protect him from the sun, creating the first stage of his Green Arrow look:

wp-1449252900243.jpg

This version of Oliver is wild and untamed, but driven by an urge to survive (something he does exceedingly well).

Trapped on this island for months, he grows quite skilled with his bow, hunting to survive and finally feeling at peace.

This peace is broken when, after being attacked by a circling plane, he realizes he’s not alone on the island.

Here the story truly takes off, detailing an elaborate opium ring run by a ruthless leader who uses the local islanders as slave labor.  Outraged, Oliver decides to take action, transforming once again, this time into a skilled, determined hunter with a set mission:

wp-1449253745678.jpg

His overall plan may be short-sighted, but it’s clear and decisive.

A fairly epic battle ensues afterwards, one which writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock depict flawlessly.  The entire comic is so well drawn and narrated, filling even the fairly basic “stranded on a desert island” scenes with action and self-reflection.

Queen wins his battle against the drug cartel and is rescued from the island.  We don’t learn much of his future plans, but the closing image gives the reader a pretty good idea of where his mind’s at:

wp-1449254320827.jpg

Oliver’s path in life seems clear as he completes his transformation from apathetic billionaire to bonafide superhero.  His next move is unknown, but the comic leaves the reader certain it will involve fighting the forces of injustice, however big or small.

I thought this trade was brilliantly done.  Instead of one page or even one issue, we get an entire collection spanning a single character’s origin.  We’re able to peer into his psyche to learn just what changed in his mindset to so completely alter his personality.  This is a very important foundation, especially for such long-running comics.  When the reader can understand the character’s motives and way of thinking, it makes their actions so much more believable and realistic.  Now if Oliver Queen ever responds strongly to slave labor (perhaps more vehemently and angrily opposing it than others) I’ll know why.  I’ll know what exactly happened in his past to drive this intense feeling.  That seems to be a key element to a good comic – allowing you reader into the hero’s head so that they can fully understand all of their motives and opinions.

I still can’t quite believe that this is my first Green Arrow trade.  Still, it’s one hell of a trade to start off with.  Here’s hoping Oliver Queen’s future appearances on “the shelf” are just as acutely written and sharply drawn as this one.

-Jess

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard Traveling Heroes

My journey through “the shelf” has taken a bit of a sharp left turn with this next trade.  The brainchild of Denny O’Neil and Neil Adams, this comic collects a series of Green Lantern/Green Arrow joint comics which follows their journey together across the country as they seek to discover what exactly is wrong with America.

The series units two different viewpoints.  With Green Lantern, we have a law-abiding citizen who has always believed in justice.  When confronted with a morally ambiguous situation, the character is left with a wavering resolve, unsure if he has been acting in humanity’s best interests after all.

wpid-wp-1445880280912.jpgOn the other side is Green Arrow, the renegade sort who is frustrated and angered by the social injustices he witnesses, and vows to do whatever he can to help those in need, regardless of what side of the law this puts him.

Though brought together with a common goal, the two heroes often butt heads as to how a situation should be handled.

This alone is not an original concept.  Other comics prior to this had allowed opposing superheroes to square off against one another.  What makes this situation unique is that the opposing viewpoints deal with highly relevant ideas.  These comics were written in the early 1970’s, a period of time that saw great social unrest and call for change.  Heavily influenced by the country’s emotional state, the stories featured here take strong political stances, addressing such varied social issues as racism, Native American poverty, and overpopulation.

When I realized the theme of this collection, I was unsure how to react.  This was certainly different than any other comic collection I had read.  Rather than focusing on small-town crime or otherworldly phenomena, these stories focus on pressing, real-world issues that were at the forefront of many Americans’ minds.  I found myself wondering if the stories presented here were likely to engage younger audiences, or if the concepts addressed would go over their heads.  The story arc only lasted for a handful of issues, so perhaps I have my answer there.  Although I’m sure the concepts seemed surprising for a comic book at the time, it presents a unique perspective on very real issues this country faced.  In many ways, this collection felt a bit ahead of its time, causing the reader to question his or her own morality.

The inherent problem with this tactic is that the stories used hit just a little too close to home.  The ideas presented here read like something out of a textbook, and were likely lifted straight out of newspaper headlines.  Comics, like all fictional media, are a form of escapism, and being slapped in the face with constant reminders of the real-world problems surrounding you is not likely going to boost sales.

That’s not to say that such thought-provoking questions can’t be raised.  It just seems to be more effective when done in a roundabout, hinting manner.  The perfect example is presented in this trade, in which Green Lantern and Green Arrow travel to a distant planet after ________ is banished, and witness deplorable living conditions.

wpid-wp-1445965629296.jpgOverpopulation and its devastating effects are certainly not unheard of in our world.  What makes this story so powerful though is that its real-world affect is hinted at tangentially.  Rather than hitting the reader over the head with facts and figures, the story allows one to make these connections on his own and draw his own conclusions.  The story creates emotion and sympathy in the reader without harsh reality looming overhead.  It’s much easier to swallow such heartbreaking stories, even if they mirror our own lives, if we, as readers, can remove ourselves from the situation, at least to a certain degree.  As such, the story stands out without the historical narrative overshadowing it.  Had more of the issues taken this approach, perhaps the comic would have lasted a bit longer.

On a more personal note, I greatly enjoyed the inclusion of Black Canary in a handful of these issues.  The last time I came across her on “the shelf”, she was adjusting to life on Earth One and cautiously flirting with Green Arrow.  The stories here pick up where those left off, with her still attempting to find herself while wrestling with her feelings.  She is as badass as ever, detesting violence and attempting to avoid it at all costs, but able to more than hold her own when she has no other choice.

wpid-wp-1445910434512.jpg

One of the elements I’m most intrigued by since starting “the shelf” is the progression of character development and depiction of relationships over the course of decades.  Relationships, particularly romantic relationships, often felt flat in the earlier comics.  They were there, but they were a last-second inclusion, a punch-line to lighten the mood and superficially connect the superhero to the world they were living in.

With Black Canary and Green Arrow, we see the emergence of a deeper type of love being depicted.  Theirs is not the “absent-minded man, unhappy woman” relationship so common in earlier comics.  Instead, there is a deep connection between these two, one that filters out from the story rather strongly.

wpid-wp-1445911031618.jpgKnowing Black Canary is in danger, Green Arrow panics and demands information.  His sole thought is her safety.  O’Neil doesn’t include an aside from the characters depicting their inner thoughts, or have them vocalize their feelings in any direct way; he doesn’t need to.  He lets their actions speak for themselves, which makes for an altogether engaging and compelling story, much moreso than the stilted, unromantic relationships often seen in Golden Age comics.  I was glad to see this progression towards more natural relationships, and hope this form of storytelling is a trend that caught on rather quickly.

The stories collected in this trade are an interesting read.  To an extent they’re a bit dated, but they’re certainly still relevant. Not something I would want to sit down and binge read thousands of pages, but definitely intriguing stories that leave a lasting impression.  After this collection I’m left wondering what, if any, socially conscious comics are being written today, and if they take the same approach or have the same impact that these stories likely did.

-Jess