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Subj: Green Arrow #26 - Hard Headed Heroes.
Posted: Sun Jul 09, 2017 at 07:14:15 pm EDT (Viewed 639 times)
Boasting it's own now trademark, and exemplary, artstyle, this issue's rich visual splendour is delivered to us by Stephen Byrne, and in keeping with Juan Ferreya and Otto Schmidt his is a warm highly detailed approach that lends the world of Green Arrow a compelling sense of place and motion. It is no exaggeration to say that the distinctive choices from the editorial in what this title should look like is a considerable asset and support to the ongoing work of Ben Percy as he continues to build a need and a world for the vigilante actions of Oliver Queen and his other self.
Ejected from the now corrupted city he once swore to protect quite why Oliver Queen has decided to escape his problems by taking an aimless trip into the deepest parts of America is not quite clear in this text. That he ends up running into a remote and unlikely plot by the Ninth Circle would seem to suggest he is engaging in some long-range aim to erode their power and influence by attacking their fringes, but when the conundrum of this is married to the reveal that their improboble location and scheme is to somehow tap into the omni-present and plot Macguffin Speed-force one comes to realise that expecting some degree of logic or sense in the plot unfolding on the page is a trait that writer Ben Percy seems wholly unconcerned by. Yet opening the book the signs are actually very encouraging that this opening chapter to Hard Travelling Hero will be a worthwhile and intriguing journey - with a well executed opener showing extraordinary events occurring out in the wooded beauty of America's Washington state Percy and Stephen Byrne present a surreal and unnatural landscape that is being menaced by what we glean is local wildlife impossibly given Superspeed. That Oliver Queen just happens to cross into this area as these events are occuring is obvious story necessity, that he arrives into this at the same time The Flash arrives on a mission of his own however is sheer comicbook convenience.
It would have been of interest to see what course Ollie might have taken if not for the arrival of The Flash, what defence if any might he have had if confronted by a super-speeding Bear for example, but for all intents what Ben Percy delivers to us is in line with a tribute to the old The Brave and the Bold series of yesteryear, wherein two unlikely heroes cross paths with the other in order to resolve some, often preposterous, situation that attracts one or the others attentions... Percy's basic plot, with superspeeded animals and a mysterious mountain at the center of strange phenomena, is certainly torn from that era of the great team-ups of DC comicbooks, but what was acceptable back then translates poorly when presented so literally in a modern context and with a modern audience.
Of far greater concern perhaps is the brusque and curt relationship that is immediately apparent between the Flash and Green Arrow. The usually affable and cordial Barry Allen has little time at all for the battling bowman, and since there is no information on the background between the two offered by Percy is is impossible not to feel that Mr Allen is being unduly rude to a fellow crimefighter and potential ally. It may be a problem with DCs troubled timeline also, it seems unlikey that in the several or more years that Green Arrow has been active that The Flash has not by now met the bowman and knows him well, yet the information by which to measure and judge the antagonistic and dismissive attitude from The Flash simply isn't here on the page to help the reader actually understand the barely concealed emnity Allen feels towards Oliver Queen.
In a way the impassiveness felt while reading this new storyline isn't at all helped by the fact that it rides on the titling and success of past glories, the Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams work of the early 1970s, Hard Travelling Heroes Green Lantern and Arrow take a trip across the continent and along the way meet normal folks with down-to-earth problems. Ben Percy pays lip service to this daring and bold exploration of real world issues and politics by suggesting in the first pages something of the same flavor - of huge commercial companies arriving into this unspoilt landscape set on dubious exploitation of natural minerals, but such relatively daring storytelling and subject matter is never at all seriously considered here. Instead the concerns of the gas attendant Oliver meets and chats with are brushed aside without thought or comment by Ollie, and one cannot feel that the character has been ill-served due to it. But then the radical work done by O'Neill in recalibrating Oliver Queen into something of a radical and furiously passionate liberal man-of-the-people was the product of a very different era, that that character seems so... dangerous by todays standards of presentation and calibre of streetlevel Superhero is an apt
and extraordinary demonstration of how far the comicbook mediums once subversive willingness to challenge and explore the status-quo and political establishment has all but been washed away by the passing of the years. The thought that a Denny O'Neill or Mike Grell could arrive on a modern Green Arrow book and broach the subjects they did back then with the same courage and frankfulness as they did in their day is hard to imagine.
But oil exploitation, frakking, shady business practices and under the table dealings, all hand in hand with the worries and lives of ordinary folk just hoping to get through another day... bah! Here's a plot about superspeeding deers, sinister exotic secret societies after global domination, bickering heroes, and a crack in the 'Speedforce' caused by bad geology or somesuch... enjoy! Or not. Yours is the choice...
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