Today, Patrick and Peter are discussing Green Arrow 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Green Arrow 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: What do you get when you tell a story about the greatest superhero archer in the world, and set it before he was either a superhero OR an archer? Let’s add another layer to riddle: what happens when that character is an entitled asshole with inconsistent morality, no sense of humor and imperceptible motivations? Why, Green Arrow 0, of course!
Oliver Queen is a little shit. At 19-years old, he’s failed at every job his billionaire father gave him. As a form of punishment, Ollie’s current assignment is an administrative gig aboard a Queen Industries off-shore oil rig. Naturally, Ollie turns the thing into an international-water-caliber party and the whole to-do makes it an easy target for pirates. One such group of pirates — lead by a cyborg named either Iron Eagle or Raven (the text seemed confused about this) — threatens to blow up the rig unless they hand over the raw crude. Ollie thinks his expensive archery lessons have imbued him with the ability to bulls-eye his way out of this mess, so he attacks the pirates head-on. Terrible move on Ollie’s part: the bombs explode, the rig is destroyed, tons of people die and Ollie’s pal, Tommy Merlyn, is horribly maimed.
There’s some other business at the end… a coda that’s supposed to tie this reckless origin to the current Green Arrow series. But it’s brief to the point of being trite. Like there’s a single page that’s supposed to completely reverse the main character’s trajectory:
First of all, thanks for the banner that heads “Location Unknown” – no shit, its was unknown before you told me that. But this second banner — “as the months go by…” — is no more helpful. It’s as though Winick wanted a montage to catch us up to current day and just didn’t know know to execute it in comic form. In this single page, the character of Oliver Queen has internalized everything that his reckless folly has rendered upon the people he loves and commits his mind and his body – not only to survival on an uninhabited island, but also – to fighting crime. It’s a psychological leap that’s so fucking huge, it’s embarrassing to see it trivialized in this ultra-brief fashion.
But what bugs me the most about this life-altering-sunset-montage is that it leads to FUCK ALL. After twelve months of island discipline, Oliver bails Roy Harper out of jail and offers him a job. There’s a splash of the Green Arrow in action, and then we check in on the still horribly maimed Merlyn, as he recovers (still bleeding on the pillow “several years later”) in some kind of island missionary. None of those three beats are story beats – they’re all epilogue. You don’t deploy a montage to prep an epilogue. The story here ended the second the rig blew up.
And I suppose none of this would be as big of a problem for me if I just cared about the character, or his world, at all. But everything in here is strangely, confusing characterized. Let’s start with an easy one: Ollie’s attitude toward the oil rig. He narrates:
This vessel is the Apollo. An oil rig currently in the Pacific, owned and operated by Queen Industries, my father’s company. This overbred pile of metal and ecological rape is grinding its gears into the ocean floor and digging up crude… I was supposed to be minding the clocks.
Now, never mind that “overbred pile of metal and ecological rape” is a monstrous turn of phrase, (overbred pile? pile of rape? what?): we can forgive Ollie’s wordiness — he’s 19. But his rebellion on the rig has nothing to do with the environmental crimes perpetrated by the rig — he parties and fucks around just to get back at his dad for giving him the opportunity. Not exactly sticking to a single message, is he?
Or what about the name of the pirate leader? Dude calls himself “Iron Eagle” but Ollie calls him “Raven.” Thanks for confirming that you cared about this villain as little as I did.
And then there’s the attitude of the crew! When the attack begins, one of the hardhats tells Ollie that this attack is all his fault and blah blah blah BUT on the next fucking page the same guy explains:
“They’ve done this before.” Meaning that this event could have happened even without Ollie’s stupid party. No one has a consistent point of view, the characters aren’t real and there’s not even a shred of reality to latch on to. It’s Winick at his characteristic worst.
With Captain Atom wrapping up this month, Freddie Williams II has taken over penciling responsibilities for Green Arrow. And while I find Williams’ cartoonier style befitting a slightly more lighthearted character, the detail and textures in this issue are busy to the point of distraction. I don’t know if we can blame inker Rob Hunter or colorists Richard and Tanya Horie, but a lot of the clarity in Williams’ art is muddied up considerably by this insatiable desire for more detail.
I don’t know, man – shouldn’t they be trying harder? CW’s Arrow comes out in the fall and the Green Arrow character is going to be joining the ranks of the Justice League of America. This whole issue reads like it doesn’t matter – not the characters, not the details, not even the story. Help me out here, Peter. Is this issue achieving something I’m willfully blind to? I see that we’re introduced to a brand new version of Merlyn… I’ll try to contain my excitement.
Peter: I guess you pointed out the only thing that I think you are blind to; it’s Arrow. While you and I don’t particularly like this issue, it does serve a rather useful purpose; it’s accessible. While Freddie Williams II’s art is slightly cartoon-y, there is really no reason that we can’t like it. When he was drawing Captain Atom his art was great. Part of the reason I liked it was because it was entirely different from the rest of the DC pool, and because his lack of cell shading fit well with the type of book that Captain Atom was. If he can shape his art to fit the Green Arrow franchise better, then I would be all for it.
Coupled with new show coming out, I would say that this zero issue was a success overall. The things that you and I don’t like, the unnecessarily headers, cartoon-y style, and seemingly over-easy dialogue, make perfect sense for DC. In terms of overall marketing and continuity, if someone where to watch Arrow, and decide that they want to check out the comics, where would they start? Here, Green Arrow #0. While that wouldn’t be the Green Arrow story that I would start someone on, it is the logical place for someone to either have a comic book store employee start them, or discover on their own. It’s fits pretty well, IF you ignore the official Arrow digital books that I’ve seen. But fans new to Arrow are probably just going to go to a comic shop to look for Green Arrow comics (makes sense). Joke’s on them – their Arrow books are only available digitally on Comixology.
HOWEVER, with the knowledge that Ollie will be joining the JLA in the future, I wouldn’t mind seeing that journey explored in the future of this series. BUT, I can’t start reading this title every month. With any luck, I’ll just peek in and see what’s happening from time to time. Most of my favorite stories that involve Ollie are either written by Andy Diggle or Mike Grell, arguably the two best Green Arrow writers ever. I’m also usually pleased to see him as a featured secondary character in ensemble cast stories. This series is unlikely to challenge the exclusivity either of those tastes.
Something in this series would have to change to make me want to pick it up regularly. Ollie is a great character, I just think that the execution is off here. For some solid Ollie stories, check out The Longbow Hunters, and Green Arrow: Year One. Both are solid, and help define/redefine Ollie in the greater DC Universe, as well as in his own right.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?