The Complexities of Internet Social Justice in Green Arrow 43

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: The internet can be a powerful tool for justice, often simply because it allows information to get to more people than ever before, faster than ever before. It allows the voices of the oppressed and downtrodden to be heard, and I think the #metoo movement may be the greatest sign of this: great things have been accomplished, impossible targets have been taken down, thanks to the platform for social justice the internet provided.

Like any tool, though, the internet’s platform can also be misused. Let’s look at the recent situation where Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was fired by Disney. I’m not condoning Gunn’s offending tweets, though it should be noted that Gunn acknowledged and apologized for them years ago and never did anything like them again, and Disney was well aware of those tweets when they hired him. What’s significant about this situation is that Gunn’s firing was orchestrated in poor faith, by an alt-right goon who couldn’t have cared less about Gunn’s tweets; he wanted Gunn fired for criticizing the president, and the tweets were the easiest way to do it. He took a platform for social justice and misused it to serve his own agenda, and it’s scary not only that there’s no safeguard against this, but that organizations like Disney can’t see the difference; they simply bow to the “Court of Public Opinion” no matter who’s behind it.

This danger is front-and-center in Green Arrow 43, an issue that finds Oliver and company facing an internet vigilante, an angry public, and a tricky moral dilemma. Continue reading

Being an Ally in Green Arrow 40

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: One of the biggest challenges for many people — but especially for straight, white, cis-gendered males — is realizing that not every story is your story. We don’t always need to be the center of attention, our opinions don’t always need to be voiced, our methods and plans aren’t always right, much less the best ones for everyone else involved. That’s certainly what Oliver Queen was reminded of in last month’s Green Arrow 39 as his attempt to help out the war-torn country of Rhapastan backfired on him. He never should have gotten involved at all, right?

Wrong. Ollie’s conscious is his best feature — his mistake wasn’t getting involved, but charging head-first into a strange land without truly understanding the problem and working with the locals to address the root causes. The people of Rhapastan didn’t need a savior — they needed an ally, and that’s exactly what Ollie becomes in Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Marcio Takara’s Green Arrow 40. Continue reading

The Trap of Guilt in Green Arrow 39

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: For the first few decades of his existence, Green Arrow was just Batman with a bow and arrows. It wasn’t until the 1970s, when Oliver Queen lost his fortune and gained a social consciousness, that the character became something unique and important. In today’s divisive times, I appreciate Green Arrow’s status as a “social justice warrior” more than ever, but honestly, the fact that Ollie is often pretty bad at this aspect of his job is probably just as important. That Ollie often needs to be educated allows creators to explain unfamiliar concepts to the audience, but it also means confronting the kind of guilt and privilege that often plagues even the most well-meaning of activists. Continue reading

Batman 39: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Mark Mitchell

Batman 39

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew: Hey, so what is fidelity? I think we all understand the general concept, but the exact borders of the definition are not entirely well defined. If your significant other dies, for example, very few people would classify moving on to another relationship as “cheating,” so we might fairly define “death” as one of the hard edges of fidelity. But what if they’re just presumed dead — say, on a desert island for years and years? Do we consider Helen Hunt’s marriage in Cast Away to be cheating on Tom Hanks? What if it had been Tom Hanks who forged the new relationship (on the island, somehow) — he knows he’s not dead (and could reasonably assume Helen Hunt isn’t), but do the rules of fidelity extend to seemingly hopeless circumstances of languishing in a remote corner of the world? These are certainly unlikely hypotheticals, but unlikely hypotheticals are what superhero comics are all about, and exactly what Batman 39 needs in order to maybe-kinda-sorta justify Batman and Wonder Woman hooking up. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. Continue reading

Batman 36: Discussion

By Spencer Irwin and Mark Mitchell

Batman 36

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: Is Bruce Wayne the mask, or is Batman? Which one is “real”? It’s a long-standing debate amongst the comic book community, and given the myriad of different interpretations of the character, probably one that will never have a definitive answer. My own feelings about this question have shifted and evolved over time, but if you asked me right this second, I’d say that both Bruce and Batman are masks of sorts — the millionaire playboy and the dark knight, respectively. We don’t see him too often, but there’s a real Bruce beneath both those facades, one with real human emotions that often get buried beneath the weight of his own mythology. The best parts of Tom King’s run on Batman have been the moments where he’s let that real Bruce shine through, and more than anything it’s been Catwoman who has allowed this Bruce to do just that. In Batman 36, King adds another tool to his storytelling arsenal that similarly cuts right to Batman’s hidden humanity: his best friend, Superman. Continue reading

Compassion vs. Selfishness in Green Arrow Annual 1

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: Early in Green Arrow Annual 1, Oliver says that “on Christmas everything turns out exactly as it should.” It’s a nice sentiment, but that’s exactly what it is — sentiment. The world doesn’t magically change just because it’s a holiday, and holidays can, in fact, be very depressing times for many people. If Christmas is a special time, it’s because people make it that way, and the desire to do so is the clear line that divides Green Arrow and Count Vertigo. Continue reading

Machinations Abound in Green Arrow 33

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Machinations abound in Green Arrow 33. The issue finds Oliver Queen back home in Seattle Star City, ready to once again protect his home and prove his innocence, but for the moment Oliver seems to be the only person in the city without some sort of master plan — but not without a trump card. Continue reading

A Strong — But Not Perfect — Finale in Green Arrow 31

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Green Arrow 31 brings Oliver’s “hard-traveling hero” journey to an end in a satisfying, uplifting manner, helping Oliver earn a new reputation amongst the superhero community while also reminding him of the unique role he plays within it. Likewise, Ollie and Black Canary fulfill their missions, destroying the Ninth Circle’s satellite and rescuing Wendy/proving Ollie’s innocence, respectively. This issue does what it needs to to be a successful finale, yet there’s a few nagging details that keep it from being quite as strong as the installments that proceeded it. Continue reading

A Revealing Interruption in Batman 31

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s that part in The Princess Bride where the narrator announces the King died in the night and Buttercup was married to Prince Humperdink the next day. It’s a jarring bit of information, totally incongruous with the story we’ve come to expect, but the more impressive feat of storytelling is Fred Savage’s interruption a few seconds later. Savage’s character cuts in on Humperdink’s “My father’s final words were…” with an impetuous “hold it, hold it!” The effect his immediate: the audience is reminded why we’re watching this story in the first place. “Trust me,” the film implies “even if you’re momentarily upset, you’re going to have fun in the end.” Tom King and Mikel Janín’s Batman 31 pulls off a similar interruption, emphasizing the riddle (or is it the joke?) at the heart of this story arc: why is Bruce telling Selina about the War of Jokes and Riddles? Continue reading