Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Green Arrow #1

DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99

Writer: J.T. Krul
Penciler: Dan Jurgens
Inker: George Pérez
Colorist: David Baron
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover artist: Dave Wilkins

Thanks to Messrs. Jurgens, Pérez and Baron, Green Arrow #1 mostly looks like a sturdy, traditional superhero comic should. Thanks to Mr. Krul, reading it is a fairly painful affair, anyway.

The art is good-looking and well-done, as you’d expect, given the creators’ pedigree. That qualifier up there in the first line is required, though, thanks to the particularly gruesome visuals of the bad guys, who for some reason look like they escaped from the set of a 1980s Billy Idol video shoot. Still, as far as the pencils, inks, colors and page-to-page storytelling go, this is a perfectly competent and accessible comic.

When it comes to J.T. Krul’s story, however, all is not right. It wants to establish Ollie Queen, the Green Arrow, as a major badass of a street-fighting vigilante version of Steve Jobs. Which actually sounds like an intriguing concept, in theory. Krul also throws in some vague ideas about how people use the Internet that may or may not be going anywhere in future issues, so who knows, maybe there’s some actual ambition here.

What this issue doesn’t offer, however, is any sort of particularly engaging conflict for the character, any kind of serious physical threat, or any particularly fascinating motivation for choosing to be a superhero—or, for that matter, anything at all that might give a reader a reason to care enough about what’s going on to stick around.

Instead, it paints the protagonist as an annoying old twit who is ranting about the evils of the Internet and badmouths and beats up a bunch of upstart super-villains for posting “violent videos” on YouTube and such, calling them “punks” and “losers” in the process. “I recognize all three of them from their disturbing YouTube videos,” he says at one point.

Now, if the Green Arrow’s portrayal as an out-of-touch crank who thinks the Internet was created by the devil were a deliberate creative choice, I could see some potential there. But the prevailing sense here is that I’m supposed to take this seriously and learn some Important Moral Lesson, delivered by a curmudgeonly but loveable old-school hero.

This is a really awkward mix of ideas that never come together, and it never quite hits the right note. It looks nice, but regarding the god-awful dialogue and the utterly insufferable protagonist, that’s not much of a consolation.

Grade: D

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