By Andy Diggle & Jock & various (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-77950-114-1 (HB)
Green Arrow is one of DC’s Golden All-Stars. He’s been a fixture of the company’s landscape – in many instances for no discernible reason – more or less continually since his 1941 debut in More Fun Comics #73. Many Happy Returns, Emerald Archer!
In those distant heady days, origins weren’t as important as image and storytelling, so creators Mort Weisinger and George Papp never bothered. The first inkling of formative motivations came in More Fun Comics # 89 (March 1943) wherein Joe Samachson & Cliff Young detailed ‘The Birth of the Battling Bowman’ (and a tip of the feathered hat to Scott McCullar for bringing the tale to my belated attention). With the secret revealed, it was promptly ignored for years, leaving later workmen France Herron, Jack Kirby and his wife Roz to fill in the blanks again with ‘The Green Arrow’s First Case’ at the start of the Silver Age superhero revival. It appeared in Adventure Comics #256, coved-dated January 1959.
This time the story stuck, becoming – with numerous tweakings over successive years – the basis of the modern Amazing Archer on page and screen.
The most impressive recalibration came in 2006 courtesy of Brit-packers Andy Diggle & Jock (better unknown to all as Mark Simpson, ably assisted by colourist David Baron and letterer Jared K. Fletcher) which massaged with spectacular visuals and jaded, post-modern cynicism the well-worn tale of a wealthy wastrel who finds purpose after being marooned on a desert island. The result was a comfortably modern, unsettlingly bleak, dark and violent contemporary classic.
Adrenaline junkie and trust-fund millionaire Oliver Queen makes a public fool of himself at a society bash and is compelled by shame to join his bodyguard Hackett on a boating trip to the Pacific. On board, Ollie discovers that the man he regularly trusts his life with has stolen all his money and intends to kill him now to get away with it…
When the murder-attempt goes awry, Queen somehow washes up on a desolate volcanic island. His early days of privation and thirst only worsen when he discovers the place is a criminal venture: a vast drug factory complete with slave workers and a sadistic crime queen called China White.
After being wounded by gun-toting thugs, a drug-slave secretly ministers to his wounds, and once Ollie learns Hackett is also involved in these atrocities, long submerged feelings and ethics resurface. He built a bow to catch fish, but now that he has a new reason to live, can he use it to stay alive and save others too?
This modern retelling is sharp and edgy as you’d expect from such extremely talented creators: rocket paced, potently suspenseful and peppered with spectacular action set pieces. This modern spin actually benefits and improves the character of Queen/Green Arrow, elevating a fan favourite to the first rank of Super Heroes. An excellent addition to the legend of one of DC’s most enduring, endearing characters.
This deluxe hardback edition (available in digital formats) also offers an Introduction by Brian K. Vaughn, and a Survival Guide section which includes Script excerpts and a wealth of preliminary artwork.
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