Or – “Flashback, Garth! Doodleoodleoot doodleoodleoot!”

GA1.jpgAnybody who’s anybody who reads Green Arrow has, at some point in the last few issues, asked themself that musical question: How in the name of Aiesha did Oliver Queen, best known for accosting the Guardians of the Universe about their percieved racism, utterly and completely dominate Slade Wilson, best known for killing everyone within arms’ length, in physical combat? After all, their facial hair aside, Ollie and Slade aren’t exactly in the same league. Deathstroke managed to tag The Flash with a knife, fer Pete’s sake. Answers are forthcoming, but not everyone will like what they reveal…

Of all the books kicked forward in time by the One Year Later gap, Green Arrow probably had the most dramatic change in status quo. When last seen, Oliver was bleeding to death in the ruins of his beloved city, victim of a sneak attack by Merlyn the Archer. When he popped up again, he was mayor of a revitalized and rebuilding Star City. Not only that, but his fighting skills went totally Steve Austin… Not “Austin 3:16” Steve Austin, but “better, stronger, faster” Steven Austin, and gentlemen, someone has rebuilt him. This issue is the middle of the arc that fills in Oliver’s activities during the missing months, and features one of the great pleasures of today’s comic book world: Scott McDaniel drawing kung fu fights.

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Thankfully for those who enjoy martial arts ala McDaniel, Ollie, his son Connor and ward Mia have spent months training from some of the greatest fighters in the DC Universe, including an unnerving fellow with the embarrassing nom de guerre of ‘Natas.’ (It should be noted that having the character named ‘Satan-Spelled-Backwards’ is the only false note in the issue for me.) Oliver has hired this renowned assassin and psycho killer in order to fully understand how psychos like Deathstroke think and feel, to absorb the “killer’s lament.” To that end, Natas spends weeks beating him silly, attacking and trying to kill him, and ALWAYS fighting dirty. After a few weeks of swift and blinding violence, Oliver simply disappears. Connor and Mia suspect the worst, and confront Natas about Oliver’s whereabouts. Natas’ answer is short and succinct:

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Green Arrow might have gotten the old man that time, if it weren’t for those meddling kids. Life goes on, as all of Team Arrow studies, heals, and kicks the bajeezus out of their teachers. Even Oliver manages to get in a few good licks on Natas, but the good feelings only last until Oliver’s associate Tuckman arrives with the update on what’s happening in Star City. The news isn’t good, as recovery is going slow, and the current mayoral administration has an interesting view of reconstruction politics…

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Green Arrow has for many years been politically aware, but this news puts him in an even more activist state of mind, bringing him to ask and answer a question he’s been avoiding. What happens when the mayor won’t take care of the city? Then the city needs a new mayor, and Oliver just happens to know the cat who can handle the job. But, as rich as he is, Ollie will need obscene amounts of funding to pull off a mayoral campaign. Much to Connor’s consternation (that’s fun to say!), he chooses to ask for assistance… from Dyslexic Satan. Natas is willing to help, but much like his fighting technique, the man doesn’t know how to play nice. Queen and Natas use the latters’ knowledge of crime to perpetrate a billion-dollar stock market fraud (targeting only big corporations with defense contracts). The money is raised, and Oliver’s conscience remains… sort-of clear. And, importantly, he’s gained more insight into how the other half lives. In fact, his erstwhile teacher has only one remaining lesson to impart to Oliver. And that lesson is perhaps explained in the oft-repeated words of one Senor Montoya: “Prepare to die.”

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It’s the “Best, N” part that makes it hilarious. This is a very solid issue, tightly plotted and ideally suited for artist Scott McDaniel. The promise of huge blowout fight next month is worth the price of admission for me. I loved McDaniel’s work on ‘Richard Dragon’ and ‘Nightwing,’ and was most impressed by an exchange halfway through the book where Connor and Mia are discussing whether she’s lost weight in her face. McDaniel has actually gone to the trouble of redesigning the character’s face and proportions to reflect what’s going on in the characters’ lives. Green Arrow’s ‘OYL’ mystery was one of the simplest, but it’s developed into one of the most satisfying. The “superhero as mayor” gimmick, while not unique, is at least getting a different workout here. A very good outing for Winick, McDaniel, and Team Arrow, earning three and a half stars, and high expectations for next issue.

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And, given that last panel, I think we can expect…

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MORTAL KOMBAAAAAT!! Where’s Raiden?

Discuss this issue in the Major Spoilers Forum.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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