REVIEW: Green Arrow #0

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Judd Winick returns to Green Arrow to tell the origin of a character he helped shape prior to the relaunch in Green Arrow #0! But will his writing and Freddie Williams II’s pencils be enough to save a title that’s been floundering in The New 52? Major Spoilers finds out!

Green Arrow #0
Writer: Judd Winick
Penciller: Freddie Williams II
Inker: Rob Hunter
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Colorists: Richard and Tanya Horie
Cover: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Hi-Fi
Asst. Editor: Kate Stewart
Editor: Joey Cavalieri

Previously, in Green Arrow Nothing! This is “Before the New 52,” so it is, chronologically, the earliest moment we’ve seen Oliver Queen in the new DC Universe. For those unfamiliar with the man known as the emerald archer, Oliver Queen is a young heir to a huge corporation, Queen Industries. He’s irresponsible and reckless, and a bit of a womanizer. But rather than building himself a suit of armor, Mr. Queen goes a different route to become a hero. A route detailed in Green Arrow #0

I’M ON A BOAT

This issue shows Oliver Queen well before his New 52 debut, throwing a huge party on a Queen Industries oil rig. Unsurprisingly, Ollie has bow and arrow in hand, but given that this is his origin story and the classic origin story has him developing his bowmanship while stranded on an island, this pre-island Ollie is a lousy shot. Apparently he’s had a couple (expensive) lessons, but the desperation that will lead to his becoming the Emerald Archer has not yet occurred.

Judd Winick is a writer intimately familiar with Oliver Queen, having written 50 issues of GA volume 3 including the orchestration of Green Arrow and Black Canary’s wedding, and 14 issues of the subsequent GA/BC title. Giving him the opportunity to tell Ollie’s new origin story is something I respect DC a lot for doing, especially given the absolute chaos that the character’s direction has had since Winick left Green Arrow / Black Canary. In a clever move Winick ties Green Arrow’s origin to a connection with the Merlyn family; long time fans will recognize Merlyn as a fellow archer and arch-rival of Green Arrow. This issue sees Ollie working alongside Tommy Merlyn, which gave me a real thrill.

DON’T YOU EVER FORGET

Ollie’s irresponsibility shines through as his guest list for the oil rig party wasn’t very well scrutinized; an armored and vaguely cyborg-like villain known as “Iron Eagle” shows up on the rig, part of a group that raids oil drilling platforms and steals millions of dollars in crude oil. This leads to a moment in the book that really stuck out and bugged me; later on Ollie refers to him as “Raven.” I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be Ollie being drunk and forgetting what the guy’s name was, but it comes off as sloppy writing, and sloppy editing. With DC Comics taking a lot of flack for supposedly having heavy-handed editors that rewrite issues and change storylines without consulting the writers, you’d think at the very least the editors could do what I understand to be the primary function of their job, which is to edit the comics for factual errors. Another glaring error in this book is that Ann Nocenti is listed as the writer on the cover. According to the internet and the interior credits Judd Winick actually wrote the issue, but Nocenti’s name is on the cover. I’m almost wondering if Nocenti actually DID write part of this issue–if either Winick wrote the initial draft and then DC pulled him off and gave it to Nocenti to rewrite, or vice versa, as the story seems to be confused as to what direction it wants to go at times.

THE LONELY ISLAND

There can’t be a Green Arrow origin story without the island (in fact the new CW Arrow series will reportedly flash back to the island in every episode), and the big question of this issue was how Ollie would get there. As Iron Eagle / Raven tries to take over the oil rig, Ollie isn’t content to let the terrorists win, despite the (legitimatized) assurance that if he lets them take the oil everyone will be allowed to live. Iron Eagle / Raven has Ollie’s guests (including his girlfriend) tied up around the explosives, and is holding a detonator that will destroy the entire operation and kill everyone on board. Instead of giving up the money, Oliver decides to take things into his own hands by shooting the detonator out of the hand of Iron Eagle / Raven with a bow and arrow. Surprisingly he does succeed at shooting the detonator away, but as it falls off the ship it bounces off the hull and takes an unlucky hop, setting off the explosives and killing nearly everyone–the only survivors we’re shown are a heavily burned Tommy Merlyn who we see again in an ominous final page that seems to indicate Merlyn will indeed become a player in The New 52, and Ollie himself who winds up on an island and (in a single page montage — not nearly the treatment that I expected to see) trains himself in the way of the bow.

THE INKS STINK

I was surprised how much I disliked the art on this issue. Freddie Williams II is a very talented artist (I loved his work on Robin), but most of the art in this issue is terrible. I was really disappointed, since Green Arrow has lacked a good artist ever since Ann Nocenti came along with Harvey Tolibao in tow, so when I heard that Freddie Williams II was doing this issue I had my hopes built up. While I do like that Oliver is clearly a younger character in this than we’ve seen him in The New 52, Williams II’s pencils seems to have been inked with a sledgehammer.

BOTTOM LINE: A DECENT ORIGIN, BUT A DISAPPOINTING ISSUE

While the way they handled Ollie’s origin from a story aspect is fine–it will tie in well with the CW’s Arrow TV show in a nice display of corporate synergy–it just fell flat as an issue of a comic book. Winick’s writing was a pleasant change from Nocenti’s, but even then there appeared to be some sort of miscommunication or editorial meddling that took the book off track. That, coupled with abysmal inking, means this book can only get one and a half stars from me. I wanted to love Green Arrow #0, but it didn’t return my affection.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆