July 22, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Comic Review: Green Arrow Volume 1: Hunter’s Moon

Picking up where "The Longbow Hunters" left off, a mature readers Oliver Queen continues to fight for justice in Seattle.

For years, DC only really reprinted The Longbow Hunters from Mike Grell’s Green Arrow run.  Now more of that series is available in trade form.  The first trade volume, subtitled “Hunter’s Moon,” covers the first six issues of the regular series Grell wrote with artwork being handled now by penciler Ed Hannigan.  How was it?

Interesting, but problematic.

The original issues were produced in 1988, and there’s much to be said about some of the things Grell includes in the book considering when it came out.  For example, there’s a positive depiction of a gay couple, and Oliver goes after a street gang that includes beating up homosexuals as part of a forced initiation.  Having anything like that at the tail end of the Reagan years has to count for something, and I do give Grell credit for depicting the gay couple as he does, even if one is killed shortly thereafter by the aforementioned street gang.  As Dinah “Black Canary” Lance notes, those two being together seven years is more than many marriages, a line that can act as a reminder to a reader in 2016 about how times have changed.

My bigger concern, though, is Black Canary.  Grell had her abused rather badly in Longbow Hunters, and the series seemed to maybe sweep her trauma under the carpet when it ended, as well as made it more about how Oliver reacted rather than how she survived.  We do see Dinah go for therapy here, and she does discuss with her doctor (a woman with some violence in her own past) what it’s like to suffer such violence, and both let the reader know neither were raped, a charge often leveled about how Grell treated Dinah.  But while Dinah is experiencing guilt, some convenient hypnotherapy seems to make her guilt go away, and two issues later she’s comfortable having sex again.  I want to give Grell credit for trying, and he may not be done yet, but she seems to bounce back very readily, especially since her doctor is more worried about Oliver pushing his own guilt down for killing a man.

The thought that occurred to me is maybe there’s a good reason these stories weren’t reprinted sooner.  They aren’t bad or anything.  If anything, they’re very timely for 1988, and in ways that might not work as well in 2016.  The six issues cover three two-issue each storylines where Oliver, the newly formed urban hunter, deals with street crime, child murderers, bioweapons, Eddie Fyers, literal gay bashing, AIDS to a certain extent, and inner-city gang violence.  That’s a lot to bite off for any superhero, particularly over six issues.  There’s promise here, but not all of it is fulfilled.

Point is, there may be too much going on, and the story breezes on by a lot of it.  I’m curious if Grell was building to something here.  We’ll have to see when I get to the next one.  In the meantime, let’s say eight out of ten florist shop headquarters.