In light of what recent comic book moment has really irritated and disappointed me, it is fortuitous that the challenge before us contributors was to write about “comics most brutal / heart-breaking moment” or “comics best betrayal”. I’m going to combine the two, but changing one tiny word from “best” to “worst” and also adding “of fans”. So, what I’ll hopefully be entertaining you with today are my views on “comics’ most brutal / heart-breaking moment” that also happens to be “comics worst betrayal of fans”. What recent book/storyline could have been the perfect focus of such a thesis? Would you believe Green Arrow’s self-termed “Justice” dealing in the recent Justice League: Cry for Justice #7? …And the next chapter in this sordid saga in Justice League: Rise and Fall Special #1.
Spoilers for these two books follow.
Ok, now that the makeshift spoiler space is out of the way, let’s talk Justice League: Cry for Justice which I will refer to as Cry here on in so (a) I don’t have to write out the whole name of the much-delayed mini-series over and over, as well (b) “Cry” seems like the perfect word to encapsulate my thesis. I was close to tears of (red) rage, frustration, disappointment, and so many other emotions (surprisingly only one of which is recognized as part of DC’s new emotional spectrum) after finishing Cry #7.
Oliver Queen, DC’s Green Arrow hunted down the villain Prometheus and killed him. It was revenge, unnecessary, calculated and after-the fact. DC has turned Ollie into a villain. Not a gray hero or anti-hero, but a straight-up villain. It was not an honourable heroic act by Oliver Queen or James Robinson the writer of Cry.
Lives, worlds, time streams, and reality weren’t in the balance as they were during 1994’s Zero Hour where Ollie was forced to seemingly kill Hal Jordan who was the villainous Parallax at the time.
Can it be rationally explained why Ollie would take this action? DC will try to portray Ollie a tortured hero pushed to the brink. However, those arguments will fail. Oliver’s murder of Prometheus makes him a villain in the truest since. But DC will lay a case before you to convince you otherwise. They will point to Prometheus’ facilitation of the maiming of his “son” Roy Harper (formerly Speedy and Red Arrow and on his way back to being called Arsenal), the death of Roy’s daughter and Ollie’s “grandchild” Lian, and (partial) destruction of Ollie hometown of Star City. If you have a normal sense or right and wrong, you know Ollie’s murderous act is not justifiable. You may understand the type of pain he may be feeling, but to take the step he took to deal with it was wrongheaded. To believe otherwise would be to (a) admit to mental and moral failings as an individual (in the real world) and (b) admit to a lack of understanding of the decades of established history that has made Oliver Queen who he is – namely NOT a villain.
What adds insult to injury is Justice League: Rise and Fall Special #1, which I’ll call “Fall” from here on in. Ollie continues his decent into madness – although he is characterized as being of sound mind, as well as righteous and determined to get justice – by trying to kill an accomplice of Prometheus’. He only misses another successful arrowcution because Black Canary gets in the way. Really.
Fall also adds the exclamation point to this Jumping the Shark moment in Green Arrow lore by having Ollie explain to readers, through the ages old internal monologue device, that we never knew him….. we never really knew him. After 69 years of printing history, every other writer and editor got it wrong. James Robinson, J.T. Krul and Dan Didio are more in tune to the hidden cues that Oliver has been giving all these years. These three can read between the panels and sentences of almost seven decades of story and heard things about who Ollie is that we all didn’t know or were too obtuse to even guess. James, J.T., and Dan are DC’s Character Whisperers…. they hear the true voices of DC characters. They’ve heard Oliver’s whispers and they let us as readers hear straight from Oliver too. As he grieves from Lian’s death he realizes what has to happen next:
“Prometheus’ speciality had always been an uncanny knowledge of his opponents – he studied our abilities, skills and tendencies. He took into account my proficiency with the bow. He was well aware of my hand-to-hand combat training. But Prometheus never grasped that vital piece of information. He never knew that at my core, I wasn’t a hero. I was a hunter.” – Oliver Queen / Green Arrow (March 11, 2010)
So, as DC continues with its Rise and Fall specials and story-within-a-story of the JLA and Green Arrow ongoing titles as well as a new Arsenal (Roy Harper) mini-series, I can’t help but feel a little part of me died with Prometheus. DC would have served the character of Oliver Queen / Green Arrow better by letting him stay dead at the end of Blackest Night then do what they have done to him. This is not Oliver Queen or Green Arrow. Perhaps we have the yet-to-be-revealed Red Rage Lantern Avatar possessing him? Well Star City has become Coast City 2.0, so maybe there is a Green Arrow: Rebirth on the horizon? Some of the same building blocks seem to be there.
By the way, I seem to have misplaced my Superboy Punch somewhere. Do you know where it is? I think DC’s Character Whisperers may need to borrow it soon if Rebirthing seems too predictable in the near future.
Dan Didio, you have done something that I never thought could be done. You have destroyed two of my favourite DC characters – my top two faves. First by letting Judd Winick destroy Captain Marvel with his Trials of Shazam mini-series and now by having Robinson/Krul destroy Green Arrow in Cry and Fall. At least Judd tried something new and it failed spectacularly. Green Arrow’s Fall is not anything new feeling story-wise and DC is trying to convince us we never knew the character in the first place. Well – Judd (1) and Robinson (0) – who would have thought that…. although this is a race-to-the-bottom ranking so neither should be happy. Fans certainly aren’t.
Billy Batson – See, while life does suck, it could also be worse.
Oliver Queen – You will be missed.
Tags: Green Arrow, Ides of March