The Gold Standard: Archers, A Top Five List, And A Weekly Roundup

What’s up party people? Miss me? I know I did! I’ve been HORRIBLY UNFOCUSED lately, in one part due to a failed attempt at altering my sleep schedule, and in another part due to some of the craziest people I’ve had the fortune/misfortune of dealing with. Seriously, major league actions that completely lacked in bueno-ness and are leaving a solid footprint in my brain pan and it’s irking me greatly. I’ve also been ranting against organized religion lately, and I really want to avoid that here. What with readers taking offense never returning…at least I know I wouldn’t.

 

So what do I want to talk about instead?

 

Organized religion.

 

Wait, what? No, I’m kidding, let’s talk bows and arrows.

 

Seriously, we’re going to talk about bows and arrows. Archers. I’m talking about Shaft.

 

 

You can dig it.

 

Alright, knuckles cracked, jokes made, let’s talk about why Green Arrow and Hawkeye are awesome.

 

Ollie is a hero of the people, the modern day Robin Hood that steals from the rich and gives to the poor, while always managing to forget that he himself is rich. He’s one of the few mainstream superheroes that can successfully wear his politics, or those of the writer, on his sleeve. People expect an anti-establishment guy screaming about the blue fascists, and when we get that, it’s fun. Plus, he’s always played well with others which had led to relationships with Black Canary, Hal Jordan, two different Speedy’s, and even another Green Arrow. Something about the character just lends itself to a supporting cast, and that leads to an entertaining book. Plus, he makes a great extra character in a team book. The smartass.

 

Clint is ten tons of attitude in a three pound bag, a guy who has always had something to prove despite not always knowing who he has to prove it to, and it has led to him being a fan favorite over the years. The guy who can shit talk Captain America and get away with it, the guy who randomly quit the Avengers so he could lead the Thunderbolts, the guy who took a bunch of Pym Particles one day because his bow was broken. Clint is an every man, he’s the guy on the team of Gods that is the most like the average person. He’s just a regular guy who is REALLY good with a bow, and if he loses that, he imagines he’ll lose everything. There’s a very dynamic character behind it all.


So did I really just do all of that so I could do two paragraphs about why they’re awesome and then get to showing off my reading list? As tempting as it may be to call this article over…no. Not at all.

 

You see, for as awesome as they are….Green Arrow’s book is a steaming pile of crap, and Hawkeye’s is….something alright. So the real thing here is…why don’t they work?

 

Well, for starters, you have total baseline humans armed with bows and fucking arrows fighting alongside Superman and Thor, Batman and Captain America, etc etc. Even at the unpowered end of the superhero power spectrum these guys are kicking up the rear. They were the coolest of the cool, but time has very quickly sped past these guys who use the oldest form of ranged weaponry that wasn’t just throwing a rock. These guys who use a ridiculously dangerous projectile, and because they are good guys the only way they actually hit someone is with some sort of silver age trick arrow. Why? Because the good guys don’t kill, and if you’re fighting with a bow and arrow, you’re either killing or maiming. It’s just the nature of the weapon.

Now, from time to time we see this happen. When Ollie was first brought back a good fourteen years ago, he was putting arrows through hands and feet and shoulders. Little comments about how he just missed vital organs or arteries put over his awesome aim and helped make his techniques brutal and effective. He wasn’t using boxing gloves or nets, he was using actual arrows, and it made him cooler. Unfortunately, the one time Ollie actually does kill someone and every freaks out and then he goes to live in a forest for a year before getting New 52’d and dropping a solid fifteen years off of his age. With his character mangled and supporting cast taken away…I couldn’t even care enough to stick with it, and I love Ollie. He’s just an empty shell of himself waiting for a personality and a purpose that he’ll most likely receive in JLA.

 

Clint, on the other hand, actually has an enjoyable solo series, but it’s already tarnished just two issues in with the absurdity of it. See, when Ollie got more violent with his bow and wasn’t killing, he was piercing (again) hands and feet. Clint and Kate are hitting throats, spines, double tapping eye sockets, and pretty much just slaughtering everyone in sight. Of course, it’s clarified that they are killing no one, just horribly maiming them, which really just makes it worse. I have a hard time buying into a hero whose solution is blinding someone permanently, or paralyzing them from the neck down, and then saying they’re being careful to not kill. At that point, you’re probably better off just putting the guy down. There’s something decidedly less heroic about going into a place and crippling everyone for life in the most gruesome ways you can with your weapon of choice, especially when cracking jokes about it. For as cool as the visuals were, the entire thing just made me kinda queasy. This guy is an Avengers, a guy who has no qualms just mutilating his opponents or letting them open fire into crowds of civilians.

The problem, especially at Marvel, really is the old “heroes don’t kill” mindset. You’ve got characters like Wolverine who do it without flinching and get to sit at the big table with the Avengers…and X-Men…and wherever else he wants. Then you’ve got The Punisher, who kills the assholes who really have it coming, but is a complete and total pariah. The double standard created to keep Punisher in his own crime noir niche that would cave in on itself were his killing of people to suddenly become acceptable is what winds up handicapping characters like Hawkeye. You can’t have him running around with trick arrows and expect to be taken seriously, especially after how bad ass he was in the movie, but you can’t have him killing people too. What to do, what to do?

 

Really, this is why archers don’t work. The only way to truly be effective is to have no problems with killing, but you won’t see a hero do that unless you give the Punisher a bow and arrow like he used in the Thomas Jane movie. Hawkeye simply can’t be as cool as he was in the movie unless they take the handicap off of him and let him be more like his Ultimate counterpart, willing and able to kill without it being some big moral dilemna.

 

They take writers and editors back to where they were when they first discovered the character, though to be fair, most comic book characters tend to do that, but unfortunately, most of those nostalgia laced stories were from a very different time. Whether it be the fun loving silver age where the majority of these problems simply didn’t matter, or the uber moody eighties where Green Arrow didn’t wear a mask and had no problems with using real arrowheads in the way they were designed to be used.

 

Maybe I’ve just hit a point in my life where Robin Hood isn’t cool anymore, and bows and arrows just seem like silly weapons when the guys could be using guns instead. Even hand to hand combat sounds more appealing, to be completely honest. Just something that will make for a cool visual and not need the writer to spend multiple panels reminding the reader that the character is really good at hitting someone with a vicious arrow shot and not killing them.

Because that’s just a bit too much suspension for me to disbelieve. Superman? I can buy into it. Hawkeye on the Avengers? Still not sold.

 

What I read this week:

 

  • Action Comics #0
  • Animal Man #0
  • Dial H #0
  • Earth 2 #0
  • Green Lantern #0
  • Phantom Stranger #0
  • Stormwatch #0
  • World’s Finest #0
  • Amazing Spider-Man #693
  • Avengers Academy #36
  • Hawkeye #2
  • X-Factor #243
  • The Boys #70
  • Guarding the Globe #1
  • Justice League Beyond #12

 

Top Five Books of the Week:

 

5. Phantom Stranger #0

4. Avengers Academy #36

3. X-Factor #243

2. Green Lantern #0

1. The Boys #70

 

What I Watched This Week:

 

  • White Collar
  • Wipeout
  • Weeds
  • Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
  • WWE Raw
  • Season five of Burn Notice
  • Season six of Burn Notice 

 

The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

 

I picked up the issues of Dial H that I missed on Comixology over the weekend. I want my money back. I don’t get it. Like, I really don’t get it, the zero issue made some sense, but it’s just the writing. The book is needlessly complicated for the sake of being needlessly complicated, and I think that just might be the writer. I won’t lie and pretend to have read any of his stuff, but Penny Arcade totally jabbed his newest book in a comic strip that really describes the way I feel about Dial H.

 

 

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

 

Did you watch the Newsroom? If the answer is no, then please, do yourself a favor and go watch it. All of it. Whole first season. So awesome.

 

My expectations for Phantom Stranger? Non-existent. I generally do not care in the least bit for Dan DiDio’s writing style, and my own thoughts on religion mean that I really could not begin to care less about something based so heavily out of Christian mythology. That said, I bought it to try and be optimistic, and I was rewarded for it. While not a perfect issue, it was really enjoyable, and the fact that for as obvious as it is who the Stranger is, that the biblical characters are never named? Perfect. The fact that it was used as a vehicle to bring the Spectre to the New 52? Perfect squared.

 

If Avengers Academy is ending for Marvel NOW!, then Christos Gage is taking it out with a bang. This book is just fantastic, and the love story between Mettle and Hazmat, and the recent twist and turns, he knows how to break your heart while still making you feel optimistic about the future. So epicly brutal.

 

I really enjoyed the tweaks to Animal Man and his origin, the classic take survives but with the new elements worked in. The aliens being created by the Red as a way for his brain to somewhat comprehend what was happening was brilliant. Someone is so much more likely to accept that aliens gave them super powers than that freaky looking beings from a place named after a color made him an avatar so that he’d father the true avatar of their freaky looking color place. So good.

 

The Bloody Doors Off is the most gut wrenching arc of The Boys yet, with every issue delivering a swift kick to the nuts as the twists that come with the conclusion of the book absolutely rock my world. Garth said he would “Out Preacher Preacher”, and I’ll say that he’s lived up to that and then some. This entire book has gone upside down and I can’t imagine anyone that’s left coming out of this in good shape, especially with two issues left. Wee Hughie? Billy Butcher? I’m going to miss you cunts.

 

I am loving all things Earth 2 right now. James Robinson is back at the top of his game after a few years of treading through the crap that was an overly editorial controlled Justice League of America which was topped off with Cry for Justice. A year ago it would have been simple to say that he was over the hill and his best years were behind him, but with Earth 2 I’m feeling that same sort of magic I felt during Starman. A universe is building in front of my eyes and I’m excited for it. Then you’ve also got Paul Levitz handling World’s Finest which I’d consider his best work in quite some time, as his return to the Legion has been very underwhelming. I really enjoyed that zero issue.

 

My Pissed Off Moment of the Week:

 

Finishing season five of Burn Notice only to go OnDemand with my head held high to watch season six…only to discover that the first give episodes are no longer available. SON OF A BITCH!

 

The Rams came so fucking close to winning! Against a good team! Stupid time keepers, stupid choking in the last two minutes. It’s going to be one hell of a season, they really aren’t the same old Rams.

 

Five books I’m reading now that I wouldn’t have in the old DC.

 

5. Aquaman

This one is a bit of a cheat, I won’t lie. Given the creative team it received, I definitely would have bought it in the old DC. That’s why a book that I do enjoy quite a bit is anchoring this list. Geoff Johns has made Aquaman cool and all it really took was getting Ivan to draw him. Both are rumored to be leaving the book in the next few months, and given that Geoff is heading to write JLA alongside Justice League, I’d call his leaving the book a fair assessment. Now, generally when Geoff leaves a book I enjoy, I quit enjoying it. It happened with Hawkman, Flash, Teen Titans, JSA twice, Action Comics, and hell, it even happened with Avengers when he did his brief stint at Marvel! The closest instance I’ve had where I actually enjoyed the book after he left was with the New 52 Flash, since Geoff wrote the book before the relaunch. In that instance I hated the book when he wrote it, and love it now.

 

4. Deathstroke

Another cheat in it’s own way, but only because of the early run by Kyle Higgins. I might love Rob Liefeld, but he was not a boon for this title. Before he came on board we had a book that just screamed out to the nostalgia seeking child of the 90’s. The book wasn’t extreme, per se, but it was extremely violent, and that was the charm. We had a well defined main character, an interesting mystery in “what’s in the box”, and then a few cool twists and turns. My favorite part of the book, however? The original villain introduced, the power suit wearing Legacy. A villain created out of revenge by the family of someone Slade killed, the suit passed on from killer to killer with a contract to kill Deathstroke. One that would continue on long after they passed, and who would only return stronger every time as the suit receives upgrades. Literally an enemy for life, and one that Slade deserved. The first trade is worth every penny.

 

3. Voodoo

I bought this book for Ron Marz and intended to give his successor a single issue. Fun fact, I just bought issue twelve a few weeks ago, I’m getting zero in a few weeks, and I’m kinda going to miss it once it’s gone. Never really great, but always interesting enough to keep me coming back for more. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Pris and her sinister clone, or even the Black Razors that haven’t eaten it yet. It’s been a fun little journey.

 

2. Animal Man

So this book wasn’t even on my list when I walked into the comic shop last September. I remember listing out the books I wanted put on my pull list full time, the ones I just wanted the first issue of, and the ones I had no interest in. The others? Maybe I might take them off the shelf and give them a look through and decide on the spot. Animal Man was one of those books, hell, it wasn’t even on my radar. One of the girls who works at my comic shop told me I had to, at the very least, check out the art. About five seconds of flipping later and I was sold. The Dark line has been amazing to me thus far, and Animal Man really does pull it all together.

 

1. Wonder Woman

I can think of six times in my life I’ve tried to get on board with Wonder Woman. Number one issues, big name creators, fan favorite creators, interesting status quos…it all goes flat for me. Writers I generally enjoy generally can’t get me past the second issue of Wonder Woman, there is just always some disconnect. The New 52 marked my sixth and most recent attempt to give DC’s most iconic female a shot, and a year later I consider it one of the best decisions I made. I expected absolutely nothing from Brian Azzarello, because while I enjoyed 100 Bullets and his Batman mini for Flashpoint…that’s it. I hated his Superman, and never really tried much else by him. I just shoehorned him into crime and noir and figured that was all he could do. That maybe he might have a great Detective Comics run if given some time, but that I wouldn’t check out his super heroes. I gave Wonder Woman a shot because I wanted to give the character another chance, and because I figured that Azz was worth a shot. Wonder Woman is in my top five books for DC, and top ten period. It’s far and away my biggest surprise of the New 52, the most interesting take on Diana I have ever seen. And on top of the amazing story being told? Cliff Chiang on art. Totally Awesome.

 

 

 

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The Gold Standard

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