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Green Arrow #23 By Matt Martin
DC Comics – Ben Raab & Judd Winick (w); Charlie Adlard (a)
One of the great team-ups in comic book history is between Green Arrow and Green Lantern. I guess it seemed simply natural, at the time, to some exec at DC, given that they’re both the most popular characters with the word “green” in their name. However, groundbreaking scripts by Denny O’Neill and influential artwork by Neal Adams were what made the legendary “Hard-Traveling Heroes” arc memorable.
It is that famous arc that Judd Winick and Ben Raab have sought to evoke in this, the first part of a six-issue crossover between Green Arrow and Green Lantern. Unfortunately, it seems that in the hurry to put out the team-up that’s been inevitable since Kevin Smith returned Oliver Queen from the grave, someone forgot that social relevance was one of the hallmarks of the O’Neill/Adams run.
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Even still, the opening issue manages to be entertaining, if not terribly memorable (it’s unlikely that we’ll be talking about this arc twenty years after the fact and seeing DC collect it in a limited edition, slip-cased hardcover). Most of that entertainment value is drawn from the conflict of personalities that arise from the same old Green Arrow and an all new (at least to Oliver) Green Lantern.
In Coast City, Green Arrow has a bit of a dilemma: how to reconcile the fact that known drug runners have turned up with nothing more in their trunks than an exorbitantly large number of jugs of bleach? Jugs of bleach, more importantly, that those criminals will fight for and, in some cases, die for. In the stomping grounds of Kyle Rayner, the Green Lantern, is story is the same. Their paths cross when they both track the deals to the same location and attempt to gather information at the same time. After butting heads over superhero methodology, the two come to blows, allowing the criminals they both sought to collar to escape. However, there is more at stake than meets the eye, as the figures Rayner had taken for Russian mafia-types are revealed to be laser-toting aliens of an unknown origin.
Will the two resolve their differences (which spring from Queen’s assertion that there’s only one “real” Green Lantern: his old buddy, Hal Jordan)? Will hilarity ensue? That’s the tone that the story has, a marked change from the mature themes of O’Neill’s scripts. Like I said before, it’s entertaining, to a point, but it’s not exactly memorable.
The problem is that even though I’m optimistic that the two heroes will still dislike each other at the end of the crossover (because, honestly, I would hate to see a too-neat wrap-up to the story), I’m also fairly certain that the story will end with them entering into a tenuous agreement of mutual respect, sealing the deal with a handshake or something.
To boot, Oliver seems remarkably willing to gloss over the fact that his friend, Hal Jordan, in addition to being a great hero, was also a nutcase who murdered the Green Lantern Corps, stole all their power rings and tried to destroy Earth in his arguments that Kyle isn’t really the Green Lantern. I mean, if Ollie were ignoring the fact that Hal had a tendency to drink too much on the weekends or something, I guess I could understand, but we’re talking about a guy whose only chance at redeeming himself was to appeal directly to God and become The Spectre. In addition, Green Arrow’s childlike diatribe and his subsequent fistfight with Green Lantern allows their alien adversaries to kill the drug dealers they were both chasing and leave nothing more than charred skeletons that resemble nothing so much as they do Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru (from Star Wars, for the less geeky), an event that provokes nothing more than a sort of general “Oh crap” reaction from the pair. Not exactly the reaction one would expect from heroes whose stock-in-trade is the saving of lives, even the lives of unsavory characters.
In the end, the issue is competent, if unremarkable. It’s not like it’s a complete waste of your money, but I would say that it’s for completists only.