Oh, DC, with your New 52… how I hate you. Because you have ruined one of your most deeply established characters and in the process, you’ve done the unthinkable:
Made me like Green Arrow.
Oh, the mortification! It’s inescapable. Everyone where I go – on the subway, in line at the grocery, standing on the zip-line platform – people casually strike up conversation, as one would, by innocently asking, “So, what did you think of Green Arrow #1?” What can I say? I cannot lie (even though that’s clearly What Superman Would Do). I admit it: I liked Green Arrow #1. Further I liked Green Arrow himself in Green Arrow #1. Sigh. I suppose this is the end of an era.
As I’m sure you’ve already read elsewhere, this version of Green Arrow is basically the love-child of Steve Jobs and James Bond, which is a great combination. What you may not have heard (if you’ve not read the comic) is that he’s got two principal assistants in his secret lair who help him do his “Green Arrow stuff”. They are key, and I’ll tell you why. First, they are slightly annoying in their “intropositioning” and slightly cartoony in their roles as Ideological Symbols. I can’ remember their names – something suitably moderne and Gen X-y, like “Fazner” and “J’mongahela”. The days when characters were named “Bruce and Dick” or “Wendy and Marvin” are long over, I suppose. But, really, who would want assistants named “Wendy and Marvin”, anyway? Anyway, Fazner is the pacifistic weapons designer (“I don’t want to hurt anyone!”) and J’mongahela is a hard-ass computer whiz (“Can’t you just blow these crooks up and be done with it?”).
These characters are annoying naïve and extreme. And making them Ollie’s assistants is nothing short of brilliant… because they are the avatars of Ollie’s Annoying Past Personae. Fazner is Liberal/Naïve/Self-Righteous Ollie (1970s-80s) and J’mongahela is Murderous/Vicious/Impatient Ollie (1990s-2000s). By creating scapegoats for these past aspects of Ollie’s personality, DC is still giving us those viewpoints in Green Arrow, but positions Ollie as the person in the sensible middle ground (a ground he hasn’t occupied since the Silver Age).
[Okay, I looked up their names. J'mongahela is actually "Naomi", which is a comparatively normal name. Fazner, however, is actually "Jax", which is, somehow, even more ridiculous than Fazner.]
Allowing Ollie to appear reasonable and caring without being self-righteous is a milestone. DC has spent the last 40 years trying to make Green Arrow (originally just a Batman knock-off) different and distinct. That's wise. Unfortunately, in the process they made him thoroughly unlikable. That's not wise.
So Jax and Naomi, while annoying (how many times have I used that word in this post already?!), are a Necessary Annoyance, and I welcome them as means to a new, likable Ollie.
Speaking of necessary annoyances, let's talk about "Doppelganger", "Supercharge", and *snort* "Dynamix", the--well, I guess I have to call them 'villains'-- that Green Arrow fights in his first issue. Continuity may be gone, but tradition isn't, and this motley crew hews to one of DC's oldest and strongest traditions: That Green Arrow Villains are LAME.
In all fairness, they aren't really 'villains' (more like Crime Groupies, one of my Rungs of Villainy), and, to his credit, Green Arrow himself points this out. To their faces. If Green Arrow is going to fight lame villains, at least he's wise enough to know that and Golden Age-y enough to indulge in appropriate smack-talk toward them. And, frankly, the whole thing seems oddly realistic (I mean that in a comic book sense). Face it, not every bad guy who has, gets, or purchases superpowers is going have the intelligence or ambition to be a Real Villain. Some them will just be annoying punks. Annoying, again. And somebody has to deal with them; it's actually a pretty good niche for Green Arrow to occupy. History notwithstanding, Green Arrow's not really Justice League material, nor does he need to be. Let him shoot arrows at the small fish in the barrel! That can be no less of a contribution to daily society and no less entertaining then hitting Kanjar Ro in the face with a boxing glove arrow.
Still; these three yoboes are terrible. Doppelganger a pretty girl who can become really ugly and grow and extra head and extra pair of arms (and probably some extra strength); she wouldn't even make it into the Legion of Substitute Heroes if she worked hard at it for the next 1000 years. Supercharge has respectable powers, but he's basically a low-watt Electro without a costume. It's *snort* Dynamix, that really gets me though. First of all: Big Strong Scary Black Guy. Way to strike a blow for diversity, DC; and in Green Arrow, no less, the book about vigilantes beating the crap out of people that sensitive liberals are most likely to read. Second, he's named Dynamix, which (beyond being just a silly codename) is the name of my ex-boyfriend's aerobic music company. THEN they go out of their way to make him say he doesn't dance. What kind of person who doesn't dance names himself "Dynamix", for disco's sake? Ollie should have just hired Dazzler to kick this guy's ass.
So we have three losers, with bad codenames and no costumes or goals, whom Green Arrow captures in five minutes. Way to go, Ollie! Of course, it doesn't get truly priceless until the last-page reveal where they are broken out of prison by a larger farrago of ungainly crime groups including:
- The Tube-Top Twinz, because twins are hot,
- Frosty Looking Emma Frost Knockoff Lady,
- a poorly dialogued Vibe-manque named "Rush", undoubtedly with some superspeed power;
- Wolf-Boy (Jimmy? Is that you?!);
- Karate Kid (except actually Asian),
- Lady Who Looks Like Wonder Woman and Dresses Like Wonder Woman and Looks Like She's Going to Rip You In Half (whom I'll call "Sunder Woman");
- and the love-child of Beast, Wolverine, and Billy Barty.
Zowie; somebody send Mike W. Barr a royalty check! Honestly, one look at those badly dressed bohunks and I'm longing for the return of The Gang. Looks like Green Arrow's metier will be fighting the unwashed and undignified hordes of super-losers who litter the new DCU; and who better?
Honestly, though, this new Green Arrow deserves a better class of criminal. Should Ollie be fighting Despero single-handedly? No. But if DC wants us to take him seriously and give him respect, they can't keep throwing H Dial rejects at him ("You're no match for my fluoride arrow, King Kandy!"). Fix this, DC, and quickly. Because my need to laugh at Green Arrow can be satisfied through decades of back issues without buying new ones. Remember that any good jumping off point is also a good jumping off point.
One more thing: WHERE IS STAR CITY?! Why on Earth-1 has DC saddled Green Arrow with Seattle again? Especially since (as everyone from the 31st Century knows) Seattle will fall into the sea within the next ten years? Let Queen Industries be centered in Seattle, fine; but put Ollie, his "Q Core" (which remains almost completely unexplained, by the way), and Green Arrow back in Star City.