Thursday, June 08, 2017

A rising Star City!

Speaking of Green Arrow...

One of the most interesting things I have even seen in comics is happening (as predicted) right now in his comic: a real world city is being overwritten by a fictionopolis.

Built around a star. 
A teeny tiny star.

How did this happen?

When Green Arrow was brought back in Rebirth, he was left in the hands of his late-New52 writer Benjamin Percy.  With 12 issues of Green Arrow under his belt, Percy was already an accomplished expert in botching Green Arrow. And "botching Green Arrow" is not a phrase I use lightly.  

And bite it did.

So, naturally, being That Type of Writer (you know, the kind who grounds Green Arrow in gritty realism by making him a werewolf), Percy set the Rebirth versions of Green Arrow in the real-world Seattle.

Which is, admittedly, not as bad for Green Arrow as the Real World San Francisco turned out to be.

This ran strongly counter to much of the point of Rebirth, which was to the recalibrate the DCU and its icons back to their basic core features from which they had wandered far too quickly in the aborted New52 universe.

Oh, gods help me, I'm calling Green Arrow an "icon" now someone please me get back to my native universe...

Clearly in Green Arrow's case one of the essential features should have been the restoration of his personal fictionopolis, Star City.  Not only was it his base of operations for the bulk of his adventures from 1959 through 2011, it's also the setting of his long-running hit televisions series that's the bedrock of a major network's primetime programming.

Who has trapped me in this madhouse world? Lord Morpheus? Mxyzptlk? Cary Bates?!

As any reader of this blog knows, I am big fan of fictionopolises.  I believe that they are not only desirable but necessary settings to a thriving superhero icon in the DCU.  In its very early days, most DC heroes were in unnamed cities or, in a few instances, Manhattan.  Green Arrow himself lives in Manhattan in his first story.

Pictured: the Manhattan city limits.

The advantage of using real-world cities as superhero settings is supposed to be that it lends the stories a grounding in reality (in the same way that the stories are set in "the USA" and 'on Earth').  

See how much more realistic that seems?

And in the short run, perhaps it does. But over time as the character and his mythos grows, a hero's first sport-coat becomes a confining straight-jacket: significant landmarks cannot be added or removed, people and events in the city don't match, and there's too much tension between the fantasy of the hero's life and the reality of the real-world city.

Welcome to Earth-616.

You can't tailor a real-world city around its hero the way you can a fictionopolis.  Metropolis and Gotham City aren't the cities that Batman and Superman happen to live in; they are cities DESIGNED for them to live in. So, if you want Green Arrow to thrive -- I mean, in a comic book, as opposed to all other media -- he deserves to have his own fictionopolis.  

But Rebirth stuck him in Seattle with no Star City in sight; what's to do?  Well, I'm sure that Geoff Johns at some point called Percy into his office, tented his fingers (covered with the Green Lantern rings of all previous DC editors) and told Percy, in a loving and supportive way that would have made Mort Weisinger proud, that Green Arrow needed to be (1) not set in Seattle and (2) set in Star City. Now.

"I need loyalty. I expect loyalty."

Percy, master of the subtle approach (which is, no doubt, why he was given Green Arrow), has chosen, therefore, rather than to move Green Arrow to a newly introduced Star City or retcon him there, to DESTROY SEATTLE and OVERWRITE IT with 'Star City" taking its place on what I like to call 'RebEarth'.

At first I thought this was lunacy (at which Percy seems to excel).  And to some degree it is.  But I see now that it is beautiful, brilliant lunacy, for a reason I'll get to at the end of this post.

Now, Seattle is not, as the plot now dictates, built over any star-based pattern.  Not like SOME artificially designed cities I could name.

This may explain that black goat I keep seeing on the North Lawn.
Or it might be Spicer.

But Percy is not letting reality stop him!  He's wisely destroyed Seattle's only landmark recognizable to anyone who doesn't live there (the cheesily named Space Needle)...

Seattle broadcasting assigns reporters based on how well they color-coordinate with what they are covering.

... is putting the city's rebirth in the hands of private corporations (setting up for traditional storylines like "Green Arrow calls people corporate fat cats" and "Ollie runs for mayor")...

Seriously: "Let's privatize everything instead of trusting the federal government!"
is delightfully current and cogent political satire, and Green Arrow is a good place for that.

... and is ham-handedly shoehorning "Star City" in as having been there all along, just waiting to be discovered.

Discovered through the transformative power of bad prose.

And you know what? GOOD FOR YOU, PERCY.  I still hate your writing. But this is a bold approach to bringing back Star City, which succeeds on several levels:

  • It finally gives Star City the unique identity it has always lacked;
  • That identity is particularly keyed to Green Arrow's personality and history;
  • It clearly mimics the 1998 Batman storyline "Cataclysm", and Green Arrow should always baldly imitate Batman;
  • and, most important, by having Star City supersede Seattle it makes it impossible for any subsequent writer ever to return Green Arrow to Seattle.  No matter what horrible literary things you have done or will do with Green Arrow, I shall always revere you for this.

P.S.   Mr. Percy, thank you also for ripping off Batman villain Black Mask to create the newest member of Green Arrow's crime calvacade, Pizza-Face:

And burns it does.


RomSpace said...

The Space Needle rebuilt becomes the Satellite for Justice League satellite Era. Seattle destroyed by Arrowlax (the green demon spirit of the arrow), but Seattle-lite lives on, bottled in the Satellite

RomSpace said...


Redforce said...

Another example of the Ivory Soap Principle?
(If you are reading this and don't know what I mean, get to reading the past blog posts here!)

P.S. My favorite ISP is TJMaxx - They (the jewelry department in particular) takes rejects and non-selling items from other stores' inventories, plus whatever fell out of the delivery truck that week. Their slogan flashes across the jewelry department registers constantly- "Never The Same Place Twice!"

cybrid said...

As [I] noted on Wikipedia:

"Several golden age stories depicted Green Arrow and Speedy fighting seafaring villains -- the Angler, the Harbor Thief, and the Turtle, among others -- implying the city was on a sea coast. Long before Green Arrow joined the Justice League of America, he and Speedy often teamed up with underwater adventurer Aquaman (whose adventures, like those of the two archers, appeared in Adventure Comics), supporting the notion that Star City was a coastal city."

So, yeah, I guess Seattle'd work.

Anonymous said...

Normally I'd agree with you about fictionopolii, but as someone born and bred in Seattle (in Ballard, you betcha), I have a few qualms about the city of my birth being erased from the DCU.

Plus, I sort of grew up reading Mike Grell's Green Arrow run, so the Emerald City seems like the "proper" setting for the Emerald Archer.

(And boy, howdy, did I just date myself there!)