Tuesday, June 07, 2016

90,000 copies

What madness is this?!?!

Green Arrow sold 90,000 copies?!

GREEN ARROW?!!!!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

What dark and sinister magicks are responsible for this horrible and surely unnatural occurrence?  Does Green Arrow have some 5th dimensional imp-fan I don't know about who could be behind it?

Xeen Arrow is pretty much my only suspect. I think he gets some kind of commission.

Look, I know I'm not Green Arrow's biggest fan.  In fact, I may be Green Arrow's biggest anti-fan (although there is certainly a lot of competition for that honor).  But even I want Green Arrow to succeed.

Within reason.

90,000 copies is not within reason, however.  That's a level of communal insanity generally not found outside horror/scifi movies.  As in, copies of Green Arrow are how the pod-people replicate or something.

Why is this happening?  It's certainly not the writing. I've read Green Arrow #1, and, well, it's still Benjamin Percy writing it and most of what that implies.  The supernatural angle seems to have been tamped down pretty strongly by editorial. Ollie, for example, doesn't turn into a werewolf even once.  But there is a band of improbably drawn underdwellers snatching up the homeless through improbably large sewer openings to sell them to the highest bidder.  I hope they spend some of that money on tanning salons and gym memberships.

The tonal shift of the comic into SuperLiberal Social Justice Crusade is brutal and heavy-handed.  With way too many words in boxes.  Ollie's behavior is foolish and naive, Dinah's behavior is caustic and critical, the budding of their relationship seems inappropriate and overly fast, and there's an adorable moppet that brings them together likes it's a date night romcom.

And, whether Geoff John's thinks it's traditional or not: the goatee (still) looks stupid and makes it completely unbelievable that Ollie could possibly maintain a secret identity.

The writing is bad. The art is bad.  The plot is hackneyed. 
So why have 90,000 copies been sold?

Because myth.

Many years ago, I gave myself a reading project.  I was raised to be a big fan of horror movies and the like (my mother's thesis on the symbolism of the rolling eye in Final Destination 5 is impressive).  So I decided that it was important that I be personally familiar with the original literature on which the movie monsters of the 20th century were based (Dracula, Frankenstein, Invisible Man, Phantom of the Opera, et al.).  So I read ALL of the original stuff. Only to discover....

it was all terrible.

Just stick with the Creature Commandos, readers!

So, while I didn't enjoy it much, I did reach a conclusion. It's myth of these characters that is appealing rather than any particular story of theirs, including their initial one.  The strength of their underlying concepts is so great it can withstand (repeated) poor execution.  

So, too, Green Arrow.  A rich guy who suddenly realizes he's kind of a spoiled jerk and decides to help out the less fortunate as a vigilante while still managing to be a cocky wiseguy?  That's the Robin Hood (or Zorro) story right there and it's a strong myth in Western culture.  People have a need for it and it's why Arrow does so well on television.

People are responding generally to Rebirth, DC's return to the roots and core concepts of its iconic characters.  It's natural that the response is going to the strongest for characters that were most off-track and that definitely includes Green Arrow.




Slaughter said...

How many of these are fans of Arrow who are still pissed off over what happened to Laurel?

Also what's with Dinah not even knowing Oliver and generally calling him bad stuff at random? Dinah may be a lady but Oliver would be totes in the right if he smacked her on side for being horrible to him. Oliver's behavior was exemplar through the issue.

Steve Mitchell said...

"The writing is bad. The art is bad. The plot is hackneyed."

Agreed. My son and I both thought this was the poorest of the initial four Rebirth titles. There was nothing in this "preview" edition that would make me want to forward with the title on a regular basis.

For what it's worst, neither of was wild about Batman; he liked Superman best, while, somewhat to my surprise, I liked Green Lantern best.

Slaughter said...

Yeah its Green Arrow fights weirdo molemen who dabble in human traffic.

Also GA may be the only one on Earth who non-ironically calls himself a Social Justice Warrior.

Unknown said...

I believe that the wealth of archery folklore mostly stems from the fact that bows and quivers are cool. John Rambo with bow drawn is a relatively recent example.

Gavin said...

I like Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Read it again as an adult

Bryan L said...

I think there are a number of factors in play here:

• Collector mania for #1 issues
• Spillover from the TV series
• Hopeful readers looking for a new/acceptable direction
• Some diehard Arrow fans (surely there are some -- every character is someone's favorite

I'm certain there will be a massive drop off for issue #2. TV watchers will realize it's nothing like the series, it's going to be a #2 issue, hopefuls will be ... less optimistic, and we'll be left with the diehards.

Of course, if I'm wrong, fell free to mock me.

Anonymous said...

"Some diehard Arrow fans"

Yeah, that'd be me. There hasn't been a really good run on "Green Arrow" since Flashpoint -- hell I knew the Nocenti run would be terrible and still I kept buying -- but if the book gets canceled, that significantly reduces the chances of the book getting good again.

That said, Benjamin Percy is the worst. Even the Nocenti run was inspired in how nonsensical it was. Percy is just trying to prove to his Tumblr friends that he is cool enough to understand modern racial issues, yet he doesn't even begin to get it. (Step one, kids: LISTEN to the people whose cause you want to champion. Listening isn't just politely remaining quiet while you wait for the other guy to stop talking, it also involves processing their ideas. And if you are likening minorities to half man / half animal monsters, you're probably not as enlightened as you think.)

r duncan said...

So 90,000 is a lot these days? Kinda sad.

Jeff McGinley said...

I agree with Gavin on the Original Dracula. I've read that one multiple times and continue to be amazed how well it holds up compared to other books written at the time.

My daughter just read The Invisible Man for a project and loved it, though, so it's all subjective.

Frankenstein, however, has been painful the couple times I went through it.

John said...

While Xeen Arrow probably could have undoubtedly improved it, I'm also on the Dracula bandwagon. There are just too many "cinematic" moments (which no adaptation has ever thought to use), like Dracula pretending to read the train schedule (Bradshaw's Guide) when Harker walks in (after stalking him) and the race against sunset at the end.

It's certainly not scary, by any means, but I think it's a fun adventure story, ignoring the obvious metaphor for (certain kinds of) immigrants.

Phantom of the Opera was also decent, I thought, though translations aren't generally pleasant and it's a long slog setting up what I seem to remember being an implausible set of revelations.

To the actual issue (ha!) at hand, though, I sometimes feel like the biggest problem DC has with Green Arrow is the obsession with pairing him with Black Canary. I don't particularly like either character (and Black Canary's cigarette girl costume becomes ever-increasingly obscure and outdated, but nobody dares seriously update it), but coupling them doesn't serve either well. It all but demands every reboot having a "meet cute," going back to the well of Ollie as a womanizer, and makes one of DC's few (inexplicably) well-known Golden Age heroines a second-banana at best to a generic vigilante.

Crappy writers don't help, of course, but the obsession of jamming this particular tab A into that slot B is just awkward for everybody involved.

Anonymous said...

I think part of the obsession with shipping Green Arrow and Black Canary is that there are no other superhero couples in DC Comics. But Green Arrow and Black Canary are kind of a perfect fit because they are such an imperfect couple: they'd be no fun they saw completely eye-to-eye, or if Black Canary weren't a walking talking rebuttal to Green Arrow's not-quite-enlightened-ness (generally in how she's the better fighter of the two but he never quite seems to get it).

Only these days, seeing women as equals is less an enlightened outlook and more a basic expectation, so constantly underestimating Black Canary leaves Green Arrow looking more and more like a jerk. I'm not sure how to fix it. Maybe part of his deal is that he is simply terrible with loss, and it's a lot less scary for him to risk his own life than to see Black Canary risk hers. If they want to hold that he has a history as a womanizer (which is not actually one of his classic traits, it's a 21st century add-on), you can always say that was his way of coping with loss in previous relationships, by blowing up the relationships before people could be taken from him. (I do NOT want a complex back story behind this, with dead sisters or whatever.)

Bryan L said...

"the obsession of jamming this particular tab A into that slot B is just awkward for everybody involved"

I see what you did there.

Scipio said...

"I think part of the obsession with shipping Green Arrow and Black Canary is that there are no other superhero couples in DC Comics."

Even more essentially: since the Golden Age ended, DC has never known how to make these characters work on their own. They are too iconic to ignore, but not unique enough to be independent. They pair these two in an attempt to make them work. Plus, readers under (and above) a certain age have NO CONCEPT of the two them separately.

Anonymous said...

I admit to being stumped on a vision for Black Canary, especially if she's no longer a legacy character. I can think of several takes on Green Arrow that would work, and indeed have worked in the past, without requiring Black Canary in the least.

Anonymous said...

Black Canary = unapologetic @#*-kicker who takes no $@&! from anyone. Her backstory can be pretty much anything. She can be a florist or a lawyer or a rock star or a talk-show host, she can have a canary cry or not, she can be the daughter of a Golden Age heroine or not... Read the good issues of Birds of Prey; her past was rarely relevant to the plot. She's a great visual and concept, the rest is just window dressing.

I read Green Arrow: Rebirth 1 and all my hopes for a decent GA series were dashed. Again. Unlike Dinah, Ollie's back story should be kept fairly consistent (rich boy, island, fights for the "little people," not as good as Batman at anything) but the trick to making him a viable lead lies in the execution. He's a self-righteous screw-up with a sense of humor and liberal values. He should get called out for his hypocrisy and nonsense, but ultimately cares about the plight of the oppressed and tries his best to fight for them. Also, he's not a friggin' werewolf. Leave that to Captain America.

- Mike Loughlin

Bryan L said...

"Black Canary = unapologetic @#*-kicker who takes no $@&! from anyone."

This is what I was going to suggest, too. She should be one of the world's premier martial artists, the anti-Shiva, if you will. And that's pretty much how Birds of Prey used her. I do like the Canary cry, so I wouldn't lose it, but it should be the last resort (somewhat similar to Iron Fist's ... iron fist). The cry is hard to control and creates a lot of damage, so she avoids it unless absolutely necessary.

That's one of the reasons Laurel Lance really didn't work on Arrow. You don't become a superhero by spending afternoons at the gym. Sara Lance, however, had a much stronger ass-kicking backstory, and therefore worked better (setting aside any acting shortcomings on anyone's part -- I'm coming at it strictly from storyline). Canary should always be, "Okay, I'll take the 50 on the left..." Ollie, when used at all, is HER sidekick, not the other way around.

Anonymous said...

Firstly, since we seem to be recommending adventure stories, I will recommend "Don Quixote."In part because it is actually a pair of novels, decade apart. At some point, in between, another writer store the character and wrote a novel about him, too. I know this primarily because "part two" includes derisive marks about that other work.

AS for Black Canary: There is a part of me that wishes for a revival of that old story where it is revealed that she has actually being thinking that she is her mother for years. Because Superman and the J.S.A.thought it was for the bext.

Anonymous said...

Regarding that picture - Green Arrow's magical imp.

I am married to a drag queen and know lots of other. Does anybody market/sell that hair as a wig? I believe that I know a number of people who would love to have it.

Slaughter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Slaughter said...

"Woman who's kickass!" is a epic, inspiring concept. What about a "Man who kicks ass!" He's A MAN (*PUNCH*) and he kicks ass! No wait even better let's call him Kick-As... no wait, damn copy-rights! Another genius plot for untold riches and WHORES WHORESWHORESWHORESWHORES thwarted again! I will have my revenge!

No, really. I like Black Canary but... she needs some high concept injections. And basics too. What's Black Canary about? Who Dinah Lance? What's her job? Does she have friends outside of the fishnets? A hero is his secret identity. This ins' t Marvel, people.

Btw I also think she needs more done with her powers. Not more power as much as better use. So um, she screams at people, can knockdown buildings even. Nice but that's not Justice League material, and a Golden Ager should have JLA pedigree. At least Oliver can bring Atomic Warhead Arrows. Sound as a weapon is something we have barely harnessed. She should be able to attack enemies with ultrasonics that affect the brain and body, or sing a 'siren song' so to say. You can stun or kill with sonics. You can transmit info. She would be hella powerful underwater if she found a way to use powers without drowning.

Uncle Cranky said...

Green Arrow is one of FIVE (count them) main superhero characters who've been in continuous publication since 1940. The other four are the iconic 'Super-Friends'.
There's a reason for that.
Black Canary was brought in, largely due to reader demand, in a story designed to get her right into the Justice League of America. Ollie taking her under his wing was a part of that, and honestly, I doubt the editors KNEW what a critter they were unleashing at that time.
Now, 51 years after I started reading comics, we finally have decent shows based on those comics. I never expected them to follow the books. Hollywood screenwriters want to believe that they're real 'creators', so you can count on them to snort some coke, and unleash a barrel of drivel that's guaranteed to foul up ANY novel, book, or comic that a show is based on.
Hence we have what the viewers are calling 'Olicity', and the current conundrum, which Dan Didio and Jim Lee were only TOO happy to exacerbate.
Let me know if I'm using too many '$50 words' as my father's hired hand called them.