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The ’90s Revisited: Green Arrow #101

90s_revisited

green_arrow_0101Run of the Arrow

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Rodolfo Damaggio
Inker: Robert Campanella
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: October, 1995
Cover Price: $2.25

I’ve wanted to read this for years…maybe 20-21 (it came out some 21 years ago). I’d known THAT Green Arrow had died; that Superman was there, that it was a plane explosion; that his son took over, etc. But until this reading, I’d never actually read the actual issue. Not too long ago, battling insomnia, I bought/read (for the first time) #100 to "finally read the issue where Ollie died." Imagine for a moment my surprise that it DID NOT HAPPEN IN THAT ISSUE…yet had you asked me any time up until then, I would have simply told you, from "knowledge," that Ollie died in #100 and his son took over in #101.

But that leads us to the story of the issue: We open off the cliffhanger from #100 with Ollie pushing buttons on the device he’s trapped in. Remove his hand/arm, and it detonates, and lots of people die. Superman’s solution would be to amputate–save Ollie’s life. But Ollie’s having none of that, and so (knowing Superman would survive because hey, invulnerable!) Ollie detonates the device. Superman finds no remains…and the rest of the issue ties up loose ends from #100 and the story leading into that, apparently…while setting up Ollie’s son Connor to take over.

Really, there’s a lot going on in this issue (and the explosion is a 2-page spread as pages 2 & 3!) so the bulk of the issue is the aftermath (#100 was already a larger anniversary issue…not sure why it didn’t just get the extra pages to have the explosion happen there and repercussions pick up from the "cliffhanger" that would’ve been). I’ve not read a lot of stuff with Connor, but I knew of the character; I even connected a supporting character with an antagonist in the earliest issues of the Mike Grell run that kicked off this title. I didn’t care much for most of this development (so most of the issue), and felt that Ollie really got a crummy send-off…though I have to admit I appreciated the fact that that itself was touched on within the issue.

Visually, I’m not familiar with the Penciller/Inker team, and the art looks it: I recognize characters, obviously, and there isn’t really much of anything WRONG with any of them…but the visual style just doesn’t do anything in particular for me except have the appearance of "mid-’90s DC."

While I typically enjoy Dixon‘s work–especially on the Bat-titles in the ’90s–I did not here; and from this issue alone would only peg it AS a Dixon-written issue because of the name on the cover. Granted, this is an isolated issue read weeks after the previous issue was itself read in isolation, and I haven’t even read the first 4 chapters of the specific story this comes out of. But given that…outside of you either reading the entire story, or (like me) specifically wanting to read for yourself the actual issue where Ollie was killed off for a few years…there’s nothing of particular value to this issue. Alternatively, it might be worthwhile if you settle in to read the run with Connor as Green Arrow. But all in all, this was a disappointing read for me…I’m glad to have read it (past tense) now, but this feels more like an arbitrary thing than the culmination of an event or any truly "heroic" end.

That said…it’s worth 25 cents.

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Zero Hour Revisited – Green Arrow #90

90srevisited_zerohour

green_arrow_0090Writer: Kevin Dooley
Art: Eduardo Barreto
Colorist: Buzz Setzer
Letterer: John Costanza
Editors: Scott Peterson, Darren Vincenzo
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.95

Well, this was an interesting issue, even if it is–as with too many–yet another issue that does not actually add anything to MY understanding of Zero Hour as a whole, or flesh anything out from the event itself, or meet other expectation(s) I’ve long had for these tie-ins.

We open on a full page, of Ollie clocking some gang-banger, saving a woman and her child. And then the pages go split-screen on us, the top half showing Ollie catching the kid before he makes a getaway, and the bottom half showing him a second slower, having to give chase. Eventually the "dual timelines" converge again, and then we see them split back off again–the top half sees Ollie live, the bottom half, he’s shot to death. Then Batman arrives, saying "We need you," and walks the traumatized archer away…while the police clear a body, and the world fades to white.

I recall Guy (Guy Gardner: Warrior) AND Ollie being closely involved in Zero Hour itself, and being there with the other heroes at the "end" and then also being there at the end of Zero Hour itself (#0) and not off on their own adventures…so I suppose I expected some expansion on things related to that, more clarification or details of their experiences going through the event. With Ollie particularly, I’d always assumed he had some adventure–or at least meaningful extra scene–with Batgirl, to further Ollie’s righteous anger at her loss. So these issues being part of the final week of ZH, ending with stuff going to the white, blank pages–I guess it just doesn’t really work for me.

Story-wise, the issue reads really quickly–far too fast. I’m a words-reader…I appreciate art/visuals, but I tend to take the visuals in "in passing," as part of the experience…very rarely as any kind of FOCUS. (That’s why I don’t mind minimal backgrounds at points, as long as the characters in the foreground that I’m actually seeing are detailed and good looking). Something like this with large panels, "split screen," and largely "silent" have my attention for the novelty, but don’t really do much for me as a reader.

The lack of dialogue, or caption boxes, or anything to really slow me down, and HOLD my attention on any given panel means I breeze through, "taking in" the action as little more than frames of an ongoing scene.

So there’s not "much" story here. "Ollie catches the kid and he gets away, Ollie gives chase, and lives" vs. "Ollie chases the kid, and dies." While the art is solid–indeed, the focus of the issue (to my chagrin as detailed above)–it’s not the sort of work that suggests "Easter Eggs" or stuff–it carries the story, never looks weird (except the blood at the end looks like it’s a victim of censorship, yet I don’t see the Comics Code stamp on the cover), and generally is not something to push me away from the book.

I’m not sure what I’m supposed to "get" out of this issue–the cover says it’s the conclusion of a story, but I haven’t read those chapters–maybe this issue would "mean" more if I’d read those chapters. For all I know, this is a three-part story (or two, or 4+) and the entire thing is in this split-screen style.

Whatever the case…in terms of Zero Hour, nothing really here, and as an isolated issue, nothing particular about it to be a draw.

Zero Hour Revisited – Detective Comics #678

90srevisited_zerohour

detective_comics_0678Yesterdays Gone

Writer: Chuck Dixon
Penciller: Graham Nolan
Guest Inker: Bob McLeod
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Assistant Editor: Darren Vincenzo
Editor: Scott Peterson
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

The thought’s hit me as I get to writing about this issue–Zero Hour is beginning to wear a bit thin on me. I’ve always loved the event, the core series and the Superman tie-in issues, because those were the ones I’d read at the time, when they were first released. I was coming off my first major Batman phase, but still somewhat following the Bat-books. Now as I’m coming down to a handful of books remaining to the event, I’m eager to finish up, get to the end of the event itself and on to other reading projects (perhaps a guy diligently typing away about every issue he reads for several weeks in a given twenty-two-year-old story shouldn’t admit that, but there it is). Despite that, I’m enjoying it more than the bulk of new comics being released and appreciating it a heckuva lot more than modern events.

This issue is one with a familiar cover, though I don’t really–truly–have any conscious memory associated with it. Reading the issue itself was like reading a completely new comic…such that I cannot actually with complete confidence say that I absolutely read it in 1994…though I would have–before reading all these–sworn that I had. I’d thought something played out in a missed detail in one of the Zero issues, that after this event Batman had not truly caught his parents’ killer, that it wasn’t Joe Chill, and so on…but it seems at least the major seed of that was planted here, in this issue…and is absolutely a detail I missed at the time in terms of reading or "getting" it myself.

We find Batman responding to an alarm in the Cave…but upon emerging from the cave, finds the Manor and the world to not be the one he knows…he himself has become an anomaly in ANOTHER timeline. In this one, his parents have arrived home after a horrible night…in which their son Bruce was killed in an attempted mugging as they left a movie theater. Batman skirts the edges of awareness in the Manor, and sees a chance to salvage stuff–he KNOWS WHO the killer is, and thus how to find him immediately, this very night–and in this timeline, where he IS an anomaly, he can bring justice in a world in which he can also see his parents LIVE. And in the course of seeking said justice…Batman comes to find that the man he’s long known to be his parents’ killer…is (at least in this timeline) NOT. And before long finds himself back in his own timeline, where his parents are dead, and he now has to consider the very real possibility that he actually never HAS brought his parents’ murderer to justice…and may never actually be capable of doing so, having long since closed the case and let a cold trail go even colder.

The best way to describe my feelings on this issue’s artwork is that it’s quite solid. It doesn’t particularly stand out–in conscious memory at least, and does not in itself trigger any particular memories or feelings of simply joy–or enjoyment–regarding the visuals. But I recognize Nolan and McLeod‘s names from this era, and that’s a very welcome factor for me. There IS a definite familiarity to the art, and I definitely enjoy it…this is some of the better Batman art I can think of…and I’d certainly welcome it over a lot of more modern stuff.

Story-wise, this is also a solid issue. With Dixon on writing, I would associate it with positive quality on name value alone. I just wish I had more conscious memory of him on this book, say, than "only" on something like Robin.

That element aside…I definitely enjoyed 1. the way and fact of this issue being part of Zero Hour allowing for the scenario it does, and B. that despite its ripples on continuity, it gives a largely self-contained micro-story that works and yet (as with many other tie-ins) does not need to explain or solidify the why and how of stuff, just show us the WHAT.

I don’t recall how long it actually stuck, but I do remember this "changing the game" a bit, at least for awhile, and thus this makes for a good issue to read, outside the core event, and particularly if you followed Batman at the time.

Though in this typing I find my analysis colored by evaluating it simply as an object of the past…it’s still in the higher part of any list I’d compose of recommendations for stuff to read if not the entire event…and gives me plenty to think about from stuff as simple as the blood on the cover under Batman…while no visible wound on the body (good ol’ ’90s censorship and pushed boundaries)… or the fact that while I’ll occasionally see Zero Hour issues in bargain bins…this issue does not tend to be one of them…either people don’t get rid of it with other issues (and/or they’re bought quicker before I get to the bins) or it’s sought after enough to "hold value" in a realm of ‘regular’ back issues, not to be merely offloaded in a bargain bin.

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