Green Arrow Vol. 1: Hunters Moon (DC)
Written by Mike Grell, drawn by Ed Hannigan & Dick Giordano
Collects Green Arrow #1-6
Back in college, I decided to collect all 139 issues of the long-running Green Arrow series. Why? I don’t quite remember. Probably because I liked Kevin Smith’s resurrection of the character with Quiver. I quickly took to eBay and spent some of my disposable income on lots of issues. I’ve got between 50 and 75% of the issues sitting in my garage, mostly unread, but still wanted to get my hands on the trades collecting the series kicked off by Mike Grell, Ed Hannigan and Dick Giordano in 1988. What can I say? I just love the trade format. Wanting to read this volume actually inspired this week’s focus on that year when it comes to posts.
This book launched at a really interesting time in DC’s history. People usually think of Vertigo when they think about serious books published by the company, but that wasn’t the case in the post-Dark Knight Returns 80s. Grell’s Green Arrow continued that dark, visceral style of storytelling along with Dennis O’Neil’s The Question and John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad.
The six issues in this book are broken up into three arcs. The first deals with a woman who was tortured by a millionaire when she was a kid worrying about him attacking her again now that he’s out of jail. The second finds Oliver traveling overseas to compete with Eddie Fyers over an accidentally created super virus. Finally, the third is all about gang violence and gay bashing. In other words, these are not fun, lighthearted superhero stories. In fact, some of these stories got so intense that they reminded me of some of the early Hellblazer arcs though these simply focus on the evils of man and not demonic entities.
In addition to the intensity of the stories told, this book suffers from a lack of context and explanation when it comes to explaining exactly what the deal with Oliver and Dinah is. This series directly spins out of Grell’s Longbow Hunters which established a new status quo for these characters that set them up in Seattle with them running a flower shop called Sherwood Florists. Another major change is the fact that Green Arrow now seems to operate in a world that ignores the fact that he used to hang out with the Justice League (at least in this volume). A simple recap page in the beginning of the book would be super helpful for new readers who might be picking these books up based on the success of Arrow.
While they might not be the most enjoyable stories to read, I give Grell a lot of credit for not shying away from serious issues in a comic book. A decade later Judd Winnick would get a lot of flack for doing very similar stories in Green Lantern and Green Arrow which makes me chuckle when I read how intense these stories are. These aren’t stories where the hero swings in, punches the bad guy, makes everything okay and heads out leaving the world a better place. Oliver deals with some wildly complicated issues and understands that even his arrow-slinging style of justice won’t necessarily solve the problems, but he has to try. He’s just that kind of person.
I wasn’t instantly familiar with Ed Hannigan’s name, but I’m sure I’ve read his comics before. His bibliography on ComicBookDB is huge, spanning plenty of books at Marvel and DC. His style here is somewhat similar to the realistic take Neal Adams’ made famous, but it’s got a more raw bent to it when it comes to the gnarlier scenes. When you’re dealing with Oliver and Dinah, the figures are very human and warm, but when Green Arrow’s facing a gauntlet of gang members, the lines practically vibrate with the conflict, violence and anger represented. I can’t wait to either get my hands on the next few volumes or dig out the issues in my garage to see how this series progresses.