08th Jul2021

‘Green Arrow: 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1’ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

Now that comic books have been around as long as they have, and we are coming up to the one hundredth year anniversary of the American comic book industry in the not too distant future, literally tens of thousands of characters have been created to date. Only a few have the legs to last the distance, and Green Arrow is one of the lucky few. Created way back in 1941, he was originally a Robin Hood take off on Batman. Rich, ArrowCar, Arrow Cave, kid sidekick, you get the picture. He had reasonable success back in the day but in more modern times he never really rose above second banana status, until Denny O’Neil and then Mike Grell gave him a more mature makeover and he really shone. Even so, popularity boosts have usually been temporary, and he always felt like a character the pros loved more than the fans. This issue seems a timely reminder to remind us why we should love him a little bit more.

You know the score by now with these DC Anniversary Specials. 100 pages of goodness by a whole cast of the creative great and good. If you don’t like one story, move on, you’ll probably love the next. As a particular fan of the older (previously Earth-2) versions of DC characters the first story is straight away one I love. The Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy star in ‘The Disappearing Bandit’, by Mariko Tamaki and Javier Rodriguez. It’s a perfect love letter in style and tone. The following story, ‘Punching Evil’ being by Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott moves time on, but Oliver is still in his plainer original costume. Very self-knowing and dialogue driven, it has Oliver being taken to Ted Grant (Wildcat) by Black Canary to help him develop as a fighter. It’s a fun story, Ted being the first to tell Oliver to lay off the trick arrows. Well, most of them.

‘Who Watches the Watchtower?’ by Stephanie Phillips and Chris Mooneyham has Oliver in his 1970’s angry man JLA heyday, angry at being stuck on monitor duty while the team head out on a mission. It’s a fun, Neal Adams style tale that, while non-too original, really captures this era’s GA. Next up is ‘..just the usual sort of stuff’ by Green Arrow royalty Mike Grell, back to those glorious late 1980’s/ early 1990’s years. Dinah runs Sherwood Florist, Green Arrow is flirting with Shado and busting drug rings and people smugglers, and is all seems so gloriously familiar. The art is one of the highlights of the entire issue, absolutely gorgeous. The following story ‘The Arrow and The Song’ cleverly uses Longfellow to give us a brief overview of Ollie’s life, with lovely art from Christopher Mitten and words by Ram V.

After a fun 2 page text piece by Arrow himself, we change mood somewhat with a Connor Hawke tale. More violent and more gritty than the previous stories, but well handled by writer Brandon Thomas and Jorge Corona. My least favourite so far, though. ‘Green-Man and Autumn-Son’, by Devin Grayson and Max Fiumara, is another lovely story, with Roy Harper appearing as Arsenal, and a story that looks at the family dynamic in the Green Arrow books. Roy, Ollie, Dinah, baby Lian. all feature in a cleverly constructed story that is beautifully drawn. The following story, ‘Star City Star’ by Phil Hester and Ande Parks is again just another slice of nostalgia heaven, the look and feel just taking me back to the era it celebrates. Throw in Hal Jordon, Black Canary and second string Favourite Count Vertigo, sort of, and you’ve got a winner.

‘Happy Anniversary’ by Vita Ayala and Laura Braga focuses on an obvious area not yet covered, Ollie and Dinah’s relationship. It’s lightweight fun, helped by a nice Deathstroke guest appearance, and some lovely art. Plus the bickering, gotta love that. ‘The Sympathy of the Woods’, by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt, gives us an obligatory appearance by Merlyn, and is the story closest aligned to the TV show. It’s ok, but towards the bottom of my favourites in here. ‘The Last Green Arrow Story’, by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, I guess is a psychological study of both the beginning and end of Oliver’s story. It’s powerfully written, and has wonderful art. It’s the last Green Arrow story, but not the last story. The final story is actually by Denny O’Neil’s son, Larry O’Neil, and drawn by Jorge Fornes, and is a beautifully told look back at Denny’s life, from childhood to death. As one of the people most identified with Green Arrow, it’s a fitting tribute in a fitting place.

This may possibly be my favourite of the Anniversary issues from DC. Virtually every story captures a moment in time from Green Arrow’s career, and the writing and art from all is top notch. Even the lesser stories were decent enough. This book reminds us just what a fantastic character Oliver Queen is. He is unquestionably DC royalty, and his longevity is worthy of celebration.

This book, and all the creators past and present, most definitely hit the bullseye.

***** 5/5

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