That’s not entirely accurate — I’m stretching the truth to shamelessly attract more interest. We’ll be talking about the DC supervillain, as the store Blockbuster got taken down years ago by that superhero Capitalism. But today’s article deals with the climax of a story building up for just about ninety issues. Oh, and Blockbuster gets killed.
So back in the mid-1990s, Nightwing (the first Robin, Dick Grayson) decides to set up shop in Gotham City’s neighbor Blüdhaven. Same crime-ridden city with far less Bat people running around. But like always when a superhero finally becomes content in their life and just in reach of that elusive happiness they so desperately deserve, that inevitably triggers the spiral towards tear-soaked despair. We’ll see parts of that (and a bunch of kicking) in Nightwing #89 and #92-93, written by Devin Grayson and drawn by Patrick Zircher & Manuel Garcia.
Hey, remember when Daredevil’s house blew up back in Frank Miller’s famous run? That’s a far more common comic book theme than you imagine.
Keep in mind, this deadly blast follows Blockbuster’s previous actions (Barbara Gordon breaking up with Grayson and his circus burning up). Once you start kicking a superhero when he or she’s down, you can never stop. That’s when they get up and break your face. Here’s some more explosion aftermath to further build your hatred of Nightwing’s current arch-nemesis.
You see the dirt and grime smeared on our hero? I don’t think he bathes once until this arc finishes. Not even a paper towel in the mirror or anything. The Bat family doesn’t react well to deaths they indirectly cause, but at least we get to see Nightwing defeat one of his most dangerous and powerful foes: the media.
As a solution to the Blockbuster problem must now be found (as mob bosses tend to be vindictive and resilient), Grayson and his crimefighting partner Tarantula brainstorm some ideas. Philosophical ideas. Y’see, despite Grayson being more emotional and light-hearted than his mentor, every once in a while Nightwing flashes into a younger, cape-less version of Batman. The scary, brooding, super-strict-code-of-morality-that’s-inflexible-with-no-exceptions version of Batman.
Of course Nightwing won’t kill, no matter what the title of this article says. So much as to prevent Tarantula from offing dudes who have killed enough people to fill a basketball stadium. I’ve thought about this before, and I have a feeling that more readers agree with the Punisher’s methods of superheroes mowing down evil than those who frown on it. As a society, we’re taught to accept an adaptable code of morality that most superheroes do not. Mainly because they’re fictional. And as Blockbuster serves his final dish in this crazy destruction parade, he’s not going to inspire us to think any differently.
Meet Blockbuster — he has a gigantic head, a gorilla heart, and totally no conscience or soul. If you ever need proof of why superheroes need secret identities, it’s to protect them from stuff like this happening:
Dick Grayson, despite his prodigious agility and combat ability, is a normal guy with no fancy superpowers or magic or laser eyes. It’d essentially be a U.S. Olympic gymnast attempting to save everyone he has ever come into contact with. Not really possible or realistic, even for a universe with superpowers, magic, and laser eyes. That code of ethics that Nightwing so desperately clings to comes into question.
Nightwing doesn’t kill Blockbuster. But he does something just as egregious. Despite it being the best possible option. Despite it ultimately saving hundreds of lives. Superheroes always win the fight, but never their guilt — though Nightwing’ll sure as hell try.
After this scene, Tarantula rapes Nightwing. Not a joke. She takes advantage of him in his traumatic state. It’s one of the strangest and most frustrating scenes in DC comic history. I personally hate it and I’m not going to show it to you, but you do deserve to know that it happens. We’ll cover Nightwing’s reveal to Batman and his emotional healing from his own personal betrayal on Wednesday. Next time, Grayson battles Firefly!
False advertising. Batman doesn’t love anything but the sound his batarangs make when they connect with a criminal’s skull. And Alfred. And the Robins. Okay, so he probably loves lots of stuff, but his affection for his closest civilian ally constantly teeters that emotional line. Their friendship and partnership (both words discussed today) can be best summed up with the issue-long conversation in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Rick Burchett.
As No Man’s Land reaches its midway-ish point, Batman finally shows his face once again. Turns out that when Bruce Wayne spends his time in Washington D.C. desperately lobbying for funds to get his city back from the post-apocalyptic wasteland it currently resembles, his alter ego won’t be patrolling the dimly lit streets of destroyed Gotham City. And really, as effective as one man can be in containing an entire collapsed city, his symbolism speaks far more volume than his grappling hooks. So when he arrives to apologize to Commissioner Jim Gordon about his absence, the two have an actual conversation. Like with feelings and stuff.
Okay, not yet. Neither of the men can really do small talk, but it is refreshing to hear Batman awkwardly discuss gardening. Most of the time he’s growling about murder victims and police inadequacy. But with Gordon no longer tolerating this facade, the real drama finally begins:
Gordon’ll make his point clearer in a few pages. Look, we as readers know Batman has friends. Superman, for one. But his anti-social personality leaves the Dark Knight a little abrasive with his relationships. And frankly, Gordon demands more from their friendship than occasionally accepting hand deliveries of gagged and unconscious supervillains.
When Bane broke Wayne’s back a few years back, Wayne let his insane buddy Azrael take the mantle for a while. He didn’t tell Gordon. When No Man’s Land was announced, Wayne ran off to gather political pull and money. He didn’t tell Gordon. Rinse and repeat the entire run of Batman comics.
The two are stuck with each other, and they know that. Gordon’ll never leave the Gotham police force (despite temporary setbacks) and Batman’ll never stop fighting Gotham crime (despite temporary setbacks), because comic book status quo demands that the two remain together. Forever and ever. Gordon understands that, and he figures after 60 years of adventures (10 years of time passed in the DC universe) that he deserves to at least to be treated as an actual friend. Not an easy task. I mean, even Robin doesn’t get told what Batman’s up to half the time. You’re witnessing Batman’s “hey buddy, it looks like you put on a few pounds” conversation but for his personality. Also, that last panel perfectly sums up decades of built up rage.
You can’t get any more trusting than the secret identity reveal. Though he did tell Joker his real identity in the New 52 and that turned out horrifically. Can we at least just be proud of Batman taking a positive step in one of his relationships? That man has some serious emotional damage. Instead of spending years in intensive therapy, Batman spent his youth learning how to break ninja arms. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices.
Gordon’s response believably expresses his latent frustration while still maintaining that precious status quo. Rucka has been a confirmed genius for years now.
Gordon totally knows Bruce Wayne is Batman. Like Perry White knows Clark Kent is Superman. When our heroes surround themselves with brilliant investigative minds, the truth can’t slink away for long. But luckily the supporting cast also embraces the wonderful compassion that comes with ignoring that your local billionaire/star reporter also lives in a giant Justice League space station. Loved ones get hurt when secrets spill and all that jazz. Oh well.
Anyway, friendship repaired! Next step: saving a depraved and ruined city filled with millions of people from collapsing in on itself in terrifying violence, immorality, and anarchy.
While I normally like to cover stories that may not get the publicity the famous ones do, the famous ones receive that fame for a reason. Usually because they’re expertly written, wildly exciting, or heartbreakingly sad. We hit the last category today. The gigantic Batman event No Man’s Land comes to a close in Detective Comics #741, written by Greg Rucka & Devin Grayson and drawn by Damion Scott & Dale Eaglesham.
Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon, despite always chain smoking and looking as if he just got off a three-day shift, has had his fair share of paramours. Not as many as Bruce Wayne, but Gordon also isn’t a gorgeous billionaire who dresses as a giant bat to punch muggers off rooftops. Actually, I didn’t much research Gordon’s love interests. But the main two (and really the only two necessary to know) will always be his two wives: Barbara Gordon and Sarah Essen Gordon. In Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One arc, Gordon and Sarah begin an affair. Even Batman’s red-headed buddy has his morality crushing vices. Anyway, cut to many years later, with both Gordon and Sarah divorced, they start dating and get married in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2, written by Dennis O’Neil and drawn by Michael Netzer:
It had been a rough night for both of them. We cut eight years later to the end of No Man’s Land in early 2000. One final scheme from the Joker. As usual, it’s twisted and’ll end with readers’ tears soaking the pages of their comics. Make sure your keyboards are waterproof.
Y’see, the Joker lies. A lot. The heroes split up to cover the city — but every baby just turns out to be dolls that explode on contact. Cue lots of destruction and close calls. Joker totally hoarded the babies himself. Unfortunately, when they figure out exactly where he’s hiding, only one person happened to already be on the scene.
Beautiful art showing the horror on Gordon’s face mixed with a nauseating angle. We forget that as gimmicky and silly Batman’s supervillains can be, they’re also almost all unrepentant and dangerous killers. Killer Croc eats people, for goodness sake. And the Joker? Nothing funny about his body count. [Ed. Note: Sorry, that type of joke won't happen again.]
Look, the majority of you have read this before and everyone else can probably guess what’s about to happen. I’m not great at subtlety. But I didn’t pick this issue for the upcoming trauma — it’s the reaction from Gordon and Batman that grabbed me. To see Gordon at his weakest and Batman dropping all facade of scary criminal puncher puts both characters in a human light the DC universe sometimes lacks. But let’s continue — and this next scene pains me (and I’m sure you) every time I have to reread it.
When Flashpoint occurred a few years ago to reset the DC universe, Gordon’s marriage to Sarah no longer happened. Any record of her has been erased in the annals of “official” DC history. I don’t mind, they’re fictional characters after all, but it doesn’t erase the emotional impact of Gordon’s immediate mourning and rage. Especially the rage.
I’m fascinated by Batman’s declaration — we know he wouldn’t let Gordon kill the Joker. After all, the commissioner’s partnership with Batman relies on Gordon forever being that one incorruptible cop. We really don’t give Gordon as much credit as a supporting character as we should. He serves as Batman’s father figure just as much as Alfred does. We end today with both a bang and a whimper. Wipe those tears away.
If you haven’t read the gigantic Batman crossover event No Man’s Land, good luck. I mean, of course you should read it, but it’s over a hundred issues encompassing like eight different series and the New 52 wiped the event from history anyway. Still, as I consistently go back and scour the NML issues, I always find new gems to show you. Like Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #126, Batman #574, and Detective Comics #741, all written by Greg Rucka & Devin Grayson and drawn by Damion Scott & Dale Eaglesham. For reference, that’s simply part one, two, and three of a single arc. The ’90s were a weird time for comics.
Anyway, as our year comes to a close and Gotham City (wrecked by a massive earthquake that turned the place into an inhospitable gang-infested post-apocalyptic wasteland) seems to finally reach the bright light of hope and redemption.
The foreshadowing serves for Monday’s article. Luckily, with the government, Lexcorp, and Wayne Enterprises stepping up the resources and financial aid, Gotham has a chance to return to the bleak, crime-ridden city it used to be. Really, the same as NML just with electricity and running water. But as our story ends, one major player never had his chance in the spotlight.
We’ll see part one of his plan today. Hint: it involves killing lots of cops.
Some background: Gotham police captain Billy Petit used to be a be a loyal and honorable cop. But traumas change people, man! He rules/protects a portion of Gotham through tough love, just with that troublesome love part switched out for huge doses of crazy. Huntress, former schoolteacher and mob daughter Helena Bertinelli, has spent the past year desperately holding sections of the city together. Many times through just sheer willpower. She became an unofficial Batgirl to scare bad guys when Batman disappeared for a few months. She clawed and arrow’d most of the Dark Knight’s rogue gallery. She remains the sole voice of reason in a large area of Gotham wrapped around the finger of insanity. And finally, the powder keg bursts, leaving poor Huntress to pick up the pieces. Also, Batman doesn’t like her.
I’m going to skip Petit and gang’s battle against the Joker. Essentially, Joker has both cops and henchmen dress up in identical Joker costumes, forcing Petit and friends to kill their own men attempting to shoot the real deal. Finally, Huntress stands alone. Against a dozen criminals and two supervillains. Did I mention she has no superpowers?
Well it seems I’m mistaken. She does have one superpower: that icy cold glare. Seriously, doesn’t Batman’s Bat posse possess the coolest female superheroes? Huntress, Catwoman, Batgirl (Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain, and Stephanie Brown), The Question, Manhunter, etc. And now watch Huntress fight Joker’s entire army by herself.
Unfortunately, the no superpowers thing comes with a weakness for bullets. You’re still proud of her, right? She did pretty well until Joker did the whole gun shooting.
You can figure out what happens next. Batman, known for his theatrics, swoops in just in time to save the day. But Joker has just begun to terrorize, and if you remember the finale of NML, it’s going to be crazy heartbreaking. Also, truckloads of babies.
Superman would just punch it into space. City saved, make out with Lois. But poor Green Arrow, with no superpowers, has to take out the mythical creature the old fashioned way — lots of running and praying. Today, Connor Hawke, the Buddhist Green Arrow and Oliver Queen’s son, gets to prove his worth in the heart of China against an unstoppable and unbeatable monster in Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood #4-5, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Derec Donovan. Though just because Hawke can’t throw the dragon into the sun, how bad can it be? He’s in the Justice League, for goodness sake.
Well, still super scary then. The dragon possesses all those normal dragon qualities. It doesn’t talk like the Hobbit one, but I think Marvel claimed that turf a long time ago. Marvel dragons can be surprisingly wordy.
Speaking just from an artistic standpoint, this miniseries (which is fantastic and you should read all of it) gets notice for restoring Hawke’s Asian features. We keep forgetting he’s a quarter African and a quarter Korean to go along with Queen’s lily white genes. If you noticed in the past story I featured, while Hawke still does lots of cool stuff, he looks just as white as Queen, and that’s not fair to readers who grew up with Hawke as a multiracial role model. Though full disclosure, I’m quite pale myself so my opinion doesn’t really hold much ground in this matter.
Actually, as I edit this piece, I’m not done with my soapbox. Look, I don’t talk about myself much (because I don’t wear a cape and punch bad guys), but I’m an inner city school teacher. And my students love superheroes as all preteens do, but their favorites — Batman, Spider-Man, Thor — are as white as they come. Kids originally read comic books for the fantasy, the escapism of wearing a costume and capturing criminals. Why do so many superheroes have teenage sidekicks? Why did Captain Marvel outsell Superman in the 1950s? And with kids’ attention today competing with iPads, TV, and pop culture — a large chunk of their morals are developing outside of their parents’ influence. Seeing superheroes who look like them acting for the good of the people, protecting not just their family and friends but complete strangers as well, has a much larger effect than you can imagine. Thank god for Miles Morales. Thank god for Luke Cage. Heck, bring on more Vibe. The girls even enjoy Wonder Woman, who like modern literary protagonists (Katniss Everdeen, Hermione Granger, etc.), will always remain a far superior role model than the current celebrities sticking stuff up their butts and molesting dwarfs.
Oh yeah, and Hawke was battling a dragon.
Did you know rats can do that? They can also run up walls. Sleep tight tonight. Strategically, Hawke retreating from his arena into a position where he won’t get incinerated sounds like a good move — but bringing the fight to the civilians creates far more challenges than just sticking the dragon in the heart with a single holy dragon-killing arrow.
The best part of having ancient evils meet modern technology is seeing a subway car slam into a dragon. It’s a joy that leaves my adolescent self to crawl out of my agape mouth and cartwheel around my living room. Ready for the exciting showdown? With his opening created, Hawke finally gets to show off his dragon-slaying skills.
Okay, that’s bad news. If you read the legend earlier in the miniseries which I have totally skipped, the dragon’s hide can’t be penetrated. The old timey archers defeated only after a single scale broke off during a previous sword attack. Luckily, we once again get the beauty of ancient evils and modern technology combining. No swords necessary this time.
We forget the importance of a supporting cast. I know having Robin swing in and kick the bad guy right as he’s about to shoot Batman usually results in less suspense and more deus ex machina, but it also creates more storytelling options than Batman mustering up the final bursts of his strength to overpower the Two Face with a knee in the face for the eighth or ninth time. Though I would never get sick of seeing that.
The city’s saved. Once again the people stay safe, along with a heavy dose of overtime for the clean up crew. Because while Hawke’ll rescue the citizens from certain death, he’s far too busy to pick up a shovel and help dig. That and one more issue of this miniseries left to go. On Friday, get ready for a thrilling surprise, because I don’t know what I’m covering yet.
Everything leads up to this! If the stakes don’t reach catastrophic, you’re not reading a superhero story. And Green Arrow, our promiscuous Robin Hood with gorgeous facial hair and latent anger issues, is all that stands in the way from a demonic takeover of Star City. Well, Green Arrow and a few of his buddies.
Like Gotham City, Green Arrow’s hometown also has its fair share of mobsters and crooked cops. Luckily, they also don’t want these demons slicing them in half every time they jimmy a car door. So with the cop/mafia army gathered and led by the town’s lovable vigilante, the pieces are set for a final confrontation with the law-abiding hellspawns. First on the to-do list: weapons.
Step two: training. But I’m going to skip all that. Still, with time being the essence and Oliver Queen and son being the only skilled archers in the group, wouldn’t an extra hand be a nice boost? Like say, the HIV-positive teenager living in Queen’s house who has spent her every waking hour smashing bullseyes?
That’s right. While Batman makes his Robins play detective games to prove their worth, Green Arrow prefers to beats the crap out of his sidekicks. No one sucker punches that well-groomed face.
Right now, Green Arrow doesn’t have a sidekick. His first Speedy, Roy Harper, went the Jason Todd route — guns, name changes (Red Arrow, Arsenal), and other basic anti-hero characteristics. We sometimes forget that Connor Hawke still retains his Green Arrow title from before his father came back to life, making him Queen’s equal, not sidekick.
In one of the coolest moments of this arc, the Green Arrows welcome one more into their ranks. Meet Mia Dearden: high school senior, former prostitute, brand new Speedy. Just in time for the final battle as Star City fights the demons for the fate of their beloved town.
Y’see, demon hordes can be easily distracted. Especially when a thousand mafiosos and policemen whack them with baseball bats. Remember when Batman conversed with Jason Blood last article? Cut off the head and the serpent stops squirming.
You know that when you summon forces of hell that sometimes those wishes can backfire? Before we reach our story’s climax, understand that blood drips freely from Green Arrow’s hand. He has killed before. I mean not anymore, but the Green Arrows do tend to have a baptism by blood when it comes to their little superhero club. Before Green Arrow’s forced to impale the sad magician, we should hear his depressing reasons. Queen’s a better person now, I promise.
Thus, we sit between a rock and a hard place. No wonder superheroes are psychological wrecks.
Meet Mia Dearden: high school senior, former prostitute, brand new Speedy, murderer. She ends up okay, including a fancy Teen Titans membership, a badass superhero costume, and the unrelenting trust of her wonderful mentor. Though since the New 52 reboot, she hangs in limbo with Wally West and Stephanie Brown.
On Wednesday, Connor fights a dragon! I’m milking this Green Arrow thing forever.
To quickly transition between whimsy pranks to city-destroying demons pretty much describes how comics operate. The superhero stakes rise exponentially every five pages or so. And we shouldn’t be surprised or upset — our hero Green Arrow saves the world through archery and doesn’t own clothes with sleeves. As we get to the second act of our story today (and there’ll be a third act on Monday as I figure you guys have more stuff to do today than skim through thirty plus images), Star City must rely on one man to save them from the law-abiding killing machines.
You break the law, you get machete’d. Steal some food? Machete’d. Punch a child? Machete’d. Think of punching a child? Not machete’d — they aren’t psychic. I know you get concerned during events like these. Where’s all of Green Arrow’s friends? Aren’t they flying their invisible planes to the city where a giant blue bubble just popped up?
See? They tried. Suspend your disbelief once again. Unfortunately, without all those cool fighter jets and bazookas that normally incinerate demons, Star City citizens’ll have to rely on the medieval way of exorcisms.
The Arrow Balloon truly sends a terrifying message to would-be evildoers. I know the Arrow Car isn’t working under demon martial law, and I agree that the Arrow Balloon remains far more effective against the flightless demons than the Arrow Hang Glider or something. But this may be the first time that superheroes have ever arrow barraged a squadron of hell monsters from their personal hot air balloon. Considering how many times the SHIELD billion dollar helicarrier explodes, it may save tons of money to invest in some balloons of their own.
Now, to figure out who summoned these demons, they only have one lead. An unfortunate one. But to see how truly similar Green Arrow and Batman are, the Riddler interrogation should tell you everything you need.
See? That’s how Batman would react too. Superheroes really hate games.
I love this, not just because Green Arrow’s wittier than Batman — his snark borders on a petty vindictive type of wit. But I think that’s why he wears his goofy costume — it’s a psychological underestimation? I mean, Queen wears the same hat as Peter Pan. And Riddler totally deserves a few of his bones moved around. He should know how superheroes act when innocent lives are helplessly lost. Good guys make poor losers.
Y’see, when some multimillionaires have their family murdered, they go train with ninjas for a decade before coming back and grappling around the city as a bat. Others call forth ancient rituals to summon hordes of monsters to kill anyone who tries to shoplift Doritos. Different strokes for different folks. At least now that the two Green Arrows know who’s behind this whole fiasco, it’s a simple matter to arrive at the man’s mansion and take out the conduit. Piece of cake.
War on Monday as the Star City army battles the demon force! Spoiler alert: a lot of machete’ing.
I like when supervillains branch out. After all, most superheroes have a good ten to fifteen main villains and then a hundred others one-shot baddies that have shown up at some point or other. So maybe Batman’s too busy to give you that attention you so desire — after all, you’re competing against Killer Croc eating sewer orphans, Two Face holding the mayor hostage, and the Joker commandeering a blimp full of zoo animals. All at the same time. But Green Arrow? He’ll play these games — Star City has far less crime than Gotham’s never-ending explosion/murder-fest. The sacred test of wits against another Justice League member that culminates in a vast superior emotional need fulfilled and satisfied. Or someone pays you a crapload of money. Either way works.
In Green Arrow #34-39, written by Judd Winick and drawn by Phil Hester, our protagonist battles one of Batman’s Arkham lineup as well as an army of fiery demons (but more on that later).
I agree with Connor Hawke. The Riddler doesn’t really possess any threat towards our Green Arrow duo, but his presence could get civilians hurt and valuable stuff stolen. Plus, you have to solve all those riddles. Oliver Queen’s not exactly the world’s greatest detective. Or detective for that matter.
All in good fun. No one gets hurt and we have one extremely rich fig farmer. But everything leads up to something far more sinister. I mean, eventually — it takes a while. Still, with the Riddler strapping balloons to elephants, Green Arrow figures a call to Riddler’s superhero owner wouldn’t hurt. And you know those people who obviously respect but totally hate each other?
You figure the non-powered superheroes would get along better. Queen’s combative by nature, sure, but shouldn’t these two bond at least over their mutual fear of firearms and grappling hook malfunctions? Superman, Wonder Woman, Martian Manhunter, Captain Marvel and the others who possess crazy powers have a wonderful time hanging out with each other — especially the first two. Oh, to be young, in love, and with the ability to move skyscrapers by hand.
Y’see? He distracts law enforcement while his employers and goons steal important artifacts. Demonic artifacts. But his final plan must attract the full attention of the police. Not a single eye can turn away from the most important mission yet. What’s the best way to accomplish that? Hopefully something supervillain-y. A city covered in plums wouldn’t have the pizzazz required of a man who’s buddies with the Joker.
Yup, that’s the twisted supervillain we know and love. High stakes, crazy enough to detonate it, and desperate to leave a lasting legacy. A boxing glove arrow in the face won’t solve this problem.
Oh yeah, remember the goal of a major distraction. This is why. Pagan rituals to summon forth ancient evils tend to bring attention. Definitely at least a boxing glove arrow in the face.
Green Arrow isn’t Batman. Yes, Batman would totally batarang Riddler’s hand, but it would just horribly scar, not pierce straight through. Riddler keeps forgetting that the sillier the superhero costume, the more violent the superhero compensates. Luckily, the Batman bad guy fiesta has come to an end. What’s next for our hero and his son?
I agree with Hawke. I’m scared too, but we must remember that Green Arrow shouldn’t be brushed aside. Queen has shown tremendous capability to persevere under the most stressful of situations and danger. He doesn’t buckle under pressure, he always bursts victoriously through evil, and he has the complete concentration and emotional control to handle a trapped, demon-infested city.
Find out Friday if he spends the next three issues writing tear-drenched poetry to Black Canary.
While going through all the Connor Hawke kung fu stories last week, I mentioned several times that poor Oliver Queen — which Hawke had inherited the Green Arrow title from — sadly exploded a few months/years beforehand. But why not just show it to you?
Back in the mid-1990s, after Superman rose from the dead as our lord and savior — now sporting a delightful mullet — it became game on. The rules shattered and anyone who died no longer had to do that whole stay dead thing that plagues so many of us today. And despite a good six years before Queen reclaimed his old job from his son, his demise remains just as dramatic as any superhero’s should be. Today, let’s enjoy Green Arrow #99-101, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Jim Aparo & Rodolfo Damaggio.
Our story begins innocently enough. Green Arrow goes undercover to take out an eco-terrorist group. Seducing the attractive boss just happens to be a perk of having a mustache/goatee combo.
To save myself four or five pages, her evil plan works like this (once she stops making out with Queen): the Russians developed a bomb that releases a bacteria that feeds entirely on plastic. Doesn’t sound so dangerous until the woman (called Hyrax) explains that basically any building containing plaster, etc. also contains tons of plastic. One detonation of this bomb and an entire city collapses on itself, killing millions. Which city you ask?
His girlfriend, who’s certifiably crazy, loads up the bomb along with a few required henchmen. But Green Arrow slowly realizes that maybe she’s not marriage material. Definitely not a long term thing.
Part of what makes Queen so important in the DC universe lies in his anti-authority, far leftist views on practically everything. He gets to be the character to defy Batman, fight corporate America, and shoot arrows at anyone trying to bring down the little guy. Eco-terrorism doesn’t seem too far away from his personality if you get rid of the whole terrorism part. He even has “green” in his name. Though because he ends up exploded at the end of this issue, everything goes bad. Super bad.
This device activates as follows: two people stick their hands in, and upon release the bomb explodes. I have read this scene nine or ten times. I have searched the previous issues for clues. I have asked my friends for an explanation. I have googled this issue looking for answers. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Green Arrow shoves his hand in the detonator. He knows it’s what Hyrax wants — she screams it over the gunfire. Yet he announces his victory upon doing exactly what she says. Someone please explain to me his actions. Am I missing something important? Does he accidentally set his arm inside the machine in his moment of victory (after being shot)?
Oh, and now that Green Arrow totally screwed himself, our lord and savior can finally arrive.
Superman, take the wheel.
We know Superman isn’t the genius his buddy Batman demonstrates everytime Riddler breaks out of Arkham. While Superman possesses the power to twirl planets on his finger like a basketball, he holds a surprisingly average intelligence. Luckily, his vast experience still allows him to show off his problem-solving skills — like figuring out how to simultaneously save Metropolis and Queen. Also, did you know Superman’s fluent in Russian?
I understand what Queen does next. I really do. For a man with no superpowers like Green Arrow, the loss of his arm would bring about only pity and angst as he sits on the Justice League sidelines. Though to be fair, Aquaman gets his hand chopped off every four or five issues and he receives cool replacements. Remember that hook hand? The hand made out of magic water? Regardless of possible alternatives — like Superman using his heat vision to cauterize Green Arrow’s bleeding wound — it makes no difference why something happens or doesn’t. If we accept without a second thought that an alien can shoot lasers out of his eyes, we must also accept the choices Green Arrow makes. That’s the deal we sign when we agree to read superhero comics.
I’m sad too. The rest of the issue gets filled with eulogies and the embracing of Connor Hawke as the replacement Green Arrow. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to know that your fellow superheroes share the pain you’re currently experiencing.
Basically, he was sort of a great person and sort of not, but he died a hero. And if you need closure, there’s no greater door closing than the acknowledgement from the batcomputer. Batman mourns in his own technological way.
More Green Arrow stuff on Wednesday and Friday. I’m slowly falling in love with him.
You’ve just seen two days of Connor Hawke (using the Green Arrow title after his father exploded) karate chopping Silver Monkey through all sorts of destructive environments. But no more Silver Monkey. Now, his fellow apes get given the task of taking down the new Green Arrow. Over a five issue story, crossed over with the Batman titles, Hawke has to prove his worth against the deadliest assassin of them all. She’s scary.
In the order the story takes place, we’ll be using the following issues:
Green Arrow #134, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Dougie Braithewaite
Detective Comics #723, written by Dixon and drawn by Alex Maleev
Robin #55, written by Dixon and drawn by Will Rosado
Nightwing #23, written by Dixon and drawn by Scott McDaniel
Green Arrow #135, written by Dixon and drawn by Braithewaite
To sum up the consequences of the previous Green Arrow versus Silver Monkey fight:
What’s better than ninjas? Obviously a deluge of ninjas that floods any city where non-powered superheros, vigilantes, UFC fighters, or kickboxing classes dwell. Instead of poo, these monkey are going to be flinging death upon anyone who dares venture upon their path. Also shurikens. They’ll fling those too. But among the tribes, one monkey stands out above the rest:
Yes, that’s Hawke’s final opponent of our kung fu adventure. The mask serves to heighten suspense at her true identity, but you can probably figure out which famous Batman-centered female martial artist supervillain she is. Also, I put her name in the file for every picture posted so far. In the matter of fairness, since we just witnessed the Paper Monkey rip apart a whole squadron of ninjas, I feel Green Arrow deserves a similar introduction. Plus, he’s the guy we’re going to be rooting for.
Our moment has arrived. Can the DC universe’s greatest kung fu superhero defeat the DC universe’s greatest kung fu supervillain? How much more can I hype this fight without sounding cliche? Most importantly, we should be scared for dear Green Arrow. Very scared.
Lady Shiva! An unbeatable opponent who even Batman can’t defeat in one-on-one combat. If you’ve played Arkham Origins, she serves as one of the sidequests — and even that ends in a tie. She birthed the second Batgirl, trained the third Robin, and constantly antagonizes Nightwing. For more, you can see Cassandra Cain’s defining moment.
Lady Shiva’s M.O. isn’t complicated. She hears about a super talented deadly martial artist running around. She finds this man or woman and then kills them with her superior punching and kicking. It’s not even a fear of losing her top kung fu spot either — she just enjoys the punching and kicking. Her only gimmick lies with when she shows up looking for you, you’re totally dead.
Batman and the Batfamily usually defeat (or at least shoo away) Lady Shiva through brainpower, but poor Hawke doesn’t possess Batman and the Batfamily’s brilliance. He’s going to have to beat her into submission, and she’s especially resistant to beatings (if you haven’t been able to tell from her arrogance). But Green Arrow did defeat Silver Monkey after a wave of damage, so as we watch the final act of their battle, keep your spirits high.
He loses. Everyone loses to her. Turns out when I did some research, Leopard Blow totally exists as a real fighting move. Whether it can kill someone remains to be seen, though humans tend to be pretty soft and squishy. Remember how I said Lady Shiva trained Robin back in the day? And how the Batman family defeats her using their mind and not lethal animal punches?
Robin would have had his butt handed to him, and even Lady Shiva called his bluff. But despite a humiliating loss by Green Arrow, surviving a fight (much less actually hurting Lady Shiva) remains cause for celebration. Plus, no one can argue with a smile or two after knocking out several dozen ninjas and the world’s deadliest assassin. But you know who always seems to rain on parades?
Hawke hasn’t appeared in the New 52 yet, but also with the de-aging of Green Arrow Oliver Queen down to his mid-twenties (I guess?), it’d be odd for the man to have a 20-something year old son. Oh well.
Enjoy your weekend, you deserve it.