As we left off on Monday, Nightwing’s beloved home circus burned to the ground thanks to that jerk Firefly. Dude’s sort of a mercenary, getting paid to ignite whatever his employer wants. Still, that doesn’t mean that Firefly doesn’t deserve to be punched into a unconscious heap by our young vigilante.
As we finish our story today, we pick up in the middle of the Batman event War Games. Once again, the city’s at war and aflame. Gotham City gets blown up a lot when there’re ten Batman comics to write every month.
Luckily, with ten Batman comics every month that leaves lots of manpower to protect their fair city. All non-powered, but a bunch of them anyway. As each member of the Bat posse (Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Onyx, Catwoman, Oracle, Orpheus, etc.) receives a section to beat criminals in, Nightwing finds his inhabited by someone who he still bears a serious grudge.
Oh yeah, despite this occurring a good year or two after Nightwing allowed Tarantula to kill Blockbuster, he’s still riddled with guilt, as most superheroes who commit immoral actions tend to be. Except Punisher. After an evening of gutting and murdering criminals, he soundly goes to sleep counting tiny machine guns jumping over corpses.
We must remember that last time they met, Dick Grayson wore his circus outfit and not that black and blue beauty he currently wears. So Firefly, while he knows of Nightwing and has been kicked by him plenty of times, doesn’t know he incinerated Nightwing’s home. Well, that and one more reason to be fearful of the former Robin. Bad guys are a superstitious and cowardly lot, after all.
Like I said in part one, everything’s way more suspenseful with the background on fire. Symbolism and all that jazz. While Nightwing didn’t actually kill Blockbuster, a little Firefly pantswetting should shift momentum to our hero’s side. More importantly, Nightwing has had fifteen years of training in Batman-style intimidation and fear. Soon, Firefly’ll soil himself on both ends.
Unfortunately, Nightwing’s plan to punch Firefly until his face turns into something resembling a jello mold takes a sharp turn when Gotham’s finest show up.
The relationship between the Bat posse and the GCPD changes every other year or so depending on who’s in command, the horrible tragedy going on, and how much of a jerk Batman’s currently being. When Spoiler (one of the costumes) accidentally sets off a city-wide gang war destroying much of Gotham and taking scores of lives, the relationship between the superheroes and the police has chilled a tad. Like cops shooting freely at anyone in a mask chilly. Luckily, our hero is too fast and skilled to get hurt by measly police bullets.
Okay, so not that fast and skilled. Unfortunately, Grayson’s costume doesn’t contain the armor his adopted father’s contains. More difficult to cartwheel into flying headstands when one has to pack several layers of Kevlar. While our adventure today ends in a cliffhanger (though with Firefly thoroughly punched), it’ll lead up to Friday’s article: an admission of that pesky and total disregard for Batman’s ethics and code that Nightwing passionately broke.
It’s difficult to believe Nightwing has achieved his level of popularity. Not that he hasn’t proved himself as Batman’s partner, Teen Titans leader, etc. But the dude’s good-looking, cocky, over-emotional, dated every DC superheroine, and doesn’t have any superpowers besides an Olympian-level gymnastics ability. Most importantly, Nightwing lacks a fatal personality flaw that endears him to readers. We need that fatal personality flaw — it helps comic book readers relate (who are usually not good-looking, cocky, and able to join Cirque du Soleil). Yet we adore Nightwing (the first Robin, Dick Grayson), maybe because we grew up with him — or more importantly, we saw him grow up within the comic pages themselves — or maybe it’s just nice to see a member of the Bat posse emerge untraumatized and still able to form long-lasting, meaningful relationships. Still, while I don’t know why, I do love Nightwing.
Today and Wednesday, we’ll take a look at a few occasions Nightwing and Firefly tangled over a span of six years, leading up to Nightwing’s Blockbuster confession to Batman on Friday. Please enjoy:
Detective Comics #727, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by William Rosado
Nightwing #88, written by Devin Grayson and drawn by Shane Davis
Nightwing #98, written by Grayson and drawn by Sean Phillips
Nightwing #99, written by Grayson and drawn by Zach Howard
We’ll start back at the lead in to No Man’s Land, when Firefly makes a horrible mistake.
Meet Firefly (real name Garfield Lynns), a fairly dumb pyromaniac. He possesses no superpowers and no super genius, just a flying battlesuit that shoots fire. And now he has no skin. Firefly’s been buzzing around since 1952, when he premiered as a special effects guy. Eventually, his origin retconned him into the fiery psychopath you just saw here accidentally explode himself.
Lynns didn’t always look like Gollum. But a toxic waste/flamethrower combo can do wonders for turning the human body into a boiling goo pile. Nightwing and Robin battle Firefly for a while before the situation gets infinitely worse for dear Firefly. The best part of having a Firefly fight is the background always gets covered in flames. It makes the scene far more dramatic.
So now you know where Firefly gets the 90% body burns that’s stated in Batman: Arkham Origins. From his own incompetence. Luckily, Robin saves his life, because that’s the obligation superheroes have to obey.
Day saved, moving on. But then we skip ahead a few years, and this is where Firefly burns a searing hole in Nightwing’s heart. Something that will definitely give him an escrima stick to the face later. In Grayson’s occasional visit to his hometown (the circus), he gets recruited for nostalgia’s sake.
See our buddy in the corner? I figure security must be light if a bug-shaped battlesuit can get past the metal detectors or gypsy psychics or whatever the circus uses. And now everything goes bad. Grayson has horrible luck with life tragedies while on the trapeze.
Also, Irving, he’s a superhero, no matter what tanktop and leggings combo he currently wears. Though we mustn’t forget the difference between Nightwing and his brooding mentor. While Grayson proves himself faster and more agile than Batman, he’s also less armored, less protected, and with less tricks on the utility belt. Especially now, because a batarang and grappling hook pouch make quadruple flips difficult to complete.
Our protagonist emerges unharmed. Physically, anyway. He breaks down into a heap of tears on the next few pages. In part two on Wednesday, Nightwing’s vengeance will comes to fruition — he’s going to beat the crap out of Firefly.
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!
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.
In honor of Doc Ock Spider-Man’s battle against the Sinister Six next issue in Superior Spider-Man Team Up #7, I figure we should check out his first fight against the sextet. And buy the next issue, it’ll be awesome!
See? Spider-Man and his buddy Sun Girl versus Sandman, Vulture, Electro, Chameleon, and Mysterio. Notice only five supervillains? Y’see, Doctor Octopus (currently inhabiting Peter Parker’s body) assembled them to form his own superhero team. It turned out badly.
I adore Superior Spider-Man. It’s perfect Doc Ock — all his potential and all the wonderful things he’s attempting as a superhero slowly falling apart by his own ego and brutality. While he may be a better crimefighter than Peter Parker, he’s not a better person, and that’ll eventually be his downfall. Morality tends to matter far greater than talent when it comes to longevity in the comic book world anyway. With his upcoming arc against Green Goblin, I’m a giddy schoolgirl every time a new issue comes out. That and I prefer the comfort of dresses.
Way back in 1964, Spider-Man (actual Peter Parker) first met the Sinister Six led by Doctor Octopus (actual Doc Ock) in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko. The success and praise from this issue comes from a brilliant artistic choice: every time Spider-Man lands the finishing blow (or close to it), we get a gorgeous full page punch. You’ll see.
There you go, the original lineup. We have Doc Ock, Sandman, Electro, Mysterio, Vulture, and Kraven the Hunter — actually pretty close to the current lineup. Kraven’s currently off stabbing dinosaurs with spears in the Savage Land somewhere. Also, he’s cursed with immortality due to the sacrifice of an imperfect clone of Spider-Man in his resurrection ritual, but that’s a different story entirely.
First on the agenda: bait Spider-Man into going through a gauntlet of supervillains.
So if you’ve been reading the beautifully cheesy 1960s dialogue, Spider-Man has no superpowers. I don’t know why, but that side plot gets resolved in two pages, so I wouldn’t think too much on it. Also, I love that J. Jonah Jameson assumes Spider-Man’s illiterate.
To save you from my rambling mid-fight, I’ll post each battle in full (usually three or four pages) and then I’ll ramble.
Round 1: Electro
Yessir (or ma’am), you’ll be getting six of those beautiful full page smackdowns. Electro, like many of Spider-Man’s supervillains, has received some major upgrades in the past two decades or so. Now he can travel through electrical currents and he no longer looks like an ornate Ku Klux Klan member. Though to be fair, he’s still just as punchable.
Round 2: Kraven the Hunter
For reference (and I had to look these all up), Spider-Man talking about Thomas E. Dewey, the Republican candidate for president in 1944 and 1948. Gunga Din references a 1939 movie based on a poem about an Indian Bhishti. I can’t tell if Spider-Man’s being racist or not. Sometimes I get jealous I can’t appreciate name drops back from my grandparents’ day.
Round 3: Mysterio
Beast has a good eight years left before he becomes that blue furball. Also, remember the good ol’ days when a superhero’s power could only be flight (Angel)? Nowadays, if a dude can fly, his wings also double as a portal to a lost dimension of angry giant pterodactyls or something. Also, could someone write that for me?
Round 4: Sandman
In the right environment, Sandman should truthfully be the most dangerous of all Spider-Man’s baddies. You can’t really punch sand. I mean, if he stays away from a hose, Sandman’s pretty much invulnerable. Though he does lack breath-holding spider-strength.
Round 5: Vulture
No one tell Vulture that an old man in a bird costume doesn’t classify him as “the most dangerous of all.” Also, add spider-lassoing to Spider-Man’s set of skills. The 1960s were really a wonderfully silly times for comics. Now while Spider-Man obeyed the conditions of the fight, Batman would have just slammed Vulture’s head into the sidewalk until he talked. Different strokes and whatnot.
Final Round: Doctor Octopus
Oh yeah, and Aunt May declares Doc Ock a gentleman. Sure, he kidnapped two women to lure Spider-Man to his death, but he minded his P’s and Q’s around the ladies. I realize a more effective Sinister Six plan would have been to sic the whole team on Spider-Man all at once, but this way ups the drama. Remember next month to see how Doc Ock Spider-Man deals with his old team. If I were to guess, he’ll probably use webs and punches.
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.
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.
As we watched the Silver Monkey humiliate Green Arrow last time, the unfortunate first loss — used to show the superiority of an enemy and thus heighten the suspense for our dear superhero — must be a predecessor to the exciting and inevitable rematch. We pick up with round two of Connor Hawke versus Silver Monkey:
Most superheroes keep their costumes on underneath their clothes, but Hawke just puts on a jacket. Now y’see, martial arts work looks impressive, but it rarely pays the bills. Sure, Silver Monkey could teach all those fancy moves to preteens and whatnot, but that’s more of a studio apartment than a life of luxury. So to support that glorious lifestyle he leads as an arrogant asshole, Silver Monkey takes the route most traveled by comic book supervillains who dabble in kung fu.
The assassin. A popular and violent career almost certain to end with a batarang to the face. Sometimes they get outsourced to other superheroes. In the home of Hawke’s mother, Green Arrow battles a bad guy dressed like every character from Dragonball Z.
Honestly, my Green Arrow knowledge is lacking. I know writers use Oliver Queen as the voice to question authority, an angry passionate voice for the left. I also know that a non-powered Robin Hood with cool facial hair needs more than a boomerang arrow to catch on with fans. Hawke, a relatively new character (about five years into his introduction at this point in today’s comic), must possess a a trait to grab hold of readers as well. The world’s finest martial artist? At least the world’s second (or third or fourth) greatest martial artist? That’s something readers can grasp onto. That and brooding’s already taken. Though it takes a while for Hawke to find his combat groove.
I’ve seen enough Jackie Chan movies to know that even inferior opponents sometimes get lucky shots and smack our hero with pinball machines and stepladders. Silver Monkey, while probably close to Green Arrow’s skill level, is not Green Arrow. It’s hard to tell right now, but trust me. But he does nail the color-plus-relatable-noun name thing going on.
As Hawke musters up the right emotional frequency, let it be known that Hawke wins not by brains or cleverness. Spider-Man wins that way. Batman wins that way. Superman wins by punching dudes into orbit. But as Green Arrow claims victory today, he does it the old fashioned way — smashing bad guys until they turn into mush. Tomorrow, he’ll go up against his toughest baddie yet. It’ll be a doozy.
Did you know Oliver Queen, the most recognizable and goatee’d Green Arrow, has a son? Connor Hawke, a man that Queen never met until Hawke’s adulthood and raised in a dojo, took over the superhero mantle after Queen exploded in a plane. Sad stuff. But it turns out that shooting boxing glove arrows isn’t Hawke’s only talent — he’s also one of the finest martial artists in the entire DC universe. I’m talking Cassandra Cain-level of kung fu aptitude. This week, we’ll examine all the perks and annoyances of being a martial art master. Spoiler alert: it’s entirely annoyances. In Green Arrow #121, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Will Rosado, and Greeen Arrow #127, written by Dixon and drawn by Dougie Braithwaite, our protagonist battles Silver Monkey — an opponent far fiercer than his name suggests.
Basically, the dojo/ashram Hawke spent much of his youth in gave way to a new owner. A greedy, new age, selfish owner. Kung fu’s about spirituality, love, and punching, and Hawke figures it’s time to correct this problem.
Notice Hawke’s Green Arrow costume differs from the traditional Robin Hood-esque outfit that Queen wore. Also, if you notice Hawke out of uniform in the first page, he’s a mix of Asian, African, and Queen’s European heritage — a wonderful role model for those seeking a non-white superhero to identify with. Oh, and Fritz Mueller’s champion?
Silver Monkey doesn’t always smile. The mask gets painted that way. Like a Greek comedy, or the wild tragedy that’s about to unfold. Silver Monkey turns out to be way more than a Legends of a Hidden Temple tribe.
This fight scene combines my two favorite things: brawling and lectures on crowd mechanics. I don’t know why Green Arrow brings his bow with him. Or why he only has one bracelet. But just like every great martial arts movie, when our hero gets down, all he needs for his second wind is an incoherent ghost speech. I feel after a few massive blows to the end, it’s more the tone than the message that matters anyway.
Kung fu masters also have to learn humility, like getting beat up on video camera. Luckily for Hawke, in six issues, he gets that precious rematch. And this time, the stakes rise higher than a dojo and a best selling DVD.
If you don’t mind, I have to stop here today a bit earlier than I would normally. To make it up to you, I’ll post part two tomorrow and we’ll finish with our big finale on Friday. Thank you, I appreciate it! Have a great day!
Remember a few years ago when Captain America died? And by died I mean trapped in time to eventually come back and fire missiles at a giant Red Skull robot? Well, that’s not the first time he fake died. And luckily for me, that happens to coincide with #23 on Comic Book Resources’ Top 70 Most Iconic Marvel Panels of All-Time. Check out the full list here. With a wildly poetic rallying call at the top of the page and a heroic pose from our hero as he stands on top of a bad guy mountain, how could this not be one of the most iconic panels?
But before all that, he has to fake die. Y’see, turns out too many villainous people know Captain America’s true identity (spoiler alert: Steve Rogers). That’s going to inconvenience his social life when terrorists drop out of air ducts every time Rogers walks into a restaurant. So he decides on a genius plan. One that’ll emotionally destroy his friends and family in Captain America #111 and #113, written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jim Steranko.
Maybe the first clue of something fishy should have been the superhero jumping into bullets. Most do-gooders tend to avoid gunfire (except Wolverine). While congrats to Hydra for killing the hero of World War II, we all know who was the real Captain America. It’s that warm feeling as we place our hand over our hearts.
Yes, Hydra has a new brilliant scheme which doesn’t involve praying superheroes hop helplessly while they shoot guns. Unfortunately for Rogers to have that freedom he so desperately seeks, he’ll have to make a complete break. That means cutting ties with all his costumed buddies, ignoring any details that they may be devastated that their dear friend lost to the world’s most ineffective terrorist organization.
Hydra’s new master plan involves gassing the other superheroes and stuffing them into coffins. They totally succeed because I imagine it’s difficult to fight bad guys with tears clouding vision. But someone’ll save the Avengers, right? How about Bucky?
Not the World War II Bucky. He’s too busy being a brainwashed assassin for the communists. No, this is Rick Jones dressed up as Captain America’s former sidekick. Rick Jones, who you may remember as the boy who recklessly wandered into a gamma radiation test zone that accidentally transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk. As probably the luckiest kid in the Marvel universe, Jones traveled the world as the Hulk’s buddy, Captain America’s number two, and Captain Marvel’s partner before turning into a Hulk-like superhero called A-Bomb. But currently, he has to have his butt saved by all that’s good and wonderful about the US of A — the captain, a motorcycle, and bloodying terrorists.
Thus begins the coolest comic battle of 1969. I’m just saying this issue is followed by us landing on the moon two months later. It was a good year to be an American. I mean, if you ignore Vietnam.
While I admire the grandiose speech Lee wrote, I imagine the Hydra goons thoughts were less of “How do you destroy an ideal — a dream?” and more of “Aaargh, my face!” But who knows? Even henchmen can be poetic during moments of trauma.
She doesn’t actually die. Fake death applies to supervillains as well. Though as we wrap up our story today and watch as the next phase of Captain America’s life begins, remember that despite all of America’s problems (so, so many problems) — at least our heroes totally rock. I mean, Captain Britain uses magic. Wuss.