09 July 2012

Faster than a DC Bullet: The End of Green Arrow, Part I: Green Arrow and Black Canary: Five Stages

Comic trade paperback, n.pag.
Published 2010 (contents: 2010)
Borrowed from the library
Read May 2012
Green Arrow and Black Canary: Five Stages

Writers: Andrew Kreisberg / J. T. Krul
Pencillers: Mike Norton / Renato Guedes / Diogenes Neves
Inkers: Bill Sienkiewicz / José Wilson Magalhães / Ruy José / Vicente Cifuentes
Colorists: David Baron / David Curiel / Chuck Pires
Letterer: Sal Cipriano

From May 2009 to April 2010, I worked my way through every Green Arrow trade paperback and collection ever published, the first time I had ever done so with a comic book character, but something I would go on to do with Gotham Central, Y: The Last Man, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, and Jessica Jones, and am still doing with the Sandman. In August 2010, I popped back in for another Green Arrow story that had been published since that April, but since then five more have been published, and not only that, but those five represent the last gasp of the character as I know him, as he was completely rebooted by DC last year. So here it comes: The End of Green Arrow...

I never warmed to Andrew Kreisberg's Green Arrow and Black Canary-- he penned two previous volumes, Enemies List and Big Game. Part of what alienated me was that he sidelined Black Canary in what was theoretically 50% her own title; part was that his new villain Cupid was just pathetic. So I went into Five Stages expecting to be disappointed, and to my surprise, found that Kreisberg's last volume is his best. Not that that takes much. Cupid gets a backstory, and we find out that she's not a random housewife with a Green Arrow fixation, but a trained military operative who snapped on a mission. Though dressing men up as Green Arrow and raping them is still perhaps more than I want to read about, this went a long way to making her work more for me. Especially nice was a set of flashback stories about Cupid's days with COBALT, drawn by Renato Guedes, who has a nice clean style-- I liked it a lot more than Mike Norton's scratchy work on the main title.

It's also nice to see Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Mia working together as a proper team, though this must be the third time in the course of this series that Green Arrow and Black Canary have renewed their commitment to one another despite Ollie's dickishness. (They seem to do it once per writer.) There's some pleasing banter (I like it when Green Arrow put on his "Robin Hood" cap), and they seem to actually all like another. Still no Connor Hawke, though.

It's not all good. There's a lot of generic superhero quipping, which gets on my nerves. "I hope you fellas don't think me unpatriotic," says Black Canary as she kicks some COBALT goons, "but for all I know... you're not my army." Um, what? Who says that?

The worst part of this book is when Lieutenant Hilton, the Star City Police Department cop who has liased with Green Arrow throughout this storyline, gets a knife in the back of his head. At first I was bummed, because he was a likable character, and Green Arrow and Black Canary could really use a recurring cast. But he's not dead! Somehow he's still alive... but if the knife's taken out, he'll die?

what is this i don't even

But it gets worse from there-- the doctors send Hilton home from the hospital with the entire knife still in his head, not even cutting off the hilt and putting a bandage over the whole thing. Then he kills his family and some cops and renames himself... The Hilt. Ugh, really? Who does that? Why do something so implausibly stupid to a decent character? Especially since this was Kreisberg's last issue on the title-- unsurprisingly, the Hilt never made another appearance. Thank God.

I can't in good conscience recommend that someone read any of Kreisberg's run on Green Arrow and Black Canary, but if you read the first two, at least continue on to this last volume, since it's the least bad one.

The proper story of Five Stages ends with Hal Jordan summoning Ollie and Dinah up to the Justice League headquarters to lead into the events of Cry for Justice, but there's one last chapter, which actually takes place after (most of) Cry for Justice, during Blackest Night. Written by J. T. Krul, it sees Oliver as a Black Lantern. Maybe all this would be interesting if I'd read Blackest Night, but I haven't. At least Connor is in it.


  1. Agreed that when Norton gave Cupid a backstory, it went a long way toward explaining and redeeming the character as more than just "obsessed ingenue." I enjoyed that Kreisberg's Green Arrow/Black Canary stories were more "urban" than the last of Winick's, which became too global and fanciful for my tastes vis a vis Green Arrow. Kreisberg's run isn't terrible, but it's so far removed from Green Arrow's current status that, as you said, it'd be hard to recommend this to anyone, and certainly not over a "classic" Green Arrow story like Longbow Hunters or Quiver.

  2. I liked the first of Winick's GA/BC stories, with Amazon Island, which was funner than any of his recent GA work has been, but by the time the League of Assassins was running around, I lost interest. I don't think Kreisberg ever got the characters to the extent that Winick did.