Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Green Arrow (vol.2) #28 (1990)

Green Arrow (vol.2) #28 (January, 1990)
Writer - Mike Grell
Penciller - Dan Jurgens
Inks - Dick Giordano & Frank McLaughlin
Letterer - John Costanza
Colorist - Julia Lacquement
Assistant Editor - Katie Main
Editor - Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.25

Well, we couldn't just leave it with Ollie and Travis having their first face-to-face, could we?

We rejoin the Dual Van Dyke Show... already in progress.


We open with that group of nogoodniks from last issue, that one dude is annoyed that his jerk-in-law Benny was shot by an arrow... mostly, because he's going to have to explain the whole thing to his sister.  His toadies still ain't sure that they were messing with the right guy, however, by this point... that ship has already sailed.  We shift scenes over to Sherwood and pick up right where we left off... Morgan just socked Ollie for making dudes with highly groomed facial hair personas non gratas in the city of Seattle.

Well, now ya done it Travis... ya woke up Dinah.  He gives her the ol' "get thine behind back to the kitchen", and gets his own face smashed for his troubles.

Morgan realizes he dun goofed, and humbly apologizes to the lady of the house.  He and Ollie then admire one another's looks... but it isn't long before they start noting some unflattering differences between themselves.  Ollie suggests that they're around the same age, which gives the Warlord a pretty hearty chuckle.

Dinah puts on a pot of coffee, and they sit around to become acquainted.  Travis sorta-kinda shares his secret origin... shot down over Russia twenty years ago... but doesn't go all that much deeper than that.  He laments some of the changes the world has undergone while he's been "away"... and also, some of the things that have stayed the same... ie. people fighting over nothing.  Preach it, brother Morgan.

Back with the baddies, Benny's brother-in-law has assembled just the goofiest-looking bunch of "heavies" to commence with his vengeance operation.  He sends a few off to jam up the power grid... and the others, well... there's a reason this issue is titled "Siege".

Back at Sherwood, we get a little (thankfully even-handed) political commentary from Travis.  Looks like he's not a fan of Ted Kennedy nor Ronald Reagan.  There's some subtlety we'd be missing out on if this book came out in "current year".  No "team sports" politics for the ol' Warlord.

Across town, the power grid gets kaboomed.

And the effects are felt at Sherwood.

It isn't long before the streets of Seattle are filled with Benny's Bro's riot squad.  The rest of the squad heads to Ollie and Dinah's for the siege.

Back at Sherwood, Travis takes a moment to appreciate the dark... since, ya know... it's always light in Skartaris.  Ollie and Dinah don't really get his meaning when he tries to explain it though.  After they sit down for another cup of coffee... they are alerted by one of Benny's Bro's goofballs kicking over a garbage can.  What a jerk.

Ollie and Dinah prepare for a fight... and are surprised when their house guest brandishes his firearm and readies himself to join in.

Over the next several pages, Benny's Bro's... bros try in earnest to get inside Sherwood Florist... including firing a rocket launcher into it!

Lotsa fighting goes down... depleting Ollie of his arrows and Dinah of her bullets.  The pair are then shocked to see the Warlord in all his glory, taking care of business... and carvin' baddies up with abandon.

Then, Travis finds himself in a familiar position... facing down an oncoming car!  Note to self:  Never play chicken with Travis Morgan.

When the dust (and blood) settles, Travis figures he oughta git, while the gittin' is good... but not before finding out if Gilligan ever got off that blasted island.  I think a better question would've been... did the Skipper and the Gang ever come to their senses, and kill Gilligan?


Another solid outing!

I touched on this the other day, but this book is such a great example of being "Suggested for Mature Readers" that actually treats those readers as being mature.  Presenting topics and concepts, not taking a side... and letting the reader decide how they feel.

Whether it's something like gun violence, or... like today, politics.  Travis Morgan, a fella who's been "off the grid" for awhile, has some choice words about both a high-ranking Republican and a high-ranking Democrat.  Not lifting one over the other... and handling neither more harshly.

In "current year" our comics are so full of political platforms... and usually come with the subtlety of a hammer to the skull.  It's just so refreshing to see something like this.  It doesn't treat the reader like an uneducated sheep who need-to-be-learned... and understands that folks come from all sides.  Sadly, that wouldn't fly today.

Speaking of "not flying today"... Trav gives Dinah the ol' "Back to the kitchen, you!"  Which, c'mon, is low-hanging fruit... but, when we look at a fella like Morgan... who was born in the 1920's and has been away during much of the Women's Liberation movement... it makes sense for him to have certain views.  Plus, he gets a sock-o to the mush for it... so, maybe we can just assume that he's a "quick learner".

The siege of Sherwood Florist is handled very well... and goes to show just how lucky Ollie and Dinah were to have their very special house guest.  I'm not as fluent in "Warlord" as some so I can't say just how "novel" this is, but I gotta say... it was cool seeing him swing his sword in a "real world" setting.

I also gotta say... Ollie and Travis "sizing each other up" really cracked me up.  Possibly because I'm pretty sure they both have the same "voice" in my head.  Either way, these bits were a ton of fun.

Dan Jurgens provides some wonderful art... which comes as no surprise.  The whole package is just top-tier.  If you haven't checked out any "Grell Arrow", I highly recommend you do!


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Monday, July 30, 2018

Green Arrow (vol.2) #27 (1989)

Green Arrow (vol.2) #27 (December, 1989)
Writer - Mike Grell
Penciller - Dan Jurgens
Inks - Dick Giordano & Frank McLaughlin
Colors - Julia Lacquement
Letters - John Costanza
Assistant Editor - Katie Main
Editor - Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.25

I am a lazy man at times.  While I'm still very much in a Green Arrow mood, part of me is certain that we're doing a fourth day in a row on the Emerald Archer simply because the box is still sitting in front of me.

Well, whatever the reason... I think we're in for another treat!

It's the Dual Van Dyke Show!


We open at some dive bar near the pier in Seattle.  A fellow with a really bad mohawk approaches a shadowy man with some very familiar facial hair.  I'm not sure I'll be able to "keep up" not knowing who this "shadowy man" actually is, but we'll do our best.  The punk brandishes a blade, however, the stranger quickly makes the fella realize his folly.

Back at Sherwood Florist, Ollie returns from a night-out, and gets bandaged up by Dinah.  They talk about how good Dinah's getting at wrapping... which is clearly an indictment on just how long Oliver's been at this vigilante-ing.  I'll try not to go on (and on) about how neat it is to see one of our heroes actually age... just more of that "history" DC so callously flushed.  Anyhoo, Ollie and Dinah head downstairs.

Elsewhere, our shadowy man is approached by a prostitute.  He declines the offer, but thinks to himself that Seattle is a lot friendlier a town than he thought.  It's pretty funny.  The lady of the evening, however, doesn't take kindly to the rejection and thinks some choice words to herself (which I won't include here).

We follow the shadowy man, as he turns down an alley.  He finds out just how friendly this town is, when he walks right into a street gang... who he scares off with the quickness.

Back at Sherwood, Dinah and Ollie spar... then make out.  Just another night in for these two!

Back to the shadowy man... as we walks across a bridge.  He is approached by some "connected" looking fellas, who have a message for him.  They throw an arrow at him... and accuse him of offing some "worm" named Benny.

They're here to kill the shadowy man... however, give him the option of just throwing himself off of the bridge.  There is some doubt, however, that they got the "right guy" here... but c'mon... how many people in this town have such a stunning Van Dyke beard?

Our man ain't havin' none of this... and so, he chucks the arrow he was tossed right through one'a the wise guys' throats!

Then... a bolt of lightning illuminates the sky... and we can finally see who we've been following this whole time.  Could it... nah, it couldn't be... (c'mon, play along).

One of the baddies the hops in his car and attempts to just run Travis over!  Our man just calmly stands there... draws his pistol... and shoots the car.  It's pretty great.  Morgan tells the fella that it's time for a chat.

We jump ahead... back to Sherwood, where Ollie is awakened by a knocking at the door.  Ollie is shocked... bamboozled even, when he answers the door and sees... well, a dude who looks just like him!

He's even more shocked by the "message" he has for him!


Another super fun issue... that kinda pokes fun at some of Mike Grell's protagonists having a certain similar "look".

I love that Ollie is so notorious around the city that, just bearing a passing resemblance to him might get your block knocked off... that is, of course, if you aren't Travis Morgan... the Warlord.

The streets of Seattle... yikes.  Having just returned from a trip there myself, it wasn't the... cleanest, or most visitor-friendly of cities... but, it wasn't anything like this.  Then again, I suppose the 1980's were a long time ago indeed.

The Dinah and Ollie scenes, as we've come to expect, were very very strong.  I'm fighting the urge to go all "Chris" on ya here... but, it's just more of those connections and relationships that were tossed to the wayside for a twitter bump, and television show synergy... but weren't/aren't reflected in long-term sales gains.

Anyhoo... not all that much more to say about this issue.  It's setting the table for what's to come next.  It was really funny to have Ollie and Travis face-to-face.  I'm sure readers at the time were pretty gobsmacked!

Overall... fun issue, and certainly worth your time!  Some great early-ish Dan Jurgens art here.  It's crazy to imagine that he's like two and a half years away from killing Superman at this point!  This issue by it's lonesome isn't available digitally yet, however the collected edition it's a part of is!


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Sunday, July 29, 2018

Green Arrow (vol.2) #20 (1989)

Green Arrow (vol.2) #20 (July, 1989)
"The Trial of Oliver Queen, Part II"
Writer - Mike Grell
Penciller - Ed Hannigan
Inkers - Dick Giordano & Frank McLaughlin
Letterer - John Costanza
Colorist - Julia Lacquement
Associate Editor - Brian Augustyn
Editor - Mike Gold
Cover Price: $1.25

Well, if it wasn't clear from the past few entries here, my Green Arrow longbox is still at the ready.  So, let's take a look back at an issue from the Grell run!


We open in the squad room of the Police Department.  A pair of officers, Egan and Stankowski are getting razzed because the former didn't fire at a believed-to-be armed kid, and had to be saved by "Robin Hood".  Turns out the kid's firearm only shot paint pellets... but, in the heat of the moment, who knows?  The younger Stankowski doesn't really pay any mind to the razzing, and is fine with Egan remaining his partner.

We shift scenes to what went down earlier.  Egan takes a couple of shots at the armed fella... who has already pulled the trigger a couple of times himself.  Oliver is looking on, and wastes no time firing an arrow into the perp's heart.  When they unmask him, they realize it's only a child.  Also, as mentioned, he was firing paint pellets.  Not the smartest thing to do.

The scene progresses to Oliver stood before a judge.  All things considered, he isn't found guilty of breaking any laws... however, the judge clearly isn't keen on vigilante justice... and if he had his way, he'd eradicate every last one of 'em.

This recap was, in actuality, Ollie experiencing a nightmare... which is a helluva good way to drop a bunch of exposition without it looking forced!  Ollie wakes up... at a campsite up on Mount Rainier?

He is soon joined by his hard-travelin' homeboy, Hal Jordan... fresh from a successful trout fishing expedition.  Ollie's confused... but it's pretty clear to us that Hal brought him here to think... and dry out.  He's been hittin' the bottle pretty hard since the paintball kid situation... and Hal (and Dinah) thought it would be best to move Ollie as far away from temptation as possible.  Hal reveals that they're going to be stuck up on Rainier until Saturday.  Ollie thinks that's five days from now... but Hal informs him that he'd already been "gone" for two.

Ollie's still beside himself for killing the paintball kid.  Hal attempts to reason with him... after all, had that been a real gun, Officer Egan would have been killed.  Ollie won't let himself think that way... won't allow himself to... forgive himself.  He blames his very presence there for the event that occurred... and, I mean... being a fella with a ton of Catholic guilt myself, I kinda see where he's coming from!

The discussion continues... and grows more contentious with each panel.  This is really some amazing stuff.  Hal gets on Ollie for all the hard-travelin' guilt-trips he' laid on him over the years... it's really some excellent "in your face" stuff!

Hal tries to get it through Ollie's head that he's only human... and humans make mistakes.  Sometimes they're earnest mistakes... other times, they're a result of being at the wrong place at the wrong time and making a snap decision.  Hal then rides him a bit about crawling into a bottle instead of dealing with his feelings.

Which leads to...

Several pages of best friends beating the holy hell out of one another follow... and lemme tell ya, this is some excellent stuff.  You can feel their frustration being taken out on one-another... the only thing missing were some tears... because, you just know their eyes weren't dry during this bit.  Finally, Ollie gets in Hal's face and asks him just what he wants.  To which...

Ollie helps Hal to his feet... and the two pals hug it out.

Back in the city, Egan and Stankowski are called in to stop some gang activity.  A young perp makes a run for it... when caught, he pulls a gun.  This time, Egan is too slow to fire... and winds up getting shot himself!  Stankowski shoots the young gangbanger.

Later, at the hospital... Ollie visits with Officer Egan, and they have a... I dunno, uncomfortable (?) chat.  I mean, these two shared a pretty huge experience with the paintball kid... but, you gotta wonder how much they might blame one another for how things went down.  Egan missed with his shot, which forced Ollie's hand... and Ollie shot the kid, who only had a paintball gun... in a way, leaving blood on both their hands.

As Egan lay dying, Ollie monologues a bit about "justice".  He isn't quite "Crying for" it... but, he makes it clear that "his kind" (that is to say, vigilantes) are here to stay... because, without them... justice might go unserved.  Egan flatlines.

We wrap up with Ollie returning home... dumping his last bottle down the drain, an making nice with Dinah.


Well, well, well... what an amazing read.

Not to go all "Chris" on ya, but... I don't know how any comics fan could read this... and not be absolutely devastated at the fact that DC Comics decided to flush their entire history in 2011.  I mean, this is just so solid... and heartfelt.  This is the "history" the industry has tried so hard to run away from.  The very foundation of the line... just gone, chasing some short-term gains, and a "twitter bump".

Okay, "Chris-ness" over.  This issue.  Man-o-man!

It's no surprise at this point, I'm sure, but I absolutely loved it.  It's probably been... nearing in on a decade since I last read through the Grell run (I wanna say it was Summer, 2010)... and, I was actually  a bit taken aback at how wonderful this one was.

Let's get the "heavy" stuff out of the way.  The shooting bit.  It's a "hot button issue", then and now.  A situation where both sides of the argument feel passionately about their stance... and very few budge.  I'm of the mind of... I haven't the foggiest idea what I'd do in that situation... I'm just glad I've never been there!

I mean, this is some heavy-duty stuff... and, I'm a bit surprised that this issue was able to brush up against it, and really... not take a side.  This isn't a "platform piece" for either end of the argument... it just presents it, and allows the reader to decide.  The true hallmark of a "Suggested for Mature Readers" title... treating it's readers as "mature" and capable of making up their own minds.

Now... Hal and Ollie.  What a wonderful scene this was.  These two are like brothers... been (literally) up and down the road together for years.  They share a bond... and truly care for one another.  Hal sees his buddy's in trouble, and drops everything to be with him and see him through the other end.

The fight... almost perfect.  Like I said during the synopsis... it needed tears.  If you've ever been in a fight with a close friend or brother... I mean, the tears usually flow before (and after) the blood.  I feel like that would've added so much to this scene... and, it's really the only negative I have.

We sometimes hear about "risks" in comics.  Whether it's introducing a new character, killing and/or replacing an existing character... ya know, stuff that might get Marvel or DC five-seconds of "legitimate" press coverage.  You wanna talk risk?  Look no further than this issue.  Ollie killed a kid.  I mean, that happened.  That is risk.  Looking back, I'm actually finding it hard to wrap my head around DC ever green-lighting something like this.

Worth noting... one of those "say what now?" revelations I think much of the comics internet had several years back was the fact that Grell only used the name "Green Arrow" like once or twice throughout the run.  It's wild to consider... but, it's true!  Seeing "Hal" here and not "Green Lantern" chatting up his pal "Ollie" and not "Green Arrow"... I mean, how cool is it that this happened, and nobody seemed to realize it?

Gotta give a mention to my pals Ruth and Darrin, who covered this issue (and the one before it) in Warlord Worlds, Episode 11 (from November 6, 2016)... I highly recommend you check that out, and stick around for their other great shows!

Overall... yeah, buy this... read this... love this.  They don't make mainstream comics like this anymore.  This single-issue has not been made available digitally yet, however, the trade collection including it has!  If you're like me, and the thought of reading (and enjoying) digital comics makes your teeth itch, you can nab the trade in physical form too!


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