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!