PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: JUNE 29TH, 2021
REVIEWER: ROLLO TOMASI
The 100-page Spectacular has ten stories with old and new creative teams to Green Arrow. Like all anthology books the quality of stories is going to vary. Some hits and some misses. Happily here, the hits far exceed the misses. In fact, there are really no misses here. For the sake of time I’ll be covering, in no particular order, my favorite stories from this special. These stories alone are worth the (admirably not cheap) price of admission.
“Tap, Tap, Tap”
Writer: Larry O’Neil
Artist: Jorge Fornes
The last story in the special is also the best and most emotional. Yet, it’s not even about Green Arrow. Written by the son of the late great Denny O’Neil, it is a quick story covering Denny’s life and love of comics. From childhood until his deathbed, Denny was one of the biggest influences on the evolution of Green Arrow as a character. He defined Ollie’s more “radical” social political attitudes. Moreover, Fornes continues to be one of the best new artists in comics. The story is wordless except the cleaver use of illustrated word balloons. This story alone deserves an Eisner nomination for best short story.
“The Disappearing Bandit”
Writer: Marinko Tamaki
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
This story takes place in the Golden Age era of Green Arrow.. Golden age Green Arrow was really just a Batman knock off. It would be decades before other creators developed his distinctive voice. This story steers head first right into that comparison. Partnered with his side kick Speedy, it looks and feels like an episode of the old Batman 66 TV show. And, it’s a lot of fun. Rodriguez’s art does a great job of giving the story its campy look. His attention to detail in outlining Green Arrow’s various types of trick arrows will make you want to do a reread just for the art.
“…Just the Usual Sort of Stuff”
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Mike Grell
After Denny O’Neil, Mike Grell may be the biggest influence on Green Arrow’s evolution. In the 1980’s his Longbow Hunters mini series and following long run on the first Green Arrow ongoing series redefined the character as more an Urban Hunter. Gone were the trick arrows and replaced by more traditional pointy arrows. The Arrow TV took alot from this version of the character. And full disclosure, this is my favorite run for the character.
This story features Green Arrow and Grell creation Shado (think Daredevil’s Elektra but more polite) taking down human traffickers. Grell doing both the writing and the art shows he hasn’t lost a step in either area. If you desire A more grounded Green Arrow story this is one you’re want to check out.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Nicola Scott
Still set in the early days of Green Arrow, this story has Ollie taking boxing lessons from long time superhero/ boxing trainer Ted Grant AKA Wildcat. While Green Arrow doesn’t really think he needs to learn to fight because he can just fire arrows from a distance, he participates in the training to impress his future girlfriend Dinah Lance AKA The Black Canary. Tom Taylor has written Green Arrow previously in his Injustice: Gods Among Us and DCeased series. He has a great grasp of Ollie’s voice. When DC eventually launches another Green Arrow series they really need to make Taylor the writer. There is a nice exchange between Green Arrow and Batman that pokes fun at Green Arrow’s golden age roots. The story concludes with a great origin for one of his most famous trick arrows. Additionally, Scott’s art is beautiful to look at. She gives each character a distinctive look.
“Star City Star”
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Phil Hester
Back in the early 2000’s, Oliver Queen was dead. Of course that was only temporary. Phil Hester drew the Kevin Smith acclaimed story that brought Ollie back to life and as Green Arrow again. Hester would go on to write his own Green Arrow stories. The story here takes place during this early 2000s time. When Green Arrow was protecting Star City and was back to more a super-hero than the Grell urban hunter. This story shows Green Arrow trying to save a young girl and along the way we get to see the many side kicks and partners Green Arrow had during this period. As the series at that time was very focused on expanding the “Arrow” family. This was a great period of Arrow history that Hester does a nice job of bringing back here. This story makes me want to binge read that early 2000s series again!
The Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular is worth the admittedly not cheap cover price. As with most anthologies, not every story is going to be a winner. The good news here is that while I focused on just 5 of the 10 stories included, even the other 5 not discussed are worth reading. Personally, I’d give Tap.Tap.Tap alone a 10/10. Nevertheless, overall the issue gets a …