Monday, August 1, 2011

In A Small Corner Of The DC Universe, Oliver Queen Tries To Fit Into The Brightest Day: Green Arrow: Into The Woods!

The Good: Artwork, Moments of story.
The Bad: Character is stalled, Story is pretty mired.
The Basics: In Green Arrow: Into The Woods, Oliver Queen teams up with an unlikely ally to protect the forest in Star City, in a surprisingly mundane graphic novel.

Regular readers of my blog know that I am a pretty big fan of Brightest Day and the Blackest Night Sagas in the DC Universe. So far in the Brightest Day Saga, there has only been truly one volume that disappointed me. The rest have actually shown some creative thinking and a level of style I quite enjoy and could have sent the DC Universe in a pretty cool new direction, had they not decided to mire the Universe in Flashpoint alternate-universe stuff instead. With the impending DC Universe reboot, it is unclear whether or not the implications of the finale of Brightest Day will last, but for a while, it looked like a brave new conceptual day was dawning for the DC Universe.

And while it was happening, Oliver Queen - the Green Arrow - was stuck inside the forest in Star City. Such is the story of Green Arrow: Into The Woods and, frankly, it is an impossible-to-recommend Brightest Day tie-in. While others might be discovering Green Arrow as a result of shows like Smallville, my introduction to the character came from Justice (reviewed here!) which he had a decent supporting role in. But following the events of Blackest Night (reviewed here!), there seemed to be a quandary about what to do with Green Arrow and how to reboot his story. So, Green Arrow: Into The Woods anthologizes issues 1 - 7 of his new storyline and, sad to say to J.T. Krul, I don't care.

Following reading Green Arrow: Into The Woods, I read an interview with writer J.T. Krul and I actually thought he had a good concept for the story of Green Arrow that he was trying to write. Unfortunately, I didn't see the same spark in the actual text. Green Arrow: Into The Woods is supposed to be a story of renewal and rebirth, both in a literal sense for Star City and the forest that has sprouted there and in a metaphorical sense for Oliver Queen, who is struggling to find his purpose in the world. But the book doesn't land it; Oliver Queen's story meanders and it feels like a feeble crossover attempt while diluting a main story that is not nearly as audacious as it could be.

Oliver Queen is living in the Star City forest, which seems to be a well-known enough fact that a young woman who is being assailed by a rape mob knows to flee to the forest, as opposed to calling the police. There Green Arrow comes to her aid and, somewhat darkly, lets the forest decide if the villains will live or die as he leads the young woman to safety. With the Star City police commissioner killed and other local politicians ending up in the crosshairs, Green Arrow seems out-of-the way in the forest, though he claims to still be looking out for Star City.

While Green Arrow protects those proximate to the forest, Queen Industries is taken over by a new figure, a woman calling herself the Queen and ruling the company like a fiefdom. While Oliver begins to investigate her, he is hampered by a sidekick, Galahad, a man who actually believes he is an Arthurian knight. As Oliver reflects with Galahad and deals with such things as an arrow through the center of his skull, the Queen makes her move on both Queen Industries and Green Arrow.

Green Arrow: Into The Woods just doesn't work. The story meanders and it comes to abrupt stops periodically for no other reason than to crossover with more important Brightest Day occurrences. So, Oliver Queen is suddenly menaced by The Queen and the narrative stops while Green Lantern makes his visit to the Star City forest, imparting only the information that his power ring doesn't work there. After that otherwise pointless conflict, Green Arrow wanders with Galahad and is shot through the head. But just as he is learning something about himself in the wake of his miraculous resurrection, the Martian Manhunter appears for his cameo. Those crossovers are relevant to the Brightest Day aspect of the story, but otherwise stand out in the volume like blatant advertisements for something else. It simply does not work.

As for the climax, wherein Green Arrow and the Queen have something of a reckoning as Green Arrow is charged with making sure the White Lanterns fail in their mission and then a truth is revealed to Oliver . . . meh. Yup, that's another professional term: meh. It didn't land it.

Most of the artwork, by Diogenes Neves, is good. The colors are rich and the book has some well-detailed panels. But some of the angles are chaotic and the frames do not always have a logical flow, making the book harder to follow in several places than it needs to be. The result is that Green Arrow: Into The Woods doesn't seem like much of a story; instead it feels like a portion of a character's story and it does not connect to the larger story in a satisfying way, nor does it distinguish itself on its own.

For other Brightest Day works, please check out my reviews of:
Brightest Day - Volume 1
Brightest Day - Volume 2
Brightest Day - Volume 3
Brightest Day: Green Lantern
Brightest Day: Green Lantern Corps - Revolt Of The Alpha-Lanterns
The Black Ring - Volume 1


For other book reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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