Friday, December 23, 2011

Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 Is A Very Hokey Execution Of A Very Cool Idea!

The Good: Good social message, Consistent artwork
The Bad: Very preachy, Very dated, Light on character development.
The Basics: Not quite unspeakably bad, Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 is a very dated collection of late 1970s/early 1980s Green Lantern comic books that have two heroes on a road trip in America.

I love works with a social message. I tend to get in trouble with my writing at work because I am far too political for the boss, who wants very much not to offend anyone in the world, apparently. So, it might seem like I would be biased in favor of Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1. However, no matter how honorable the intent, the execution of the good idea is so problematic as to be occasionally laughable. This is not what I expect when I sit down to read Green Lantern! And yet . . .

Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 is a collection of six Green Lantern comic books from the early 1980s. In it, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) travels the United States with Green Arrow and a Guardian who is disguised as a human. The entire purpose of the anthology is to present stories wherein Hal Jordan has something of a crisis of faith in being a superhero. He has taken the omnipotence of the Guardians as fact and when he inadvertently helps a slum lord against a bunch of poverty-stricken tenants, he is shaken to his core.

What follows in Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 is a series of vignette stories wherein Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Guardian, and for the latter half of the book Black Canary, travel through the poorest parts of the United States and expose the problems of the citizens there. They encounter corrupt mine owners who are disheartening the workers, they get into fights with biker gangs and discover a man who uses mind control to try to wipe out humanity. The group encounters a lot of native American Indians as well before they must journey to Oa for the Guardian to be punished for getting into human affairs.

What works in Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 is very simple. The message of the book is clear, concise and fair. The idea that we need super heroes to clean up the problems of this world is a decent one. The idea that a powerful being like Green Lantern might better be used to save humanity from itself is an intriguing one. The Green Arrow’s involvement actually works a little bit better in many of these chapters as he is more limited in his abilities, so his use of strength and smarts seems much more organic. Hal Jordan oscillates between seeming utterly ineffectual and overkill and as a result, plot conceits like the Guardians changing what his ring can and cannot do periodically seem more like plot-convenient devices than organic developments.

The artwork is also generally fine. The penciling by Neal Adams is competent and the characters consistently look like the people they are supposed to. There is a fair sense of movement within and between panels. Sadly, the coloring is not terribly rich and the fight sequences include a number of schlocky “comicky battle noises.” I swear, one of them actually says “Spock!” as a battle sound!

Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 suffers not because of the message, but because it is repetitive and there is no real character development. In Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1, Hal Jordan has an epiphany that sets him off on his journey around the impoverished United States. But, at every turn after that, he does not so much learn and grow as he reinforced his original theory: I should be doing more to help the people of Earth from their mundane troubles. That process is repeated over and over and over again until it is hard to care what happens to our heroes!

Ultimately, that is the undoing of Green Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1. You have a super-powered guy mundanely experiencing what he figures out in the book’s first few frames and surprisingly cool guy who just seems to have nothing better to do than pal around with him. This is not a book with big battles, it is a study of human suffering. While it’s an honorable exploration of it, it is not exactly what I was in the mood for. The result is that I cannot recommendGreen Lantern And Green Arrow Volume 1 to any readers.

For other classic graphic novel reviews, please be sure to visit my reviews of:
The Essential Daredevil Volume 1
Wonder Woman: Gods And Monsters


For other book reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

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