Review: Green Arrow - Crawling Through the Wreckage trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 22, 2007

After leaving Green Arrow seemingly dead before DC Comic's Infinite Crisis crossover, Judd Winick resurrects the often counter-culture hero in Crawling Through the Wreckage as a mainstream politician--the new mayor of Star City. While the unexpected turn for the character is interesting and the book is well-written overall, there's a sense that Winick's trying to accomplish too much with the character. From defeating the super-villain Deathstroke to officiating over gay marriages, Judd Winick's Green Arrow may be a bit more rejuvenated than necessary.

Winick picks up the story one year after explosions leveled half of Star City, and he paints the situation with shades of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. While another voice decrying the New Orleans situation is welcome, Winick's parallels are considerably more heavy-handed than writer Geoff Johns' comparison of Coast City to New Orleans in Green Lantern, and Johns use of the city-as-metaphor predates Winick's by at least a year. Johns, as well, ties fear of starting over into the character of his protagonist, whereas Green Arrow's fight against his city's poverty feels more incidental than personal. As mayor of the city, Green Arrow fights the poverty without actually living in it.

Winick has Oliver Queen perform gay marriages as mayor, and while the political implications are potentially interesting, the move seems more to stir controversy than having any real tie to Winick's story. In fact, Winick stages a faux television argument over the marriages later in the story perhaps again to draw attention to the issue, but the disconnect with the main Green Arrow story is so great that the marriages plot feels tacked-on. The Green Arrow character has always had a component of social activism, and Winick's portrayal of Green Arrow as advocating gay rights is a welcome modernization of Green Arrow's politics, but as with Star City's plight, Winick fails to give the issue real weight.

As with many other of DC Comic's post-Infinite Crisis One Year Later stories, Crawling Through the Wreckage is something of a second origin for Green Arrow, but Winick's story raises the character beyond credibility. Winick writes a furious battle between Green Arrow and Deathstroke, where Arrow is finally able to put the villain in jail when Batman, Nightwing, and many others couldn't. In the previous Green Arrow trade paperback, Heading into the Light, Green Arrow fought Dr. Light, one of the main villains of DC's recent Identity Crisis series, and though Arrow and Light barely have a history, Winick wrote Light as especially focused on Arrow, perhaps raising Green Arrow's cache along with Dr. Light's own. Here Winick seems to be attempting the same thing, letting Arrow trump any of a number of other heroes. In both politics and crime-fighting, Winick attempts to make Green Arrow the everyman, and instead makes him hard to believe.

To be sure, Winick writes an enjoyable Green Arrow, and superhero fans will find a lot to love in this volume. When reading it, however, it helps to imagine Green Arrow as the only hero around--what Winick has written here is the ultimate Green Arrow story, bordering on the obsessive.

[Contains full covers. Thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who noticed that this was originally posted as Green Arrow: Crawling FROM the Wreckage -- the actual book says "through," though this is wrong on DCComics.com and Amazon, among others.]
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2 comments:

  1. Great reveiw. I enjoyed this TP as well. One thing though, I won't spoil the story as its obvious from your comment about Ollie defeating Deathstroke when Nightwing and others didn't that you haven't had a chance to read the story arcs following this tp, but there is more to Slades deafeat then there appears to be and it does make sense later on how Ollie was able to 'defeat' him.

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  2. Hey, thanks for the comment. No, as you can tell, I haven't read the following issues, but I will be pre-ordering Green Arrow: Road to Jericho. Stop back here after it comes out, and let me know what you thought of it. Thanks!

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