Review: Green Arrow: The Road to Jericho trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, April 07, 2008

I wouldn't have believed it, but it's true: in Green Arrow: Road to Jericho, Judd Winick made me believe Green Arrow should marry Black Canary.

My reaction, upon hearing news of their nuptials, was probably much the same as most. Green Arrow is a well-meaning but womanizing character who's never treated Black Canary right, even after his death and resurrection; Black Canary is an oft-maligned heroine finally moving past Green Arrow and coming in to her own -- and now writer Judd Winick is making what seems like a fairly regressive move by having the two marry. How on Earth could this possibly work?

It works.

In a style similar to Winick's One Year Later tale Outsiders: Pay as You Go, Winick begins by flashing back to Green Arrow's actions during the missing year -- that is, waking up on a desert island after being sorely beaten by the villain Merlyn; training with his partners for a few months; and running for mayor of Star City. In and of itself, this is a mildly interesting -- if not, as with Outsiders, slightly redundant -- look back at Green Arrow's time during 52.

It's only later that the reader understands that Green Arrow's lack of female companionship during the missing year is not for lack of opportunity, but for lack of interest -- the reborn Oliver Queen is now determined to "save himself" (as he puts it) for Dinah Lance. All of this is revealed in a sweet (if over the top. 40 hours, really?) sequence where Dinah comes to realize that Oliver is a changed man, and thus now deserving of her love.

What Winick's done is what we used to call in the old country "a neat trick" -- "the changed man" gambit. Given that, after Green Arrow's death and resurrection, even Winick himself wrote a plotline where Oliver cheated on Dinah, there was no way this Green Arrow could ever marry this Black Canary, Winick was left with no choice but to kill Green Arrow again. Not literally, of course (even comics fans have their limits), but figuratively through Green Arrow's One Year Later rebirth, Oliver could return "a changed man," one suddenly deserving of Dinah.

It's flimsy, to be sure. Green Arrow ends up with all of the character growth in only about half the development time, but Winick includes enough sentimental scenes between the two to be convincing. "How," one might ask, "can Black Canary marry Green Arrow?" "Well," comes the reply, "he's a changed man."

I was, I'd mention, slightly less impressed with Winick's other changes to Green Arrow. After this year away, Green Arrow is now a master martial artist. I guess one can never have too many of those, but between Batman, Black Canary, and the like, it just doesn't seem "Green Arrow-ish" -- he's never been a martial arts kind of guy. Ditto for the giant sword Winick's saddled Oliver with; supposedly Robin Hood carried a sword, too, but to me it suggests that maybe Green Arrow's arrows aren't enough. If I want swords, I think, I'd read something with Katana in it; Green Arrow should carry arrows.

The second half of Road to Jericho deals with Green Arrow's battle with -- at various points -- Brick, the Red Hood, Merlyn, Constantine Drakon, and Deathstroke. It's a lot of villains, and the plot -- one villain covering for the next covering for a third -- is a little wobbly; I quit trying to make sense of it about half-way through and just enjoyed the ride.

And between the do-or-die action, the Green Arrow/Black Canary romance, some DCU cameos and a surprise ending, it is an entertaining ride. Though there's some good political commentary, this a mostly thinking-lite trade, but an entertaining one nonetheless. This is not the Green Arrow title at its highest point, but it does seem a fitting end to the series (picked up, of course, in the new Green Arrow/Black Canary series).

[Contains full covers.]

On back now to the Bat-verse for a bit, and then we'll see what else is waiting for us on the collections shelf.
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3 comments:

  1. I'm still trying to figure out how Green Arrow's recuperation and time on the island in his own title reconciles with his appearances in 52. Any help?

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  2. Yes, actually! :) I was just thinking about this.

    I'm pretty sure Green Arrow's on the island first, and then there's a scene in the trade where he leaves for the states with the intention of running for mayor, and then I think 52 picks up from there.

    Thanks for asking!

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  3. In my opinion, this is the worst story arc that Juss Winnick wrote... but that's just me! And the art is simply terrible... to rushed, no detail...

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