Green Arrow: A ComiConversation with Mitch and Sam
February 16th, 2016 | by Sam McCoy
ComiConverse contributors Mitch Nissen and Sam McCoy have been friends since the late 90’s, when they used to work in the cornfields together. Reading comics and watching movies were the foundation of their friendship that has lasted all these years, despite the fact they haven’t lived near one another for years. Mitch was a Marvel guy through and through when Sam came along with his Batman and the rest of the Justice League. Over the years they’ve shared some of their favorite stories with one another. Today, they’re ComiConversing about Green Arrow.
This month’s reading for Mitch:
Green Arrow Vol. 3 #1-15
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Written by Kevin Smith. Art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks.
Sam’s History with Kevin Smith’s Green Arrow
This book came at a very important time in my relationship with comics. It had been a few years at this point since the local comic book shop in the town I grew up in had closed, and I wasn’t yet old enough to drive. This was a comic drought for me. Aside from going in and picking up the random group of comics during the time, my comic buying was pretty infrequent, with maybe the exception of Grant Morrison’s Justice League of America. Now this book came out when I was 15 and I was traveling more where comics were available, with friends who had drivers’ licenses. A few years earlier I had also discovered the films of Kevin Smith, when a friend’s older sister said we should watch Clerks because “Sam likes Star Wars.” The films of Smith in the 90’s had a great effect on me.
So it was with great excitement that I saw Kevin’s name on a DC comic. I had read about his work on Daredevil in Wizard, but I hadn’t developed my full-on man-crush on ol’ Horn-Head yet, so that didn’t grab my attention. But this comic made me fall in love with comics all over again. Everything about this book is just wonderful in my book. I own exactly two pieces of original pages and one of them is from this run and is currently on the wall of my writing room. Heck, at one point I even did an interview with artist Phil Hester and inker Ande Parks about this run (and some other stuff, but this run is what I wanted to talk about).
Up to this point my Green Arrow had been for the most part Connor Hawke, it’s what Morrison had used and he was my Green Arrow for the most part so I went in with a pretty blank slate on Ollie. This book made me love Oliver Queen, a character I would read religiously for years after this until the New 52 gave us a, uh, different take on the Green Arrow. Although to be fair, the Jeff Lemire run, while short, is a very good read. I only wished that he had stayed on the book for longer.
I think Mitch will enjoy this book, as I think it does a good job establishing the character. It also delves into the supernatural side of the DC Universe. It’s full of characters he’s pretty unfamiliar with, but I think he would enjoy, like Etrigan and the Spectre. I know he’s a fan of those kinds of characters so I hope that he likes them.
Mitch’s History with Green Arrow
To put it simply, zilch. I know of him from what I’ve seen in television shows such as Young Justice and Justice League Unlimited. I have not yet succumbed to the television series Arrow. My comic book encounters with Oliver Queen have been brief appearances in Teen Titans. That’s it. I know Roy Harper quite a bit more than good ol’ Ollie. If I know Green Arrow it’s through associations with Arsenal and Speedy.
What am I expecting? It’s Kevin Smith. It’s going to be good. I’ve enjoyed Smith’s films for quite some time and expect to see at the very least entertaining dialog and character interactions.
Mitch: I liked it quite a bit. They don’t write stories like this any more, and I miss that. Comic books are sagas and I love that this story is so steeped in continuity. Comic books today, sadly, are moving away from continuity-heavy stories. Kevin Smith referenced stories from thirty years past, and even touched on earlier stories too, and how the character was back in the 1940s and so on. It makes the story richer and carry far more weight. Having said that, there was a lot I had to take on faith, and a lot I had to just go with, seeing as I’ve never read a Green Arrow story before in my life.
Sam: This was really my first major exposure to Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow too. What’s fun is that Brad Meltzer wrote the run after this and did a very similar thing. Green Arrow of this time was a very high quality book. Let’s kind of break this up a bit as what you read was really two stories: “Quiver” and “Sounds of Violence”. I was thinking “Quiver” would definitely be right up your alley, with its basis in the occult and supernatural which is stuff you like in Marvel.
Mitch: It didn’t so much feel as a Green Arrow story to me but rather an event spanning most of the DC universe. It begins with Green Arrow dead, the sun dying, and Batman and Superman waiting for the world to end. Then we jump ahead and Ollie is back. There seemed to be guest stars galore too. Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and the whole Justice League have their individual moments with Ollie. Then there’s Etrigan who I now am really interested in. Plus Hal Jordan and Deadman and the list goes on.
Sam: The sun dying is from a mini called Final Night that was an event. What drew you to Etrigan? Because this is the book that made me a fan too.
Mitch: The duality of characters is something I’ve long found interesting. It reminded me so much of my top two favorite characters: Hulk and Ghost Rider. The demonic origins of the character are intriguing, in that he seems to be fighting against Hell and demons. It’s a conflict against his nature and I find that very compelling about a character. I was also shocked by how dark much of the subject matter was. The sex was verbally explicit and the violence and satanic themes were intense. I love the supernatural aspect of the story too (as of course I would).
Sam: At some point I will have to have you read the Alan Moore Swamp Thing run, as it is the best depiction of Etrigan and those types of stories I’ve ever really read. And one of probably my top ten comic runs of all time. Were there any characters you had preconceived notions of that this comic helped to change?
Mitch: I had a fairly good sense of most of the characters appearing here from my other readings. I guess Etrigan was the character I knew the least about. I didn’t realize Oliver was so liberal in his views which I thought was interesting. Green Arrow I had pegged as a street level hero similar to Batman or Daredevil and for the most part he delivered on those qualities.
Sam: To my knowledge, the liberal viewpoint mainly came around due to the era of the Hard Traveling Heroes when Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams were writing Green Arrow/Green Lantern in 1970.
Mitch: The Kevin Smith-isms were quite fun too. The Jaws quotes and the Ben Affleck name drop were signature Smith.
Sam: Stanley and his Monster was also a great pull from DC history as that those characters had been around in the 60’s and had largely disappeared except for a brief miniseries in the early 90’s. Also, I’d just like to add that I actually own one of the original art pages from this run.
Mitch: Stanley was quite disturbing. I was shocked by the detail Smith went into about the Satanic history of the character. I was also surprised that Stanley was the character Smith decided to go with against Green Arrow.
Sam: Now let’s move on to the other story in the run, “Sounds of Violence”, which was Smith adding to the Green Arrow mythology with a brand new villain: Onomatopoeia.
Mitch: Onomatopoeia was scary. Holy cow! It felt like I was finally reading a Green Arrow story in those last three issues. Up until then it felt more like a DC universe or Justice League story.
Sam: I’ve always thought the sequence with the hero known as Buckeye to be particularly frightening.
Mitch: It was. Very cool stuff. The hospital scene in particular affected me.
Sam: The hospital stuff is some of the best stuff in the entire run. Now largely we’ve been talking about Smith’s contributions.
Mitch: Those last three issues were street level heroics at their best.
Sam: What did you think of the art by Phil Hester and inked by Ande Parks?
Mitch: As far as the art goes, it seemed a little too bright and colorful for the tone of the story. The splash pages were very nice, but then some of the other panels seemed a bit drab by comparison. Hester’s art worked, but I felt there may have been a more appropriate artist. It also seemed a bit inconsistent in spots — Mia in particular. In the first half of the book, she looks like she’s in her early thirties, and I actually thought she was Black Canary in that first issue with her. Then I find out she’s fifteen?! Later in the book she looks fifteen but then bounces back and forth between the two ages.
That’s one of the reasons why I was so shocked by the darkness of the story. From the art, I thought I would be reading a somewhat lighter story — not a goofy story, but not one so dark.
Sam: I think that juxtaposition helps the book a lot.
Mitch: I do know that you are quite the advocate of Phil Hester’s work. And it is quality art, let me make that clear. The darker depths of the story I felt weren’t entirely met by the art in some cases. In the end though I felt it worked.
Sam: He’s a super nice guy and a Midwest guy so I have to respect that. And he got his big company start doing Swamp Thing stuff.
One last thing about Onomatopoeia. Smith would actually bring him back for two Batman miniseries; Cacophony and then Widening Gyre. Cacophony was pretty forgettable but Widening Gyre is good. Sadly, it will never be finished as the New 52 came around and it’s been five years and no volume 2 so it ended on a great cliffhanger.
Mitch: There is a list of incomplete stories for some of my favorite characters too that I’d like to see finished eventually one day. Warren Ellis’s Hellstorm: Prince of Lies is one of them.
Sam: Kevin Smith had it happen before with a miniseries, Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target, that only had one issue released.
It appears I picked a good one for Mitch, as he appeared to enjoy both the grand supernatural scale of “Quiver” and the street-level heroics of “Sounds of Violence”. This is the run that made me an Oliver Queen fan, so it was exciting to see Mitch approve of this run. I wasn’t surprised at Mitch’s liking for Etrigan, as that kind of character is right up Mitch’s alley.
Catch our other ComiConverse this month as Mitch has Sam read The Thanos Imperative.
And be on the lookout next month for another ComiConverse from Sam and Mitch.
Sam McCoy is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @realcactussam
Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow us on Twitter: @ComiConverse