The Return To Greatness Of Green Arrow, and Army Of Darkness not so much.

J. T. Krul, who impressed me so much with his handling of the Titans in his Blackest Night mini has returned the Emerald Archer (in one single issue) to the levels of greatness of the eighty issue Mike Grell series of the late Eighties. Where as let's face it, the Evil Dead/Army Of Darkness mythos (and Ash most definitely) is not and never has been 'great'.

I was rather disparaging last week about the badly named ‘Rise’ Of Arsenal and I thought I should write something more positive this time. Strangely enough however it’s his mentor who has me excited.

J. T. Krul, who impressed me so much with his handling of the Titans in his Blackest Night mini has returned the Emerald Archer (in one single issue) to the levels of greatness of the eighty issue Mike Grell series of the late Eighties. Despite Grell’s rewriting of Oliver’s politics from the left of centre liberal of the Seventies to a right wing libertarian (which rather made a conundrum of his legendary arguments with Hawkman), the Grell series had a realism and edginess that kept me coming back to the title month after month.  Since then I have had two sessions of sitting down and re-reading the entire series, and I highly recommend it if you have never done that.

I use the word edginess because to call the title gritty would be to lump it together with such less than remarkable characters of the period like the Azrael Batman, or the worse exploits of the Punisher.  Gritty would be an accurate word however, it was the epitome of what ‘gritty’ should be, with complex plots and motivations and a failure to shy away from real-world issues. Grell used many devices to craft Oliver an new identity, such as divorcing him from the super-hero community. J. T. Krull does not have such an option, what with the DCU being far more editorially guided nowadays, and events spinning out of the Cry For Justice JLA mini.

This does not detract from Krull’s portrayal of Queen, neither do the mysteries summoned by the Brightest Day. What we have here is an eclectic mix of gritty crime and corruption, fantastical forests, cataclysmic devastation (allegories to Katrina or Haiti anyone?) and good old spandex.  And it works well. I hope that Krull can keep the apparent promises of this first issue, but I have faith that he will.  Every element of every incarnation of the Emerald Archer can be seen here.

Another title that has grabbed me recently has to be Army Of Darkness from Dynamite.  I state ‘not so much’ in the title because let’s face it, the Evil Dead/Army Of Darkness mythos (and Ash most definitely) is not and never has been ‘great’. It is cheesy and almost camp in a horror fashion, and Ash himself is a stupid, slightly bigoted idiot, who has less brains than your average rat.  What the mythos is however, is fun.  We can cringe as Ash makes his mistakes and we can take great pleasure in his triumphs, because Lord knows, he has had to work so very hard and rely on so much luck to have achieved them. Rather than a character we wish we were, or can easily identify with, Ash is everything we are glad we are not.

The recent storyline of Ash and the League of Light is vaguely superhero-ish in this same light. (Adversely, this is certainly not you average JLI.) As with anything in our hero’s life, it doesn’t last, in fact after causing the apocalypse he only just succeeded in going back in time and preventing everything from happening. But boy, was it fun! A spectacularly big romp, unhindered by any form of continuity or other such logical pressures. Which means the next issue when it comes out is a good jumping on point. If you enjoyed the trilogy of films, give this a chance. Our least favourite blockhead hero (of whom the Green Lantern Guy Gardner in the worst period of his life could still only be a poor imitation) remains the object of ineptitude, stupidity and blind luck that we have all known and vaguely liked. This is a hero whose character should never ‘develop’ too much, lest the universe collapse around us. Nice to know some things in this world are constant.

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Darren Burr
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A devoted follower of the comics industry and their characters since a child, Darren now plays in many media but always returns to characters in skin-tight costumes beating each other up on the page. Radio host, blogger, fanfic author and producer of You Tube content, Darren idles away his days until his digital conquest of the world is complete.

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