Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Green Arrow and Black Canary #1

Judd Winick & Cliff Chiang

It's pretty uncommon that I pick up a new DC Universe title these days, but in a rare mood, I picked up two this past week: the debut issues of Simon Dark and the new Green Arrow and Black Canary. And after reading the latter title, I recalled why it was such an unusual occurrence: DC is not very new-reader-friendly. If you're not already immersed in the universe, it's hard to pierce that inclusive bubble they've created for long-time fans, where so much of what you read presently depends on what you've already read. Case in point: Before reading this issue, I had no idea that Black Canary had killed Green Arrow on their wedding night. I had no clue that there was a second Green Arrow. And the emotional climax of the issue was completely lost on me because it was based on years of readership. Now, a book like Simon Dark doesn't have the same problem as a book with established characters, because that character's mythos has yet to be built. Characters like Green Arrow and Black Canary don't get the luxury of starting from scratch, and DC doesn't seem to have much interest in catching people up on the goings-on of their icons. Which is probably part of the appeal for long-time DC fans. They're in on something others can't easily get in on. Years upon years of continuity lead up to a series launch like this one, with plot devices already in place. Now, the reason I wanted to check out this series in the first place was because I've been watching Bruce Timm's Justice League Unlimited, and was particularly drawn to these characters. But it's strange that while all of DC's animated shows seem to be easily accessible to new viewers, the comics are oddly closed off to a new audience. Almost aggressively so in the case of this book. In the end however, I did enjoy a few things about this particular issue, despite the silly "shockers" within that seemed pretty, well, lame. My favorite moment of the book was the opening sequence, a flashback of one of Black Canary and Green Arrow's first moments together. There's also a somewhat funny sequence where Black Canary is receiving sympathy from various League members, to contrast with the scenes of Batman and Dr. Mid-Nite cutting open Oliver Queen's body and pulling out various organs for examination. It's sort of an odd book, and one much more rewarding for long-time fans, I'm sure, since they didn't, you know, feel the need to fill anything in for new readers. At the end of the day, I'll stick with the Bruce Timm cartoons for now. C-

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