Sunday, May 21, 2017

Green Arrow Loves His Cartoon Bomb

When last we left Green Arrow, Ollie was dashing to his local dealer because he was out of marijuana.


No wonder the writers moved him to Seattle.

Okay, actually, he was there trying to stop the next History Club member from being murdered by fire (in emulation of the death of Jean D'Arc).  Since there's not a moment to lose, Ollie does the logical thing (if you're Green Arrow):

CATAPULTS BLINDLY IN A FLAMING HOUSE-FIRE.

Don't worry, Ollie; I'm sure those little red gloves will protect you.

Fun fact: the unofficial multiverse name for this universe is 'The Only One Where Green Arrow Survives".

Since this is Ollie's first adventure he hasn't yet invented awesome devices like the fire extinguisher arrow, the freeze arrow, or the personal lubricant arrow.  So rather than try to put out the fire he does an extraction on its intended victim.... Green Arrow-style!


Oh, god, this is going to be something stupid with ARROWs, isn't it...?!



Yup; it's something stupid with arrows.

Wanna bet that Green Arrow's 'signal' to Speedy was screaming "NYAAAOHMYGODI'MONFIIIIIIIIIRE!"?

Ollie practiced that joke for WEEKS.
Speedy is a true enabler.  Eventually, I'm sure he get tired of this sort of thing and invents the ladder-arrow. In fact, even in this first Green Arrow story it's becoming clear that Ollie is basically Inspector Gadget and Roy is Penny, running around trying to keep Green Arrow from killing himself and secretly solving the case without Ollie noticing.

The list of 1001 Things Green Arrow Can't Afford includes "butlers" AND "Bible camp".
And 'four-wheel drive'.

Note that at some point between panels, the "Arrowcar" became "the Arrowplane".  Probably the point at which Ollie became unable to keep the front wheels on the ground.

Truly thoughtful villains match their victims, crime scenes, and cartoon bombs to the hero's color scheme.  Remember that on St. Villainstime Day!

Boy, the Hooded Claw sure is an efficient villain!  Our heroic bowmen arrive JUST as the cartoon bomb is about to explode, bringing the entire building down on Samson (and them).

But this is, after all, The Only Universe Where Green Arrow Survives, so they manage to put out the bomb with a well-placed Acme water cooler. I mean, arrow.

Ollie is the world's luckiest superhero. At least, until Child Services catches him.

Samson saved, GA takes the bomb back to his Manhattan apartment, where by holding it and using his arrow-senses he hopes to divine the identity of the killer: "Eenie-meenie, chili beanie... the spirits are about to speak!"


High on the list of 1001 Things You Don't Expect Green Arrow To Say:
"But let's go visit Socrates."

This is, you'll note, 'the most puzzling case' Green Arrow has ever encountered. That's certainly true from our perspective, since it's his first case.  Of course, as previously noted Green Arrow is also puzzled by shoes with laces.

So, obeying the Magic Eight-Bomb, the Brave Bowmen arrive just as the Hooded Claw is trying to make Socrates drink poison (because god forbid you should kill anyone non-thematically).  

But then again, isn't "I'm getting out of here!" the general reaction to Green Arrow?

Then, in a panel guest-drawn by M.C. Escher, Green Arrow shoots the Hooded Claw in the leg (FINALLY!).

"Just as I thought....arrows are nearly useless in fighting crime!"

Now we learn why the Hooded Claw wears a big hat and pointless cape: so that Ollie can more easily do his "pin you to the wall with arrows like a dead butterfly" schtick. Yet another reason Killer Moth needs to be moved to Green Arrow's rogues gallery.

Rhopalocerrific!

Turns out the Hooded Claw was one of the History Club members, who was killing off all the others (and faked an attack on himself) to cover up his embezzlement of what could not possibly have amounted to more than $10,000 from the Club's treasury.  

No WONDER Scooby-Doo teamed up with Green Arrow.

Once that's revealed, I'm sure the Hooded Claw goes to jail, the case is closed, and the story is over...

OR IS IT?!?!?!?


Next: It isn't.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fingers and Feet

It's five o'clock! As stupidly planned, the Green Arrow takes his place among the men responsible for the 'namesake murders' of members of the History Club...


Estimated time it took for Ollie's disguise to fail: four seconds.

This villain would make a GREAT game-show host!  "Our next contestant on Wheel of Misfortune is Frank D'Arcy of Manhattan. But first, a word from our traitor, Green Arrow!"

But... Green Arrow's a master detective and master of disguise! How is this possible?!



Ollie gets fingered!

Add "decadactylism" to the list of 1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow.

I'm not sure which to make fun of: the fact that Muggsy pretty clearly had ten fingers in the previous illustration of him we saw yesterday or that Green Arrow is stupid enough not to notice that the man he's meticulously disguising himself as had only nine fingers.  


Fun fact: humans will notice the number of fingers you have BEFORE noticing that you are wearing greasepaint over a black domino mask.


Also, I'm going to ignore the fact that Ollie wore greasepaint OVER A DOMINO MASK. Because, really, what else would you expect Green Arrow to do?  I will, however, wonder at the fact that Our Villain doesn't just shoot Ollie in the leg. Why, oh, why doesn't anyone ever just shoot someone in the leg? It's very effective and seldom fatal.

Speaking of Our Villain, with his business suit, pointless drape-cape, mask, and oversized hat... of whom does he remind me? Oh, yes! I know:that villain of villains, THE HOODED CLAW!


"Ollie Queen,  heir to a vast fortune, is in perpetual peril from his fortune-seeking guardian, Sylvester Sneakly, who unknown to him is really the Hooded Claw."

It's pity it's NOT the Hooded Claw; he would be a huge improvement over most of Green Arrow's villains.  Ollie really deserves a villain who can laugh at him rather than expend energy trying to take him seriously.  And almost nobody laughs at you better than the Hooded Claw.

Fortunately, Team Arrow pretty much planned on Ollie screwing this up, and Junior Arrow is just outside and ready to save the day (and Ollie) again.


Oops.

Truly, Ollie taught Roy everything he knows: screwing up and getting caught.  Then, in true Hooded Claw fashion, Our Villain sets up a pointless death trap (rather than just shooting our heroes) which Ollie uses as excuse to make a snotty cutting remark (EXACTLY as Penepole Pitstop would).


It's astonishing how funny/accurate this is if you read it with the voices of Paul Lynde and Janet Waldo.

Amazingly, Green Arrow manages to extricate them from the chintzy deathtrap by relying on one of his most impressive inabilities: his inability to tie his shoes!


Ladies and gentlemen, Ollie Queen's foot.

I suspect that Oliver has a much looser definition of 'fresh air' than you or I do.  Try to not think about what Oliver "I Became a Hero By Getting Shipwrecked" Queen's feet smell like; I just assume he's the Philoctetes of the Superhero Set.
Also try not to notice that that's Ollie's right foot, but Ollie's left shoe.  This is what happens when billionaires don't hire butlers to make sure they put their shoes on the correct feet.

Since the Hooded Claw (yeah, I'm just going to call him that) helpfully told Green Arrow who the next victim was going to be (even though he knew there was a traitor in their midst), Ollie has the info he needs to race to the potential victim's home in his giant Pikachumobile.


Ollie HATES guys who bogie at parties.

Till next time, estimate how many miles per gallon the Arrow car, which is the size of a Manhattan hostel, gets.  Probably the reason that billionaire Ollie can't afford a butler.

Next: We find out whether they are too late.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"A Green Arrow! Crashing through the window!"

Activated by a radio announcement, Green Arrow launches himself into action at the History Club in the least sensible way possible: ejector seat.


"This is faster than using the stairs... and a 1000 times stupider!"

Include 'window bars' in the 1001 Ways To Defeat Green Arrow.  This scene shows one of the secrets to Green Arrow's success: he continually does more life-threatening things to himself than his foes do.  "Rig up an ejector seat that will hurl GA out of his car and into the side of building" is a GREAT villainous plan for doing in Green Arrow... it's just that Ollie beats them to it.  No wonder there are no good Green Arrow villains; what class act would want to compete with Ollie's self-imposed "Jackass" stunts in endangering himself?

I love the fact that members of the History Club don't even think to say "WTF, why are you crashing through our window and who's going to pay for that?!"  Remember, Green Arrow is already a world-wide figure and well known in Manhattan; they expect this kind of pointless destruction and stupidity from him.  He's like Naked Guitar-Playing Cowboy.

So, rather than complain, the members of the History Club simply introduce themselves with exposition ("intropositioning" as we have termed it) as quickly as possible, before they start dying:


Frank is clearly named after one of history's greatest men, Marcy D'Arcy.

The History Club is (of course) populated only by successful men with surnames of famous historical figures.  That is, it's the kind of club that exists only in the DCU.  All adult clubs in the DCU have the same purpose: for their members to be murdered.  One by one.  "Joining a club" is the number one method of suicide in Golden Age comic books; you will be killed; your family will still get the insurance money; and your killer will be caught (or will die ironically).  

Usually, clubs have some stupid theme that serves as the red herring.  You know the drill: murder victims all have X in common. "Why is the killer obsessed with killing Xs?"  And then it turns out that only one or two of the victims are the real targets, the other murders are just 'to throw the police off the trail'.  "To throw the police off the trail" is the number one cause of murder in the DCU (and most murder mysteries).   


If Green Arrow is ahead of you in thinking, you are going to die very very soon.

Sure enough...


Well, there's a shock.

Yes. Leonard, Green Arrow is trying to trick you. Because he's a thematic psychokiller who wants to shoot an arrow into your heel. In front of witnesses.  You completely deserve to die, dumb-ass.  If Green Arrow wanted to kill you, he'd just give you a ride in the Arrowcar and catapult you into the side of a building.

Someone from across the street shoots at Green Arrow (like ya do), which is made remarkably easier by the fact that Green Arrow already destroyed the window with his pointless entrance.


"electrocuted: killed (or injured) by electric shock"
You're welcome, Ollie; and stop yelling.
So, Green Arrow does what seems like the perfectly logical thing if you're Green Arrow:


True story: last night, I lost sleep trying to imagine how Green Arrow could be any stupider.

shoots a tight rope across to the other building and slowly walks across it toward the armed man who just shot at him.  You can almost feel the despair of the wannabe Green Arrow villain whose plan was "I'll force him to walk a tight-rope high over a city street toward an armed gunm--GODDAMMIT, ARROW!"

Fortunately the kid in the yellow hat got bored sitting in the Arrowcar and decides to catapult up, knowing full well that GA's had almost 3 minutes to put himself in mortal danger.


"GA,look out for the skylight...!!!"
"OW, my shin!
*kee-rash* YAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...."
Indulge me; look at that man; how many fingers does he appear to have? Remember your answer because this will be on the test.


A pigeon coop. Really, I don't have the strength to comment on that.  

So, this guy -- lazily named "Muggsy Smith" -- tells them he was under orders from his masked boss, whom he was going to meet at 5pm.  Ollie decides to take Muggsy's place at the meeting.  Rather than, say, call the police.  Because he's Green Arrow, and disguising himself as Muggsy is the choice that's a thousand times stupider.

Besides...


"I'll be waiting outside the hideout...just in case you eff this up like an idiot."
"Thanks, Red-Leg Kid!"

...WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?


Next: What goes wrong.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Green Arrow, ab ovo in medias res etc. etc.

Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

Brian Cronin has already kindly explained to the world the crowded field of Arrow-named characters into which Ollie Queen was born.  Author Paul Gustavson's "The Arrow" was the most comparable to Green Arrow; unlike the others he was a contemporary, urban, wealthy, archery-based vigilante in a hood.  As Jon Berk put it, 
"The Arrow was a little hard to warm up to.  He was a sullen and taciturn character that dealt with wrong-doers in a straightforward and, often, deadly fashion.   When he did speak, his words were as cold as his shafts of steel: “Don’t anyone move or I’ll seal your doom forever” "
I hope CW is sending Gustavson's estate a weekly check.

But "The Arrow" was too dour a character to be popular with the comics readers of the day.  On the "Little Audrey/The Spectre" scale of grimness, he was nearly a solid "The Shadow".  How did Green Arrow survive instead of him? The Green Arrow did the smart thing: aped Batman in every possible way.  Let's take a look at his first story!



Before I make fun of Green Arrow -- and I'll be doing a lot of that -- I must assert strongly and with no irony that this is a kick-ass logo and should be brought back exactly as in (except in green).


That narration panel contains the entire story.
It's like a solicit, only less spoilery.

That's GA's first splash panel. In case you're too young to know what a "splash panel" is, it's like a miniature 'cover' for a comic book story, but one that's inside the comic book.  They were all the rage when comics included more than one story.  Like covers, they weren't part of the story or even something that necessarily was going to happen IN the story. They were representations, sometimes highly symbolic, of what the story was about.

When you see this panel you can assume that:
  • Green Arrow and his sidekick are absurdly costumed vigilantes who bring quivers to a gunfight;
  • bad guys still can't shoot to save their lives:
  • crooks LOVE their hats.


So, our story begins with some unusual murders in Manhattan:


Golden Age efficiency in storytelling!
Three panels = three murders, with theme clearly established by talking out loud.

Note that Green Arrow doesn't live in a vague "the City" nor in a fictionopolis; he lives in Manhattan.  Man-hat-tan.  The next time you are in Manhattan, you think about that.  Think about Ollie tooling around 1940s' Manhattan in his giant-ass Arrowcar that's the length of a NYC block and the width of a subway train.


First and last time you will ever read
"Speedy, the Cyclone Kid"

It's not just that Green Arrow and Speedy do their justice thing in Manhattan; they LIVE there.  Together.  In an apartment.  Which is, um, not at all odd, Child Services Representative, why do you ask?

In an early start to a GA tradition, Ollie is desperate to avoid fighting crime and to indulge in sybaritic leisure.  With Roy and what appears to be some kind of stringed paddle.  Which is not at all odd.


et cetera, et cetera is the most honest thing I have ever read in any comic book.


Patrol is for other heroes.  Ollie only dons his fighting togs when something newsworthy becomes unavoidable. And what togs they are!


"No, you don't get your OWN costume.
You get MY costume, resized and recolored by photoshop, because BRANDING.
Who do you think you are, kid, the Sensational Character Find of 1940?`"

Red&Green+Yellow was THE go-to heroic color combo in the Golden Age.  I have always assumed that most comics creators were Jamaicans.  

Note (particularly if you are a film-maker) that there is no hint of an origin story here. Quite the opposite.  We enter Green Arrow's career in medias res, like you would any epic. If you want to fill in his backstory later, you have years to do that.


Five, if you use a wig.

When we meet him, Ollie is already Green Arrow, already  known throughout the world (*snort*), already has a sidekick (who is already living with him), already is naming his adventures and taking time off from them, and already (improbably) has a tunnel underneath his apartment building that already leads to...


"Super-streamlined"? That monstrosity is less aerodynamic than a Borg cube.

THE MOST VISIBLE VEHICLE IMAGINABLE.

Next: we get the jump on Ollie.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Scooby Dooing It Right

I have gone on record more than once with my admiration for writer Sholly Fisch.  But it can't be overstated.

Unquestionably, the best DC book you're not reading right now is Sholly Fisch's Scooby-Doo Team Up.

That's intrinsically astonishingly.  There are few intellectual properties in current American culture stupider than Scooby-Doo & Co.  Even at five when I first saw it, I could tell it was stupid. There are no real mysteries and even for a cartoon it's unrelentingly formulaic.  It's really more an anti-intellectual property.  I am not a fan of Scooby-Doo.

I am, however, a HUGE fan of Scooby-Doo Team Up and that's solely because author Sholly Fisch is an unrelenting genius. Not only does Fisch lampshade EVERYthing wrong with Scooby Doo from all angles, he uses Scooby-Doo as flashlight to shine a light on every foible of the entire DC Universe. Here's a mere handful of examples from its fifty issues....


Flawlessly classic Phantom Stranger transquartomuralistic prologue...



...mercilessly punctured by the Scooby Gang.




Mystery Inc. teams up with Batman and Robin to take down the Spook and False Face, who are discovered to be the manufacturers of all the monster disguises the Scooby villains wear.  It starts with a casual mention of when they all met...



...45 years ago on "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" in 1972.


While helping Green Arrow and Green Lantern fight PsychoPirate, Fisch's Scooby Gang hit the target repeatedly on CW's Arrow, 




hard-travelling heroes humor, 




and Green Arrow's rogues gallery as a collection of Batman castoffs.


Ollie has a reply, but you'll have to go find it for yourself.


At one point, the Specter has to take over Scooby Doo to confront Tamarak...



but not even Spectre-Doo can overcome the dog's speech defect.




The examples are nearly endless.  In Atlantis with Aquaman, for example, Fred has to be repeatedly reminded not to pull off the bad guys' masks (as he traditionally does) because they'll drown.  

When they visit the Flinstones, Fisch doesn't have to make a Italian opera joke, especially since almost no one will get it.  
But he does anyway.

Why, I could do an entire post of nothing but Scooby-Doo's other conversations with the various dogs of the DCU:







I'll leave it to you to discover Scooby's interactions with Ace the Bat-Hound and the Canine Space Patrol Agents yourself.

The Scooby Gang's act is honed to such predictability that Fisch is able to use it expertly as a scalpel to dissect the DCU (in a loving way).  What's more, the stories are good AS STORIES not merely as comedy/satire.  Fisch never lets schtick distract from the need for character and plot (although the tastiness of the Fisch-schtick is delicious!).

Johnny Quest & Co, The Jetsons, Flash, The Flintstones, Superman, Batman & Robin, Green Arrow & Green Lantern, The Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, The Spectre, Deadman, The Phantom Stranger, Secret Squirrel, Batgirl, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, The Teen Titans, The Super-Friends, Bat-Mite, The Shazam Family... 

and Scooby-Doo.  




Do your soul favor and buy the collected editions online or at the store today.