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Posted April 11, 2006
A SILVER AGE TREASURE TROVE
Green Arrow is probably one of those characters who is always destined to be a bit of a second banana to more popular heroes. He¿s been around since making his debut in More Fun Comics in 1941, and unlike some of the other heroes (flash, Green Lantern) the Golden age and Silver Age Green Arrow were both named Oliver Queen. This latest edition of Showcase Presents concentrates on the Silver Age Green Arrow who made his first appearance in the pages of Adventure Comics # 250 as a back-up feature to Superman. This book reprints several dozen Green Arrow stories from the pages of Adventure Comics, Worlds Finest Comics, and The Brave and the Bold. Most of the stories are only 6 ¿ 8 pages in length and involve Green Arrow and his sidekick Speedy tracking down some sort of two-bit criminal with their wide array of trick arrows. A few things are interesting about the character right off the bat¿First, the writers were doing their best to make Green Arrow and Speedy into another Batman and Robin. Both Oliver Queen and Bruce Wayne are wealthy, playboy types with young wards who come under their guidance. Green Arrow had his Arrow Car, Arrow Plane, his secret Arrow Cave hideout, and the police even had their own Arrow Signal to contact GA when there was trouble. Unfortunately what Green Arrow didn¿t have his writers like Bob Kane or classic villains like the Joker or the Riddler. One thing that these early Silver Age stories did have going for them is the art of Jack Kirby. Now Kirby fans might be a bit disappointed as this is not Kirby at his finest. It¿s not close to what fans are used to from his 1960¿s period. There could be a couple of reasons for this¿First he probably didn¿t have an inker as strong as Joe Sinnott, second, and more likely, was the fact that in the 50¿s DC¿s editors really didn¿t encourage a lot of artistic style from their artists. They wanted books finished quickly and Kirby could crank out the pages as fast as anyone. Lee Elias took over the art chores after Kirby left and did a commendable jog. He was unspectacular but steady. Most of these tales were written by Ed Herron or Robert Bernstein, a couple of guys kind of lost in the annals of comic lore although Herron is somewhat famous as the creator of Captain Marvel Jr. in 1941 for Fawcett Comics. As mention, Green Arrow and Speedy fight crime with a variety of outlandish trick arrows including: rope arrows, short circuit arrows, aqualung arrows, fire cracker arrows, harpoon arrows, glue arrows, buzz saw arrows, and many, many more. I think my favorite is the dry ice arrow. And then there is his villains which are not exactly the Flash¿s Rogues Gallery¿Mighty Mr. Miniature, Phantom Bandit, Camouflage King, The Pneumatic Man, and the Spectrum Man. There are also a large number of Sci-Fi style elements with the pair battling a giant mechanical Octopus and a robotic archer that fires rapid-fire arrows, as well as numerous alien threats. You had to love the 50¿s! While most of these stories are throwaway quickies, there are a few notable stories. ¿Green Arrow¿s First Case¿ from Adventure #256 tells the story of GA¿s origin. ¿World¿s Worst Archer¿ from Adventure #262 relates how GA first met Roy Harper and took him on as his ward and sidekick. Another important story from a historical sense is from Justice League of America #4 where Green Arrow is elected to membership in the JLA. In a story from Brave & the Bold #85 Green Arrow teams with Batman to track down a man who tried to kill a Senator. This story features a cover and art by Neal Adams and it may be the first time Green Arrow sported his now trademark goatee. At least when Batman sees him he says that he didn¿t recognize him at first. This is a welcome edition to the Showcase Presents series which, along with the House of Mystery and Jonah Hex editions is reprinting material that has not been seen in decades. Pure silver age fun and excitement! Reviewed by Tim Jan
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