Sunday, April 05, 2009

Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special (lots of spoilers)

Comprising the Wedding Special and issues 1 to 5 of the GA/BC monthly.

I had bought/read all these issues before but thought it was high time I bought the trade. Family members were kind enough to give me some cash for my birthday so I decided to purchase this in hardcover.

I am very very pleased I did. The actual book itself is lovely – the front cover illustration on the dust jacket is gorgeous and the back cover depicts the villains of the DCU taking aim at a snogging Ollie and Dinah. The inside blurb takes the form of a wedding invite. When you remove the dust jacket you see that the cover of the book is in cream, wedding photo album style, and has blood splattered over.

Basically, I haven’t even looked at the story and this book is already a visual treat and will be given pride of place on my shelf, taken very good care of, and never under any circumstances loaned to anyone.

The book showcases all the covers for the Wedding Special, one by Amanda Connor and one by Ryan Sook, and the covers for the first 5 issues of the monthly, by Cliff Chiang. All these covers are great. Amanda Connor’s cover is playful and fun, and I think captures the couple pretty well. I know at the time of release some people were complaining about it, saying it was degrading to Dinah, but I don’t see that. This is a couple who are constantly shagging and probably use a lot of props to spice up their sex life. The cover works. I, for one, love Dinah’s wedding outfit.

Ms Connor also does the inside art for the Wedding Special. Of course I love it, I think 99% of her work is great. We are treated to a flashback summary of Dinah and Ollie’s life together, followed by a current scene of the two arguing – Dinah apparently didn’t follow the arrow then sonic scream fight protocol. Ollie comments, rudely (the entire US navy? That’s a little unfair Mr!), on the quantity of Dinah’s romantic liaisons when he was dead, she slaps him, then they nearly have sex (stopping because Dinah wants it be special on their wedding night).

This scene is a thousand miles away from the recent Dinah beating on Ollie scene of JLA 31. Of course, slapping your partner is not acceptable, but this didn’t feel like an abusive situation. In JLA 31 Dinah's punch was premeditated, she specifically called Ollie and Hal to meet with her so that she could shout them down and punch her husband in the face. Presumably she wanted Hal to witness this. In the Wedding Special it is not planned, it is an instant reaction to a slur on Dinah's actions.

Ollie is very funny when trying to get laid. I like the glimpse of his socks too, they seem very appropriate and sturdy for a man of his profession, and very him.
The other heroes reactions to getting the invites made for a great page. One of the cutest panels in this issue was Diana and Kal discussing it, and Kal’s pure optimism and joy over the event. Ms Connor gives him such youthfulness and innocence.

The hen and stag nights are also worth mentioning – Ollie not wanting strippers and Hal’s sudden u-turn made me giggle. Dinah’s hen do took place at a venue called The Meat Locker – a male strip club basically. Zatanna urging the strippers to ‘ekat ti ffo ybab!!’ doesn’t bother me. I think I am drawing a line between fantasy and reality here, and for once am not gonna get on my high horse about wrongs and irresponsibility in a comic. This is a fun issue, I am going to take it as such.

At the wedding it’s nice to see that Barda is actually big – taller than Diana, who herself is as broad as Kal. Hawkman is looking wistfully at Hawkwoman and Peej and Mia have lovely flowers in their hair. The fight scenes are of course great, and I am fully in support of Dinah being pissed that Deathstroke nicked her ring. Batman is his usual dour self – ‘I came for the fight (not the wedding)’.

As for the wedding night scene, again there was a lot of online furore about the method Dinah used to dispatch Ollie. My theory is that yes, she is a master martial artist, she’s kickass and she could have stopped him in any one of a vast number of ways. Re-reading the issue though, and paying close attention to the panels, she is first racked with disbelief and shock that Ollie is trying to kill her, then she looks in his eyes and says ‘no’ – she knows it’s not really him, so she now has to stop the guy impersonating her lover, on their wedding night, and she loses it and stabs him with an arrow.

The cry afterwards of ‘Ollie’ comes from her confusion and emotions at the whole event.
Ergo, this scene doesn’t do a disservice to Dinah.

Onto the first issue in their monthly book.
Each issue is introduced with a chapter heading –
And they said it wouldn’t last: the wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary
Dead again part one: Here comes the bride
Dead again part two: The naked and the not quite so dead
Dead again part three: Hit and Run, Run Run!
Dead again conclusion: Please play where Daddy can see you
Child Support

The monthly issues are written by Judd Winick with art by Cliff Chiang. I like Judd Winick, I thought his Green Arrow run was great and I liked the GA/BC books. The only thing of his I haven’t liked was Titans and that was mostly due to the horrible horrible porny art. No problems in this book though – Cliff Chiang is wonderful. Simple lines, very clean, very clear and expressive. Trish Mulvihill does the colours – she complements Chiang’s pencils really well. This is a feast for the eyes, all the way through.

Back to the plot – a month has passed since the wedding and Dinah is wracked with grief and taking it out on the criminals. A little too much, if truth be told. No one else believes her that it isn’t Ollie’s body lying in the glass case, but she knows it’s not her beloved. Her and Hal have a fight about this on top of a roof and you can feel the anger exploding off the page. Batman turns up and agrees with Dinah – it isn’t Ollie lying dead. Bruce and Dr Midnite perform an autopsy on ‘Ollie’ and discover that the body is in fact Everyman’s. Cue some thinking on Dinah’s part and she deduces this whole mess is the fault of the Amazons. Cut to Themyscria and Ollie is sitting in a cage telling his guards that Dinah is gonna beat the crap out of them when she arrives.

Next issue. Ollie is running naked through the forest. This trade is a good bet if you are an Ollie fan. He doesn’t manage to escape his Amazon guards and again reiterates that there will be hell to pay when Dinah catches up with them.

Next scene – Dinah and Mia arrive at the island. They cross from boat to land on a bridge held up by women. I like this image – it shows respect and deference from the Amazons to an honoured visitor. On an island full of women oppression by men is not an issue, so using women as a bridge doesn’t have the same connotations it would on Man’s World.

Athena’s assistant is a snobby cow so Mia gives her a verbal smackdown, then Dinah gives her a physical smackdown. Dinah is awesome. She’s articulate, intelligent, strong, fast and an amazing warrior. Ever her costume doesn’t look cheesecakey in this. When combined with her poise and her actions it looks like a very good choice of uniform for a fighter.

Athena later explains why they have asked Dinah to the island – she wants her to train their soldiers. So that Connor has to time to spring Ollie from his prison Dinah accepts the position.

Meanwhile Connor is busy shooting poison darts at Ollie’s guards. Ollie is freed, borrows Connors pants (and looks very fine in them too) and is brought up to speed on what has been happening and how everyone felt about his death. There’s real love between him and Dinah. An honest to goodness connection. Then Connor and Ollie get caught. Oh dear.

Next issue. I can’t help but smile at this cover. In other circumstances Ollie being chased by a load of women would be a source of pride and joy for him.

Dinah is told by Athena she has to undertake the Display of Fortitude before she can take up the position as teacher of the Amazons. Obviously, she whips all her opponents’ asses.

Mia wonders what is taking Connor so long, asks for a pass to go to the ladies toilets and is provided with a chamber pot. She decides to sit it out.

Ollie and Connor escape the angry Amazon horde by throwing themselves off a cliff – still not quite sure how they survived that. They reach the boat and let off the signal - a green explosion. Mia yells for Dinah, Dinah holds a sword to Athena’s throat in order to force an explanation out of her.

It’s complicated and involves the Amazons wanting Dinah as a teacher, and therefore seeking to engineer a situation where she would be happy to come live on the island. E.g. getting rid of Ollie. They hire Everyman, via Deathstroke and Sivana, to impersonate Ollie, except that Everyman panics on the wedding night as he’s impotent and Dinah would have smelled a rat if ‘Ollie’ didn’t want to perform. He tries to kill her, she kills him instead.

Dinah leaves, Athena turns into Granny Goodness and Desaad turns up. They mutter something about not being finished with the arrow family. Aaand that’s all the explanation we get from them. Hmmm. That would look very odd to a new reader not familiar with the New Gods or Apokolips.

Dinah and Mia jump to the boat, from a cliff, and Dinah and Ollie’s reunion is the sweetest thing ever. Then Ollie shows off his new uniform, everyone gets all mushy about being back together. Then Connor gets shot, from the sky. This breaks Oliver.

Next issue. He panics, scream for Dinah and Mia to do something and finally whispers then yells for Clark. Clark hears, comes swooping down and grabs Connor, simply saying ‘I got him’. No chit chat, no questions, he just does what he does best as fast as he can. Ollie whispers thank you. Re-reading these two pages again and I’m nearly in tears, again. Life and death, honesty, openness, rawness, gets me every time. Cliff Chiang is a wonderful artist.

Next scene. We are at the hospital. Ollie is screaming for Hal to come fix Connor with his ring, Hal arrives and copes pretty well with Ollie being near hysterical. Batman is lurking in the hospital stairwells making sure the perimeter is secured and no one overhears anyone else’s secret identities.

Ollie suffers massive guilt about how he denied Connor all those years, how he didn’t get to know him, how he used Roy as a replacement for him. Hal announces that although Connor is stable, he is brain dead. Ollie runs to his son's side.

Last issue. Connor is out of hospital and living in the Arrow home. Dr Midnite is visting every week to check on signs on brain activity. Ollie remembers Connor’s mother and his lack of responsibility taking at the start of his son’s life. We see how he enlists Batman’s help to track Connor down a few years later. We see how Connor gets kicked out of school and moves to the Ashram. We see how Ollie and Connor met much later on and how Ollie denied any familial relation.

The issue ends with Ollie and Dinah getting married, for real this time, in a small wedding, Diana presides, Roy, Mia Babs and a second man. Superman takes watch in the sky, Batman takes watch on the hills. The end.

I love this book. Yes the Amazon involvement is daft, it’s contrived, it’s a bit silly. I don’t care – it’s told well, it takes a fluffy premise and turns it into a story full of emotion and passion. It draws you in and pulls you along every step of the way. There’s humour and tragedy. It’s great.

And you know what else makes this story great? Dinah’s involvement. This is Dinah at her finest. She is in the thick of the action, driving the story forward. She’s an integral part even when Green Arrow has screen time. Compare this to later issues where it felt like Dinah was a supporting character. That wouldn’t have been a problem if the book was titled Green Arrow, but it wasn’t, it was titled Green Arrow/Black Canary but it felt like she didn’t do much and wasn’t given equal billing. It felt like she was relegated to the background whilst Ollie got all the action and made all the decisions.

DC are now rectifying this by giving Dinah a back up story in the book. They are also renaming it to be Green Arrow – this makes a lot more sense. It should give Dinah more screen time and we will hopefully get to see more interacation between her and other DCU characters (Babs? Spoiler? The other birds?). She’ll be important and given authority and please let it prove she can carry an ongoing series by herself.

I am hopeful that this really long post will have convinced some of you readers to purchase this book. Please do so. It’s gorgeous. It wants your love and appreciation. You want to give it your love and appreciation. It's a love in. Do it.


SallyP said...

You really have to hand it to both Amanda Conner and Cliff Chiang, because their utterly charming artwork really makes this whole story work, and work well.

Winick drives me nuts sometimes, he can be very good with the smaller moments, and then annoying with the larger ones, but in the end,it was a decent story.

Sea-of-Green said...

I really wish they'd hire Amanda Conner to be the main artist for GL-BA. Not that I have anything against Chiang's work, but Conner's art has so much energy to it, it practically leaps off the page. :-)

Sea-of-Green said...

OOPS, I meant GA-BA.

(See, that's my inner child rearing its ugly head again. When I was a very little kid, I wanted Dinah to be with HAL instead of Ollie.)

Saranga said...

And I read your post as Ollie should be with Hal! Oh admit it, they would make a lovely couple. if a somewhat firey argumentative couple. Much like Dinah and Ollie then.

I think Chiang brought more subtlety to his pages than Connor could have done. Sher art does have energy but it's more exagerrated, I feel.