Comic Book Review: GREEN ARROW #1 And STORMWATCH #1

Two more New 52s: a revamped, techno-thriller Green Arrow and WildStorm’s Stormwatch gets dragged into the DC Universe.

I am trying to review every single one of the DC New 52 and have realized that reading them isn’t the problem, the problem is my overly verbose reviewing style. That means I’m terribly behind on reviews, and so I am going to try to double some reviews up. With Green Arrow #1 and Stormwatch #1 it makes a certain thematic sense because, and I’m stretching here, both books have heroes with techno-intelligence back up bases.

Yes, Green Arrow has a team of helpers who send him information as he fights bad guys with his trick arrows. The new Green Arrow feels like one of the few heavily rebooted series, with Oliver Queen now being a young, hip guy who is basically Steve Jobs as a superhero. Seriously - his company makes QPhones and stuff.

But even with that, everything in Green Arrow #1 feels so generic as to be tedious. This reads like a comic adaptation of a superhero TV show, which is fitting as I am led to understand this version of Green Arrow is heavily based on his appearance on Smallville. The big superhero battle takes place on the Seine, but it could have been just a random river in Vancouver for all the Frenchiness that was going on.

He’s also battling some excruciatingly generic villains (the one villain who wasn’t generic, a woman who splits herself in two, had powers whose functionality I simply couldn’t understand). The concept may have been cool in the pitch - make Green Arrow more of a freelance James Bond type, with Q constantly on the phone giving him info, but it never fully plays out that way. Although being sort of generic is the best case scenario - JT Krul, who wrote the issue, is the guy who, in Fall of Arsenal, had Green Arrow’s ex-sidekick hallucinate that a dead cat was his daughter. Seriously.

Stormwatch was much better than I expected, although I don’t know how this comic can possibly fit into the DC Universe going into the future. Stormwatch is essentially Stormwatch, The Authority and Planetary smashed together into one and then transferred into the DC Universe. Which is a bit of a problem right from the start, as the comic has about thirty characters and at least three main storylines - although points for having so much going on while Justice League #1 could only fit in two dudes hanging out and a guy playing football.

Basically Stormwatch is a group that has been around for centuries, protecting Earth from aliens. This is a huge change from the original WildStorm version, which had Stormwatch as a UN group tasked to deal with superhuman problems, and being fairly new. And in fact it seems that none of the original Stormwatch characters are in this comic; most of Stormwatch seems to be made up of characters from The Authority*. 

Stormwatch looks upon superheroes with great skepticism; Jack Hawksmoor (who now has fucked up palms as well as feet) says Stormwatch is professionals, while superheroes are amateurs. Martian Manhunter (who WAS in the Justice League at one point, it turns out), says that he works with Stormwatch when the time comes to be a warrior. This is a group a level above the Justice League and friends, a secret society above even our governments.

The first issue has a lot to introduce, but it does it fairly well (even though the first page of the first issue in a newly rebooted universe has an annotation explaining that some of the stuff in the comic won’t make sense until Superman #1), and much of it feels big and weird in an appropriate Warren Ellis way. There’s the Moon growing claws to attack the Earth, a giant doom-bringing horn in the Himalayas and the team trying to track down Apollo, Earth’s strongest superhuman. It probably wouldn’t have hurt to make this a double sized first issue, but Dr. Who writer Paul Cornell manages to squeeze most of what’s needed in here. Still, it wouldn’t have hurt to resort to that old superhero comic trick of having each character’s name appear next to them when they’re introduced.

On the surface this comic feels like it has a ton of continuity from the previous DC or Wildstorm universes, but it’s actually fairly clean, and a number of the characters are new. One, The Eminence of Blades, I like a whole lot, and I hope he makes it at least a few more issues. The big metaplot stuff is all New 52, so while it won’t ‘make sense’ until Superman #1 at the end of the month, at least it isn’t dangling nonsense from a removed universe.

Stormwatch is a comic that has potential, but it might be a bit too big and dismissive of superheroes to really make it in the new DC Universe. It feels like a comic that gets canceled after 18 issues and the team shows up in big crossovers, but you wonder why they don’t appear when an alien crash lands in Green Arrow #59.

That said, this comic does appear to be right at the center of whatever crossover DC is brewing next - something featuring the hooded woman who showed up out of nowhere in Flashpoint #5 and has since appeared in every New 52 comic.

* yes, I know most of The Authority came out of Warren Ellis’ run on Stormwatch.