Oliver Queen is a rich playboy with not a care in the world, he doesn't even care about his own well being. He has no problem with getting incredibly intoxicated and making a fool of himself in public. One day he goes on a boat with his friend/bodyguard, and the man betrays him by throwing him into the water leaving him for dead. Oliver washes to a nearby island and from here begins his fight for survival putting to use his skill as an archer. -summary
I would say it's practically a must that I read all stories under the Year One banner, or any origin stories for that matter. I think it's very important to know where a character came from if you have any interest in him or her. For the most part, these stories have ranged from very good to excellent and I don't recall being greatly disappointed. This even goes for Andy Diggle's retelling of DC's archer Green Arrow. I will admit that the story doesn't get better on multiple reads, in fact, I think it kind of loses some of its appeal. I doubt this has anything to do with me not being a hardcore Green Arrow fan though. Instead it just has more to do with various missteps in the narrative. This TPB written by Diggle with artwork provided by Jock collects Green Arrow: Year One issues 1 - 6 and was released in 2007.
The story dabbles with some of the usual themes but at its core this is no doubt a coming of age tale. The plot follows Oliver Queen's transition from a jerk to a hero. After he learns that the island he's on could be his final resting place, he puts together a makeshift bow with some arrows and begins hunting for his food. His first contact with people almost gets him killed, and he later learns that he stumbled upon an opium smuggling ring. This places him into the crosshairs of a dangerous woman named Chien Na-Wei, whom he chooses to refer to as China White.
Queen is developed well enough to the point where the reader will either like him or not. He does learn more about himself due to his near death experience, as well as through interactions with another character who saves his life. The rest of the cast are pretty much stock characters fulfilling roles and that's basically it. The story has a good amount of action to satisfy most action fans with minimum gore. The story is paced very well despite some slower moments here and there.
One of the biggest problems in retrospect with this story is that plenty of it feels rushed. Queen's change of heart does seem believable to a certain extent; but it feels as if more could have been told. For an origin story, it just feels like some things are missing and the villains feel too cookie cutter. It's as if all Diggle wanted to do was gloss over the character. Predictability is another issue here; I mean Diggle's writing isn't very clever. There are many plot elements that can be seen so far ahead it's almost laughable.
Jock's artwork has moments of inconsistency; sometimes the character designs feel too simple and even rough looking. While others they would look kind of good. There are some really nice single color backgrounds that work into the atmosphere bringing more depth to the story. The action panels are pretty good too, with arrows being shot through peoples arms and hands. Although I may not like everything visually, I never thought it was hard to get through.
Green Arrow: Year One has been compared over and over with Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. In no way does it compare with that book, but one shouldn't come into this expecting that. Without getting deep into it, Batman and Green Arrow are too different, and this book should be treated differently.
Overall, this is a pretty fun book, that doesn't feel too much like a comic. Instead, it reminds me of an action thriller since Queen feels more like a man with arrows as opposed to a superhero. Green Arrow is a character I always had knowledge of but never felt the need to read consistently. This was until he slowly grew on me mainly after watching Justice League Unlimited: The Animated Series. If you're unfamiliar with him, then this would be a good place to start. I would give this story a 3.5 for the record.
Pros: - Very straight-forward with nice artwork and cool lead
Cons: -Stock bad guys and could have used more background, predictable
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