I’ve written about my fears that Green Arrow might get lost amidst the social commentary of the DC reboot. And Mike and I have spoken about how seductively JT Krul has retrofitted the Smallville Green Arrow for a debut in the New 52.
Mike was more than right when he said there’s a secret joy that the Smallville creators have discovered, by using what has historically been a character flaw to Green Arrow’s advantage. And that character flaw? For most of its publication history Green Arrow has mimicked Batman. Creators have always sought to bring Green Arrow out from the Batman’s shadow.
JT Krul’s contribution to evolving the character is even more tantalizing. Green Arrow appears as a hunter, again, perhaps for the first time. (Or perhaps for the first time since Andy Diggle and Jock’s wonderful Green Arrow Year One).
Leaving behind the effete simplicity of mounting oneself on horseback and running down foxes with a hounds-pack, hunters hunt by immersing themselves in the psychology of their prey. Hunting, true hunting (ask any African !Xun tribesman) is the work of a daredevil. It is throwing yourself to danger, it is allowing yourself to be subject to forces that your prey has shaped into its home. Hunting, real hunting, is just about the most samurai thing you can do. Short of playing poker professionally, that is.
It makes a certain kind of sense then that Krul would throw Green Arrow, the hunter, into being pursued by rather than pursuing his prey. Both pursuing and being pursued are modes the hunter uses simply to engender a relationship with his prey. It is only after that relationship is formed that the hunter’s trap can be sprung.
This is a powerful psychological gambit that Green Arrow opens with. Feign weakness to draw in a stronger, more skilled opponent. But look at the through-narrative. Krul has been building up to this point all along.
One page earlier, Green Arrow finds himself swamped by one of Jax’s new inventions; an inflatable airbag system meant for defensive posturing only. But this is the kind of defensive weapon that wouldn’t hesitate getting in a solid punch.
The scene is visually engaging, as much for Jurgens’ Leonardo-like ability to capture bodies in the moment of impossible movement, as for Krul’s animating of the incident itself. An airbag system simply overwhelms Ollie’s Green Arrow. Already the foundation for a hunter throwing himself into danger has been established.
But of course, that’s not the full story. Krul has prepared us for this psychology of immersion all along. Way back in the first scene of the story, Ollie finds himself immersed in something entirely else—the media rich environment of a 21st century tracker.
From the hunter immersing himself in media to gain intel, to the hunter immersing himself in the new weapons provided by his quartermaster, to the hunter immersing himself in the psychology of his prey, Krul and Jurgens are evolving a deeply immersive drama woven from the psychology of the hunt.
For nothing more than a ‘solid superhero story’, Krul and Jurgens evoke a richness that is seldom glimpsed at. How long will JT Krul be helming Green Arrow? Who can say, but with the New 52 just having launched, it’s a fair bet this psychological richness will be around for some while still.
Please enjoy a sneak preview of this week’s Green Arrow #2 . Images also shown below…
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// Notes from the Road
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