Missed Directions: The Involved Psychology of the Hunt In "Green Arrow #2"

How sophisticated a superhero story is Green Arrow? Find out for yourself with this free-to-download preview.

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...


The Best Indie Rock of 2017

Photo courtesy of Matador Records

The indie rock genre is wide and unwieldy, but the musicians selected here share an awareness of one's place on the cultural-historical timeline.

Indie rock may be one of the most fluid and intangible terms currently imposed upon musicians. It holds no real indication of what the music will sound like and many of the artists aren't even independent. But more than a sonic indicator, indie rock represents a spirit. It's a spirit found where folk songsters and punk rockers come together to dialogue about what they're fed up with in mainstream culture. In so doing they uplift each other and celebrate each other's unique qualities.

With that in mind, our list of 2017's best indie rock albums ranges from melancholy to upbeat, defiant to uplifting, serious to seriously goofy. As always, it's hard to pick the best ten albums that represent the year, especially in such a broad category. Artists like King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard had a heck of a year, putting out four albums. Although they might fit nicer in progressive rock than here. Artists like Father John Misty don't quite fit the indie rock mold in our estimation. Foxygen, Mackenzie Keefe, Broken Social Scene, Sorority Noise, Sheer Mag... this list of excellent bands that had worthy cuts this year goes on. But ultimately, here are the ten we deemed most worthy of recognition in 2017.

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The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

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