Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. As it’s now December, I will be examining the LAST pages of random comics, so watch out for SPOILERS! Today’s page is from Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #3, which was published by DC and is cover dated October 1987. This scan is from the trade paperback, which was published in 1989. Enjoy!
Mike Grell’s Longbow Hunters was controversial because of the supposed rape of Dinah Lance, but for all the folderol about it, there’s absolutely no evidence that she was ever raped, at least not in the actual story (I suppose the evidence people cite is that she loses the ability to have children, but that’s not in this series). She’s tortured, sure, and you can argue about whether that should have been in the story, but there’s no evidence that she’s been raped. The bad guys talk about raping her after the guy is done torturing her, but they never get the chance. So that explains what Dinah is doing in the hospital at the end of this series. She’s concerned for Ollie because he or Shado – the Japanese woman who appears in this series – killed all the bad guys, and she wonders what effect this will have on him. He deflects the question because he wants to discuss an earlier conversation they had, when Dinah told him she didn’t want to have children in such a screwed-up world. Grell writes these characters very well in this series, as we get a glimpse of that here – they’re people who have been around a while, recognize their mortality, and are able to have adult conversations about their feelings and thoughts. Oliver still wants kids, but he also realizes that he’s madly in love with Dinah, so he has to compromise. Grell also manages to bring some humor to the situation, as Oliver is holding a duffel bag full of money (which the bad guys were using to buy drugs), which is a charming way to end the series (and this money comes back to haunt him, as he should have known it would). So whatever you think of Grell’s treatment of Dinah (and you can make a case it wasn’t good), this final page resolves the series well and also sets up the new ongoing series. It also shows two people in the midst of a mature love affair, something we see very rarely in superhero comics.
Grell’s artwork, of course, is phenomenal. He doesn’t always lay his pages out wonderfully in this series, but he reins in his more innovative layouts (to put it kindly) and gives us a straightforward page, one that nevertheless shows his amazing artistic chops. There’s not a lot happening on this page, but Grell gives us that beautiful Panel 2, which looks like charcoal with gouache, highlighting Oliver’s sadness as he finally understands Dinah’s reluctance. Grell varies his materials quite often throughout this comic, so it’s nice that this page has an example of it. Grell is credited as “artist” in the trade, but he’s credited with “inks” on the Grand Comics Database, so I’m going to assume the page is inked, although it’s mostly very light. Colorist Julia Lacquement does a superb job throughout this series – she doesn’t have much to do on this page, but orange goes well with green, so even though Oliver isn’t wearing his costume, I wonder if she chose the color of his shirt because of that. Grell does an interesting job with the inks (or Lacquement with the colors) – in Panel 1, Ollie’s face is shadowed as he remembers killing people, but that darkness lifts over the course of the page as he comes to a rapprochement with Dinah. It’s a nice touch.
This is one of those comics that you should read, even if you hate it. It’s that important. Of course, I love it, but I guess not everyone shares that opinion. That’s why we all have our own brains!
Next: A Comic You Should Own! I’m sure you all went out and bought it after I wrote about it, right? There are plenty of other really good comics in the archives!
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