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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 350: Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #3

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!

He's all Robin Hood-y!

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!

10 Comments

Actually, later in the Green Arrow run they very specifically state Dinah did not get raped. She’s talking to Dr Green about being a victim of torture and she hates that people say “at least you weren’t raped”.

Despite its flaws, Grell’s Green Arrow is one of my favorite comic book runs. As you said, Greg, he did a very good job writing the characters. I especially liked the two new characters he introduced, Shado and Eddie Fyres.
I maintain that Grell’s GA was way ahead of its time. The “ripped from the headlines” plotting predates the most famous property to use it, Law & Order. The storytelling style has a lot in common with later decompression, only done better. Although GA wasn’t the first super-hero in a realistic setting, it rarely worked as well. As for the art… uh, Longbow Hunters looked good, at least.

Hammard: I don’t own the ongoing (I keep meaning to get it, but it’s just one of those things), so I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.

Mike: Not a fan of Ed Hannigan, are you?

I have all three of these issues, and man I thought it was a good story. Grell’s going to be a guest at a local comic convention in a few months, so I plan to get these babies autographed.

This is a great comic, and while many of its contemporaries get (deservedly) blamed for trying to rip-off Dark Knight/Watchmen and “darken” up their comics with misplaced sex and violence, Grell managed to work in mature storytelling elements without coming across as crass, condescending or self-parodying. I know some people grimace at what happened to Dinah, but given the many crimes against female characters DC has committed in recent years, it pales in comparison to the point of looking almost naive. Grell also did a commendible job in handling the attack on a prominent superheroine and never shying away from the psychological components of violence, as both Ollie and Dinah spent much of Grell’s run on GA dealing with the fallout of these events.

And I disagree with Mike L. about the art. It never looked as good as this mini, true, but Ed Hannigan, Dan Jurgens, Rick Hoberg, Denys Cowan, Shea Anton Pensa, Bill Marrimon, and the various fill-in artists (including Grell himself on a couple issues!) turned in solid jobs that always complemented, and never distracted from, the script.

As if you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan and admirer of Grell’s GA, being easily one of my top 10 favorite comics of all time. It’s a shame DC has never collected any of it beyond Long Bow Hunters. I see they are re-issuing the LBH trade, which is great, but I would be very pleased for them to start on the regular series in trades. At the very least, the new edition could include issues #1-2 of the regular series, as those issues are a direct sequel to LBH…

I’ve heard all the excuses for the Longbow Hunters — and I think Andrew comes very close to mimicking the “at least she didn’t get raped” line that so irritated Dinah, as was mentioned above. So it’s not so bad because she didn’t get completely fridged? There are acceptable degrees of this? It’s OK if she gets depowered and tortured so we can see Ollie go nuts, as long as she didn’t get it as bad as others?

I don’t buy it — I’m not saying that Longbow Hunters doesn’t have quality or skill, but there are elements that make it very hard for me to consider it as great — and most of those involve what happens to Dinah. Saying that it is not as bad as what happened to others doesn’t make it better – -it just makes it more highly polished than others.

This series was one of my fav. Not ’cause of the character: Green Arrow, but because of the writer/artist: Mike Grell.

I used to read his earlier series: Jon Sable: Freelance, and Starslayer.

A terrific writer and artist. Too bad, he’s not more popular these days.

The last I saw of his work was a web-series: EAST of EDEN (A Jon Sable series).

Is there any thing more current that he’s working on?

Becca: I read this before I knew this kind of treatment of women was a problem, which I’m sure colors my appreciation of it, and I haven’t read the ongoing, so I can’t comment on this, but I’ve read that Grell continued to deal with this event for a long time (as Hammard alludes to). The objection I always have to doing horrible things just to get a reaction out of the hero is that the victim is usually ignored, and if Grell had Dinah and Ollie deal with it for a while, I think that’s valid. I’m not saying he did a good job or even if he did deal with it, because I haven’t read the series, but if he does, I think it’s not awful. Re-reading this after so many years, I’m far more uncomfortable with it, but again, I don’t think what happened to Dinah should be off-limits, but if you’re going to do it, you have to make sure that it’s part of their lives going forward and they deal with it. Your opinion may vary, of course, but that’s what I’ve always thought about events like this.

Tom: A few years ago he did The Pilgrim, which was also on-line. IDW started publishing it but I guess sales weren’t good and they bailed on it. Other than that, it seems like he’s just doing random issues – he did one of Herc for Marvel and some stuff on T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents for DC. It’s too bad he hasn’t retained his popularity, but maybe he’s happy doing other stuff.

@BeccaBlast

You’re completely missing the point of my comment. I’m not saying there are “acceptable degrees,” I was saying that what happened to Dinah, and how it was handled by Grell, seem almost PG-13 rated compared to what some writers have done with female DC characters in the last 10-15 years.

But if we’re going to press the issue, I’ll say that Grell DOES redeem himself with how he handled the follow up in the regular series, as I mentioned in my earlier comment. Dinah is not just written as a damsel in distress, nor are the events ignored or forgotten. Grell took the opportunity to explore the issue of violence against women and its repercussions. Just because a woman is attacked in a story does not automatically disqualify that story as good if the writer handles it well. The fact that you get so uncomfortable reading it is in itself a comment on the ability of Grell’s writing and artwork.

To contrast, some of the more recent “fridging” episodes in DC comics were handled with the subtlety of a sledgehammer and the sensitivity of an ox. When we learned that Sue Dibny was raped, its after effects weren’t explored in any detail, it was merely a stupid plot device Meltzer came up with and treated very callously, and subsequent writers ignored it almost altogether and focused more on how much of a ‘badass’ Dr. Light was by having him use the word “rape” every other word.

You may not LIKE the scenes in LBH but I’ll take the way they were presented and handled any day over the childish garbage I just described above…

@Tom Fitzpatrick

That Jon Sable series was ASHES OF EDEN and was printed in singles and as a trade by IDW a few years ago. Since then, Grell’s drawn a few things here and there:

WARLORD- Grell’s most prominent work for the Big Two in years, it was tragically cut short at 16 issues, but he wrote (and occasionally drew) some big changes in the Skartaris universe that are a treat for a longtime Warlord fan like myself.

PILGRIM- A paranormal-meets-WWII mini-series with writer Mark Ryan (which IDW printed the first two issues of before cancelling. The rest is only available online)

HERC- Grell drew issue #6.1, which was sadly the only issue of this series worth buying.

X-MEN FOREVER- Grell provided the artwork for issues #8 & 9 and Giant-Sized Special #1 of Chris Claremont’s ‘continuation’ of his truncated run on X-Men from the 90′s.

DC RETROACTIVE: GREEN LANTERN- THE 1970′s- Grell drew the GL 70′s homage special that came out about a year or so ago, and which featured both GL and Green Arrow.

ARROW- Grell provided the artwork for an online strip based on the new Green Arrow show. From the solicitations, Grell’s story will appear in issues #1-4 of the hardcopy comic DC is printing.

Plus, he’s provided a few covers here and there, like a cover for IDW’s recent Star Trek/Legion mini-series.

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