Review: Arrow #1
Like many of you, the lure of having a Superhero grace my television set and, by extension, my living room has successfully ensnared me. As a result, I have begun watching Arrow, the new show airing on the CW about, you guessed it, Green Arrow. Due to my new-found interest in the show, when I heard the news that the first issue of a companion comic, Arrow #1, was set to be released, I rushed to the comic book store just like any other dedicated fan.
The artwork is, in most cases, the first thing a reader notices while flipping through the pages of a comic. In Arrow #1, the art work was incredibly well drawn throughout the entirety of the comic. However, until “Chapter Three”, it lacked the spark of life that would captivate a reader. This is because colors are dark overall. This must have been an intentional choice and was probably meant to convey a serious, gritty tone. However, instead it makes everything seem dreary, with many of the panels looking gray and washed out. The little pops of color that were weaved in throughout are mostly composed of subdued lighter shades. Because of this, they aren’t something on which the eye naturally feels the need to linger.
The following complaint is one to be expected with a comic debuting alongside a T.V. show, especially in the first issue, but I was disappointed to find that Arrow got off to a slow start. In fact, the issue is divided into three chapters, and the first two chapters serve to merely recap scenes and other important pieces of information that readers who have been following the show would already know, while still managing to be vague enough to encourage newcomers to watch the previous episodes.
However, throughout the comic, the captions are used to describe the characters’ thoughts and dialogue too. While it doesn’t completely off set the lack of new material in the first two chapters, it is an intriguing way of imparting new content, and in some ways the comic’s saving grace, since it makes the first two chapters seem less like sheer summary of key events of the show, even if only marginally so.
For example, in “Chapter One”, the comic opens with a scene of Oliver burying his deceased father’s remains, a scene that has already been explored in the show.
Through this scene and the captions accompanying it, it is made known to the reader that Oliver was shipwrecked on an island, where he was trapped for five years, before eventually returning home, though the comic doesn’t explain how.
The setting then switches to present day and glosses over Oliver’s motivation behind his adoption of the persona of Green Arrow, and portrays his interactions with family and friends, as he tries to re-immerse himself in the life he left behind, using this as an opportunity to recycle dialogue and recreate scenes from the show.
“Chapter two” depicts what is, quite literally, an explosive show down between Oliver, now dressed as Green Arrow, and one of Starling city’s corrupt elite. Most interestingly, these scenes are overlaid with captions that give new insight into this corrupt businessman’s perception of his run in with Arrow, during which Oliver obtains incriminating evidence, which he promptly turns into the police. It is then revealed that Oliver’s mother, Moira, is in league with this antagonist, a big reveal albeit one made previously in the show that marks the end of chapter two.
“Chapter three”, however, is fantastic. The artwork really begins to shine here, more so than anywhere else in the comic because of the artist’s beautifully drawn characters combined with the use of color to draw attention to the focus of each panel, helping to make it the most memorable of the three chapters. It begins with a fight scene between Oliver, still dressed as Green Arrow, and China White, a mercenary affiliated with the Chinese Triad, a criminal organization.
It depicts a conversation between China White and her mentor, before delving into her tragic back story and setting her up as a sympathetic villain, someone who was molded by the people around her into the mercenary she eventually becomes. Without giving too much away, this chapter is likely to flood readers with strong emotion, particularly those who don’t like seeing children exposed to violence.
Though the comic has room for improvement, the third chapter alone makes this issue worthwhile and provides substantial grounds for speculation that China White is destined to become an important character in the show. Crucial pieces of back story that help to flesh out characters, like the one doled out in this chapter, are what I hope to see more of in future Arrow comics. It’s yet to be seen whether or not this will be.