Pulp: Green Arrow: Year One

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Pulp: Green Arrow: Year One

Hello again, and welcome to yet another edition of Pulp! Hope you’re all doing well, and that you’re surviving the wintery chill – I’ve been spending most of my days huddled in a blanket fort to fend off the cold during swotvac. It’s a tough life, I tell ya. As is natural during swotvac, I’ve been trying to escape the monotony of study by watching a few season finales – it’s that time of year where all the good US TV shows go on hiatus for a while and you have to make do with reruns for the next few months.

Obviously, as a massive comic nerd I’ve been watching the CW’s superhero shows – Arrow, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow – and while two of the three were great, one stood out as being particularly bad. Arrow has, most unfortunately, been on the decline for a fair while now – there’s a whole host of issues, but most predominately bad writing – and after watching the horrid mess that was the season four season finale, I got to thinking about Green Arrow and how long it’s been since I read a really good story featuring the Emerald Archer.

That’s not to say there’s not great stories out there – after all, Jeff Lemire’s recent, albeit brief, run on Green Arrow was great, and Tom Taylor’s handling of the character in Injustice: Gods Among Us was just fantastic. That being said, the creative teams post-Lemire have been lacklustre – I mean, werewolf GA? Really, guys? All this GA-themed pondering led to me picking up Andy Diggle’s (Batman, Adam Strange) take on GA’s origins – Green Arrow: Year One.

Oliver Queen lives the life of a spoiled, narcissistic playboy, with little care for anyone or anything. He spends his time and money on high-adrenaline extreme sports and extravagant purchases, and is wasting his life away. When his corrupt bodyguard sinks his yacht and leaves him for dead, Oliver has to find a way to survive on an island that seems out to get him. Armed with nothing but a makeshift bow and arrows, Oliver has to find a way off the island – assuming the drug smugglers inhabiting the island don’t find him first.

It’s pretty clear that Year One was a big inspiration for the TV show, but so many more things seem to work better in the comic. Year One spends 95% of its time on the island; while there is a brief glimpse of Ollie’s life pre-shipwreck and a few panels once he gets home, his time on the island developing his skills is the focus. It’s a gritty struggle to survive, not unlike the recent Tomb Raider reboot, albeit without the treasure hunting. Oliver has to use what limited resources and skills he has in order to survive. I’m impressed by Jock’s (Swamp Thing, Hellblazer) art, too; while his characters’ faces seem a bit lumpy at times, he captures the essence of the tropical hellhole perfectly. Green Arrow: Year One, like Frank Miller’s seminal work Batman: Year One, serves as the perfect jumping on point for fans coming across from the TV show, though it’s missing most of the characters they might be used to. Pair it up with Lemire’s run on Green Arrow, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic set of stories.

Written by Alastair McGibbon