Comics can be a valuable source of commentary on political issues, and a character who represents a liberal viewpoint is Green Arrow. Oliver Queen has established a reputation of standing up for the little guy, with various stories delving into his political worldview. One of the best arcs I’ve read that deals with political fallout is Green Arrow: Crawling Through The Wreckage. Written by Judd Winick, the graphic novel involves Green Arrow becoming the Mayor of Star City to make his home a more socially conscious place to live.
The story takes place a year after Infinity Crisis and Star City has been destroyed in the aftermath. Thousands have evacuated and the poorer citizens who stayed are living behind a wall. From the first page, Winick creates a sense of desolation that infects Star City like a disease. Feeling that his home is going to hell, Oliver Queen has become the mayor and isn’t afraid to do whatever is necessary to get the rest of the world to notice Star City. Ollie legalises gay marriage, plays fast and loose with tax rates and blackmails corporate fat cats to achieve his agenda.
Ollie’s identity as Green Arrow contrasts sharply with his new political position. Having represented an anti-establishment perspective for years, Queen effectively becomes the very thing he’s been railing against. Winick asks the question of what it means for the rabble rouser to become ‘the man,’ which I found to be one of the most intriguing themes of the graphic novel.
“One of the reasons I signed up for the job was to get the rest of the damned world to start paying attention to us. ‘Half-crazy horn dog millionaire takes over his home town’ seems to have at least caught everyone’s eye…They want to save Star City by turning it into a giant plastic whorehouse with casinos and high-rise condominium communities…This is not about trying to squelch a free market, quite the contrary. We need to get greedy, we need to get creative. But not at the very expense of the people who didn’t abandon this town when it all went to hell.” – Green Arrow
It’s only a matter of time before Green Arrow’s antics piss off the wrong people and Deathstroke is hired to assassinate him. Deathstroke breaks into Ollie’s office, though it’s revealed that the Emerald Archer knew Slade was coming for him. Setting up a trap, Green Arrow traps Deathstroke in a pit of glue that helps him gain the advantage. Green Arrow’s new skill set is put on full display, demonstrating that he’s become a better fighter by engaging Deathstroke in a brutal sword fight. This culminates in Deathstroke being taken into custody.
The antagonism between Green Arrow and Deathstroke is a highlight of the story. The two characters have a history that goes back to Queen stabbing Deathstroke in his blind eye with an arrow during a fight with the Justice League. It created a nemesis like relationship between them that can be compared to the dynamic between Batman and The Joker.
“There is always much talk among ‘rabble rousers’…among dissenters…among those who choose to swim against the tide. The talk of ‘The Man.’ ‘Sticking it to ‘The Man.’ ‘The Man holds us back.’ Depending on the context, The Man can be anything from the status quo to a high school principal. But in general, The Man is the establishment. The law. And those who enforce it. Or make it. So what becomes of the rabble rouser, the trouble maker, the rebel when he becomes The Man?”
Green Arrow also teams up with former gang leader, Brick, who’s protecting the Star City slums. Queen doesn’t buy Brick’s change of heart, deducing that he’s looking out for people in order to protect his product on the street. The two reach an uneasy alliance, battling against zombielike gang members infected by an unknown drug.
Scott McDaniels’ art is bright and dynamic, especially when it comes to fight sequences. The battle between Green Arrow and Deathstroke is a tightly choreographed, action-packed slug fest.
Winick’s grasp of the characters is impressive, particularly in his characterisation of Green Arrow. Winick’s take is a swaggering, egotistical activist who enjoys getting under the skin of the authoritarians that he’s now in charge of. But there’s also the good-hearted, selfless hero who wants to make his home a better place.
Green Arrow: Crawling Through The Wreckage is an essential graphic novel for any fan of the character. Be sure to purchase it on Amazon.