Friday, March 23, 2012
'Bat-Fascist': The Wit and Wisdom of Oliver Queen
This is from Detective Comics #559, February 1986.
Oliver Queen is the fellow in the lower righthand corner of the cover. You see, he's also known as GREEN ARROW and he's been a part of the DC Universe since 1941. As a matter of fact, he's one of that handful of Golden Age characters, like Batman and Superman, who appeared every month from his inception all the way through into the beginning of the Silver Age in the late 1950s!
He was a sort of a poor man's Batman, with a sidekick and a bunch of gimmicks - including an Arrow-Car - and he appeared in More Fun Comics, then in Adventure Comics and World's Finest, until the 1960s when he became a fixture in the Justice League of America for a long time. Along the way, they took away his money and his junky sidekick and gave him facial hair and an attitude, and he became a sort of proactive, hot-tempered hippie. And the Black Canary was now his girlfriend.
All things considered, it was a fair trade.
Eventually, by the 1980s, he had a back-up feature in Detective Comics. This lasted from issue #521 to #567. (And it included a two-part story, "The Night Olympics" in #549 and #500, that was written by Alan Moore a year or so before "Watchmen.") I was reading Detective Comics when the Green Arrow series started, but I can't say I was ever really a big fan. I read it. It was OK. But the lead feature, Batman, had Batman in it, as well as art by Gene Colan and Don Newton and all kinds of crazy crap going on all the time. Green Arrow was barely on my radar.
But there was one real high point for Green Arrow during this period. (Aside from the Alan Moore two-parter.) He got to appear in the main feature with Batman! And Black Canary was with him! And Catwoman was in it, too! And it was drawn by Gene Colan and written by Doug Moench!
Even though I was collecting Detective Comics at the time, I missed this issue for some reason, so I never read it until just a few months ago when I bought it online. It's great! I felt like it was 1985 again and I was at the library at Ball State University, reading comic books when I was supposed to be studying for a chemistry test.
The actual plot is not that important. Green Arrow and Black Canary have come to Gotham City on a case and Batman doesn't really like these interlopers on his turf, so there's a bit of a conflict because Batman and Green Arrow are both being dicks. So Black Canary and Catwoman have to smooth things over until they can wotk out a truce and bring the case to a successful conclusion.
It's the dialogue that really sells this one.
At one point, Green Arrow says: "It's all the Bat-Fascist's fault!"
He also calls him "Bat-Nazi," "Bat-Phony," "Bat-Flake" and "Bat-Ronnie," thus giving away the Reagan-era time period of the tale. Green Arrow sarcastically says to him, "O Scourge of Gotham."
Finally, Black Canary feels compelled to say: "Ollie, stop saying silly things."
Oh, little bird. He wouldn't be Ollie if he didn't say silly things.
And there would be one less reason to love Detective Comics.