Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mini-Views - Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries.

Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries #1 (one-shot)
Written by Pornsak Pichetshote
Illustrated by Marco Castiello and Ig Guara
Cover by Victor Kalvachev

There's a definite appeal to an alternative reality story such as Flashpoint, as it offers a great deal of freedom to explore both an entirely new universe as well as the archetypes of the 'actual' universe on which the story is based. One of the reasons I think the trope has endured for so long is that it allows a writer to take a given character and place them at a different angle. Too often this has resulted in stunt-tactics (Batman in the Old West, Batman as a vampire, and so on) but occasionally you find someone exploring a given character in greater detail. With the Green Arrow Industries one-shot, we explore the story of an Oliver Queen who didn't become the champion of the downtrodden, but rather continued to be an entitled and oblivious corporate figurehead.

In the world of Flashpoint, the world is teetering on the brink. Atlantean and Amazonian military threats have left the governments of the world on edge, and in the wake of the conquest of the United Kingdom and the sinking of Paris, the armed forces of these nations are looking for something that can assure the safety of the people. Enter Green Arrow Industries, a corporate juggernaut that creates state of the art weaponry that is beyond bleeding edge. How? By retro-engineering the advanced weaponry taken from captured supervillains and selling it on the arms market for a tidy profit. In this universe Oliver Queen is a wunderkind, a man used to the art of the deal and is walking on air after securing a major deal with the U.S. government for his 'Green Arrow' missile defense system. But when his island stronghold falls under attack by forces unknown, can this spoiled rich boy step up to the challenge? Is there anything of the bold bowman of the normal DC universe inside him at all? The answer is yes. And no.

I'm not sure who Mr. Pichetshote is, but I will give him serious respect for coming up with an angle on big business in a superhero universe I never before considered. With all the gadget-based heroes and villains out there of course corporations in those universes would be working overtime trying to get their hands on the advanced weaponry and devices those heroes and villains use to try and retro-engineer them for profit. Reading Queen's presentation of GAI's successes with villainous devices for military application made me grin and think 'of course'. The overall story is brusque and a bit rushed (the unfortunate consequence of a one-issue story), but he manages to illustrate the similarities and the differences between this universe's Oliver Queen and our own Green Arrow. Whereas the DCU's Oliver lost it all and rebuilt himself into a liberal crusader for the underdog, this version simply shrugged his shoulders and rebuilt his company, becoming a major player and believing money to be his 'green arrow' to the future. They're both the same man, but one went on to better himself while the other did not. Pichetshote shows us the ghost of what this man could have been, what he briefly reaches for. . .and what he ultimately denies. It also explores the notion of the 'evil corporation' archetype and flirts with the notion of a "good guy' corporation. The story has action, but it's mainly a character piece, an exploration of a man who believes he's doing good but is painfully out of touch with the potential consequences of his actions.

The art is split between Castiello and Guara, but there's enough consistency that the transition between one artist's work and the other isn't jarring. They capture a lot with Oliver's expressions through the story which helps further illustrate his internal monologue and his growing discomfort throughout the story. There's some fun action featuring Oliver battling a would-be assassin with an arsenal of confiscated supervillain weaponry which was well-staged and entertaining, with a nice mix of tension and humor.

On the down side though, this is a one-shot. Any character development or exploration of potential is (seemingly, I can't say I've read the main Flashpoint storyline so I'm uncertain as to whether Ollie shows up there) confined to this one issue. While I liked that the character was an illustration of Green Arrow without his chance to better himself, it would've been nice to see Oliver given that chance here. As it stands, I doubt we'll be seeing the character leaping into the fray on the side of the good guys any time soon. It left the issue wanting; not enough resolution for closure, not enough hints of a potential redemption or further exploration.

A good read, though much like the previous Grodd of War one-shot, it's ultimately a personal call as to whether a reader wants to focus on these issues or something a bit more substantial in the Flashpoint line such as the various mini-series. I was entertained however, so I'll give it my stamp of approval. Recommended.


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