Green Arrow, King Arthur and some women detectives

I spent some of my birthday gift certificates on MOVING TARGET: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow by self-confessed fanboy Richard Gray. The book argues that Oliver Queen has never really been just one thing: in the 1940s he was a Batman knockoff but also inspired by Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood and by Westerns (when he finally got an origin it explains his fascination with Native American culture naturally included mastering archery). Gray follows Ollie through the gimmick-arrow days of the 1950s and 1960s (“Like Batman if Batman were all about the utility belt contents.”), the legendary radical period at the end of the decade, then on through Mike Grell’s urban vigilante, GA’s son Connor taking over the mantle, Oliver’s resurrection and of course TV’s Arrow.

The book includes several interesting interviews such as Neal Adams explaining his redesign of Ollie’s costume on the cover shown here was based on his own knowledge of archery (hence an arm-guard and a quiver large enough to hold all the arrows. Gray struggles too hard to tie all the eras together (it’s like he’s trying to make sense of a real person’s life choices) but this was overall satisfactory.

ONCE AND FUTURE: Monarchies in the UK opens with England in chaos after events in the previous volume, Parliament of Magpies, then the chaos gets worse. Along with Arthur, Celtic myth, we have the later French version of the legend plus Mallory’s Arthur showing up to contest rulership. Meanwhile Bridget, Duncan and Rose are desperately searching for a solution that can restore the British Isles to normalcy. Wild and entertaining, as always.

THE SECRET OF THE LOST PEARLS: A Useful Woman Mystery by Darcie Wilde is part of a series about Rosalind Thorne, a well-bred Regency woman who serves as a private investigator for upper-crust women who trust her to resolve their dilemmas without scandal. In this variation on Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennett Darcy hires Rosalind to find out who stole the eponymous jewelry. This proves more complicated than expected as everyone in the family is hiding something and the counterpart to Mr. Wyckham has returned, nastier than ever. This was really good.

The final volume of LEAVE IT TO CHANCE: Monster Madness (following Trick or Treat), by James Robinson and Paul Smith,  has Universal’s classic horror icons walking off the screen at a revival theater to wreak havoc, which is unusual even for Devil’s Echo. Chance, of course, insists on ignoring her father and getting in on the action, just as she does in the third story, a delightful zombie romp involving a crooked gambler and a hockey player who comes back from the dead in hopes of winning the Stanley Cup.

That’s only three issues which is annoying, but as the last two comics are at DC, then Image, I presume rights were an issue with reprinting them (when I have cash to spare, I may hunt them on eBay). From what I’ve learned online, Lucas Falconer dies (apparently) and Chance has to hunt for the lurking villain in the back of many of the stories without her dad. The series ends up on a cliffhanger; one online review says the fatal weakness was a girl-centric series at a time comic-book stores were overwhelmingly male-centric; online discussion indicates while Robinson wouldn’t mind giving it another try, Smith’s not enthused. Still, the series is a lot of fun and I’m glad to have it almost complete.

#SFWApro. Covers top to bottom by Adams, Mora and Smith; all rights to the images remain with the current holders.

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