Comic Review: Green Arrow: Moving Targets
Writer: Judd Winick
Pencillers: Phil Hester, Tom Fowler, Eric Battle, Tommy Castillo
Inkers: Ande Parks, Rodney Ramos, Jack Purcell
Moving Targets is a big trade, collecting #40-50 of the 2001 Green Arrow series. Within this trade, there are three segments, but they all flow together to read as one story. The overall story is that the entirety of Star City’s criminal underworld has been taken over by a ruthless gang leader named Brick, who steps up to take advantage of the chaos caused in the city in the previous volume. With the entire city paralysed by fear, will Green Arrow be able to stop Brick? And how will the family manage, when Mia’s life is turned upside down by some startling news?
After gaining some real momentum with the previous volume, does Winick continue to deliver with this volume?
The opening issue deals with the fallout from City Walls, as well as setting the scene for the story to come. As with the previous volume, Ollie is feeling guilty once more, but now his guilt has been deepened. Winick does a great job of gradually unfolding Ollie’s feelings, with him showing just how Ollie feels like he’s failed Mia – in taking her in, he hoped to help remove her away from all the trauma and pain she’s suffered in her life, but all he seems to be doing is adding to the load. Ollie also finally splits up with Dinah, with their relationship having fallen into disarray since Ollie’s affair in Straight Shooter. Meanwhile, Brick has been moving behind the scenes taking over vast amounts of Star City’s criminal underworld.
Brick soon moves to strengthen and expand his position, arranging to have the other leading mob bosses killed in order to absorb their territory. With nobody else around to challenge his dominion over the organised crime network, he soon seeks to demonstrate his power to the citizens of Star City. These few issues are fairly enjoyable, with Brick always being a couple of steps ahead of Ollie and Connor, outplaying them and consolidating his position as the head of crime in Star City. Whilst the opening section of the book is nothing exceptional, they are a good read which serve well to establish Brick as a menace which Green Arrow can’t easily defeat, with Brick now being thoroughly entrenched in the system with all the city officials and police fearful of his power.
Midway during the struggle against Brick, Winick drops a bombshell that changes Mia’s life forever – she discovers that she is H.I.V. positive. Tackling such issues is something that Winick is known for, and it is not something that everyone favours. However, this little segment of the trade is by far the best part of this volume, and also the strongest part of Winick’s run so far. His handling of the characters is exceptional, with the responses of Mia, Connor and Ollie all being true to the characters. But that’s not it. Winick doesn’t just tackle the issue, he also tells a damn good story which fits superbly into Mia’s story arc.
There’s a wonderful speech from Mia where she addresses the issue, but nothing is more powerful than the final few pages of #44, where Connor comforts her. It is terrifically written, and terrifically drawn. I can’t stress enough that the revelation is not just there for the sake of it, or for Winick to preach to his readers, but part of Mia’s evolution into the superheroine Speedy. Despite its obvious down moments, the story’s tone is overall a positive one, in which Winick takes Mia on a journey from the depths of denial into being comfortable with herself and a fully fledged hero on the Teen Titans. Honestly, it is worth checking this volume out for Mia’s story alone.
The final section of the trade returns to Green Arrow’s conflict with Brick. Alongside Connor and Mia, Ollie routinely disrupts Brick’s business, at the great cost overall cost to the crime boss. Brick seeks to remedy the situation, deducing that he needs to prevent ‘Team Arrow’ from targeting him by wearing them out. Consequently we see some Team Arrow tackle some interesting folks such as High-Rise and the Duke of Oil, before Brick’s call extends to some higher profile characters, with the Riddler and Drakon returning. After all the build up the story sort of fades out, however, which is fairly disappointing. The return of the Riddler and Drakon was something that I was looking forward to, but there’s no real resolution to their threat in this volume, with Winick leaving their return open to a later volume. While disappointing, it sure as hell does well to keep you interested into just what will happen further down the line for Green Arrow, with him in the sights now for a vast array of villains, who are all actively seeking their revenge.
The pencils are split between Hester and Fowler in this volume. Hester and Parks provide some solid artwork as usual, with their style being easy on the eye and well suited to Green Arrow. There’s nothing I can say that I haven’t said before – I like Hester’s pencils, and they are quality as usual in this volume. Hester is a tall order to follow, and I must admit that I don’t find Fowler’s pencils to be as consistent as his overall, but he does draw some fantastic facial expressions, which really help to bring the humour out in the panel.
It’s safe to say that there is some real character development in this volume. Connor and Ollie are well written, consistent with what has been done before, but the real star of the show for me is Mia. She’s such a strong individual despite all the tragedy that has befallen her, feeling guilt over her mistakes and just wanting to help people. Despite being H.I.V. positive, she takes control of her life, using it to help her become more focused in her goal to make a difference. She’s a truly inspiring character, and reading this it’s easy to see why so many fans love her. She’s amazing.
Moving Targets is yet another strong trade in the series. It’s accessible for new readers despite building on what has gone on before, and is a really enjoyable read. The storyline with Brick is fairly entertaining, with Winick creating a real threat to Team Arrow who won’t easily be dismissed. The main attraction of this volume, however, is Mia’s evolution into Speedy despite the tragic news, with her strength in turning it into something which can help focus her life. Those three issues alone are reason enough to buy this trade, whether or not you’ve read the previous material.
GO Rating: 4/5