While I have enjoyed decent sized swaths of the CW’s Arrow, it has, since the very beginning, been missing one key component: the roguish Green Arrow who was my second comic book crush. Gambit was the first, in case you were wondering. It’s possible I have a type.
I was beginning to think we were going to be forever bereft of any rogue on what has recently become the most dour of superhero shows until this past week when, much to my delight, and that of Hellblazers everywhere, along came John Constantine.
I am a documented fan of snarky archers, Green Arrow foremost among them. Why? The feather. The goatee. The boxing glove arrows. And most of all, the attitude. The glorious, brazen, bordering on obnoxious, deep down heart-of-gold attitude.
While the New 52 hasn’t done comic book Green Arrow any favors, there were several bright spots during Jeff Lemire’s tenure as writer. (Ironically, Lemire is now writing Marvel’s Hawkeye and while it ain’t no Matt Fraction run, it’s still pretty good.)
Lemire gave Oliver his swagger back, his flippant attitude, his yawp in the face of danger. Yes, he did take away the beard, but I was willing to compromise since nothing could have been worse than the personality-less meat heads that came before and after, whether facial hair endowed or no.
I was really hoping Arrow was going to follow Lemire’s storyline.
DC also ran a series of animated shorts last year, each “Showcase” focusing on a different hero. The Green Arrow one reminded me of why I love the character so very much, of how much fun he can be.
Short version: He almost saves a young princess at an airport from her evil count Vertigo, though only after complaining aloud to himself how hard it is to change into his costume in the back of a Prius. There is quipping, hero-ing, grappling, and shooting. There is an archery contest in baggage claim with Merlyn. Vertigo crashes the party and takes Green Arrow out. Canary, who inexplicably wore a leather jacket, leotard, and fishnets on her flight, saves his wise-cracking butt. With which he has no issue because they are a freaking team.
Going back a bit further, anyone who partook of the Batman: Brave and the Bold animated series remembers the feather, the wisecracking, and an utterly insane one-upsman ship with Batman that still brightens the darkest of days.
I’ve stuck with Arrow because it had to happen at some point, right?
The writers were going to let Stephen Amell tell a joke, crack-wise. Maybe smile? Swagger? Preferably brazenly. Fork his facial hair. And no, whatever he has going on his face right now does not count as the goatee. Alas, the only payoff for my loyalty was a one off, boxing glove arrow sight gag, and damn it, I deserve more. This is because I continue to enjoy The Flash (Cisco trying to ask Sha’ira out?) and it seems wrong and mean to hang out with the funny, fun sibling and leave the older, boring one home alone.
Several other geek outlets have already recapped Haunted so I won’t bore you with the details if you’ve seen/read and I don’t want to spoiler too much if you haven’t and plan to.
The important thing to know is that it gave *this* geek two things she’s been dying for: the opportunity to be a #Hellblazer again if only for the night and a rogue on Arrow. Any rogue would have done at this point. The tie and trench wearing ultimate rogue of the DC, or any other comic book, universe?
Why am I so hung up on the rogue thing?
In our repressed, angry, oft humorless society, we need them as a means of wish fulfillment.
Rogues us a chance to escape into a fantasy world where it’s good to be bad to do good. Rogues like the real Green Arrow (yeah, I said it, the real Green arrow) and John Constantine give those of us who have to exist in a larger society (and most of us do) a chance to explore our dark sides safely. Safely because, in the end, even if the good is buried very, very deeply under a vicious mouth, extreme self-interest, and a really, really bad attitude, it’s there and it will win.
The naughty stuff only hurts the bad guys, people who deserve it. Murderers and thieves and evil barons trying to steal thrones from children.
The rogue allows us to role play the way we’d like to handle the woman who shoves ahead of us in line at Target even though she very clearly sees us struggling with an exhausted, tantrum-y kid. The guy who dents our cars in the parking lot at work. Whoever it was who puts anchovies on our pizza even though we ordered olives and mushrooms and we haven’t had pizza for months because we’re doing Weight Watchers because we want to be healthy for ourselves and for the kids.
Would I actually curse any of those people if we lived in a world where I could do that thing? No. Well, maybe the pizza guy. But the jerks who caught a seventy-year-old man in the cross-fire of a gun battle? The woman you saw in the mall bathroom slapping her kid around? Donald Trump’s toupee?
A rogue takes care of those things no problem and they do it with aplomb.
In fantasy land, rogues make sure the punishment fits the crime and they do it with a smirk and a gorgeous sarcasm. In the end, however, they always do it with good intentions. They Do the Right Thing even when they do it really, really badly.
Nope. Not even close.
All the more reason to enjoy the fantasy.
That fantasy is what’s been missing from Arrow all along, with the lack becoming more evident with each season. Yes, we have the occasional metahuman, the Lazarus Pit/League of Assassins thing, and whatever the hell Damien Dhark is doing with the knife and melting faces, but that’s just every other Tuesday in every city in the DC Universe. Plenty of bickering and lying and apologizing and pointless rambling (I have an almost six- and three-year-old, I don’t need TV for that stuff) but no escape. And certainly no just desserts.
I mean, for real, that’s how they took out Ra’s? The real Green Arrow would have… well he would have been way more creative and he would have done it with a grin.
And a hat with a feather.
John Constantine has been gathering dust and waiting for the opportunity to make all the trouble he is so very capable of making. The late, lamented NBC Constantine may have come to grips with the smoking habit but they never let him go full on rogue. Never allowed him to reach his full dick with a heart of tarnished brass potential.
We all knew it was there, were allowed just enough glimpses to get our hopes up only to have them dashed just when things were getting really good (and don’t even get me started on the terrible waste of a nascent Spectre).
Moving him into the Arrow-verse worked because Matt Ryan is epically brilliant at his role. It worked because Stephen Amell is being forced to play the worst, most boring, most humorless Green Arrow ever when Green Arrow is supposed to be fun and smart and a little bit naughty and the lack thereof left a hole begging to be filled.
The new suit didn’t make the current Mr. Queen into Green Arrow, no matter what he’s decided to call himself. Perhaps John Constantine managed it? Well, they did let Oliver tell a joke and crack a smile at the end of the episode and I thought his quota was already used up for the season.
Ray Palmer is back next week and that always adds some giggles, though he’s definitely more of a goofball. I don’t have high hopes, but I’ve been wrong before.
And what about Constantine? Does now he stand a better chance of coming back from the dead? Any chance at all? I saw an article citing a ten percent jump in ratings for Arrow with the appearance of John and that was day of viewing, adjusted neither for online viewings or DVR watchers. A fair few people tuning in to see the man himself.
Robert Rodriguez’s El Rey felt there was enough of a fan base to acquire Constantine for syndication and Haunted seems to have proved him right.
My rogue loving brain is imagining all the magnificent mayhem Rodriguez could cook up with Ryan and company should the opportunity arise to bring the show back to life.
Dead and gone, you say? To quote the first rogue I ever loved, “Never tell me the odds.”
For now? Long live John Constantine.
And long live the rogues.