Green Arrow: Stranded – Brendan Deneen, Writer; Bell Hosalla, Artist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: Many of the recent wave of DC graphic novels have either focused on original characters, or essentially turn DC icons into original characters by boiling down their origins to the basics and making them more accessible to young readers. That’s definitely the case with Green Arrow: Stranded, a reinvention of Oliver Queen’s coming of age that casts him as a young teenager who gets marooned on a desert island—but this time, he’s not alone. He’s on a hunting trip to Africa with his stern father Robert, Robert’s mercurial business partner Sebastian, and Sebastian’s cocky son Tyler. Making things worse, Oliver is feeling the pressure as he was recently unable to kill a deer in front of his father on their last hunt.
Then the plane is struck by lightning and goes down, and Oliver finds himself alone on the island. He searches out his father, who he finds seriously injured, and is forced to survive on his own and try to keep them both alive. In many ways, this feels less like a superhero origin story and more like a tale inspired by the work of the late children’s lit legend Gary Paulsen. There are no supervillains here, the stakes are lower than they are in most Green Arrow stories, and it’s mostly a journey for Ollie to discover what he’s capable of. There’s a sort of retro boy’s adventure feel to it, but with a twist as the book celebrates Ollie’s kindness and his hesitancy to kill animals, rather than portraying it as a sign of weakness.
Tyler and Sebastian play less of a role than I expected. Sebastian is mostly off-screen for the story and what happened to him is a big question lurking in the background. Tyler seems like he’s gone full Lord of the Flies when we first see him again, but the story swerves away from making him the villain pretty quickly and instead illustrates how trust and forgiveness can save a life when in a high-stakes situation like this one. Tyler and Ollie start by paralleling each other and their relationships with their powerful fathers, and that informs every step of this story. The closest thing this book has to an actual villain is a pack of wild boars that seem to be out of blood, but they’re just a force of nature.
And that’s what this story largely comes down to—a boy vs. nature as he comes out of it changed and ready for a bold future. This book does a great job of illustrating complex father-son relationships and the way trauma can bring important things to the surface. At the same time, this book reads pretty quickly and ends with a great visual but one that leaves certain things unanswered. Artist Bell Hosalla, who I’m not familiar with before this, only has to draw four characters and makes them all distinct, but the depiction of the island is where the art really shines. It’s more of an adventure story than a prequel to a superhero’s tale, but I could see it being a good entry point to the character for new readers.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.