TV Review: Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’ S1 EP1 “Snow Gives Way”

The final Defender is unleashed in the latest Marvel Comics-based Netflix Original…

Starring:  Finn Jones, Jessica Henwick, Jessica Stroup, Tom Pelphry, David Wenham

Series created by:  Scott Buck (Iron Fist created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane)

Written by:  Scott Buck / Episode directed by:  John Dahl

What’s it about?

Fifteen years after surviving a plane crash in the Himalayas, Danny Rand returns home with new abilities and in search of a purpose…

Episode review

Launched on a wave of largely negative pre-release reviews, the premiere season of Marvel’s Iron Fist arrives on Netflix establishing the final member of the line-up for the Defenders.  Much like Luke Cage, “Snow Gives Way” presents us with a slow yet intriguing start to the series.

As Danny Rand, Finn Jones (Game of Thrones) makes for a likeable lead, a dishevelled, humble drifter with signs of an inner strength and a wise, shrewd perspective beyond his years.  Rand’s backstory is teased via a series of flashbacks where events from his childhood and a tragic plane crash in the Himalayas are revealed.

With the Rand family being declared dead during Danny’s absence, Rand Enterprises has come under the management of siblings Ward and Joy Meachum (Tom Pelphrey and Jessica Stroup, respectively) who are in disbelief that this stranger could be their long-lost friend, Ward in particular only interested in protecting his hold on the company.

With a focus on personal strife and corporate conspiracy, the script by showrunner Scott Buck (Dexter) does tend to evoke shades of Dallas but despite those soap opera-like elements being a little generic it does help to build character and plot.  There’s also room for some comic book Kung-Fu action and whilst lacking the edge and brutality of Daredevil it has a grace and skill to it that goes hand in hand with the character’s philosophy and martial arts mastery.  Another highlight is the introduction of dojo-master Colleen Wing, played by Jessica Henwick, who gets to have some fun interplay with Jones in a couple of key scenes that help to define both characters and hints toward a developing camaraderie.

It’s fair to say that the origin story presented in Iron Fist isn’t the most original, already familiar to viewers through the likes of Batman Begins and Arrow but Finn Jones turns in an enjoyable performance and the mystery surrounding Danny Rand’s absence, eventual return and his path to heroism has potential for, at the very least, entertaining viewing…but hopefully something a bit more.

The bottom line:  Despite a slow start, there are still signs that Iron Fist could develop into another enjoyable Marvel series for Netflix.

All 13 episodes of Iron Fist season 1 are available to stream now via Netflix.  The Defenders is due for release in the summer.

The way of the warrior? Finn Jones is Danny Rand in Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’.

Quick Thoughts: DC TV Season Premieres

With the current seasons of the CW’s DC Comics based television shows already underway in the States, this week saw the return of Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow to UK screens.  Presented here is a quick look at the season premiere of each series…

 Supergirl

Season 2 Premiere:  “The Adventures of Supergirl”

Starring:  Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart, Jeremy Jordan, Tyler Hoechlin

Episode Directed by:  Glen Winter / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Jessica Queller

With the future of the series secured by the transition from CBS to the CW, Supergirl makes an assured return with some small changes (including a new base of operations for the DEO) and one ‘Super’ addition (more on that in a moment).  It’s more or less business as usual with Melissa Benoist the ever likeable lead in an episode that’s fun and action packed (aided by some impressive visual effects) with plenty of fan pleasing references to comic book mythology.  There’s still an element of emotional angst (mainly via Kara and James Olsen’s friendship/relationship dilemma) that’ll irk some viewers, but will certainly appeal to the young adult demographic.

Of course, it’s the introduction of Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent/Superman that’s been most anticipated and proves to be the biggest highlight.  Much like the series itself it’s an optimistic and nostalgic take on the character that melds Hoechlin’s enjoyable performance with dashes of Christopher Reeve – with a plethora of callbacks to Richard Donner’s Superman throughout to hammer home that point.  It’s great that the producers have finally been allowed to fully include the Man of Steel, thus addressing the awkward elephant in the room that plagued last season and the solid chemistry between Benoist and Hoechlin makes their scenes together all the more pleasing, whether in their Kryptonian guises or not.  Hopefully there’ll be plenty more opportunities for Hoechlin to return throughout the series.

 The Flash

Season 3 Premiere:  “Flashpoint”

Starring:  Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale

Episode directed by:  Jesse Warn / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Brooke Roberts

Inspired by the comic book storyline of the same name, “Flashpoint” opens with Barry living a happy, Flash-less life after the darkness and turmoil he experienced in season 2…achieved by him travelling back in time to prevent his mother’s murder at the hands of the Reverse-Flash.

Time travel and alternate timelines is not something new to The Flash but in this one the super heroics are left to ‘Kid’ Flash Wally West (allowing Keiynan Lonsdale to step-up) whilst Barry treasures his new life in a world where both his parents are alive.  Grant Gustin gets to play the brighter and breezier version of his character here and the new timeline also gives us some welcome twists on other main characters – most notably Cisco as an egotistical billionaire and Joe West a washed-up shadow of the heroic Detective and father figure we’re familiar with.

Matt Letscher makes a creepy reprisal as the Reverse-Flash but unfortunately the central villain in “Flashpoint” is another, rather generic and uninspired riff on the ‘evil speedster’ in the form of ‘The Rival’ (Todd Lasance) who at least serves a purpose in bringing Barry back into action and facilitating a team up with Wally’s Flash.  What’s sorely missing is the excellent Tom Cavanaugh and seen as he’s been rightfully bumped up to series regular it’ll be interesting to see what’s in store for one of the shows’ greatest assets.

Events taking a dramatic turn, we learn – not unpredictably – that meddling with the timeline has consequences and with Barry’s memories of his previous reality gradually dissipating, this sets the stage for things to come.  Despite this all being done before in The Flash there’s plenty of potential in loosely adapting the Flashpoint storyline and doing so could provide some nifty tweaks to keep the series fresh and enjoyable.

Arrow

Season 5 Premiere:  “Legacy”

Starring:  Stephen Amell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Emily Bett Rickards, Echo Kellum, Paul Blackthorne

Episode directed by:  James Bamford / Written by:  Marc Guggenheim & Wendy Mericle

After focusing on metahuman antics and dark mysticism last season, with Damien Darhk defeated and Oliver in place as Mayor of Star City Arrow steps back towards the hardened vigilantism of its earlier days.  Those meta aspects broadened the overall scope of the CW’s DC universe but Arrow is arguably its better self when dealing with bone crunching and corruption and there’s plenty of that in this season premiere.

Stephen Amell slips confidently back into the role of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and although his mission as the Emerald Archer has reverted to more brutal times, the death of Laurel (Katie Cassidy) and the disbanding of Team Arrow leaves a large shadow and the way “Legacy” addresses this is laudable, via moral debates between Oliver, Thea, Felicity and a grieving Quentin Lance, redeemed by Oliver’s intentions to use official powers to root out police corruption and assemble a special anti-crime unit.

After a number of guest appearances last season, it’s good to see Echo Kellum become part of the regular cast, although it remains to be seen whether the interplay between Felicity and Curtis will be as fun as it was last year or just become plain annoying.

The martial arts action is as slick and exciting as ever (but paling in comparison to the visceral thrills offered by Marvel’s Daredevil) and “Legacy” features some crazy sequences, one of which involves Oliver dangling from a fleeing helicopter.  We’re left with the emerging threat of another Dark Archer-esque villain who will hopefully turn out to be more compelling than The Rival over in The Flash and stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Ra’s Al Ghul and Damien Darhk.

Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow air in the UK Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings (respectively) on Sky 1.  US viewers can catch them on the CW.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to UK screens on Thursday 3rd November, Sky 1.

What did you think of the season premieres of Supergirl, The Flash and Arrow?

Share your thoughts below!

With added 'Supergirl', the CW's DC shows return to UK TV screens...

With added ‘Supergirl’, the CW’s DC shows return to UK TV screens…

TV Review: ‘Supergirl’ S1 EP1 “Pilot” – SERIES PREMIERE

Starring:  Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart, Jeremy Jordan

Series created by:  Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg

Episode Directed by:  Glen Winter / Written by:  Ali Adler, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg / aired in the UK:  29/10/15

What’s this episode about?

Struggling to make her way as a reporter for National City’s Tribune newspaper, when an incident that endangers her sister’s life occurs Kara Danvers decides it’s finally time to embrace her Kryptonian heritage…

In review

Based on the DC Comics character and from the producers of Arrow and The Flash, Supergirl joins the increasingly crowded pantheon of current comic book television series (which those afore-mentioned shows aside, includes other DC based properties Gotham and the forthcoming Legends of Tomorrow) but this time, quite rightly, with a female lead.

An all too brief prologue explains Kara Zor-El’s arrival on Earth (having escaped from the destruction of her home planet, Krypton) which due to an excursion into the ‘Phantom Zone’ occurs twenty four years after her infant cousin, Kal-El landed.  With Kal-El having established himself as the titular Man of Steel himself, Superman, he leaves Kara in the care of the Danvers family to allow her to find her own path.

Fast forward to present day in National City and we see Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) struggling to forge a meaningful career at the Tribune newspaper headed up by the steely and cold hearted Cat Grant (a rather ‘catty’ turn from Calista Flockhart) and where Kara shares her woes and angsts with co-worker and best friend Winn (Jeremy Jordan).  Frustrated with the status quo, when her adoptive sister Alex (Chyler Leigh) is involved in a plane accident, Kara decides to embrace who she really is and utilise her abilities to help the innocent.

Melissa Benoist (formerly of Glee) is a likeable lead, deft at switching between both sides of her character, from displaying the happy-go-lucky bumbling unease as the bespectacled Kara Danvers to the strong willed determinations of the Girl of Steel (which Grant decides to name ‘Supergirl’, much to the annoyance of Kara who was hoping for something more along the lines of Superwoman).  She shares decent chemistry with her co-stars, with plenty of fun exchanges with Flockhart and Jordan and positive family ties with sister Alex (unfortunately we only get a glimpse of adoptive parents Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers – played by nineties TV Superman Dean Cain and one-time silver screen Supergirl Helen Slater, respectively).  The pilot of Supergirl also introduces us to another major character in the form of Superman’s best pal Jimmy – now taking himself more seriously as James – Olsen with a restrained yet promising and appropriately modern performance from Mehcad Brooks.

The Supergirl pilot’s key action sequence in which Kara leaps up, up and away(!) to save a crashing aeroplane is not entirely original, yet proves suitably tense and exhilarating (bolstered by some outstanding visual effects) and provides an event in which the Girl of Steel can be revealed to the world.  In contrast, the climactic showdown with villain Vartox (Owain Yeoman) comes off a little less refined and somewhat clunky…but I guess you can’t have it all?

Overall, the pilot for Supergirl is solidly entertaining with a tone largely reminiscent of the Christopher Reeve Superman films.  Whilst there are elements that will mainly appeal to a young adult demographic there’s still plenty of action and mythology to satisfy comic book fans.  There’s some necessary tip-toeing around the issue of Superman’s existence which despite the continuous references to “him”/”he” becoming a little tiresome, is generally well handled and the release of superpowered criminals from the Phantom Zone could prove either a blessing or a curse (remember those formulaic villain of the week episodes in the early days of Smallville?) but with a couple of neat twists and a likeable lead (and no less a strong female character for younger viewers to aspire to) there’s a good chance that Supergirl will fly.

The bottom line:  The pilot for Supergirl shows promise, despite some potentially formulaic elements there’s plenty of fun, action and comic book mythology to satisfy a varied audience.

Supergirl airs in the UK Thursday evenings on Sky One.  US viewers can catch it on CBS.

What did you think of the Supergirl pilot?  Share your thoughts below!

Melissa Benoist makes for a likeable lead in the new CBS series 'Supergirl'. Image belongs: CBS/DC Comics.

Melissa Benoist makes for a likeable lead in the new CBS series ‘Supergirl’. Image belongs: CBS/DC Comics.

TV Review: ‘The Flash’ S1 EP1 “Pilot” – SERIES PREMIERE

Make way for The Fastest Man Alive…

Starring:  Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Candice Patton as Iris West, Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow, Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawn, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Tom Cavanagh as Dr. Harrison Wells, Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West

Series created by:  Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns

Episode directed by:  David Nutter / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Geoff Johns / aired in the UK:  28/10/2014

What’s this episode about?

Comatose for nine months following an explosion at STAR Labs, CSI investigator Barry Allen awakens to find he has been gifted with incredible powers and is now the fastest man alive…

Episode review

Developed by the Producers of Arrow together with former Flash writer (and DC Comics God) Geoff Johns, The Flash is the latest small screen venture from DC/Warners and sees star Grant Gustin (Glee) hit the ground running – pun very definitely intended – after his two episode stint on that afore-mentioned sister show introduced viewers to Barry Allen, a Crime Scene Investigator from Central City – destined to become the iconic ‘Fastest Man Alive’ aka the DC Comics hero ‘The Flash’.

The series premiere of The Flash picks up where Gustin’s Arrow appearances left off, with Allen discovering his new abilities in the wake of the STAR Labs particle accelerator explosion – it’s not essential to have seen those episodes of Arrow as all the essentials are dealt with via flashbacks/narration, but it does enrich the viewing experience…especially when it comes to a particular surprise cameo.

We’re given a peak into Allen’s tragic past and the mysteries surrounding the murder of his mother for which his father (played by John Wesley Shipp – star of the short-lived 1990s Flash TV series) has been wrongfully accused, an intriguing set-up which lays the foundations for what is likely to be the premiere season’s main story arc and which readers of Flash comic books will be all too familiar with(!)

We’re also introduced to the other cast of characters of The Flash – including Allen’s best friend/quasi-love interest Iris West (facilitating some of the show’s weaker soapy elements), Central City cop Eddie Thawn and STAR Labs wiz-kids Ramon and Snow (who are no Fitz and Simmons, but it’s early days).  Most prominent though are Jesse L. Martin as Iris’s Detective father, who also serves as father figure to Allen and Tom Cavanagh as the enigmatic (and shady?) Dr. Harrison Wells.

Whilst a little time is taken to introduce the show’s supporting characters, it’s Gustin that rightfully stands out front and centre – infusing his performance with a believable and likeable underdog quality and is sure to be key to the show’s success.

Having Geoff Johns involved is a definite bonus, having written lengthy runs of Flash comics he has a well-developed understanding of the character and his place in the wider DC Comics universe (look out for the many fan-pleasing Easter eggs sprinkled throughout).

Character and story aside, The Flash features some very impressive digital effects work with an exciting finale (handled more than adeptly by veteran director David Nutter) that’s almost worthy of a feature film as the central hero faces his first villain.  Speaking of villains, the notion that Allen was not the only person to be ‘affected’ by the particle accelerator incident means there will be many more for the titular hero to face – it’s a nifty plot device which hopefully the show’s writers won’t rely on too heavily, lest it become tedious further down the line.

The overall tone of the show is surprising – it’s clearly not as dark and gritty as Arrow yet not even as close to light and goofy as many would expect.  Of course, the fantastical element of dealing with superpowers (which Arrow is largely committed to ignoring) together with a more morally clear central hero will set The Flash apart and should provide an interesting counterpoint.

The bottom line:  The Flash is off to a strong start, it certainly has legs so here’s hoping it keeps running!

The Flash airs in the UK on Tuesdays at 8pm on Sky 1.  US viewers can catch it Tuesday nights on The CW.

Grant Gustin proves the perfect lead as Barry Allen in the exciting series premiere of The CW's 'The Flash'.

Grant Gustin proves the perfect lead as Barry Allen in the exciting series premiere of The CW’s ‘The Flash’.

 What did you think of the series premiere of ‘The Flash’?  Share your thoughts below!

Have Yourselves a GEEKY Little Christmas…

Hey folks!  With Christmas well and truly upon us, I thought I would drop you all a (fairly) quick note wishing you the very best for Christmas, the New Year and beyond!

I’d also like to thank you all for your support over the last few months and for taking the time to check out this little blog of mine.  I’m humbled and forever grateful and must apologise for the lack of updates over the recent weeks, stay tuned for some fresh geekery in the New Year (I’ll also do some catching up with your wonderful blogs).

2014 looks set to be (at least potentially) a phenomenal year for geek fandom, with some tantalising treats in store.  Prepare to empty your wallets and purses, declare bankruptcy and form orderly queues for the likes of highly anticipated big screen releases including Robocop (please be good), Godzilla (have you seen that trailer?), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (CANNOT wait for that), The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past (Stewart! McKellen! Jackman! McAvoy! Fassbender! Oh my!), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the first post-Bat offering from Christopher Nolan, Interstellar.

On the small screen we’ll have the continuation of current seasons of Arrow (and a pilot for the impending Flash series), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (hopefully we’ll see some improvement) and RevolutionSherlock will live again and the time-hopping (profanity lacking) adventures of Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor shall commence in Doctor Who.  Hopefully it won’t be too long until the UK television premiere of the J.J. Abrams produced, Karl Urban starring Almost Human which I’m hearing good things about and the next season of Under the Dome will intrigue without ‘jumping the shark’ (that first season finale was a little worrying) and Falling Skies will continue to excite.

Plus there’ll be ongoing geekery in the world of comic books and gaming as Sony and Microsoft plough ahead with the new generation (I’ve waited long enough, just give me Metal Gear Solid V now) but I’ll leave it there, come up for air and just sign off by saying wherever you are and whatever you do (hopefully playing on your PS4’s and X-Box One’s in between bites of turkey, sips of wine and viewings of many a Christmas classic), eat, drink, be merry and most of all – be safe!

See you in 2014…

Hopefully you won't catch this guy in the act on Christmas Eve...

Hopefully you won’t catch this guy in the act on Christmas Eve…

TV Review: ‘Arrow’ S2 EP1 “City of Heroes” – SEASON PREMIERE

Starring:  Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance, David Ramsey as John Diggle, Willa Holland as Thea Queen, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Colton Haynes as Roy Harper, Susanna Thompson as Moira Queen, Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance

Series developed by:  Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim & Andrew Kreisberg

Episode directed by:  John Behring / Written by:  Andrew Kreisberg & Marc Guggenheim (story by Greg Berlanti) / aired in the UK:  21/10/2013

What’s this episode about?

A year after Malcolm Merlin’s ‘undertaking’ devastated the Glades of Starling City, a self-exiled Oliver Queen must return home to prevent his family’s company from falling into the hands of a rival and soon finds himself reluctantly returning to action to stop a group of copycat hooded vigilantes…

Episode review

By the end of its first season, Arrow had truly come into its own and secured widespread approval from comic book fans worldwide.  Like most shows it had its creative rough patches but by that explosive first season finale it had managed to iron out most of those kinks, allowing the series to return with renewed confidence for its sophomore season.

With “City of Heroes” the writers of Arrow wisely decided to pick up a year after the devastating events arising from Malcolm Merlin’s plans for Starling City resulted in heavy casualties – not in the least Oliver’s best friend and Malcolm’s son, Tommy (Colin Donnell).  A tragedy so painful that it has forced Oliver to return to the very island he spent five years trying to escape from.  It’s an interesting notion to have Oliver return to the place where his alter ego was born given that the arc of this episode presents a rebirth of the ‘Vigilante’ (more on that in a moment).

Back in Starling City, Thea Queen now manages her brother’s bar and is once again angry at her mother, imprisoned after revealing her involvement in the undertaking, Roy Harper has took it upon himself to protect the innocent in the absence of the Vigilante/Hood (but he’s not the only one, a mysterious figure familiar to DC Comics fans is also stalking the streets at night) and Laurel is now serving as assistant to the District Attorney providing a switch in her ‘relationship’ with the Hood.

The introduction of business rival Isabel Rochev (geek goddess Summer Glau) and her plans to wrestle Queen Consolidated from the hands of the Queen family brings Oliver back home but it’s the emergence of copycat vigilantes that force him to once again don the emerald hood.  Tommy’s death weighs heavy on Oliver’s soul and brings about change, a vow to no longer take a life and fight only for justice and to protect the innocent.  This a welcome if not unexpected change to Oliver’s ‘mission’, the character’s brutal and lethal actions during the first season attracted some controversy but it seems clear now that this was all part of a plan to provide Queen with valid motivations to become the hero Starling City needs.  Amell has grown comfortably into the role and with this change in moral dynamics, gives viewers someone to root for.

It’s always good to see the writers of a series shake up the status quo and hopefully these changes (and challenges) will allow Amell and the supporting actors of Arrow to grow along with the series itself.

Accompanying the main plot is more of Queen’s back story via flashbacks to the island and the events leading to his eventual escape.  These flashbacks (more often than not) proved an at times inventive complement to the main story but I feel it may not be long before it becomes a laborious and stale element of the series – let’s see how it plays out this season.

One of the highlights of Arrow is that it has taken one of the lesser known (and generally less interesting) DC Comics characters and via some Batman influence (check out the souped-up ‘Arrow Cave’) and with hints toward a new name for the Hood, a hero rises…

The bottom line:  Arrow is back with a new sense of direction and holds promise for what lies ahead – essential viewing.

Did you know?

Later on this season we’ll see the introduction of another key DC Comics character – Barry Allen aka The Flash, whose appearances in Arrow will set the stage for a (currently in development) spin-off Flash TV series.

Arrow season 2 airs in the UK Mondays at 8pm on Sky 1.  US viewers can catch it Wednesday nights on The CW.

What did you think of Arrow’s second season opener?  Share your thoughts below!

The 'Emerald Archer' returns with a new mission...

The ‘Emerald Archer’ returns with a new mission…

Also on Geek Blogger UKHave you read… ‘Green Arrow:  Year One’

 

Have you read… ‘Green Arrow: Year One’ ?

The comics and graphic novels you may not have read that are

well worth checking out…

Written by:  Andy Diggle / Art by:  Jock

Collects:  Green Arrow: Year One #1-6 (published 2007)

What’s it about?

The young Oliver Queen is a reckless socialite and billionaire playboy without a purpose.  Betrayed by his trusted bodyguard, Hackett, Queen is shipwrecked on an opium-rich jungle island where he must fight for survival against a group of ruthless drug traffickers…

In review

No doubt like numerous other comic book fans, DC Comics’ Green Arrow was a character I had always overlooked.  Sure, I had a passing awareness of Oliver Queen from years of reading other DC titles (his appearance in Geoff John’s Green Lantern:  Rebirth for example) but for some reason I was never really interested in Green Arrow – was it the Robin Hood motif?  Possibly – although honestly I was already heavily invested in Batman, Superman and Green Lantern (with a bit of The Flash here and there as well).  Those characters always excited me…but some middle-aged guy dressed as Robin Hood?  “No thanks” was always my overriding thought but, slowly, through osmosis – the character’s sporadic guest appearances in other titles, his addition to the cast of Smallville and now the Arrow TV series (Year One a clear influence on the latter, from naming Queen’s bodyguard after writer Diggle to the series’ island flashbacks sequences) – I have developed an appreciation for the Emerald Archer.

This leads me to Green Arrow:  Year One (which thanks to a recent digital comics sale I was able to obtain relatively cheaply), having already read Mike Grell’s rather enjoyable ‘mature readers’ title The Longbow Hunters (a sort of Green Arrow equivalent of The Dark Knight Returns, but not nearly as ground-breaking) Andy Diggle/Jock’s mini-series was naturally next on my list.

I’d heard a lot about Year One over the years since its publication in 2007 and understood it to be one of the character’s definitive tales and already being a fan of both Diggle and Jock’s work it qualified as a safe purchase on those merits alone.

The story depicts the young Oliver Queen and the formative event that would lead to his creation of the Green Arrow persona.  It opens with the reader being introduced to the drunk, immature and generally careless Queen – living his life without worrying about consequences or responsibility (including an outlandish auction bid that leads to the fateful acquisition of a longbow).

The first chapter (Part One) provides the set-up leading to Hackett’s betrayal and Queen’s shipwrecking leaving the remaining chapters to fully explore the dire situation he awakens to and the formation of the skills he will need to prevail, leading to his eventual rebirth as Green Arrow.

Of course, at first, Queen fights simply to survive – to hunt for food and to defend against the drug traffickers he finds are enslaving the island’s population.  Queen’s befriending of a pregnant islander gives him a cause and a purpose not only to escape but to free the enslaved populace by taking down drugs baron ‘China White’ and her gang.  By the end of the story Queen is reformed, having a strong sense of justice instilled in him and the will and means to commit to the very purpose he had been seeking.

Andy Diggle’s script flows nicely, the story never feels rushed nor does it become sluggish and the dialogue is well written.  Jock’s art (supported by colourist David Baron, with apt use of greens during some key scenes) is the perfect fit and really brings the excitement and action to life, on the whole it all looks and feels epic – almost cinematic – especially in the penultimate chapter (Part Five) as Queen leads his one man attack on China White’s sub pen headquarters.

Year One is gripping from start to finish with a tense and (literally) explosive final show-down with China White and Hackett receiving some poetic justice.

Why you should read it

As with Batman:  Year One, Green Arrow:  Year One is an essential and definitive take on the origin of the character.  It’s well written and gloriously illustrated making it one of the best titles I’ve ever read – considering it features a character I was never really remotely interested in it goes without saying that you should check it out.

Standout moment

Hunted by China White’s men, Queen finds that the Pacific Queen has ran aground on the island’s shore.  He seeks refuge inside the yacht, awaking to the harsh sunlight only to discover an important item resting on the deck – the longbow that was once a symbol of his decadence will now serve as the symbol of his transformation…

Did you know?

The character of China White appears throughout Arrow’s first season and is played by X-Men 2’s Lady Deathstrike, Kelly Hu.

Read it if you like…

Batman:  Year One, Green Arrow:  The Longbow Hunters

Green Arrow: Year One is available in print and digital formats from DC Comics.

Jock's artwork brings the action of Green Arrow: Year One truly to life, with some nice use of greens by colourist David Baron.

Jock’s artwork brings the action of Green Arrow: Year One truly to life, with some nice use of greens by colourist David Baron.