Is Every Archer a Loser?

JLA #8-9, DC Comics, August to July 1997
Undersog Week continues with an early story in Grant Morrison's maverick Justice League of America run.

Grant Morrison remembers the Silver Age. In the Silver Age, Justice League stories were strange. Naively strange, perhaps, but strange nonetheless. It just so happens that my man Morrison is the King of Strange. He'll take your Silver Age concepts and twist them in a Gordian knot for you to enjoy all over again. And look at that second cover, isn't it a joy? In the 60s, the Justice Leaguers were always turned into finger puppets or trees or whatever. They make a great key chain too.

So what Silver Age madness has Morrison put inside the comic? Well, how about a little thing called the "imaginary story"? This is the thing that, after Bobby Ewing woke up on Dallas, fell out of fashion so that most comics would have to put "Not a dream! Not an imaginary story!" right there on the cover. Which made those stories, like, you know... REAL! But Morrison revels in that kind of stuff.

Our story opens on a perfectly intact Krypton as young Kal-El becomes a Green Lantern. See? That's some imaginary shit, right there! That never happened! How could it? Ok, I'll tell you: An old JLA villain by the name of the Key is looking to unlock some more of his mental potential and has hooked the Justice League up to a virtual reality machine. Each of them is experiencing an "imaginary" scenario and once they defeat that scenario and wake themselves up, it'll give the Key a surge of power that'll make him a god. Only in a Grant Morrison comic would the villain's goal be for the heroes to win.

So you've got Superman as a GL, GL as a Qwardian action figure, the Flash with a quicksilver covering that ties him to the speed force, an elder Batman married to Catwoman and overseeing the careers of a Tim Drake Batman and a Bruce Jr. Robin, Aquaman in a flooded New York battling Manta raiders, and my personal favorite:
1960s mod Wonder Woman kicking a zombie nazi in the face!!!* Don't know about you, but I think that's what Wonder Woman should always be about. Great Indiana Jones version of Steve Trevor, too:
Back in the real world, the new Green Arrow, Connor Hawke, has been invited to the Justice League Watchtower to see if he'd make a good member. Like his dad, he's just a very accurate archer. Unlike his dad, he uses real arrows, not those stupid trick arrows that would never work in real life. So of course, Morrison has him lose his arrows at the start of the story, which forces him to fight the Key and his robots with trick arrows from a trophy case.

They're not all explosive arrows either. Boxing glove arrows. Handcuff arrows. And...
Boomerang arrow! And he has to beat a guy who just put down 6 Justice Leaguers! He comes to terms with his father's arsenal: "Only a madman could use this equipment. Only a genius could use it. I'd better decide which I want to be, fast." And when push comes to shove, when the Justice League wakes up and the Key is about to enter the Cosmic Lock...
"It all seems so ridiculous." "That's what I would have thought too." I love it when the "littlest hero" saves the day. I really do. If they all happen to be archers, so be it.
*This sentence has been Chris Sims-approved!


De said...

The modern takes on the trick arrows have usually been played for laughs or derision. It was good to see Connor come around to discovering that they were, in fact, useful.

An aside if I may: On Justice League Unlimited, Green Arrow's boxing glove arrow was shown to expand into its signature shape after being fired. I thought it was a neat way around the inherent aerodynamics issue.

SallyP said...

I blush to admit that I love those ridiculous trick arrows. They ARE quite mad, and yes, you would have to be a lunatic genius to use them.

Nice to see Connor though.

Sea-of-Green said...

Ah, Connor. I hope DC finds a GOOD use for him now that he's "back."


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