How could one do reviews of old, influential comics and not include one of the most talked about story arcs in history, Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86 (The Drug Issues) by O’Neil and Adams? Let’s get a move on!!
Green Arrow, as he often did in the 70’s, runs into a group of street scum. One of the miscreants fires an arrow from crossbow into the hero’s shoulder as they make their escape. Soon, along with his friend Green Lantern, the emerald archer tracks down the ne’er-do-wells. It turns out that they were junkies who had turned to mugging to get money for their next fix. Among their number, they find Green Arrow’s ward, Roy Harper, AKA Speedy. Speedy convinces the Green grouping that he was working undercover to bust the junkies himself. Soon, however, Arrow and Lantern discover that Speedy is also an addict as they walk in on him shooting up heroin. The race is on to find and put down the people who hooked Roy on the junk as Roy tries desperately to kick the habit. Will he be able to clean up his act or will he end up back on the streets….
This epic two-part story arc was part of the O’Neil/Adams acclaimed socially relevant run on the series stands out like a supernova on a starscape. Both creators had hit their stride at this point and it shows.
Dennis O’Neil’s story, while slightly ham-fisted (it was the 70’s folks) and containing nit-picky inaccuracies (you cannot shoot a regular arrow with a crossbow – read it to get it) was incredibly riveting and very mature for its time. The scene of Roy trying to go cold turkey with the help of Black Canary is especially touching. The very end of the arc was supplied by Adams, and you can tell. It didn’t have the panache that O’Neil’s writing had, even at his most hammy.
However, Adams sparkles where he always does, in his art. Every frame he delivers is a masterpiece. His ability to illustrate action is second to none and his gritty cityscapes and ugly antagonists lend a realism that pulls you deep into the story.
Please read this arc (and the rest of this duo’s run on the series)! It is a true piece of comic history that should be enjoyed and appreciated by all comic fans. Even with it’s small problems and out of date lingo it really hits home with it’s stark look at Heroin addiction.
See you next time folks! I’ll try to bring you something less socially relevant. I promise.
(If you get a chance, check out my sci-fi novel on trippingoverreality.com.)