"New Blood" (Part 5)
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
After Mia's revelation last issue that she is infected with HIV, Team Arrow takes a break from chasing crime lords to attend to their friend in distress. Though Green Arrow Oliver Queen had helped the young runaway get her life back on track, Mia's past has finally caught up to her. While she and Ollie put on strong faces, former monk Conner Hawke sees through both heroes' façades and comes to the rescue. There is no pat resolution to this crisis, but together Mia, Conner, and Ollie might help each other get by.
Wow. Judd Winick has displayed his mastery at writing relationships and complex social issues in Pedro and Me and Green Lantern, and he's done it again here. This issue of Green Arrow is informative, realistic, and poignant in its portrayal of a young woman struck with an incurable disease and what her illness means to those closest to her. The reactions of Green Arrow and Conner to the revelation fit very well with their characters, as does Mia's self-perception following the diagnosis. All this leads into a terrific and surprising moment between Conner and Mia that should land this issue some awards outside the comic book industry.
While Hester and Parks's art in this issue is consistent with their prior work on the series, what really stands out visually for this issue is the cover. Small picture on white background, with the words "h.i.v. positive" for a caption. Stunning. This will certainly catch the eye of people who might not normally pick up the book, and will almost certainly get it banned from Wal-Mart.
Although Green Arrow has never been the most fascinating or compelling superhero, his series has maintained a certain edge, engaging the reader through solid characterization. When the current series began, screenwriter and director Kevin Smith brought Oliver Queen back to life and carried the book through over-the-top action; he was followed by mystery novelist Brad Meltzer, who added depth to the father-son dynamic between Ollie and former protégé Roy Harper and Ollie's real son Conner Hawke. Under Judd Winick, however, the book has really flourished, with a depth of feeling and emotion unrivalled in other superhero books. Hester and Parks have been along for the whole ride, lending visual consistency and defining these characters for the current generation. This arc is a fitting finale for the art team, as it will certainly be their most important work to date. Good job, all, and thank you.
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