Welcome to “Around the DC Universe,” Graphic Policy’s weekly guide to the best comics and shows on DC Entertainment’s premium subscription service.
After a week away from this column I had a bit of catching up to do with Titans. The show continues to be one of the best that DC has ever produced, finally bringing the team together in one episode and introducing the second Robin, Jason Todd in another. With the series entering its second half the characters are really starting to gel as a group. It’s a lot of fun to see the chemistry between them at work and watching Dick take on the villainous Nuclear Family as Robin was tremendously satisfying. Jason too is very well done. There aren’t many portrayals of the character to hold up against Curran Walters’ for comparison but he does a good job defining him nonetheless. Walters’ Jason evokes the blend of sympathy and disdain that the character demands with a screen presence that is magnetic. He’s a great addition to the regular ensemble and I hope to see more of him as the series develops.
One of the earliest series I recommended through this column was Kevin Smith’s run on Green Arrow. This time around I call your attention to another classic story featuring the emerald archer: The Longbow Hunters by writer/artist Mike Grell. From the same era as Miller and Mazzuchelli’s Batman Year One and Tim Truman’s Hawkworld, this three issue mini series reintroduced Oliver Queen to the post-Crisis DC Universe. Grell’s Ollie is a grounded, urban vigilante on the hunt for a serial killer who stalks the streets of Seattle amidst a much larger affair involving rogue intelligence operatives and mysterious assassins. Fans of the TV show Arrow will recognize many familiar elements in the mini series itself and the follow up ongoing series with artist Ed Hannigan, several issues of which are also available on DC Universe in Green Arrow (1987). While the art is gorgeous and the stories compelling in their own right I do think this run is missing something. A notably conservative creator Grell never fully embraces the liberal politics that have been one of Oliver’s trademarks ever since Denny O’Neill and Neal Adams got their hands on him in the late seventies. One might expect a critique of the lefist point of view, coming as the series does at the height of the Reagan era, but ideology is mostly ignored to the detriment of the characterization of comics’ proudest liberal. While it does strike slightly right of the bullseye, The Longbow Hunters is still a high water mark in Green Arrow’s career and is worth the attention of anyone who is interested in his adventures.
The addition and subtraction of new comics remains the biggest problem with the DC Universe service. As I reported several weeks ago, the powers that be seem to be discussing how to improve the comics portion of the site by changing how the library is curated. What this means is still being left vague by the moderators of the community forums but the sense of disaffection among users is palpable. Nothing has been added to the comics library to replace Dark Victory after that title expired on November 12th and there have been no announcements about any forthcoming special features.
While I appreciate DC’s commitment to using subscriber feedback to improve the user experience, by not continuing to rotate new special feature titles while they discuss a fix they’re giving the impression to anyone who doesn’t follow the community forums that they’ve abandoned comics streaming as a feature. Coming on the heels of the demise of Filmstruck it doesn’t breed confidence in Warner Brothers’ long term commitment to this product or its users. I for one think that there is a lot of untapped potential in DC Universe and would hate to see it fail to live up to it.