I'd never heard of Andrew Kreisberg before picking up this comic, but he's apparently another television vet who's making the transition to comics. I can't imagine that his name alone would be enough to attract readers to this comic, although maybe the fact that it's not written by Judd Winick anymore would be enough to lure some readers to the series. All I know is what my shallow and brief internet research tells me: Kreisberg wrote a bunch of episodes for "Boston Legal," and now he works on Marc Guggenheim's "Eli Stone." Earlier in his career, he also wrote one segment from perhaps my favorite "Simpsons" episode, "Tales from the Public Domain," where he sent Homer on an ancient odyssey.
None of this necessarily makes him an obvious choice to take "Green Arrow/Black Canary" into a "new era" as the cover loudly declares.
And in issue #15, he does anything but.
All we get here is a recap of Ollie Queen's life so far, told with narrative captions and flashbacks. The conceit Kreisberg uses is that Ollie launches an arrow toward a pathetically lame villain, Dregz, who is holding Black Canary at knife point (one would have assumed that by 2008 we were long past the Canary-as-hostage trope, but I guess not). In the time it takes for that arrow to reach its target, 1.078 seconds to be specific, Ollie reflects on his life. It's Kevin Costner's "For Love of the Game" with tights and weaponry.
So we get seven pages of highlights from Ollie's past -- his newly revamped Diggle/Jock origin, his pre-goatee days, the first time he met Dinah, recaps of earlier issues from this series -- and then a longer scene in which Conner and Mia announce their plans for departure. That must be the "new era" mentioned on the cover: the kids are going off on their own, leaving mom and dad home alone.
Because this feels a lot like a Judd Winick-written comic, otherwise. It has the same awkward tonal shifts that characterized Winick's run, as Dinah makes jokes with a knife slicing into her throat, and as the word "condom" deflates an otherwise sentimental moment. It has a moment of inexplicable violence (or implied consequences of violence) on the final page, just like the one this series began with. If I didn't see Kreisberg's name on the credits, I would have assumed it was the same writer as the previous fourteen issues.
Mike Norton provides the art here, as he has since Cliff Chiang left. I prefer Wayne Faucher's inks on Norton -- Faucher uses a thick inking line which gave Norton's characters some weight and a kind of bouncy vitality -- and Josef Rubinstein's inking here seems like a poor fit. Rubinstein provides more angularity, more crosshatching, and it doesn't complement Norton's figure drawing particularly well. Norton's an excellent comic book artist, but his work doesn't look its best here.
But this is only the first issue in this bold new direction for Ollie and Dinah, and now that Kreisberg has warmed up by getting us up to speed and getting the sidekicks out of the picture, perhaps he can actually do something new next month. Ollie's final caption says, "in 1.078 seconds, everything can change," and the next issue box reads, "Everything Does!" So maybe there's hope.
And that Ladronn cover sure is sharp.