Tagged: Oliver Queen

The Law Is A Ass #432: Things Aren’t Impeachy Keen with Green Arrow

A wise man once said “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Usually in summer school.” No, it wasn’t George Santayana. It was me; I lied about the wise part. But whoever said it, the sentiment is true, so it would behoove Oliver Queen not to start planning that Disneyland vacation just yet. He has some summer schooling in his future.

First, I’m going to SPOILER WARNING you that I’m about to give away much of the plots of the Arrow episodes “Brothers in Arms” and “Fundamentals.” If you haven’t seen them, you might want to stop reading and go to Disneyland in Ollie’s stead.

Okay, now I’m about give you some needed background information by blitzing through about two-thirds of a season’s worth of Arrow episodes in just one paragraph. Pay attention.

Oliver Queen, who is both the Green Arrow and the mayor of Star City, is under investigation by both the FBI and Star City, for being the Green Arrow; which violates Star City’s anti-vigilante ordnance. Meanwhile, crime boss Ricardo Diaz, has taken control of Star City. So much so that in the Arrow episode, “Brothers in Arms,” Ollie could only find seven officers in the entire Star City Police Department who weren’t on the Diaz payroll. And in another episode which I’ll get to presently, police officers actually address Diaz as “Boss” right on a public street. That’s a level of corruption that would make Gotham City take notice, and Tammany Hall take notes.

Having brought you up to speed speedily, we go back to “Brothers in Arms.” Dinah Drake and the other six police officers who weren’t under Diaz’s thumb got intel that Diaz’s right-hand man, Anatoly Knyazev, was about to make a drug drop. They conducted surveillance and watched Anatoly make the delivery. So they arrested him on the scene and with the drugs.

Only to have Star City District Attorney Sam Armand immediately kick the case. Ostensibly he dismissed it because the police didn’t have a warrant when they arrested Anatoly. In reality, Armand was one of the many Star City officials on Diaz’s payroll. Like I said, Diaz’s corruption was more wide-spread than chlamydia in a whore house.

Now, I recognize that Armand would want to get the case against his boss’s right hand man dismissed. Still, it’s doubtful that he would have done so in such an obvious manner.

Dinah might not have had a warrant, but she did have reliable intel that Anatoly was making a drug delivery. They watched Anatoly go to the spot where the delivery was scheduled to take place and saw Anatoly give a briefcase to the man who met him at the delivery site. Anatoly’s actions corroborated Dinah’s reliable intel. The combination of observations and intel would have given Dinah probable cause to believe she had seen Anatoly commit a crime. When the police see a crime being committed, they can make an immediate arrest without having to obtain an arrest warrant first. Courts don’t actually require the police to tell the perp, “Wait right here while I go and get a warrant so I can come back and arrest you.”

Most district attorneys wouldn’t dismiss this case because of a lack of a warrant. They’d let it go before a judge who could hear the evidence and decide whether the arresting officer had sufficient probable cause to make a warrantless arrest.

Armand should have let one of Diaz’s corrupt judges dismiss the case. Or had one of the other corrupt cops steal the evidence, which would have necessitated the charges being dropped. Then no one would have suspected him. Instead, he chose to act in a way that was sure to make mayor Oliver Queen suspect that he was on the take and fire him.
After Ollie verified Armand was on the take, Ollie fired him. Along with police captain Kimberly Hill, who was also on the take. Like I said earlier, the corruption in Star City was so wide-spread, you could plot its growth on graft paper.

Which only created new problems for Ollie. When you’re the subject of criminal investigations, firing some civil servants might cause them to go to the TV news, claim you fired them to impede their investigation, and accuse you of obstruction of justice.

Can you guess what Armand and Hill did for the cliffhanger of “Brothers in Arms?”

In the next episode of Arrow, “Fundamentals,” the Star City City Council held a hearing to determine whether it should impeach Mayor Queen. At the end of the episode, the Council voted to impeach Oliver. At which point, Oliver, told Deputy Mayor Quentin Lance that he’d been impeached, so Quentin was the mayor now.

Which isn’t the way it works. As anyone who to learn from the history of Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton would know.

An impeachment is an indictment, not a conviction. Articles of impeachment are the formal charges brought against the official. They lay out what high crimes or misdemeanors the official has committed to warrant said official being impeached, but they don’t remove the official from office.

When the House of Representatives voted to impeach Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton, neither president was removed from office. Both continued to serve as president, while the Senate conducted a trial on the House’s articles of impeachment. If either man had been convicted in the trial, then he would have been removed from office. History tells us that the Senate acquitted both presidents and both served out their full terms. Without any interruption in their being President.

So, even though Star City City Council voted to impeach Mayor Queen, he wouldn’t have been removed from office or turned power over to Deputy Mayor Lance. He would have continued as mayor while some other body conducted a trial. He would only have been removed from office if he was convicted of those articles of impeachment. At some later time.

Speaking of later times, I know that earlier I said I’d write about yet another episode of Arrow presently. Well, to pervert an old saying, there’s no time in the presently. I’ll have to write about that episode in future columns. But they’ll be goodies. Remember all the fun we had dealing with the Arrowverse episode about the trial of The Flash? Next time it’s the trial of Green Arrow.

Dennis O’Neil: Mayor Green Arrow? Really?


What’s the pothole situation in Starling City? And the re-zoning hassle – that still a headache? And the business with the access lanes to the bridge – was that ever settled?

Since Oliver Queen’s been elected mayor, it’s reasonable to think that this kind of mayoral busyness is the better part of his days. At night, of course, he puts on a mask and hood and grabs his bow and arrows and kicks (or maybe punctures) miscreant ass. Oh, and his also training a bunch of wannabe vigilantes to help with the kicking/puncturing – and not always being Mr. Nice Guy while he’s doing it. (Maybe he’s got some marine drill sergeant DNA?)

The question is, who is better for Starling City, the politician or the archer? If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’d probably choose the archer because obviously anybody would be better than a politician.

But that can of worms will be left unopened. Tell you what: let’s reframe the question. Who’s more useful to a storyteller, archer or pol? I guess it depends on the kind of tale being told. A story by…oh, say, Aaron Sorkin or Robert Penn Warren or Allen Drury would perhaps fare best as political drama. The kind of fantasy/melodrama/action tale we’re considering here is better with an ass-kicker as its protagonist. Which leaves our man Ollie where?

mayor-green-arrowA kind of hybrid, one who favors the arrow shooting part of his persona, is where. That’s pretty much how it has to be. Nobody with a taste for adventures – that is, nobody who’s Arrow’s natural audience – is going to tune in to watch a guy in a three-piece suit behind a desk reading policy papers. We want to see some arrows shot and some of that good martial arts action! Leave that other stuff to CNN.

Casting a superhero as a civic leader, it seems to me, strains the genre. Part of the appeal of costumed superdoers is that they can do what duly constituted authorities can’t. Where a mayor’s job ends, theirs begins. One explanation for adopting a second persona – and it’s not a bad one – is that the disguise keeps the bad guys from knowing who to wreak revenge on. The other reason for a civic leader hiding behind a costume and fighting crime is that he couldn’t do as mayor what he does as vigilante because the vigilante must break the law to do his deeds. But whoa! Don’t mayors swear to uphold the law? We got us some hypocrite mojo working here?

Another deep appeal of double-identited heroes might require some psyche excavation. The idea is, we all have more than one identity lurking within us – we behave differently in different situations – and we might feel that the real us is one of those unseen lurkers. Costumed heroes manifest this idea and also give us a hook into identifying with the good guy.

I think part pf the storyteller’s task is to make the two identities distinct and that’s often a failure. I tried and pretty much failed to convince my Batman writers that Bruce Wayne should present himself as a tough-as-nails businessman, but as a good-natured bumbler. And I never liked Clark Kent as the best reporter in town. (Didn’t he win a Pulitzer?)

Of course, as always, the secret is in the recipe, not the ingredients. If the story entertains, the creators have done their jobs and they’re free to go watch tv. Wonder what’s on the CW?

Dennis O’Neil: Happy Endings

For a while, my favorite way of paying the bills was by writing Batman stories for DC Comics. But that was over. I’d accepted a job with Marvel, DC’s arch rival, and so the story I was working on would be my final visit to the Batcave. Well, no  problem.  I was a pro and a pro, I probably thought,  keeps emotions away from the workdesk.

As the splendid Alfred Bester said, “Among professionals the job is boss.”  But still…farewell to Batman? Forever? So I wrote a final panel with a final caption that could have ended the Batman saga, which had been going on for decades.  I knew that it wouldn’t, of course.  Editor Julius Schwartz would  employ another writer and Batman would continue with nary a beat missed. But I would know that my Batman, the only one that counted, would have ended his career with that closing caption.

I wonder how Arthur Conan Doyle felt when he sent Sherlock Holmes over Reichenbach Falls to what he apparently believed would be the great detective’s final exit.

Holmes didn’t stay dead and after some seven years at Marvel, neither did my own private Batman. I returned to DC and, power-mad ogre that I am, assumed editorship of the Batman franchise, which at the time consisted of two comic books. No hardcover novels, no megamovies, just two flimsy comic books. (Plus a number of non-bat related titles, but never mind them.)

And why, you might well inquire, if you are still with me, am I blathering on about such ancient (ancientish) history now?

Cast your mind back to last week’s televised Arrow, which you must have watched, the season’s last episode  and what could have been the finale for the whole series. Arrow, whose birth name is Oliver Queen, has just vanquished his supreme enemy and restored peace and tranquility to his city. He has assembled his cadre of  assistants (disciples?) and proclaimed them his successors. His task is done and they are more than capable of dealing with future tasks. We next see him cruising along an open highway in an open-top convertible, the lovely Felicity Smoak by his side, vanishing into what will surely be the happiest of happy endings.

Except that the series has been renewed and will rise again come fall. So what will Oliver (and let’s not forget the lissome Felicity) be up to in the chilly months while their cohorts kick ass and take villainous names? To just have them leave the series forever would be gutsy, but maybe not commercially prudent. Or maybe they can be more or less absent for a bit – we could look in on them occasionally – and eventually find a reason to return to the fray.  Or maybe they’ll never reach their happy-ever-after destination because of an unforeseen crisis that demands their attention.  (Are they carrying cell phones?)

Or maybe – here’s hoping! – those clever scribes in tv land will devise something breathtakingly original  that will leave me sprawled on  the couch, awed.

I’ve got a whole summer to hope that’s what happens.


The Law Is A Ass

Bob Ingersoll: The Law Is A Ass #355: ARROW’S FIGHTING A CUSTODY BATTLE

See, now this is when you need a good lawyer.

For the first half of the third season in the CW series Arrow, the good guys were doing what they were supposed to do; catching bad guys in Starling City http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Starling_City and turning them over to the police for trial As this column’s about Arrow, the good guys in question are Oliver Queen, John Diggle, Felicity Smoak, and Roy Harper. Or, if you prefer, Arrow, yada, yada, and Arsenal.

(By the way, what kind of name is Starling City? God knows what bullies like Metropolis or Gotham City are doing to it, because with a wimpy name like Starling even Smallville’s giving it a wedgie.)

Now, you might think what I was talking about, when I said someone needed a good lawyer were those aforementioned bad guys. After all captured bad guys who are awaiting trial would need a good lawyer. But, no, that’s not what I was talking about.

And before we get to what I am talking about, I should probably talk about my


All of the episodes of Arrow to be discussed today aired months ago. But if you’re the type of person who doesn’t watch the show live and waits to binge it after the DVD or Blu-rays come out, you might want to stop reading and go binge watch the second season of Arrow, because certain reveals from the third season of Arrow are about to be revealed.

Anyway, the good guys kept on catching the bad guys right up until the winter hiatus. Then Ollie died at the hands of Ra’s Al Ghul. (Later he got better). As the good guys hadn’t taken Laurel Lance’s Black Canary under their wings yet, their ranks were reduced to yada, yada, and Arsenal. The good guys continued to fight the good fight. Just not as well. But they still caught some of the bad guys and gave them to the police for trial.

That’s when Danny “Brick” Brickwell appeared. Brick wasn’t the third season’s Big Bad. That would be Ra’s Al Ghul. Brick was just the main antagonist for a three-episode arc in the middle of the season. Call him a Medium Bad. I’d call him a Little Bad, but Brick was played by former British Footballer (ie., Soccer player) Vinnie Jones, who’s 6’2” and once played the Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand. So, he’s hardly little.

In the comics, Brick is a crime boss with red skin that’s as tough as bricks. It gives him meta-human strength and invulnerability. He’s kind of like the Thing but with a sunburn. In the TV show, Brick is just a crime boss. Not a meta-human. Still, he’s 6’2”, a former Footballer, and was once the Juggernaut, so he’s still rather formidable.

Brick had an interesting plan for recruiting members to his gang. He broke into the warehouse where the police stored its evidence on active cases and stole the evidence. Yada, yada, and Arsenal tried to stop him. But let’s face it, without Arrow, they were a whole yada nothing. So Brick got away. With the evidence.

After that, all of the bad guys awaiting trial in the cases where Brick stole the evidence were released. Without any evidence, the DA’s office couldn’t make their cases against these people and the charges against them were dropped.

Now you would think that this is where the people needed a good lawyer. Someone to file the motions to dismiss the cases. But no. Someone – probably Brick – made sure the theft of the evidence was made public. Once that happened, the DA’s office had no choice but to drop the charges, because it no longer had the evidence it needed to make its cases. So the bad guys didn’t need a good lawyer. Even a bad lawyer would have sufficed. In fact, it was so easy, all that motion practice happened off-camera.

Brick gathered all of the bad guys he had gotten sprung and announced to them that they were his new gang. He told them he was the reason their cases were dropped and they were no longer in jail. He said they should join him out of gratitude. Then he also told them that if any of them refused to join his gang, he would send a “gift-wrapped” package of evidence back to the DA, so the dissenters could be prosecuted again. All the bad guys all agreed to be part of Brick’s gang rather than have the evidence against them returned to the DA.

Okay, we’ve reached it. Now is the time that the bad guys need a good lawyer.

Or a half-decent lawyer. Hell, even a jailhouse lawyer would have served. Just as long as it was someone who understood the concept of chain of custody http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/chain+of+custody.

Chain of custody is one of those simple concepts of which the law has so few. Basically, it means that in order to establish that any evidence being offered actually proves what it purports to prove, the people offering the evidence has to be able to prove that it wasn’t tampered with. The chain of custody is the paper trail that tracks the evidence step-by-step and person-by-person from the moment it was first collected by the police until the moment it was introduced in court. It establishes the evidence’s provenance .

Say a gun with the murderer’s fingerprints is found next to the body at the murder scene. The chain of custody would have to show what police officer picked it up at the scene of the crime, what the officer did with it, and who accessed it after that. The lab technician who took it to dust it for fingerprints would have to sign it out of storage then sign it back in when finished with it. Same for the ballistics expert. Finally, the police officer who brought it into court would also bring with it the documentation which established the chain of custody. This is supposed to establish that the gun is the same gun found at the scene of the crime and was never swapped out for another gun in an effort to frame the defendant.

Chain of custody is a little bit more complex than that, but not much. Now what happens if a person or persons unknown handled the evidence between the time the police collected it and it was introduced into court? The chain has been broken. When the chain of custody is broken, then the defendant can move that the evidence be excluded, because the court can no longer count on the evidence proving what it was supposed to prove.

Say some evidence – like that nice murder scene firearm covered with the defendant’s fingerprints – disappeared from the evidence locker before it was tested and then reappeared in it later. As no one could be sure that someone didn’t plant the defendant’s fingerprints on the gun after the police found it to frame him, the defendant could argue the gun should be excluded, because the chain of custody had been broken.

Now let’s think bigger. Say you have a whole warehouse full of evidence which was stolen. Then some of it was returned to the DA’s office by parcel post with no return address. Imagine how big a chain of custody break that would be. When the DA tried to prosecute the defendant could argue, “Brick stole it to try to blackmail me into working with him. When I refused, he sent you back falsified evidence to frame me as punishment for refusing to work with him.”

And that’s why the bad guys needed a lawyer. So they could all tell Brick, your threats and blackmail have no power over us. You broke the chain of custody in our cases. Go ahead and give it back to the DA. The evidence can’t be used against us anyway.

If they wanted to say that, that is.

I doubt any of them would have done this. They are bad guys, after all. Bad guys on a TV show. Working for the Big Bad, or even the Medium Bad, is what they do.

Dennis O’Neil: How Green Is My Arrow?

Green Arrow was never really a loner. When he first appeared in More Fun Comics #73 he already had a young partner whose nom de arrow was Speedy and whose other name was Roy Harper. As GA – other-named Oliver Queen – sauntered through the years, he formed alliances with another greenish hero, Green Lantern, and, maintaining the color-motif, Black Canary, with whom he had a full-out, bells-and-whistles romance. And he was a member in good standing of the Justice League of America, comics’ first…what? – superhero club, I guess.

So no, Ollie, as we are pleased to call him, was never a loner, but I never thought of him as a clubman, either. He was this guy who did what he did and had occasional friends and associates.

Now he is enjoying what are undoubtedly the largest audiences of his life as the title character of a network television series. For whatever (corporate?) reason he’s lost an adjective and is now known as plain old Arrow. And Roy Harper – you remember Speedy – is still in the picture and so, sometimes, is Black Canary and then there’s John Diggle and a cop friend and the lovely computer whiz Felicity and, recently, a guest superhero in the person of The Flash and…Golly! It must be getting crowded in the Arrow’s subterranean headquarters, there in Starling City.

Well, what did we expect? It’s television and television drama, with no current exception that I can think of, is built around families. These are not necessarily biological families – in fact, they are seldom that. But they have a clear family dynamic.

Cop shows are good examples: There’s the father/mother figure – often a bit grumpy, and usually bearing an elevated rank – and sometimes an aunt/uncle avatar – those cadaver-cutting medical folk, for instance – and occasionally the young guy/gal who, while lovable, is not yet fully formed professionally – and don’t we adore the youngsters in the house? – and finally, and most important, the brother-sister combos, the heavy lifters who get the jobs done.

You could find a family on the flight deck of the Starship Enterprise and in the streets of Dodge City, and in the corridors of the Jeffersonian, whatever that is. I’m not a fan of sitcoms, but there are probably some in laughtrack land, too.

Way, way back in the early 1940s, the producers of the daily Superman radio program added young Jimmy Olsen to regulars Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Perry White and he’s been a part of the – yes! – family ever since. Those loner private eyes that were in vogue back then didn’t know that their days were numbered.

Now, we have Arrow and his cadre of virtuous ass-kickers saving Starling City. Literally: in a recent episode, that’s what they said they did – saved the city.

But do they pose for group photos at Christmas?


Dennis O’Neil: Superhero Family Focus

There is a bottomless pit and you have fallen into it and you plunge ever downward and you despair of ever seeing the light again…

What we’re talking about, here, is the light that issues from your television screen when you’re watching a superhero show. Well, be at peace. Things aren’t so bad. It’s true that the dying season’s two weekly shows derived from comic books are already into their summer hiatuses, but you can sustain yourself with reruns or maybe just sit in a twilit room and anticipate next season’s Flash. Orconsider what has happened to those shows that have bidden a fond and temporary farewell.

Of course you know I refer to Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow (and, as we did last week, we are from here on doing without the periods in the Marvel acronym, which, for those who don’t know and yet give a hoot, stands for Strategic Hazard Intervention Espionage Logistics Directorate and yes, that is a mouthful and no, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense, but hey, buster…youre the one giving a hoot.)

Someone savvier than me might enumerate the ways in which the comics versions of these entertainments varies from their television adaptations, but let’s focus on just one. In comics, years – nay, decades– would pass with no significant changes in the premise or the main characters of the series. That was then. Now: SHIELD killed off a main character and, within a month, changed from being a story about a secret spy outfit with a lot of swell toys to a story about a bunch of good guys on the run to, as it inches toward a new season in the fall, a story about the resurrection of the aforementioned super spy outfit. Granted, the slain character was a villain, but he was the villain, one played by a major actor.

Arrow sustained similar alterations when the hero’s mother died – arguably a more important than the demise of SHIELD’s heavy because well, she was his mom and she was central to a lot of the past season’s plots. Another central character left the scene, presumably to return to a life as an international assassin though, of course, she could always abandon that trade and return. And the main stalwart, our own Oliver Queen, the very Arrow himself, has undergone some adjustment. He has stopped killing people and has voiced regret at ever having done so – relic from an earlier age that I am, I’m glad – and he is no longer rich. No invite to the Koch brothers’s next soiree for him!

Despite these alterations, both SHIELD and Arrow continue adhering to what seems to be series fiction’s Prime Directive: it must be about family. Not always biological family, but family structure: a parental figure, siblings, often a cute younger brother or sister, all of whom, despite occasional spats, are loyal and care deeply about each other. All the cop shows, all the spy shows, all the sitcoms – all familial.

Wonder what kind of family next season’s Flash will find himself in.


Dennis O’Neil: SHIELD, Arrow, and Superstuff

Both prime time comic-book based television series had their season finales this week, a day or two after I write this, and so any commentary on them might be premature. I mean, maybe some humungous game changer is in the offing, some gobsmacking surprise that will leave us gasping for breath, numbed and awed by the storytelling splendor we have just witnessed.

Or maybe not.

The shows I refer to are, of course, Marvels Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Arrow, and although they are, as noted above, comics-derived, they aren’t two heads of the same critter. I think that Arrow is the more… well – I’m lacking precise terminology here, so let’s call Arrow the more “comicbooky” of the two. It is all about superheroes, comics’ prime export: one such hero in particular the Arrow of the show’s title, who wears a costume and has a double identity and has tricks up his sleeve – his quiver? – that might make an Olympic archer seek another sport. And over the months he’s acquired some friends who might qualify as superheroes and some enemies that might qualify as supervillains. SHIELD, on the other hand, is a hybrid, a series that occurs in a world where superheroes exist, but which is not about superheroes per se. (And yes, o astute reader, I did exile a bunch of periods from the show’s name. Sue me.) The SHIELDers aren’t super themselves, but they’ve got some supers in their Rolodexes.

I mentioned game changers a couple of paragraphs ago. Both Arrow and SHIELD have already changed the game a bit. SHIELD, as part of a nifty crossover with a movie, has gone from being a CIA/NSA-type spook organization to being a bunch of noble folk running from the authority figures, outlawed by the baddies’s takeover of whatever agency controls SHIELD. (I confess that I’ve never quite understood who signs SHIELD paychecks. A U.S. government honcho? Somebody as the United Nations? A scientologist?)

Some of you may want to read political commentary into SHIELD’s status change. Be my guest.

Arrow’s game has also changed, on a smaller scale than SHIELD’s, but kind of drastically nonetheless. The storyline replicated some comic book stuff from years – nay, decades – back. To wit: bow-twanging hero Oliver Queen loses his fortune. He’s no longer a member of the one percent. No more rich kid. I don’t know why the television guys made the change and, after all these years, I’m not sure why we comic bookers did, either. Maybe so our archer would be less like Batman/Bruce Wayne. Maybe to give him some (fictitious) street cred. Or maybe we just weren’t all that fond of mansion dwellers. Or… all of the above?

To end on a what-the-hell-difference-does-that-make note: In the comics, the Arrow was the Green Arrow, as many of you know. I approve of the renaming. I mean, why green?


Dennis O’Neil: Should Superheroes Booze It Up?

oneil-art-131113-150x140-6046071So there they were on the small screen, Oliver Queen and his main man, knocking back vodka shots and there I was, riding the couch and being maybe a bit befuddled, remembering that an MD once told me that vodka was the alcoholic’s libation of choice because it didn’t have much telltale odor. (As you lurch into the china cabinet, mom thinks you’re having a little inner ear problem.)

Ollie Queen and John Diggle were drinking vodka.

Of course, plenty of people devoid of drinking problems know the taste of vodka and scotch and brandy and absinthe and beer and the rest of the barman’s wares, and booze has been a part of civilized culture for millennia, even part of religious ritual. But I have a question for which I don’t have an answer and its this: Should heroes drink?

Consider: heroes are, among other things, role models and they appear as such in the fiction of everyone from Ayn Rand to Aesop. We seek other humans to admire – ask Evolution why – and that search leads us to heroes, both fictional and the real life versions: Athletes and musicians and actors who perhaps acquire a bit of the mystique of the stalwarts they portray. (And so life imitates art imitating and amplifying life and does anyone have a headache yet?) Our ad men know this, which is why they write checks to celebrities willing to smile at the camera and just love the living heck out of a product that you, yourself, can buy and thus, in some tiny way, emulate the objects of your admiration. It’s an old ploy and it must work because they keep doing it. Should they do it to promote alcohol? Or, more insidiously, should boozing be promoted outside advertisements by showing the good guys doing it?

If there’s a line to be drawn, I don’t know where it is.

One of the problems with alcohol is that when you take that first sip, you don’t know if every subsequent sip will be taken only on holidays in extreme moderation, or if someday you’ll find yourself puking in a gutter.

We know, from our nation’s horribly failed experiment with prohibition, and our more recent disastrous “war on drugs” that banning the citizenry’s recreational intoxicants is not wise. And there’s the matter of that pesky First Amendment, which, in effect, forbids censorship of anything spoken or written and surely that includes the words and actions of televised performers.

But to persuade some bonny young person that the gateway to sophistication, wit, and devastating attractiveness is found inside a bottle is to tell a seductive and potentially ruinous lie. Some will content themselves with that taste of holiday wine, sure, but others will find their way to the gutter.

In the end, I guess, creators must decide for themselves where the danger begins – with booze and tobacco and drugs and, hell, even with certain combat techniques. Sometimes, storytelling can be a bitch.


FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases!


REVIEW: Arrow The Complete First Season

Arrow Season OneWhen originally conceived by editor Mort Weisinger, Green Arrow was merely a pale imitation of Batman, a stigma that wasn’t lifted until Bob Haney and Neal Adams revamped him more than twenty years later. As a result, his background and origins were largely static until the Green Arrow Year One miniseries where writer Andy Diggle posited that Oliver Queen wasn’t entirely alone on the island where he washed ashore after a boating accident. It was this fairly late revisionist history that appears to have become the new template as it continues to be used in the New 52 era and became the foundation for the CW smash hit Arrow.

Oddly, Green Arrow arrived on prime time first in Smallville (a tangential nod to Weisinger, who also guided the Teen of Steel’s adventures for the first few decades) and where Justin Hartley was a nice fit for that show, he was a little too pretty for this new take on the vigilante. The new show, returning for its second season in a few weeks, totally ignored all the mythology established in the other series and is forging a new path that is also designed to create a television universe as witnessed by the backdoor pilot for a Flash spinoff coming in November. And whereas Smallville started with the basic concepts introduced by Jerry Siegel back in the 1940s, it rapidly veered onto an original path to accommodate modern day audiences and an aging cast. By the end, the show barely resembled the source material.

Over the course of 23 episodes, Arrow started vaguely near the source material and continued to chart its own course further and further away. As a result, you can’t really compare the two as the new series now has no resemblance to the comic. That said, it makes for compelling television watching thanks to a strong writing staff anchored by Marc Guggenheim who has one foot in each world. He was aided by Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, no slouches at television production although Kriesberg’s run as GA writer didn’t quite work.

Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was a shallow, stereotypical rich boy, playing fast and loose with women, living the highlife and refusing to accept the coming responsibilities of adulthood. Then came the disastrous boat accident where he watched his father take his own life to save Oliver’s and in so doing, passed on a book containing the names of sinners in Starling City. After a series of escapades that forged him from callow youth to super-hero, Queen has returned to his hometown to mete out justice.  His mother Moira (Susanna Thompson and sister Thea (Willa Holland), nicknamed Speedy; are delighted to see him but aren’t sure what to make of the man they barely recognize. Similarly, his lover, Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy);, has to forgive him for cheating on her with her own sister, who also perished on the boat. Then there’s his best friend Tommy Merlyn (Colin Donnell), who has taken up his place in Laurel’s heart and has daddy issues of his own.

Arrow CastAn appealing cast with dark undertones makes this the quintessential CW show and a fun look at super-heroics. Queen’s journey is twice-told, first as the returning survivor turned vigilante and also through flashbacks as we watch him learn how to fight, think, and accept responsibility for one’s actions.

Dogging his heels is Laurel’s father, the nearly alcoholic Quentin (Paul Blackthorne), who also hates Oliver for the past and then there’s Tommy’s father (John Barrowman), who is a darker image of the green hooded hero and just as fast but deadlier.

Add in Queen’s bodyguard John Diggle (David Ramsey; yes, named after the writer), Felicity Smoak (the hot Emily Bett Rickards; lifted from Fury of Firestorm of all places), and Roy Harper (Colton Haynes), you have numerous touches of the DC Universe present, elements to keep the pot stirring. The season also saw the mobster daughter turned vigilante Helena Bertinelli (Jessica De Gouw) and in a nod to the Mike Grell era, Shado (Celinas Jade) plus Deathstroke/Slade Wilson (Manu Bennett).

Week by week, we saw the soap opera antics of the civilian cast although, as the season passed, the civilian and costumed worlds grew closer until they formed a Venn diagram of where the trouble in Starling City truly lay. Names were crossed off and the law collected their share of criminals. But something was festering deeper, underneath the city and Queen had to piece the clues together before the Glades, a dangerous and poor section of the city was about to be destroyed. Friendships were formed or betrayed, alliances formed and perceptions altered. By the final episode, it was clear that the city needed a champion and Queen was the man fate had selected. Thankfully, he knew the loner approach wouldn’t work and has been forming a team that may be all that stands between a brighter future or a bleak outcome.

arrow-olicityThe box set comes with four Blu-ray discs and five DVDs along with codes for the Ultraviolet edition of the first season. The high def transfers are clean, crisp, and reproduce the darker tones of the series quite nicely. An episode guide is a handy touch.

As for extra, there are a handful that are more middle-of-the-road than anything special. You begin with a bunch of Unaired Scenes; the behind-the-scenes Arrow Comes Alive! (29:35) with cast and crew gushing over the creation process; Arrow: Fight School/Stunt School (18:53), shows how important the action and stunts sequences are plus how several were accomplished.

DC’s chief creative officer Geoff Johns hosts the 2013 Paleyfest (27:26) event where the Arrow: Cast and Creative Team talk about how they lifted elements from the source material and greater DCU along with how they adapted to fan buzz and turned Felicity from one-shot into a welcome regular; and, finally, there’s a brief Gag Reel (2:26).

Martha Thomases’s Extra Heroes

Thomases Art 130125If you were to come by my place for one of my fabulous dinner parties, you would be disappointed. My kitchen table is covered with file folders and copies of every bill I paid in 2012. Yes, it’s tax season! Every person has a different set of issues with the IRS, and mine this year are especially weird. Is an ambulance deductible?

Naturally, in an attempt to avoid this tiresome chore, I’m wondering what super-heroes who find themselves in this situation do.

I mean, I’d assume that the fabulously wealthy, the Bruce Waynes, the Tony Starks, the Oliver Queens, have accountants who can write off their gear as R & D expenses at a corporate level.

And Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Doctor Doom are heads of state of sovereign nations. Whatever they might owe their respective governments, they aren’t writing checks to the IRS.

But what about the average working schmoe? Just because you can bend steel with your bare hands doesn’t mean you can deduct your spandex pants. That’s only possible if being a hero is your business, and you need your costume as a business expense. Hooters waitresses can claim their t-shirts, Grant Morrison’s Superman can’t.

It is, I think, a major problem of our tax code that this is true. Why should Anne Romney’s horse be legally deductible as business expense when Comet is a taxable money-pit.

The reason that Rafalca is a legitimate business expense is that raising her is a business, with profit and loss. Similarly, if the Romney’s chose to donate the horse (or, more likely, a piece of artwork or simply cash) to charity, they would be legally entitled to a deduction for the value of their gift.

This is a good thing. I’m in favor of philanthropy. I’m in favor of tax laws that encourage charitable giving. I might quibble with an individual’s choice of charity, but then, I quibble with my own choices, and that’s what makes a democracy.

This should also apply to heroics. If Peter Parker is saving New York from the Green Goblin, he should be allowed to deduct his web fluid. That matters more to the city’s quality of life than a dozen socialites giving their used wardrobe to the Metropolitan Museum.

And Peter needs the deduction more. He’s a working stiff.

Similarly, there are all kinds of people who do good without any fancy outfits. Working people who use their own metro-cards to help tutor at-risk kids, or work at a soup kitchen, or a thrift store. They don’t have money, so they donate their time. It would be great if we lived in a world where these problems were taken care of at a macro level by the government. Until that happens, it would be nice if our tax laws encouraged its citizens to pick up the slack.

We can use the extra heroes.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman and Something About The New 52