Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters was a critical and commercial success for DC Comics. It made sense then for the company to commission a new Green Arrow monthly comic with writer and illustrator, Mike Grell, at the helm. Green Arrow: Hunter’s Moon collects the first six monthly issues of Grell’s now legendary run and serves as both a look at a unique moment in time when comic books for mature readers were becoming more commonplace, as well as a collection of action-packed ripping yarns.
In The Longbow Hunters, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance (a.k.a. the superheroes Green Arrow and Black Canary) had just barely moved into their new home in Seattle before current events drove the two vigilantes into action. Their adventures ended with Dinah’s torture at the hands of an international drug cartel and Oliver crossing a line he had sworn never to cross: killing the men responsible for Dinah’ s suffering in cold blood. Now, as Hunter’s Moon opens, the two heroes are seeing a therapist and trying to recover from their shared trauma.
But there is no rest for the wicked and therefore, no rest for the just. When Ollie and Dinah’s therapist – herself a victim of torture at the hands of a sadistic killer as a child – finds herself being harassed with reminders of her past, shortly after the man responsible is released from prison, it will fall to Ollie and Dinah to act before the murderer can claim another victim. Later, Oliver will find himself tested as never before as he is recruited to track down a dangerous biochemical weapon in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and stop a brewing gang war on the streets of Seattle.
The stories contained within this volume are paradoxically timeless and a product of their time. Like most Green Arrow writers, Grell based many of his stories around current events and topical issues. While the references to Iran-Contra date this book as an artifact of the 1980s, most of the issues tackled in this volume (biological warfare, gay-bashing, and child-recruitment into gangs) are just as relevant today as they were when this series was originally published. Thankfully, Grell’s prose lacks the preachiness of many fiction authors who try to tackle topical issues and, as a result, the stories still hold up today.
This collection is also notable in that it undoes some of the damage dealt by The Longbow Hunters. Many Black Canary fans were justly annoyed by Grell’s casually de-powering their favorite heroine and turning her into a damsel in distress – all for the sake of giving Green Arrow more angst as he had to deal with the emotional burden of killing a man. Grell admitted he erred in how he depicted Dinah Lance in The Longbow Hunters and took care to depict her as a capable heroine throughout the Green Arrow series that followed. Grell also showed both heroes going through therapy to cope with their respective ordeal – an unusually realistic step in modern comics, let alone the comics of the late 1980s!
Talented though he is, Grell was unable to provide both the art and the script for the series on a monthly basis. He did, however, paint a number of covers for the comic (including the piece used for the cover of this collection) and was fortunate enough to have a worthy replacement art team on hand. Ed Hannigan provided the pencils, while Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin provided the inks. Like Grell, Hannigan proves a skillful student of anatomy and his characters are athletic and ready for action even when at rest. Likewise, Giordano and McLaughlin give every page an aura of mystery without drowning the page in darkness.
While DC Comics did not give this collection an official rating, the original comics collected in Hunters Moon were “suggested for mature readers.” That is a suggestion I strongly agree with. While this volume contains no visible nudity (though Ollie and Dinah are shown nude in silhouette at one point) the subject matter and violence depicted are strong enough for me to suggest this particular book would be an OT (16+) equivalent at the very least.