Monday, January 6, 2014

Brotherhood of the Fist Part 1: GREEN ARROW #134

I'm not sure what this year has in store for Black Canary in the pages of DC Comics or the television series Arrow or anything else.  What I can say with confidence, though, is that 2014 is going to be a great year for Flowers & Fishnets.  I've got three different Black Canary series to review, as well as her adventures in Action Comics Weekly, World's Finest Comics, Birds of Prey and others.  But before I delve too deeply into any of those, I thought I'd spend the first full week of the new year covering a Batman/Green Arrow crossover I recently re-discovered.

"Brotherhood of the Fist" was published in the Summer of 1998 and ran through Green Arrow #134, Detective Comics #723, Robin #55, Nightwing #23, and Green Arrow #135.  All five parts were written by Chuck Dixon, the creator of Birds of Prey.  "Brotherhood" came out in between the Birds of Prey: Manhunt miniseries and the ongoing series that premiered in 1999.  Black Canary appears in four of the five chapters, thus my compulsion to review them.


Green Arrow #134: "Brotherhood of the Fist part 1: The Stalkers" was drawn by Dougie Braithewaite with inks by Robin Riggs and colors by Lee Loughridge.  At this point in the history of Green Arrow, the Emerald Archer is not Oliver Queen but his bastard son, Connor Hawke.

After Connor bests the Silver Monkey in combat, the Master of the Brotherhood of the Monkey Fist cult holds a meeting for all his followers.  He shames and decries the Silver Monkey for dishonoring the Brotherhood with his ignominious defeat.


The Master seeks to restore the Brotherhood's honor by sending wave after wave of Monkeys to kill Green Arrow and everyone he loves (which is less ridiculous than it sounds).

The first wave of assassins are the Bronze Monkeys and their first target is Connor's friends, Master Jansen and Eddie Fyers.  Jansen is Connor's sensei and Fyers is a former CIA spook who first met Oliver Queen and Shado in The Longbow Hunters.  While Jansen prepares for hand-to-hand combat, Fyers ends the fight before it begins by unloading a pair of handguns on the monkeys (which, again, is much less silly in context).  Fyers hits the road to dig up intelligence on why the cult is targeting Connor.

Meanwhile, Connor Hawke has tracked a group of weapons suppliers from San Francisco to Upstate Gotham.  While he snoops around the snow covered cabin, he meets Batman decked out in his arctic weather camouflage.  Batman leads the younger hero through the weaponers' traps and into their secret lair below the cabin.


Connor keeps from geeking out like a fanboy in the presence of Batman, but he is no less impressed by the Dark Knight.  He recognizes Batman's mastery of not only the scientific tools he employs, but the martial arts and covert maneuvers he demonstrates during their reconnaissance.  Batman is less sure of Connor's prowess, though merely allowing him to tag along is an endorsement where Batman is concerned.

Far below the cabin, they find a Kobra command center, and a whole bunch of dead Kobra members.


The three green-colored Monkeys (Jade Monkeys? Emerald Monkeys?) tie up Batman and attack Connor.  Green Arrow takes out two of the three, but the last one gets the drop on him.  Thankfully, Batman has freed himself and saves Connor.


Connor and Batman are caught in the Kobra base when the self-destruct mechanism activates.  The issue ends with the heroes' lives on the line as a massive explosion rocks the snowy landscape above. The story is continued in Detective Comics.

The first chapter of "Brotherhood of the Fist" is a quick, action-packed read.  Dixon has a great handle on the characters.  His Batman is the arrogant, abrasive asshole that everyone knows today.  He would be impossible to like if he wasn't so great at his job.  Also, Batman.  Dixon gets the martial arts corner of the DC Universe about as well as Dennis O'Neil.  Connor Hawke is young, but competent.  He doesn't have the naivet√© of a Spider-Man or Firestorm, and he doesn't act stupid around Batman.  The addition of the Monkey cult with different colors/properties makes for a terrific new threat.  Dangerous, colorful, good for fodder in a battle.  Also, Monkeys.

Come back tomorrow for my review of Part 2!

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