Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Otto Schmidt
Release Date: 6th July 2016
[Warning: Review contains SPOILERS]
The Queen is dead. Long live The Queen. Sorry – couldn’t help myself. The second issue of Green Arrow is a player introduction piece. Ollie – now presumed dead – is made the scapegoat for many anomalies at Queen Enterprises. This is after Emiko and Shado stage his death as a drink and drug fuelled boating accident. Black Canary is suspicious and starts investigating Ollie’s death. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger contacts an old acquaintance of Oliver’s providing a clue into his death. Man, I want so much to tell you how much I am enjoying this new story arc, but truth be told, it’s just not working for me just yet.
To my mind this new Green Arrow is both good and bad. There are signs of some brilliant story elements. Topping that list (for me) is the return of John Diggle and it’s nice to see there is still no love lost there. The clues towards the mythology of this new supergroup that Ollie will take on are also especially interesting. The nine circles reference – surely a link to Dante’s nine circles of hell – fits right into the more mythic and magical direction that Green Arrow has previously used to great success. The assassin that works for this group having the ability to burn his victims alive is a very nice touch. Leaving a calling card of placing coins over the victims eyes (traditionally to pay Charon, ferryman of the River Styx) is another well-developed plot element. This menace seems well thought out, even if the cabal does seem a little close to The Court of Owls.
Now to the bad. I really hate Ben Percy’s Rebirth Ollie Queen. Not the character per say, or Green Arrow, but the fact the Rebirth Oliver Queen is written as a rich man that uses money as an answer for everything. In the last issue he paid off the Police and a dock worker. Then, trying to justify his use of money to Black Canary, he shows her various charitable projects Queen Enterprises run. Dinah doesn’t like what she is shown and splits. Now I know that one of Percy’s goals is to try and separate Green Arrow from the uber rich Oliver Queen. He feels that Ollie’s socio-political views do not work well being one of the one percenters and that’s fair enough. However, manufacturing this ‘money is the answer to everything’ side of Oliver’s character just seems like a weak prop. I believe it’s to the detriment of the character’s legacy, and to this story.
The character of Henry doesn’t work for me either. I liked him immediately even if he kept on hinting about being underpaid, something you wouldn’t think would be an issue the way this Oliver throws around cash. In fact, Henry is the one that realises Ollie is still alive, finds him and saves him. OK, so there is some loyalty there. It’s during the time Ollie spends recovering from his injuries that the ‘Nine Circles’ destroy his reputation and ties to Queen Industries, leaving Ollie destitute. Once Oliver realises what is going on and starts to put pieces together he asks Henry to track Cyrus and hack his computer if possible – and Henry refuses because Ollie can’t pay him and he isn’t sure if he trusts him? I mean come on! This guy has presumably working with Green Arrow for a while, has witnessed (and helped) with the good he does and then just drops the ball? Nah, I’m not buying this. Again, I get that Percy is trying to manoeuvre the character into a position where he has no-one to rely on but himself. However, the sign of a good story is having your reader believe it, and so far I’m not dining on what is being served.
Otto Schmidt’s art is definitely a high point, sure there is a slight cartoonish feel to it but it works very well. The sense of fluid and motion in the characters and scenes really add to the story, and the panelling and layout is varied and interesting. Little things like the split panelled boat that Black Canary searches for clues about Ollie really appeal to my sense of style, and there is a stunning one page panel that looks great. The symbology in that particular panel ties into the whole Ninth Circle thing Ben has going on, showing a descent from heaven to hell. Yet while the panel looks gorgeous, what is actually happening in the panel is anyone’s guess? It’s one of the things I’m having real trouble with in Green Arrow.
I’m completely conflicted. I really want to like Green Arrow and I love the thought Ben Percy has put into this new shadowy organisation. There is a solid investment there that I think will fit perfectly into Green Arrow lore. However, it’s the direction he’s taking the main character in that I’m not sold on, and his execution of that direction is poor, disjointed and just doesn’t make sense to me. In short, new bad guys: hell yes!; new Ollie Queen: oh no.
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The writer of this piece was: Andrew McGlinn
Andrew Tweets from @Jockdoom