Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Otto Schmidt
Release Date: 1st February 2017
[Warning: Contains Spoilers]
The “Emerald Outlaw” arc continues here, and series writer Benjamin Percy is joined by Otto Schmidt (rather than Juan Ferreyra, as the cover might suggest) as Ollie continues to try and clear his name while bringing the band of rogue police officers dubbing themselves the “Vice Squad” to justice.
Whereas the bulk of this arc has been tightly plotted, this issue does struggle a little to keep all of its plates spinning in the wake of Emi’s return at the end of the previous issue. Her arrival adds little to the story, actually bogging things down slightly with some awkward brother-sister banter which distracts a little from the urgency of the situation. The Vice Squad’s parallels to real-life cops abusing their power in brutal fashion is also handled delicately but passionately, continuing the “Social Justice Warrior” theme that has become the calling card of this series.
Unfortunately, as lofty a motivation as their inclusion probably originally had, it does feel incredibly jarring that the whole “murder isn’t the answer” sermon directed at the renegade cops ends with Chief Westberg killing them all with a goddamn tank about a page and a half later. Yes, really. You couldn’t make it up.
This jaw-dropping contradiction aside, the issue flows fairly well, drawing an emphatic line under this particular plot thread (what with them being dead and all) while throwing a brand-new wrinkle into the story in the closing pages. As always, Otto Schmidt’s dynamic artwork injects the pages with a sense of movement and energy, and while his level of detail suffers at times here, he manages to nail the big moments with his trademark flair – the aforementioned ‘wrinkle’ in particular.
Benjamin Percy has proven time and again that he’s capable of some truly brilliant ideas, but this latest issue reminds us that the execution can sometimes get away from him a little. Emi’s return could probably have been slotted in after the Vice Squad were dealt with, and the baffling contradiction of their demise seems to derail the reason for their inclusion in the first place.
That said, this is still an otherwise enjoyable issue, buoyed by Schmidt’s kinetic artwork and always pushing things forwards at a brisk pace. Another minor stumble in what has been a fairly solid series to this point then, although I’m confident that the conclusion of this arc – and the fallout from the events of the closing pages – should make for a truly fun read.
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