Four months have passed since the creative team on Green Arrow changed and much has likewise changed in the reality of Green Arrow. Many of these changes – like the introduction of Felicity Smoak – have shifted the book toward something closer to the world of the television series, Arrow. Yet other changes have brought back some elements of the series not seen since before the New 52 reboot – such as the reintroduction of Mia Dearden.
For the past few issues, Green Arrow has been fighting the Machiavellian schemes of a corporate raider named John King. A social Darwinist who is the complete opposite of the philanthropist Oliver Queen, King has acquired a number of followers – his so-called King’s Subjects – who use their positions to carry out King’s orders. From a police captain who orders his officers to ignore problems in the poor parts of town to a priest reporting the criminal confessions of his flock, King has agents at every level of society ready to do his twisted bidding.
As this issue opens, Green Arrow is a wanted man with a sizable bounty on his head. Felicity Smoak – a hacker who was inspired to go white-hat because of Green Arrow’s example – has suddenly had the full force of the law brought down upon her for past crimes and – thanks to King’s connections – been thrown into the SUPERMAX metahuman prison with a super-villain she once wronged as a roommate!
Oliver Queen should have bigger concerns than saving her but she did save his life and tip him off to King in the first place. And that counts for a lot. But only a madman would contemplate breaking into SUPERMAX. And only a genius could accomplish it. Luckily, Oliver Queen is both.
In certain respects, the new Green Arrow is the best that it has been since the New 52 reboot. The introduction of Felicity Smoak as a reoccurring character has injected some much needed humor into the series. And the comic has improved on Arrow in one respect, being quick to give Felicity a defined background. This issue adds further definition to Felicity’s past, revealing that she crossed The Secret Society of Super-villains at some point in the past and personally pissed-off Cheetah. More, the book feels livelier than it has in a long time.
At the same time, Green Arrow has become a less realistic book and at times now borders on the ridiculous. This is problematic since Green Arrow has always been at its best when it was somewhat grounded and John King has, to quote a line from The Simpsons, “crossed that line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillany.” While King might be a master manipulator, it simply isn’t credible that he could order a single hospital administrator to tell his staff to start pulling the plug on all the patients in critical care without raising some serious questions, as happened in the last issue. And the subplot involving King’s runaway daughter Mia Dearden – whose background has been infuriatingly obscured so far – has proven to have surprisingly little to do with the story at large, meriting only a single page of continuation in this issue!
Thankfully, the new art team has proven to be an amazing addition to the book and their work can be enjoyed without quantification. This is no surprise to fans of Gail Simone’s Batgirl, who well remember Daniel Sampre and Jonathan Glapion for their masterful work on that series. The same quality can be seen here, along with the vibrant colors of Gabe Eltaeb and clean lettering of Rob Leigh.
All in all, fans of Arrow and the Arrow-heads of old will find much to enjoy in the new Green Arrow. Just don’t take things too seriously and ask questions like ‘Why doesn’t John King doesn’t just reveal Oliver Queen’s secret identity to the world?”