Though some may disagree that Green Arrow has suffered the most out of all of DC Comics’ titles in the New 52 era, few would dispute its place among the Top 5 Most Beleaguered Comics Of The Past Decade. Writer J.T. Krul left the title before the first issue came out, barely establishing the new Oliver Queen as DC Comics’ answer to Tony Stark – a brilliant, rich technical genius who fought crime by night. Keith Giffen briefly held the course from issues #4-6, writing Green Arrow as a generic action hero until a new permanent writer could take over with issue #7.
The new writer, Ann Nocenti, had a good reputation for writing vivid street-level comics and tackling topical issues during her run on Daredevil. Unfortunately, her take on The Emerald Archer read like a twisted parody of Dennis O’Neil’s jazz-loving beatnick from the 1960s.
Jeff Lemire began writing the book with issue #16 and was generally well-received, though some long-time Green Arrow fans disliked the liberties Lemire took with the mythology. Another problem – at least from the perspective of the marketing department – was that Lemire’s epic tale of family legacies and totem weapons bore little resemblance to the popular Arrow TV series.
This sparked a new run, beginning with Green Arrow #35, penned by Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg and Arrow writer Ben Sokolowski. Their brief run reintroduced many classic Green Arrow characters as well as several elements taken straight from the TV series and a more comedic tone. Unfortunately, this run was not well received by the fans who preferred the more-serious tone of Lemire’s run and those Green Arrow fans who didn’t particularly care for Arrow.
That brings us to Green Arrow #41 and the fifth revamp in as many years, just in time for the start of the DC You campaign. So how does the latest attempt to establish Oliver Queen and company fare?
Not well, I’m afraid. Not well at all.
The issue quickly establishes the new status quo. Oliver Queen is living in Seattle with his half-sister Emiko, who was raised by the assassin Kodomo as his own daughter and is currently chafing under Ollie’s insistence that she go to public school like a normal teenage girl. Apart from her and technology expert Henry Fyff, all of Ollie’s extended family of assistant vigilantes have vanished without explanation. And Ollie still has his fortune and his company, where he plays at being a bored playboy, more Bruce Wayne than Bruce Wayne.
The script by Benjamin Percy is technically well-written. Unfortunately, it is also light on action and frequently dull. In an interview regarding his plans for the series, Percy said he would be injecting “ingredients of horror” into the world of Green Arrow as well as “continuing (and reinventing) some elements of the Jeff Lemire mythology.“
Apparently this means that Percy planned to ape Lemire’s writing style on Swamp Thing while only utilizing those characters Lemire created for Green Arrow‘s supporting cast. This is the only logical reason I can see for using overweight hacker stereotype Henry Fyff instead of Felicity Smoak or for bringing back Emiko Queen, whose entire personality is best summarized as ‘like Damian Wayne, but whinier.’
It is the horror elements of the story that stick out the most like a sore thumb. Granted, Mike Grell did include supernatural and mystical elements in his Green Arrow stories, but these moments were few, far between and occurred in stories where Ollie was separated from civilization, such as when he sensed the presence of the Herne the Hunter while traveling through the forest at night. They never involved skeletal crones standing on street corners in downtown Seattle delivering cryptic warnings about bird monsters preying on the homeless and the poor after dark!
The one bright spot to this comic is the artwork. I say that ironically, for the colors by Gabe Eltaeb are muted as fits the horror aesthetic Percy is trying to evoke with his script. Yet the pencils and inks by Patrick Zircher are quite good, though the whole affair looks completely desaturated from start to finish.
On the whole, this new direction for Green Arrow is two steps backward. This might be a good first issue for a new horror series for Vertigo Comics. But ultimately there’s nothing here that really speaks to this being a Green Arrow comic apart from the hero being named Oliver Queen.