It’s odd how, in some respects, DC Comics has tried to have it both ways with those DC Rebirth properties that are connected to a television series on The CW. Logically, one can see the appeal of trying to win readers from an audience of millions but at the same time not wanting to alienate an established base of fans that are volatile at the best of times.
Hence a series of half-measures. We now have a teenage Supergirl living with Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers while working for the DEO but no step-sister named Alex. Killer Frost has reformed into a hero in the pages Justice League of America, inspired by the popularity of the Caitlin Snow character on The Flash, yet there’s no Vibe working at STAR Labs.
Green Arrow has been the most mercurial book in this respect. Even before DC Rebirth, aspects of Arrow were brought into the book and changed with little rhyme or reason. From Judd Winick’s introducing Tommy Merlyn as Oliver Queen’s best friend turned bitter enemy to John Lemire’s introduction of John Diggle as Oliver Queen’s reluctant ally, about the only thing we can safely say regarding what elements of Arrow won’t find their way into Rebirth at this point is that there will be no Felicity Smoak so long as Benjamin Percy is writing.
I thought it important to discuss this point given that Green Arrow #26 is based around a team-up between between Oliver Queen and Barry Allen. Doubtlessly there are fans of the television series who wonder if they’ll be hopelessly lost trying to read this book and how it will stack up to the annual team-ups of Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell. Likewise, regular readers of the comics may be concerned that prior character history (short version – Ollie and Barry don’t get along nearly as well in the comics as on TV) will be ignored for the sake of winning over new readers.
Both sets of fans can rest assured. Green Arrow #26 is both easily accessible to new readers and builds upon what came before. The plot sees Oliver Queen – framed for murder but out on bail – roaming the country as he searches for proof that he was set-up. The Flash runs across him (pun very much intended) as he is investigating a leak in The Speed Force that is randomly supercharging the wildlife in the Cascade Mountains.
Benjamin Percy’s script acknowledges Oliver and Barry’s past issues but quickly works past them when they discover their common enemy. There’s a brilliant conceit here, tying The Ninth Circle (i.e. the Satanic uber-capitalist cabal Green Arrow has been fighting since Rebirth began) and The Black Hole (i.e. the evil mad scientist cabal The Flash has been fighting since Rebirth began) together. It’s a nice touch given that one complaint about The New 52 was how many overlapping villainous groups were introduced that somehow operated in total secrecy without stepping on one another’s toes. Another magical moment comes from Percy’s building the relationship between Black Canary and the new Red Arrow, which fondly reminds me of the all too brief bits of Dinah mentoring teen heroines in earlier books.
Stephen Byrne is on the art duties this time around and does a fantastic job. I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite artist on this series but Byrne’s kinetic style is a good fit for this story, which is all based around motion and movement. The unity between pencils, inks and colors makes a good case for more books adopting the Eastern aesthetic of having one artist handle all aspects of a comic’s art compared to the Western assembly-line method used by most big publishers.
Whether you’re a new reader or an old one, a fan of The CW series or not, Green Arrow #26 is one team-up everyone can agree on. The writing is fun and accessible. The artwork is skillful on all fronts. This is one to pick up!