Oliver Queen is dead but The Green Arrow lives on.
Such is the state of affairs in Seattle, where Oliver Queen is believed dead after killing a woman in an act of passion before going on to a gruesome demise of his own. The truth is that Oliver Queen is innocent, framed by a criminal interest called The Ninth Circle that wanted him out of the way in favor of a less idealistic CEO who would ignore – and indeed enjoy – the fruits of their illicit labors using Queen Industries as a cover for drug-running, smuggling and human trafficking.
With his fortune and his good name taken, Oliver Queen has fallen back on the only things left to him. His bow. His friends. His lady love and partner in crime-fighting. And the people of Seattle who still need a hero.
Those people need a hero now more than ever with police corruption on the rise along with crime and groups like The Ninth Circle and The Underground Men still at work in Seattle. Unfortunately, those people now know that Oliver Queen is The Green Arrow. And even now they’re working to take away the one thing an outlaw needs most – the love of the people they protect.
Years ago, I wrote a feature on my personal blog about what I would do if I were writing a Black Canary/Green Arrow comic. Amusingly, some of the things I suggested – like establishing Ra’s Al Ghul as a villain for Green Arrow – have come to pass, albeit it not exactly as I described and not always in the comics. (Thank you, Arrow!) I mention this, because I think the post-Rebirth Green Arrow is the kind of comic I would have written if given the chance. It’s definitely the kind of Green Arrow series I’ve been dying to read for over a decade.
Benjamin Percy truly understands the relationship that should exist between Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. He conveys the complex romance between them in a way no writer has managed since Kevin Smith. The action sequences feel true to form as well – a spattering of the ol’ Mike Grell magic coupled with some Dennis O’Neil-style ranting with updated slang for the modern reader. Part of me still longs to hear Ollie call someone a fat-cat for old time’s sake, but this new Green Arrow has the same old spirit. Call them social justice warriors or hippie agitators – Green Arrow and Black Canary are still around to fight against the evil-doers who hide behind business suits and badges.
There is only one aspect of the writing I don’t like and I’ll admit this may be a personal point on my part. The reason I’ve always admired Green Arrow above all other superheroes is because of the theme of redemption so prevalent to his back-story since The Bronze Age. Oliver Queen was not a good person. Tragedy made him realize that he had to become someone better – someone who used his blessings to help the cursed. That idea always resonated with me for personal reasons that go beyond the scope of this review.
Given that, I’m a little disturbed about how Benjamin Percy seems to have suggested that Oliver’s transformation is being entirely facilitated by his relationship with Dinah. Not only does this take away Oliver’s agency to facilitate a change of heart on his own (a change which was shown in previous New 52 Green Arrow comics) but turning Dinah into Ollie’s Dulcinea doesn’t suit her at all, given her own dark past. It also encourages the cynical belief that the only reason men display feminist/liberal beliefs is to win the approval of feminist/liberal women.
Whatever qualms I may have with the subtext of the scripts, I have no such complaints about the artwork on this book. Otto Schmidt’s gritty style is a perfect match for Percy’s writing and his work here makes a strong case for the idea of recruiting more artists who handle their own inks and colors for DC Comics’ other titles. There is a unity of purpose to every aspect of Schmidt’s work that is often lacking in comics where multiple inkers and colorists on a single issue prove the old saying about too many cooks spoiling the broth.
Is Green Arrow a perfect comic? No. But it is a damned good one and an inspiring read for those looking for a slice of hope in an imperfect world.