Life is pretty good for Oliver Queen at the moment. True, he’s still rebuilding his company in the wake of his battle with The Ninth Circle and there’s a goodly portion of the people of Seattle who think he got away with murder. Throw in the added responsibility of being entrusted with something that could destroy The Justice League by Martian Manhunter and there’s a lot on his plate.
Still, the woman of his dreams, Dinah Lance, is moving in with him. His protege, Roy Harper, is speaking to him again. And he’s got his company back. It may not be peaceful, but at least his problems are manageable.
Unfortunately, there’s a new vigilante in town who refuses to be managed. Calling himself The Citizen, his activities had been limited to live-streamed videos calling people to stand against corrupt One-Percenters. All well and good… until The Citizen kidnaps a notorious slum lord (who tried to blow up a building with people still inside it) and posts a poll on his channel asking the citizens to decide if he should live or die. Green Arrow, Black Canary and Arsenal have some strong opinions on the subject, but will they be able to save the slum lord before mob justice decides his fate?
Whatever else may be said about Green Arrow #43, it is not a subtle comic. It opens with a cigar-chomping mogul eagerly pushing a big red button to blow up a building full of innocent people and ends with a left-wing vigilante advocating the return of the guillotine. A year or two ago this might have seemed over-the-top. Somehow it doesn’t seem that absurd in a world where Sacha Baron Cohen can trick a group of racist militiamen into dressing in drag and throwing a fake quinceañera in a bid to capture illegal immigrant teenagers.
Thankfully, the book’s action sequences are as gloriously over the top as the politics, with Julie and Shawna Benson maintaining a consistent tone and level of energy throughout. Their take on Oliver Queen will gladly kick seven kinds of crap out of a fat-cat, but he won’t play judge, jury and executioner. This does a good deal to separate him from the more well-known and more-violent incarnation of Oliver Queen from Arrow. It should be interesting to see how this storyline plays out given that Green Arrow’s ideals may not be the same as Arsenal (who spent the last few years partnering with Red Hood) and Black Canary, who is, I think, still an ex special-ops soldier with no serious objections to killing in self-defense.
The artwork by Javier Fernandez is a keen compromise between streamlined exaggeration and Grellian grit. His figures are exaggerated, but there is an inherent darkness to his design and a staggering amount of detail in his panels. Note, for instance, the excited child cheering as he falls to near-certain death while his parents and saviors are screaming or gritting their teeth in the above panel. Strangely enough, the disparity between this aesthetic and the bright colors used by John Kalisz seems oddly appropriate, adding to the conflicted nature of the story.
Green Arrow #43 is a political book and it is not the least bit apologetic about that fact. There is a certain vocal minority in the comics-reading community who will hate this book on general principle. Thankfully, as satisfying as it might be to buy this book just to annoy them, it’s a damn good action/adventure comic with powerful art and well worth reading for non-political reasons.