When I was sent the first volume of GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH and asked to share my thoughts on it for the DC website, I was pretty psyched. I write about Arrow for the #DCTV Couch Club, and I’ve been wanting to read the new Green Arrow book for a while, so everything aligned perfectly.
After reading, I think it’s best if we break down my thoughts issue-by-issue. So beware, spoilers lurk ahead!
GREEN ARROW VOL. 1: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OLIVER QUEEN collects the GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH #1 one-shot and GREEN ARROW #1-#5 of the ongoing series. I have to say, the first thing that grabbed me was the cover. The combination of the art with the tight shot of Ollie’s face and the angelic white glow of the arrowhead along with the font and color choices makes for a really aesthetically pleasing layout that has a “pop” to it.
So let’s jump in, shall we!
Green Arrow: Rebirth
The issue does a good job of establishing the story and drawing you in pretty quickly. The writer, Benjamin Percy, uses mystery to keep you interested—we learn right away that there’s a strange group kidnapping people for some kind of weird underground society headed by a guy in a creepy mask. But what the purpose is, you don’t know, and so you keep reading to find out. Well played, Benjamin…well played. Also, Otto Schmidt’s art compliments the writing by keeping your eyes moving from panel to panel—the splash page in this issue is too good.
As you make it through the story, you learn real quick that the benefactors of the kidnappings are some legitimately strange and scary people. Again, that element of mystery and the unknown helps give the story an unsettling feeling, which is kind of fun to see in a Green Arrow book.
Since I write columns for Arrow, I couldn’t help but notice a couple things between the TV medium and the comic page that I thought were pretty interesting…
Unlike Arrow, Percy’s series is clearly making the choice to have Green Arrow and Black Canary together as a couple. I know a lot of Arrow fans out there weren’t happy about Laurel’s death and the lack of a Black Canary on the show. But the book fulfills that partnership and it’s exactly what you’d want.
The other thing I noticed that the show and book share is Ollie’s lax approach to his identity. We seem him completely unafraid to reveal who he is to the boy he helps rescue—zero attempt to keep his identity a secret. The growing number of characters in Arrow that know Oliver Queen is Green Arrow has become sort of a running joke amongst fans. I mean, at this point, why even have the mask and hood? Ha ha.
Green Arrow #1: The End
The intrigue of the mystery continues to be the main catalyst. It spurs you along, while giving you little hints and clues throughout the issue. Perhaps the best part of this issue is realizing how far the arms of evil stretch—with Ollie’s most trusted advisor at the heart of it all.
I liked the pacing in this issue a lot. It starts out with action and settles down when you see Ollie at peace in his free time with Black Canary and Emi…but you can’t escape the feeling that something will happen to destroy that peace. You just don’t know who, what, where or when it will come.
The emotions begin to ramp back up when Oliver speaks with Cyrus Broderick (the CFO of Queen Industries) regarding concerns he has with where some of the company’s money is going. It’s right after this conversation that the impending evil I spoke about earlier comes out: Cyrus is the mystery man in the mask and he orders Oliver to be killed.
I sort of thought that was coming, but what I didn’t expect (and why I liked it so much) was the twist of Emi working with her mom, Shado, to kill Oliver…
Green Arrow #2: Erasure
This issue finally reveals to us who the grotesque mystery men receiving the kidnapped people are. They’re called The Burned and they’re part of The Ninth Circle.
It also introduces the bad a$$ John Diggle to the story.
As a whole, this chapter in the story sort of operates as the standard good guy gets knocked down then gets back up to avenge those that did him wrong.
I was sort of on the fence about this issue because I felt like it moved too quickly. The attempt on Ollie’s life, him surviving and returning to society to see the destruction of Queen Industries building (and no one recognizing him in street clothes??) just didn’t quite work for me. But, sometimes the story has to move quick and you have to just just go with it—that’s comics!
Green Arrow #3: The Ninth Circle
This issue introduces the art of Juan Ferreyra—which I really dig. It has a 90’s painted quality/vibe to it in my opinion. Very cool!
Anyways…what I liked about this one was how four of the characters can be in four different mindsets and places and still all intertwine into the main story.
We see Ollie at the Queen Industries skyscraper where he confronts members of The Ninth Circle and Cyrus, who explains how Queen money has been funding evil all around the world.
John Diggle is working in Italy, seeking out information about The Ninth Circle.
Black Canary hitches a ride to the The Ninth Circle’s headquarters—called The Inferno—a massive boat that operates in uncharted waters.
And finally, Dante balances operating The Ninth Circle with devising a plan to kill his biggest threat: Green Arrow.
Speaking of Dante, that has to be one of the most disgusting looking villains (or characters for that matter) that I’ve ever seen. Gross!
But the cool thing you take away from this issue is that everyone is converging onto The Inferno, which is what you’ve been waiting for.
Green Arrow #4: Burn Your Bridges
Remember when I said in the beginning that you keep reading because you want to know who the mystery men are. Once you find out they’re The Burned and work for The Ninth Circle, you want to know why they’re all burned. Well, you learn why and to be honest, you might be better off not knowing.
I found it to be a pretty disturbing backstory that the people being kidnapped are placed in that weird boiling pit of fire called the Lye as a way to “cleanse” them. When they emerge, their skin peels off and they become a “new person.” Man…that’s some evil stuff. It made me want to see Ollie, John and Black Canary take these guys down even more!
One of my favorite moments in this issue is Oliie and John working with Henry to get him to access the stolen laptop with all the evidence that can incriminate The Ninth Circle. I loved the banter back and forth between the characters. It sort of humanized everyone. Razing each other reminded me of my buddies and I when we hang out—some real guy stuff right there!
Green Arrow #5: The Inferno
This is probably my favorite issue because we have all the characters in one place on The Inferno—so you know it’s about to go down!
Black Canary breaking free from Dante’s captivity and lighting up Shado is just plain awesome. I also liked the elements of deception with John posing as one of the high-ranking masked Ninth Circle brass.
That said, I had trouble buying into the double-swerve of having Emi actually being a good character and that her attack on Ollie and subsequent joining of The Ninth Circle was all part of her “master plan.” I don’t know, I think it would have been cool to leave her bad. Although, I have to say, the homing beacon from issue #3 and the fact that she was the anonymous person who contacted Diggle were nice touches.
The best part of this issue (and probably the trade as a whole) is when Ollie places the charges John gave him and blows The Inferno sky high. Not simply because they take out the bad guys and he blows up their base of operations. What makes it so good is that the depths of The Inferno hold billions of dollars both in money and priceless items. Ollie could have got all his money back and then some and started his life and business back up, but instead, he chose to do the right thing and destroy the huge vessel and send it to the ocean floor. Probably the most selfless act you could do. I’m not sure I could have made that same decision
Oh! Let’s not forget that ending! I really liked the full-circle element of Ollie back on the island. Poor guy!
In all, I enjoyed the book. I liked that it was more of a contained story. What I mean by that is at its core Green Arrow Vol. 1 is a pretty simple and straightforward story—not an overabundance of twists and turns. I think another strength of the book is that there’s an element of reality to it. It’s not your “typical” super hero comic where there’s a villain capable of destruction on a massive scale, and where buildings, people and worlds are being destroyed. It was a little more grounded and for that, I really enjoyed it. Hopefully, you did too!
Oliver Queen is back in Seattle to uncover an illegal human trafficking operation when he comes face-to-face with a familiar, yet mysterious loveâ€”Black Canary!