GREEN ARROW #43

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[ AIMING FOR A BARGAIN
Well, well, well. What have we here then? Benjamin Percy and Patrick Zircher seem to have gotten themselves into quite the pickle this August, 2015. DC Comics might be able to bail them out, but only if the tale they tell can cut the mustard. Which is tricky to do, you know, as it is not easy to discern whether a cutting attempt is successful on a viscous condiment.

To QUOTE Gottlob Berger: “Kein Mensch darum, was wir unten mit unseren Volksdeutschen tun?”

THE REVIEW:
Well that escalated quickly.  Seriously.  Just last issue I thought we had a slow burn mystery going when Ollie was jumped by the evil businessman mastermind.  But then in this issue he just blurts out his whole plan and, well, let's just employ some corporate speak and say he doesn't execute 100% according to plan.

I'll start this review by getting one key point out there: I'm still loving Percy and Zircher's work.  The overall trajectory of their run looks very promising.  The style and tone of the story is great -- dark, realistic, gritty, and relevant -- if I may fling a few overused adjectives around.  But through what would otherwise be a murky indie comic, they both work in just the right amount of humor, both visually and verbally, to keep it fun, as a Justice League group comic should be, even if it's sometimes gallows humor.

Last month I praised Percy for restoring a lot of what was missing from the current Green Arrow run.  This month he didn't let up.  Two of the best restorations were returning Emiko and Henry to Oliver's life.  This issue, the two of them get their first scene together since Jeff Lemire's run, elevating them to possibly the greatest pair of characters in any current DC title.  They continue to take jabs at each other, despite needing to work together, including a great exchange using two-line character summaries of one another as insults.  And they get the glory scene for this issue, as Fyff hands off the mission-specific trick arrows to Emiko in a very old school “Q and Bond” type of moment.

Emiko's solo scenes with George were equally brilliant, giving us some great development of her character compared with the younger, angrier girl we met in Lemire's run.  Or it could be interpreted as what she was always like, as I believe this is the first time we've gotten to see Emiko without any other characters around for her to posture and perform for.  It's also the first time we've gotten to see her operate solo -- cool under pressure, even when it's clear she's in over her head.  On the flip side, Zircher scores some awesome geek points for Fyff's solo time, exposing not only what sort of underwear he wears, but establishing him as “one of us” with his poster of 1940's Rex Dexter of Mars #1 on his bathroom wall.

(For my fellow fans of old school comics, if you can't track down this 75 year old comic or any of the 23 issues of Mystery Men Comics he's featured in, go snag Savage Dragon #133 for a reprint of this one shot. Yes, Mystery Men, the same place The Blue Beetle got his start. No, not the same as John Carter of Mars, who was born in Virginia whereas Rex was the first human born on Mars).

Sticking with the art for the moment, Zircher has a full page “citizen's eye view” of a panopticon descending right on the second page.  I hadn't noticed it in prior issues, but in this particular shot (and later images), the top of the drone greatly resembles an SS hat.  I'm not certain whether that visual was intentional or just happenstance, but given the subject matter of this arc, it's an appropriate visual to open with.

Zircher also does a great job of capturing the terror in Seattle's citizens' eyes as the newscaster talks about the hood movement as a form of protest and protection.  With all the great work Zircher and Percy are doing to both pay tribute to classic Ollie and bringing back the best of modern Ollie, this was a great foreshadowing tip to the tribute we saw at the beginning of Future's End.  (Does it count as foreshadowing if it's happening later in publishing order but earlier in story chronology?)

Speaking of foreshadowing, the red accents and arrows when Emiko suits up was a great little hat tip to Oliver's traditional sidekick, but I'm certainly hoping that Percy isn't planning on actually formalizing Emiko in to the Red Arrow identity.   And he best not let anyone get away with calling her a sidekick without some serious repercussions.  Things have been established, my friend!

Also, if I may address an open letter of concern to Misters Percy and Zircher, when inserting legible URLs in to your comic book, use something that links back to you or your publisher.  Following the bit.ly link on the opening page should have brought me to Percy's home page or either his or Zircher's twitter account (why don't you have an online portfolio I can find, man?), or at the very least the Green Arrow character page at DCComics.com.  It should not be left available for whomever has the fastest fingers when the preview copies get to the press to drive extra traffic to his site.  (I'm looking at you, Schenker!  But props for snagging it.)

P.S. Did y'all really need to invent a fourth “twitter-like” service for the DCU?  We've already had (post-Flashpoint) validation that Twitter itself exists in-universe.  Jeff Lemire gave us Mix over in Animal Man, then Will Pfeifer ignored both services and created Chirper for last year's relaunch of Teen Titans.  And now we've got a fourth, thus far unnamed, service for Green Arrow.  At least it's got some nerd cred with the double slash and asterisks instead of the untypeable upper ASCII characters that Lemire and Pfeifer had used.

There were quite a few mysteries left unexplained at the end of this arc.  (At least I'm assuming it's the end – solicits for the next few issues look like Zimm's left in the dust while a classic Nightwing character makes her post-Flashpoint debut to harass Oliver.)  I'm hoping at least some of them will be answered in later stories – it would be refreshing to have a writer who weaves threads of short arcs together better than the average comic writer.

One of the more curious questions for me was why Zimm's Aryan thugs were all tattooed up like neo-Nazi stereotypes, yet with the exception of the gun dealer, the others had converted their swastikas to dollar signs.  We had overt iron crosses, triskeles, 1488s, seriffed odals, and so on, but only the one swastika.  Was this some weird self-censorship on the part of DC editorial or Zircher?  Or was it intentional representation of the characters who are most loyal to Zircher being in it for the money and no longer necessarily “purist” racists?

In general, I think I'm liking Percy's style of not filling in all the blanks for us.  There's a lot open to interpretation.  Or events that transpire off-panel that may or may not be explained overtly.  For now, I'm looking at them as open questions that I'm hoping will be answered down the line.

THE MUSIC:
“Gabba gabba we accept you we accept you one of us!”  Not just for us comic nerds accepting Fyff, but for the neo-Nazis that accepted Zimm as one of them, only to find out that he was just using them.  Alas, unlike the film that the Ramones' Pinhead is inspired by, the skinheads didn't circle Zimm, castrate him, melt his hands, sever his legs, and permanently tar and feather him.  Maybe they still will, civic minded hate group that they are.  That'd be a nice comic.




THE COMPARISON:
Soooooo, let's think back to when Zimm was designing his killer drones.  He gives them a means to fly, adds some sort of camera to scan the populace and identify behaviors that are deserving of massacre, then tacks on some deadly tentacles to grab, invert, choke, dismember and so on.   Oh, yeah, an SS hat styled lid would look nice.  Lets see . . .  what else?  Oh, right, some ominous red lights across the front to give it that old school Sith vibe.  Now, being the forward-thinking megalomaniacal population control enthusiast that he is, he of course considered a time when the software that operates his drone might be remotely overwritten by a resourceful hacker who lives above a Chinese restaurant.  So, he does what any enterprising industrious killer drone designer does: when hacked, those threatening lights should turn green! 

Which reminded me of Heinz Doofenshmirtz's habit of always including a self-destruct button to his machines designed to conquor the tri-state area.  (Or sometimes just to settle a petty unjustice perceived against him.)  To quote the esteemed president of Doofenshmirtz Evil Incorporated, “As you know, every Inator of mine has a self-destruct feature, all of which rely on a little formula top scientists refer to as 'Boom Juice.'”

THE CONCLUSION:
My only complaint about this issue is that it was over too soon.  I feel like there should have been one more issue to this arc.  Maybe these open questions will be addressed.  Maybe they won't.  But it was one hell of an opening arc and I'm willing to forgive a lot in favor of character growth and development through unique stories we haven't read a dozen times before.  Great job, gents.

I felt a little cheated in the mechanics of how this issue concluded.  Not to spoil too much, but I feel that dissent among the bad guys is a disappointing technique without a bit more build up.  And it cheapens the efforts of the proverbial cavalry riding in.

As to those open questions I keep harping on (I'm really sorry – I'm a detail dork), here's what's top of my mind right now.  How about you?  Any questions you want answered, dear reader?  What's your take on the ones I've posed?  (I've thinned out the details so as to avoid big spoilers, but for an optimal reading experience, close your browser now and come back once you've caught up).
  1. How public is Oliver's identity? Was Zimm expecting Oliver Queen or Green Arrow at the Panopticon “factory”? Did Ollie go public between 40 & 41? Did Zimm figure something out? Or did he just unmask our hero between 42 & 43?
  2. Why kill Eddie Ridge? Zimm's proclamation that he's not a racist, just a supremacist does not explain killing a linebacker. Unless he just views all professional athletes as not being “industrious” enough and not “bettering society.” Which still begs the question of why, specifically, Eddie.
  3. Did Emiko hand her bow to Oliver or did he take it from her? It's a minor point, but it's important for the development of both their characters, as if he took it from her, she didn't respond verbally on page.
  4. Is Oliver okay with killing bad guys now? Did Fyff go off-book in a big way?
  5. Who the hell is the albino? I was kind of hoping we'd get a backstory to him or at least a name before . . . things happened.
*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.