Hey, amigo! Are you looking at me? Or are you looking at those loco gringo's over at DC Comics. You know the one's I mean: Benjamin Percy, Patrick Zircher, and Fabrizio Fiorentino. As you saw them eating their nachos with a knife and folk, in November, 2015, somewhere near their pen and crayons.

TO QUOTE Benjamin Percy, as some sort of omniscient narrator: “But behind the drugs, there's something else at work.”

In the interest of full disclosure I'm now going to gush over this issue like a little kid who just got the Jumbo Sized Hot Wheels Garage Stunt Spectacular set for his birthday. To temper that, though, I'll get the two tiny negatives out of the way first.

One: Catalina is supposed to be Mexican, right? Like, born and raised. Yet she tells Oliver they're arriving on “Día de los Muertos”, the common English-speaker's back-translation, rather than the native “Día de Muertos”.

And Two: While a vast majority of the art in this issue is beautiful -- and a fair amount of it qualifies as above-and-beyond, balls-to-the-wall, please-sign-that-so-I-can-frame-it amazing -- there were a couple of pages that felt... off. On page 9, when Oliver and Catalina enters' her bar, the scene just felt like it came out of a different book, plus Catalina looks like four different characters in each panel, none of which looked like the way Zircher has drawn Catalina everywhere else. And then, on the next page, we get Oliver's application for The Hawkeye Initiative.

And that's that. No more griping. If you can get up over those two tiny little curbs, then my friend, you have a most excellent issue in store. Kill the lights, pop in Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre, kick back, and enjoy another excellent issue of Green Arrow.

I wondered last issue if Percy's Juárez was going to be purely fictionalized or based in the horrors of our reality. Well, right from page one we get the confirmation that he's definitely bringing some of the reality to this world, and with one simple sentence (see the quote above) inserts the Bone Collectors into the narrative. Given that it seems there's only one issue left to this arc, I'm guessing we're not going to get a bold political statement, or a deep dive in to the horrors of our world, before Mr. Queen returns home. But still, it is nice to see the comic book world tie in with ours, highlighting some of the very real problems that we face in our world without superheroes and vigilantes.

On the topic of comparisons-to-last-issue, it's not often that I think to call out a letterer. They're absolutely necessary to the success of a comic book, and while they may not often have the opportunity to shine -- you certainly know when they're terrible. Rob Leigh deserves some recognition for his work here, juggling the delicacies of characters that mix English and Spanish in their speech with whispers, screams, and a radio broadcast. I'd also like to tip my hat in appreciation of him not doing a funky font or color scheme for Jefe's speech bubbles. The art team gave Jefe enough creepiness that I can hear the slime in his voice just fine. And on a minor side note, it sort of bugged me that Leigh missed the accent on the A in Juárez last issue, which has been corrected this time around.

Just to put the timeline of the last few issues in some perspective, Oliver wakes up in Seattle with Melanie in late October, presumably on Halloween morning. She does not stay for waffles. He and Emiko hit the midnight parade Halloween night. The Pike's Place Market date (and soothsayer visit) with Kyra must have been pretty early on November 1st in order for the 1700+ mile road trip with Catalina to have a day, a night, and reach the Mexican border during daylight hours before Día de Muertos ends -- with the Bone Collectors traveling ahead of them with George. Three girls in three days and epic road trip aside, the bombshell dropped in Green Arrow Annual #1 has got to be a factor in this story as Oliver fights with the Skeleton Cartel before it gets picked up as a primary thread with issue 48 in January.

Let's get back to that phenomenal art. The art matches the tone of this story wonderfully, cutting from greenhouse to desolate highway to busy border crossing to the bar to the cartel compound. Along the way there are five magnificent half page panels that blew me away; the title panel, the Bone Collectors in the bus headlights, the first view of Jefe, the moth on his wall of skulls, and the young couple at the climax. Each could stand on their own, but with the frames in between building the drama and escalating the action, they turned in to magnificent exclamation points on the story.

Story-wise, we've got some reveal on the Bone Collectors, but still enough of a mystery as to their full intentions and origins. Jefe is simultaneously the perfect generic creepy cartel leader trope and a breath of fresh air with the supernatural element added to his shtick. We still don't know exactly what his endgame is, as instead of a criminal mastermind monologue revealing his grand scheme, he goes off on the power of bones and why Oliver shouldn't trust Catalina. The fight scene was, well, a fight scene, but giving Oliver the chance to mimic First Born to kick a little ass instead of trying to reinvent the bow and arrow a dozen times was a nice change.

There's also a great little gag bringing the shared DC universe to Mexico with Catalina and Oliver. We've seen it before in Emiko's bedroom and locker, but in this issue the band Black Canary gets a more overt cameo. Those of you who miss the Green Arrow and Black Canary relationship that existed before Flashpoint ought to appreciate it – or, perhaps, it'll just infuriate you that Ollie and Dinah haven't even met in current continuity.

Boy, did this issue answer my question about Mr Zimm in the conclusion of the prior arc, though.

Oh, man. There are so many musical options with this issue. Do we go with some Día de Muertos mariachi music? Good ol' fashioned boot-stompin horror punk? Some So-Cal Spanglish gangsta rap? Some Tejano or Conjunto folk influence? Hell no. I'm going to kick it old school and set this book to the tune of Edvard Grieg's March of the Trolls, one of the works that influenced the 1929 Silly Symphony from which this issue gets its title.

Well, this one's kind of a no brainer. Jefe clearly has an obsession with bones. He's got his living room decked out with reassembled skeletons of a person, a dog, and a bird (in a cage, of course). The ceiling is lined with bones. Skulls around the perimeter. The compound has columns lined with bones, a wall of skulls, and of course, sufficient bone-built chairs to tie any prisoners to (though the effectiveness of that method of restraint may have been proven ineffective). It seems to me like Jefe has gone beyond the traditional Día de Muertos symbolism and decided to decorate after returning from a vacation to Sedlec Ossuary in the Czech Republic. They may not have a full bone-built dining room table and chair set like Jefe, but I think that Frantisek Rint may have Jefe beat on the skeleton chandelier front.

Told you I'd be gushy. That was pretty gushy, right? But damn, if ever there was an issue that deserved it, this is it. My biggest concern with this story is actually that I fear it might end too soon. From what we've seen of Percy's work thus far, he introduced a minor detail in the first arc that became the focus of the second, but the lead for the third arc seems to have come from the Annual. So where are we going with this story? I sincerely hope that he's not wiping out the Skeleton Cartel and Jefe in the next issue. They would be a great ongoing villain for Green Arrow.

So where are we going with this arc? Anybody want to take a guess with me?
  1. As he climbs out of the water, Oliver is arrested for ivory trafficking and spends the rest of his days in a Mexican prison.
  2. Sophia brings all the bones in the cartel compound to life and takes video as they maul Jefe and the Collectors, then texts the video to Maxine Baker who responds “LOLZ!”
  3. Andrew Bennett shows up and eats Oliver.
  4. The good people of Juárez rise up and storm the compound, kicking the Bone Collectors and all other ne'er-do-wells out of their city forever. Juárez becomes a safe haven of peace and prosperity forever more.
  5. Bat-Mite shows up, decides that Green Arrow and Tarantula's mission would be better accomplished by Harley Quinn and Starfire, and hilarity ensues. The people of Juárez swear to never celebrate again.
  6. Jefe actually reports to Alex Merkel and all hell is about to break loose.
*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.

GREEN ARROW #46 GREEN ARROW #46 Reviewed by David Andrews on November 30, 2015 Rating: 5
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