GREEN ARROW #48

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[ WOLF DOWN THOSE SALES
Benjamin Percy and Patrick Zircher have been hiking for days. They've been climbing icy cliffs and traversing seemingly endless chasms, throughout all of January, 2016. All in the name of DC Comics, whose flag they proudly planted atop Mount Rainier despite the National Park Service's explicit policies against such practices. The Jerks.

TO QUOTE Thomas Jefferson: “Experience demands that man is the only animal which devours his own kind, for I can apply no milder term to the general prey of the rich on the poor.”

THE REVIEW:
Here they go again. Percy and Zircher ring the starting bell on their third arc of Green Arrow (we'll call the Annual a pre-match press conference) and continue to deliver another beautiful blow after beautiful blow. Hey! Not that kind of blow, ya perv! This is a boxing analogy after all.

Winter Crucible picks up our story in an unspecified amount of time after Ollie's Día de Muertos road trip, getting some reflective Warg time alone in the wilderness (in or near our National Parks). Essentially, enough time for George to heal and Oliver to get a little manscaping on. At a casual glance, the big exciting news is that he's rocking a goatee, though not quite a full-on Van Dyke like his father (or pre-Flashpoint and Future's End self). But despite maybe coming across a little bit like an intermission, there's really a lot of good things to discover in this issue on subsequent passes.

Full disclosure: I actually didn't even notice the beard on my first read.

We don't really have a Big Bad for this new arc introduced in this issue. We get a brief glimpse on where Dolph Marrock (The Big Bad Wolf) landed after the events of the Annual. We get a reminder that a slimy little shit of a COO named Broderick has been running things since the unexplained resurrection of Queen Industries (back when Percy and Zircher took over the series). Plus we get a whole lot of Oliver's internal gentleman poet monologue, reflecting upon his lack of powers (when compared to the Justice League) and how his current situation is an opportunity to step up in to that power gap.

Until, you know, events occur which cause him to reconsider the reality of the situation, possibly setting us up with a Big Bad that's the same character as our hero. We also get introduced to Norton, whom I believe is a new character, the caretaker for the Queen family land in Rainier that we may or may not be seeing more of in upcoming issues.

Zircher's art in this issue is my favorite yet. Everything felt just right -- the ice, the snow, the wildlife, the wargs, the humans, George, and so on. Aside from the ice-climbing panel on the title page, there were no full-page glamour shots that eat up so many pages in modern comics. But every panel delivered an amazing level of quality that is all-too-often only found in some artist's splash pages. No details were lost to simplified features in the background; everybody felt real and alive, including the snow storm. He provided a splendid balance of mood and accent panels to the overarching story panels, culminating in a magnificently rendered tangle between Oliver, George, and their hairy nemesis. The emotion captured in Norton's face deserves a special mention as well, though not with too much detail, of course, because of spoilers.

I think Gabe Eltaeb deserves another shout out this month for his colorist duties (Uh, speaking of spoilers, there's a lot of bloodshed in this issue).  It's a subtle choice, but rendering most of the bloodshed in black instead of red makes a huge difference in the overall tone of the issue, both in avoiding the (sigh) comical bright red used in many comics (see Cassandra in recent issues of Batman and Robin Eternal) and in maintaining the sullen gloom of the story in the almost monochrome feel of a stormy winter mountaintop. When actual red ink is used later on, it is both dark enough to maintain this gloomier tone but red enough to jump out as more gory and shocking than the prior bloodshed to make its point in the story.

My big question mark is the inclusion of Oliver's recollection of campfire stories his father used to tell him about the “wild man” in the woods. It seems unlikely that this memory was supposed to imply that the man in Robert's tales was encountered in this issue, but I can't help but wonder if he'll become relevant to the solution to Oliver's little situation. Or will the Lukos situation be an ongoing back burner story as Ollie turns his attention to Broderick's obvious malicious machinations.

A-ruminating we shall go!

In the meantime, can somebody make Texts from Emiko in to a thing? Like a Tumblr or something? I love that kid.

THE MUSIC:
It's entirely possible that I'm going to be using Varg songs until this whole Lukos infection story is dead and gone. Maybe I'll get more subtle or poetic in future issues, but for now, it'll be Wir Sind Die Wölfe for you! We are the wolves. Enough of the old days; the here and now is made today, on a glorious future. And some such.




THE COMPARISON:
Don't ask Smeagol. Poor, poor Smeagol, he went away long ago. They took his Precious, and he's lost now”.

Yes, I'm going to go out on a limb here and compare this issue -- or more specifically Oliver's choice to go hang out in the mountains -- to our dear Middle Earth friend, Gollum.

Ollie may or may not have gone totally insane, but after getting infected by the Lukos, as Smeagol got infected by the One Ring, he decided to ostracize himself from society. Initially pumped up on the power that the infection / ring provided him, Oliver / Smeagol eventually realizes that the power comes at a terrible price. Will Oliver find a cure before he finds himself on an island in an underground lake beneath the mountains, surviving on cave fish and small goblins that have lost their way? (Art challenge; Oliver Queen as Smeagol, please.)

THE CONCLUSION:
Snow, wolves, family, lies, power, blood, and terror. What more do you need? From the look of the solicits, things are going to start moving pretty quickly here. Next issue appears to be a political drama as Oliver finally finds himself part of a marginalized group, not just a privileged kid who wants to stand up for the marginalized. Then issue 50 apparently sends him off around the world, searching for a cure with -- or more likely against -- everyone's best bud, Slade Wilson.

If you're reading the Savage Dawn crossover arc across most of the Superman series, you may have noticed Ollie popping up in Action Comics 48, as part of the Justice League United squad that shows up with Steel to give powerless Supes a hand. This is a squad without Supergirl, Hawkman, or J'onn J'onzz, so in theory it takes place after they, and Oliver, left the team, but it also includes Adam Strange, which means it either takes place prior to his Zeta-Space situation (and thus before the team worked with Steel), or after the JLU series ended, begging the question as to where all that fits in to the current Green Arrow arc. In short (too late), is that a werewolf powered Ollie, old juvenile Ollie, or a yet-to-be-seen older and wiser Ollie who has overcome the arc he's entering in to here and now? Because a Lukos-infected Vandal Savage would probably be a bad thing. Just sayin…

Until we meet again.

*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.

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