Between June and July, 2016, Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt sure did shake things up over at DC Comics. And then they shook some more. BOOM! And once more. BANG! And then when the room stopped spinning, they shook once more. BOOM-BANG-BANG! Honestly, it was kind of abusive.

TO QUOTE Mahatma Gandhi: “Each night, when I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I am reborn.”

So yeah, Rebirth happened, and here we are on the flip side of things with Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen “together again for the first time.” Despite opening with a pretty heavy retcon, I felt that Green Arrow Rebirth was one of the smoothest transitions from pre to post Rebirth that has been released thus far. And between that initial transition issue and the two “official” current series issues, Percy and Schmidt have introduced a whole lot of great additions to the modern Green Arrow mythos and the DC Universe as a whole.

If you happen to be among the seven functional comic fans out there that haven’t actually read Rebirth (or one of the many spoilerific summaries on the interwebs) yet, don’t sweat it. All you need to know for an Oliver Queen-centric view of the world is that some “time was stolen”, which included relationships that “should have been”, like Oliver and Dinah. But that is a story for another book (Well, books. Plural).  As far as our heroes know, they met, briefly, for the first time, at a gathering of heroes following the events of the you’ll-never-guess-how-it-ends arc, “Final Days of Superman.” Incidentally, using the time honored comic book chronology technique of observing Oliver Queen’s facial hair, the events of Rebirth actually took place prior to Halloween night and the Wargs arc.

Design-wise, the best changes were in Emiko and Dinah’s costumes. Yes, Oliver’s costume did change quite a bit, mostly removing the big arrow design on his chest and replacing it with a more simple styled armor with some (burnt sienna?) accents, but its still the good ol’ sleeveless hooded green thing with some added arm strapping for good measure.

Black Canary’s revamp under Schmidt’s pen is remarkably conservative compared to some of his prior work, yet manages to find a good balance of tough and sexy. The combination of her classic fishnets and jacket with short-shorts and a halter top, rather than the ludicrous bathing suit, works very well as a way to make the classic look feel more modern again. This look feels like a logical progression of outfits that led from her Team 7 cleavage-baring armor, to her BoP jumpsuit, to her classic-come-again rock-and-roll look. Also, the addition of chunky boots gives her the feeling of a shared fashion sense with her fellow Bird of Prey cohort, Batgirl.

Emiko’s new outfit, on the other hand, may not have any obvious logic to it from a story standpoint, but her’s was a look in dire need of a revamp and the new one is far more interesting than her simple red waist sash around a sleeveless black jumpsuit. We’ve still got the facemask she takes from her mother’s costume, but the remainder is a cross between a martial arts costume and stylish teenage wardrobe, which works for me. Sadly, though, he seems to have removed any trace of tribute to her brother from when she first took up the bow by his side.

That said, however, Schmidt has given her a more stylish haircut, which works great as a way of maturing her character. This does bring up one nagging point I had with the timeline Percy established: Until now we had a fairly ambiguous amount of time passing from Lemire’s run to Kreisberg and Sokolowski’s run to Percy’s run. But now Percy’s overtly established that Emiko has been living with Oliver for just one year -- which seems incongruous to how much she seems to have aged from Sorrentino’s introduction to Zircher and Kudranski’s take to now. Even if we allow that Ollie’s not counting the ambiguous amount of time she was “off to train” during Kreisberg and Sokolowski’s run, she still seems to have aged at least three or four years since Halloween. Kids grow up so fast these days I guess. 

Overall, though, I’m really enjoying Schmidt’s art thus far. It has, at times, a very cool, retro style to it -- reminding me of some late-60s or early-70s Chuck Jones cartoons such as The Phantom Tollbooth. We only got to delve in to the mind of Oliver Queen once thus far, but it was a magnificent hallucination nearly harking back to the Vertigo trips of Andrea Sorrentino. 

On a similar note, I must say that the Underground Men are appropriately creepy. His environments are marvelously immersive, pulling the reader in to a world far more fulfilling than a mere backdrop. From the DC Universe versions of real places like the Seattle Underground and Port Authority to the completely made up locales like The Jungle, Hurst Mansion, the ridiculous Times Square analogue, or the epic skyscraper-battleship Inferno; they all felt like long-established places in the world with a long comic history to hang on to. 

The ongoing story of Green Arrow has been a messy one since Flashpoint, yet with a graceful transition through Rebirth, Percy seems to be set up to continue it as strong as ever. It remains to be seen if we’ll see any further sign of the Panopticons, the Bone Hunters, or the Wargs, (or Naomi Singh!) but he continues to build upon the Green Arrow mythos in his own corner of the world, even if he has to share it with Black Canary (I’m pretty sure he promised me on Twitter that we’d be seeing more of Tarantula soon, but I’ve got no idea if Rebirth changed things there). 

I seriously doubt that his repeated use of the word “totem” in reference to Oliver is a coincidence...

This was a tough one. With two issues in one review, and each of them following multiple threads of the story, plus the Rebirth issue itself, there wasn’t really a single theme that I felt could have an appropriate song for. I was tempted to use Tubthumping simply for the chorus as a representation of Oliver Queen’s state of life. But nobody really needs to hear that song again, agreed? There are about 190 better Chumbawamba songs anyway. So I went with Ophion’s dance hit The Ninth Circle, for obvious reasons. I honestly have no idea what they’re saying, but it sounds like it just might be The Burned reading out the minutes of their latest board meeting. Assuming The Burned are part of the Ninth Circle. I’m still a little fuzzy on that.

I’m not the only one, right? The Underground Men make a sound as they kidnap. A sound that is not unlike that of a certain futuristic soft drink made from the anal secretions of the Wormulon Queen. Your mind went there too, right? Please? Slurm Slurm Slurm? (If you’ve never watched Futurama, I sincerely apologize for this paragraph of nonsense.)

Hell yeah!!!! Percy’s added a lot. In the opening of this story, he’s introduced the Underground Men, The Burned, and The Ninth Circle. These three groups come pre-packaged with ties both to one another and dozens of other secret criminal groups within the DC Universe. Yes, they were all masked, but certain masks already have very specific ties. 

We get the reveal of what The Ninth Circle is in issue 3 -- dear god, these issues are coming out so quickly I can’t get reviews to David fast enough! -- but the exact nature of the Underground Men and The Burned remains somewhat obscured. He’s brought Black Canary, Shado, John Diggle, and Emiko back to the forefront of Green Arrow’s world. He’s introduced us to Wendy Poole (bye, Wendy) and Henry's Năinai (whom I really hope we get to see more of), plus let’s not ignore the gargantuan battleship (is it a submarine) hiding, apparently undetected, in Puget Sound. 

Yes, he’s also restored the boat sinking event to Oliver’s origin. Gone, apparently, is the Apollo oil rig that his father set him up on, the attack by Iron Eagle, and the deaths of dozens, including his girlfriend Leena, at Oliver’s own hand. Which is all fine, I suppose, but it begs the question as to what else is still in play. Is burnt-but-alive then rescued-by-nuns Tommy Merlyn still in play? And are we going to get another origin of “How Ollie Met Roy”? 

Speaking of Roy, Percy also reaffirmed Roy’s heroin addiction. This isn’t so much a retcon, as I don’t think we’ve had anything to contradict it, but post-Flashpoint continuity has thus far only mentioned his alcoholism. But not only is it now canon, but its public knowledge (to the hero community at least). Or maybe Dinah just had Babs dig up all the dirt she could on Green Arrow before heading to Seattle? 

And we all caught the “Wild Dog Militia” comment, right? Likely a hint of story arcs to come, presumably involving Jack Wheeler? 

I’m trying not to read too much in to Black Canary introducing herself as Dinah Lance instead of Dinah Drake. It’s an interesting choice coming off her “D.D.” stage persona, and I’m curious if it will factor in to either this story or something coming up in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey (where I don’t think she’s referred to herself in the first person yet, but both flashback-Barbara’s computer and Huntress’ assumed Spyral files show her as Dinah Lance).

Honestly, my only real beef with these opening issues -- aside from Emiko’s apparent age versus chronology -- is that when Oliver was giving Dinah a tour of his philanthropic efforts around the city we didn’t get to see the Moira Queen House for Homeless Youth. Seems like a lost opportunity that would have worked perfectly in that scene.

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


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