GREEN ARROW #7 & #8

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[ LOVE THAT BARGAIN
Everybody loves Oktoberfest, right?  Throughout the months of September and October, 2016, we all gathered in the town square with lots of beer so we could read some comics!  Am I doing it right?  I guess it would have been better if I had kidnapped Benjamin Percy, Stephen Byrne, and Otto Schmidt, so I could have forced them to drink with me, but, well, I’m not clear on how international laws work with regards to DC Comics creators.

TO QUOTE Johnny Storm: “Flame on.”

THE REVIEW:
Once again, I’ve got a review for you that spans two separate story arcs.  Shut up.  You know you like it.

But it works out well, as Percy writes some very smoothly transitioned arcs, with clean and satisfying conclusion's that gracefully lead us in to the next chapter in the ongoing saga that is Green Arrow.  With issue 7, we get Sins of the Mother, Part 2 – The Killing Time, the second half of the interlude following Emiko and Shado after the destruction of the Inferno.  Guest artist (I’m assuming he’s a guest artist just for these two?) Stephen Byrne has a very different style than Otto Schmidt, lending a brighter, crisper feel to Emiko’s tale, giving it a bit of a subtle child-centricity for those of us reading Karl Kerschl and Adam Archer’s Gotham Academy.

With issue 8, we return to where we left Oliver at the end of issue 5, with Island of Scars, Part 1, finding him not quite as alone on the island as we thought.  Schmidt’s art is back, as is the somewhat darker mood of the story, as we learn that the title’s reference to scars has nothing to do with what Oliver actually finds on the island.  Emiko and Shado are temporarily set aside as Percy moves the focus to Oliver and Dinah’s relationship for the first time since her time-lapse reinsertion in to his life via the Rebirth reshuffling of priorities.

Speaking of Dinah, she still feels a bit shoehorned into this ongoing narrative, but I had a little ooooooooohhhhh duuuuuuhhhh moment when I realized something established in the first half of Sins of the Mother: In the world of Green Arrow, a year has passed since Rebirth.  Emiko’s flashbacks to the Clock King encounter show our post-Rebirth Oliver, both in costume and facial hair.  Obviously this doesn’t account for different artists’ clumsily depicting her from the pre-teen years to the tween years, yet it does give me cause to grant Percy a big allowance on the fast-forwarding of the Oliver / Dinah relationship.  It leaves some things like doing something about the Jungle kind of awkward, but it’s enough of an a’ight for me to move on.

The second half of Sins of the Mother, however, also provided the second big duuuuuuhhh moment of how the flashbacks to Clock King parallel Emiko’s modern search for Oyabun.  It’s all about trust.  Frankly, it’s a damn beautiful parallel narrative; not just echoing the themes of trust, brain verses heart, and life debts, but building on lessons learned to establish Emiko’s true loyalties, and providing some karmic balance for her choices.  I just… have some practical questions about the scope of certain explosions and how the ladies seemed to be the only ones to survive.  Unscathed... we shall see.

As a side note, I thought Emiko’s gambit to save her brother was some Amanda Waller level evil manipulative sh*t.  I would read the HELL out of a standoff between the two of them.  Just putting that out there for Misters Percy and Williams.  If y’all could make that happen, I’ll be your best friend.  BESTEST friend, in fact. 

“That little girl scares me”. 

Okay, frankly, I would be their best friend either way.  When Percy took over Green Arrow after Convergence last year, one of the best things he brought to the title and character was a distinction between the way he spoke and acted in contrast to the monologue boxes that implicitly showed us how he thought.  In one of my reviews during the Bone Collectors arc, I observed that his internal monologue showed us a “deeply introspective, intelligent, and profound man, bordering on philosopher”, and his spoken words showed us a “stereotypical millionaire playboy, bordering on the frat boy”.  Since then, I apparently felt it necessary to comment on Ollie’s “gentleman poet” inner monologue in more issues than not, as it was a feature that really set Green Arrow apart from other comics on the shelves.  So imagine my absolute glee when Percy used the same observation and terminology when he actually gets poetic out loud and Dinah points out how his demeanor contrasts his heart.

And then in the very next panel, he brings Oliver Queen, chili chef extraordinaire back in to post-Flashpoint continuity. The continuity-chaos old / new Superman also made a comment to Ollie’s chili (citing it’s inferiority to his own “blow out your guts” meatballs) over in Action Comics #966, but as far as we know, this Clark hasn’t met this Ollie, let alone tasted his chili, so he’s likely referring to the pre-Flashpoint Oliver.  Or some other Oliver, as we still don’t know the mechanics of how Kal-El got from Crisis on Infinite Earths to the post-Flashpoint Earth Prime, but that’s a continuity nerd’s rant for another day.  Continuity chaos aside, I’m really hoping that a culinary showdown between Clark and Oliver is in our future. Ouch! My brain hurts.

The majority of issue 8 was much-needed development for the relationship between Oliver and Dinah.  Dinah’s appearance was a bit jarring at first when coming back from the break since issue 5, but a second glance at those closing pages help explain things.  It didn’t really cover why Oliver assumes Broderick is still alive, but it gives enough of a start as to how Diggle and Dinah got separated during the starting point of this new arc. 

A beautiful contrast between issues 7 and 8 come from the lips of two different characters, Tockman and Dinah, what with both of them commenting on the same attributes Oliver Queen possesses -- one casting him as being “all heart, no head” as a critique, while the other pleas for him to “keep your heart big.”  It’s so often that a comic book will represent the hero’s antagonists by simply casting their own misconceptions upon the hero.  Refreshingly, Percy instead gives us a consistent hero who is seen in the same way by both ally and enemy alike, and places the distinction in the interpretation of that behavior as strength or weakness on the observer.

THE MUSIC:
Honestly, our first chapter of Island of Scars was mostly character work for Ollie and Dinah.  We got a brief moment demonstrating that Oliver actually has some decent detective skills, yet the musical selection for this pair of issues needs to focus on the close of Sins of the Mother, mainly its heavy reiteration on the importance of trust.  So, then, Megadeth – Trust, for you, today.




THE COMPARISON:
Sticking with the themes from Sins of the Mother, and I'd say this story needs to be compared to the parallel bars gymnasts use as a nod to the dramatic use of parallel narratives between Emiko’s run-in with Clock King a year ago and her current actions; both her decisions dealing with the Ninth Circle and her mother’s involvement in her hunt for Oyabun.  And we’ll specifically compare these narratives to Epke Zonderland because I’m pretty sure that, canonically, he’s Henry Fyff’s favorite Olympian, and we haven’t seen Henry in a while and I wanted to remind you that he (and his Năinai) still exists.

THE CONCLUSION:
Big points go out to Percy’s treatment of Emiko in the Sins of the Mother cut scene.  I’d felt that she was a little underutilized as a simple wise-cracking sidekick prior to Rebirth, and was worried that she might be set aside in favor of Dinah, but our story so far has made her central to the opening arc and the star of the intermission.  I’m really hoping that we won’t be without her for too long during this new Island of Scars arc.  Especially after the huge moment with Oyabun commenting on how well Emiko “plays the game”, giving her the respect of the next play rather than killing her on the spot.  On one level, that’s a convenient plot mechanism to keep the hero alive, a la the villain monologue trope, but on another level, that’s a huge moment for the character of Emiko Queen.  This is on the level of Ra’s al Ghul actually calling Tim Drake “detective” instead of “young detective.”  (Single tear.)

On the flip side, Emiko’s final splash page leap from the building looked eerily like Gabriel Reyes’ leap towards the end of All-New Ghost Rider.  This might just be the horrible way my mind works, but the visuals are there.  Let’s just hope there’s no story resemblance.

What really sucks about this first Island of Scars issue is that Percy and Schmidt really created a beautiful scene with Oliver and Dinah connecting with one another on an abandoned beach.  Unfortunately, Greg Rucka and Liam Sharp outshined them just three weeks later with Steve Trevor and Diana in Wonder Woman #9.  Trevor even stole Ollie’s Van Dyke (I’m sensing a showdown.)

So, for quick and easy reference, I’m expecting, within the next six months:
  • Emiko Queen verses Amanda Waller standoff of wills.
  • Pre-Flashpoint Kal-El verses Oliver Queen tasty meat product cook-off.
  • Steve Trevor verses Oliver Queen beard-bros showdown (loser shaves!)
  • The majestic return of Năinai Fyff.
  • Dinah Lance verses John Diggle... uh… arm wrestling or something so they don’t feel left out?
Thanks for your time.  You’re free to go now. Amen.

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

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