GREEN ARROW #9 & #10

Awwww, crap! It’s already October… no, November, 2016, and Benjamin Percy, Stephen Byrne, and Juan Ferreyra have apparently been quite busy following a band of vigilantes around an island in the north Pacific for DC Comics. I mean, when do they find time to eat?!

TO QUOTE Robert Lowell: “If we can see light at the end of the tunnel / It’s the light of the oncoming train.”

After reading issues 9 and 10 of Green Arrow, I now know that Island of Scars isn’t just a metaphorical reference to the physical and emotional scars Ollie and Dinah possess.  The place is literally named Scar Island.  Why in the hell did Robert Queen think that would be a good place to even contemplate doing business?  I bet there’s a rocky outcropping on the north shore that just so happens to look like a skull -- with a pike through it.

While these two issues did help aid in the progression of the Green Arrow saga, and is full of magnificent art from two very talented artists (though stylistically very different artists), the big moment for many long time Green Arrow fans (or even recent recruits by way of a certain television program) may well be the triumphant return of Eddie Fyers.  If I recall correctly, we have not seen Mister Fyers since Flashpoint, so unlike the growing laundry list of unexplained retcons since Rebirth, his apparently erased history is not part of the Rebirth shuffle.  But Oliver Queen clearly recognizes him.  Combined with the throwaway “I know this all too well” comment when Oliver and Dinah first find the Scar Island poppy fields, this implies that Andy Diggle and Jock’s Green Arrow Year One is at least partially in canon for the Rebirth retconned origins of Oliver Queen.  Or alternatively, these hints could be referencing something completely unrelated that Ben Percy has not yet revealed to us.

I'm sure time will tell.  (What?  Yeah.  That’s a Sins of the Mother throwback reference to the apparent one-of-many versions of the Clock King, baby!  I just wanted to remind everyone that Emiko Queen and Shado still exist, no matter how long Ollie, Dinah, and John are stranded on an island and kicking ass aboard a high speed train).

My only complaint about the (re)introduction of Eddie Fyers, is that Juan Ferreyra’s art, though amazing, is also very distinctive, so the mustachioed redhead psychopath Eddie ends up resembling [Spoiler Alert: If you’re not up to date on your pre-Rebirth Squad goals…. that’s a thing, right?  Squad goals?  As it references your goal of reading the Suicide Squad book, right?  I think that’s right.  Anyway, you’ve had enough warning of spoilers in the middle of this sentence, if you haven’t skipped to the next paragraph by now it’s your own damn fault] Die Faust der Kain’s late leader, Adam Reed (whom I believe Ferreyra is co-creator of, along with Tim Seeley when he took over the writing duties on New Suicide Squad).  If only we could get a story where the two of them teamed up! Heck, if Diablo’s inexplicably back from hell, I don’t see why not.  I’ll add it to my request list.

Though that’s not really much of a complaint, now is it?

But overall, I think I enjoyed the Murder on the Empire Express story a bit more than the closing chapter of Island of Scars, even though both of them were thoroughly enjoyable.  And the artist pairings worked great in both contexts.  Byrne’s expressive, almost anime-style faces are the perfect accompaniment as we bounce back and forth between the split team to learn both sides of the same insane backstory.  Percy does a great job of building an instantly lovable character in Ata, whom we quickly piece together with the previously introduced Ana, even before she states it overtly to John.  Fortunately, Byrne’s art style manages to work wonderfully when rendering robot guard bears, The Burned, and raging explosive fires as well.

The transition to Ferreyra’s style as the team boards the train works magnificently.  The bold, hyper-real coloring technique is similar enough between the artists to feel natural, taking into account that Ferreyra’s bright, heavy lines bring detail to the characters while allowing plenty of room to compensate for the motion and speed of the train in contrast with the relative calm inside it (until the inevitable fisticuffs and arrows break out). This also acts as a constant reminder of the fact that they are in an underwater transpacific tunnel.  Even in the wide shots, composed to show the train zooming along with heroes running along the top or dangling off the side, he manages to ensure details of the characters where many artists would simplify and abstract their work.  Both Byrne’s firefight and Ferreyra’s great train adventure felt like an action movie busted out in the pages of a comic book.

Quickly moving onto the story side of things, and I must say that I'm really enjoying Percy’s representation of Oliver Queen (and pals) as a well intentioned but ultimately flawed character.  Despite different levels of quality in story since Flashpoint, the one constant in Oliver has been that he’s trying to be a hero despite not being very good at it.  He stumbles, he falls, he learns, and he grows.  He doesn’t retread the same mistakes, but rather thinks he has a handle on things -- thinks he can manage on his own without calling for help, but still relies on friends.  He won’t call in the Justice League, but he’s slowly learning to treat those he previously might have characterized as his subordinates as his equal.  Dinah definitely helps in that growth, whilst John helps to keep him in check as well.  And yet he still manages to burn bridges (no pun intended) with Ata and Ana before we even learn the name of their tribe.  I hope he hasn’t made himself an all new enemy (On second thoughts, no, as a reader, I really do hope that he’s made a new enemy.)

My only confusion in this pair of “all is revealed” issues is about Oliver’s apparent ignorance of the Trans-Pacific Railroad.  When he first learned of it, it seemed to be completely new to him.  Now we learn that it’s not a secret project undertaken by the Ninth Circle on the down low, but a huge public works project that’s recognized as an architectural marvel on par with the Ancient Wonders of the World and the Justice League Watchtower.  Are we to believe that Oliver is really that out of touch with the world, let alone his company?  Or did they build the whole thing while he was in space?

You can practically hear it echoing through the more than 5700 miles of underwater tunnel as Dinah yells for them to hurry, John dangles from the side, and Ollie rushes to catch the tail end of the technological marvel that is the Empire Express.  In fact, I kind of like the idea of Dinah’s ineffective Canary Cry being more of a lightly weaponized version of the “I – I – I – I” yelp in Ozzy Osbourne’s Crazy Train

Was that 'Too on the nose', you say?  'Nay', says I.  There’s the whole theme of inheriting other people’s problems and taking the unsolicited advise from unqualified sources as you try to steer your life; pretty much how Oliver Queen sees himself.

Without looking at the picture provided, can you guess what book the following quote is from? “Now it is well known that when there are many of these flowers together their odor is so powerful that anyone who breathes it falls asleep, and if the sleeper is not carried away from the scent of the flowers, he sleeps on and on forever. But Dorothy did not know this, nor could she get away from the bright red flowers that were everywhere about; so presently her eyes grew heavy and she felt she must sit down to rest and to sleep.

Although the discovery of the Ninth Circle’s secret grove of poppies was most likely a reference to Green Arrow: Year One, I'm also pretty damn certain that it bore a striking resemblance to chapter 8 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Bonus points for the boxing glove arrow, folks. It was a little bit of a let-down, using almost the same gimmick that they used on the Arrow TV show to bring the classic to life. However, it was a very refreshing moment to have a little glimpse of the Green Arrow of yesteryear in our modern story arc that has little need for shooting things with arrows and has overtly removed both Henry Fyff’s gadgetry and Oliver’s budget from the equation. (Though it's not so much a "silencer" as a "less-painful-ener"...)

I’m very glad to hear that “the Ninth Circle is more than a man” -- hopefully Team Ollie’s “help” to liberate the residents of Scar Island will ignite some long lasting ire in whomever takes over the reins.  Ben Percy has been steadily building up a proper rogue's gallery for Green Arrow since he took over the book, gracefully transitioning the stories and drawing links between them -- the persistence of the Ninth Circle (and the chance of retribution from Ata and Ana or someone in their tribe) is a welcome addition to that club.  I’m picturing a Question-esque cork board full of yarn line to keep track of all the connections in his writer cave.

You write in a writer cave, right Mr Percy?  Right?

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

GREEN ARROW #9 & #10 GREEN ARROW #9 & #10 Reviewed by David Andrews on November 22, 2016 Rating: 5

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