GREEN ARROW #11 & #12

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[ AIMING FOR A SALE
As the air fills with the smell of mistletoe and holly, November turns to December, 2016, and Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, and Otto Schmidt don their gay apparel to ride the high speed intercontinental DC Comics train set around ol’ Tannenbaum. Things might get dizzying, but they’re professionals, so they’re unlikely to shoot their eyes out.

TO QUOTE Margaret Mitchell: “With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”

THE REVIEW:
Well now, this pair of issues once again wraps up one arc and launches smoothly into the next; which is a technique of Benjamin Percy's that I’ve really come to enjoy.  First he wraps up the Island of Scars arc with Murder, Incorporated, referring not to the 1940s Brooklyn goings on of Buchalter and Anastasia’s people, but to the prior issue’s assassination of Amin Mustafa to break up the middle-east peace talks, simply because the likely peace would be bad for business.  This flows smoothly in to Emerald Outlaw, Part 1, as Dinah, John, and Henry help Oliver set up his Ewok Village hideout, while the apparently totally-not-dead Cyrus Broderick plans to destroy Green Arrow’s reputation around Seattle.

Murder, Incorporated continues the action frenzy which started with Murder on the Empire Express.  Our focus concentrates on all the disaster and action movie tropes, as Percy and Ferreyra blend the mistaken identity chase on high speed rails in to the stalled train and impending doom.  All the story depth we get is from a brief summary of the prior issues via Ollie’s internal monologue boxes, stating overtly what one would likely have assumed from the story so far.  (Spoiler alert; evil for money!)  Fyers gets his own brief monologue (to himself) that reveals to us his intended plan versus the plan he’s being forced to execute thanks to Oliver’s meddling.

Juan Ferreyra shows off more awesome high speed underwater effects with his art, masterfully capturing the panic of both our heroes, villains, and innocent bystanders alike.  The side views of the train reminded me of a gripe from the prior issue (the number of cars in the train changing from frame to frame) but this issue seems to be consistent with the “key” frame from last issue that I’m now taking as gospel. That is, up until the train gets trashed.  You knew the train would get trashed, right?  It’s a multi-million dollar engineering marvel funded by global criminals – only a Bat-train would be more likely to get destroyed.

The art in our final scene at the Trans-Pacific Railway Station West was magnificently rendered, complete with celebrators, protesters, cops, suspiciously familiar-looking-yet-unnamed politicians, and the aforementioned apparently not dead corporate CEOs with a penchant for coordinating multinational criminal financiers. 

The small jump in time between issues and artists was smoothly handled by Emerald Outlaw’s opening few pages, what with Schmidt’s introduction of a reporter called Victoria Much whose investigative series is all about Green Arrow.  She gives us a three page summary of the story thus far -- making it a great jumping on point for new readers – but from the perspective of the general public.  The format provides brief flashbacks as far as issue 3, and a people-on-the-street interview series that both introduces new characters and revisits some as far back as Convergence

The remainder of the issue sets up the framework for our new normal in Green Arrow’s world.  (There’s a cute/gross moment between Ollie, Dinah, and John that reminded me of Starling and Condor, plus the current whereabouts of Evelyn Crawford since she ran off on Dinah, which would be an excellent thread for Percy to pull into this series … but that’s neither here nor there.)  Our three amigos are reunited with Henry, who's building and securing a woodland fortress, while setting up a magical internet connection that requires no apparent power.  (Maybe they stole some tech from Scar Island?)  We get some brief restating of where our missing characters might be located (Emiko!), as far as the present cast knows, a restating of their goals and priorities, and then move on to the main brunt of the plot.

As they build up our DCU version of Seattle, Percy and Schmidt fold additional characters in to the world.  Some were introduced during Much’s opening, but as Team Arrow spreads out to investigate what Broderick is up to, we meet an old high school friend of Oliver’s who just so happens to be both running for mayor and a close personal friend of Cyrus Broderick.  In the public candidate of Nate Domini, Percy has created a far more believable parody of Donald Trump than the Cobblepot campaign we saw in Catwoman Election Night.  Going beyond the obvious jabs, he seems to be building up Domini as a more relatable character, perhaps eventually giving us glimpses in to the logic of a less malevolent villain than we have in Broderick and other recent nemeses.

The best part of this issue, frankly, is the end.  Almost every comic book ends with a cliffhanger or character reveal of some sort – something to give you a hint of what’s to come and hopefully entice you in to buying the next issue.  But the best issues, for me, are issues like this one, where you are left with a mystery (or two in this case) that will likely not be answered on the first page of the next issue and gets it’s hooks in nice and deep for the long haul.

Niiiiiiice and deep.

THE MUSIC:
It seems that this story is taking the flipping of the damsel-in-distress story beyond Dinah’s train-side high-speed rescue of Oliver, while pulling John and Henry in to assist in the soon-to-be-necessary rescue of our Green Arrow in distress.  Which has me thinking, quite frankly, of Ani DiFraco’s Not a Pretty Girl, both as Dinah’s new theme song and the song Oliver wishes was his theme song!  (I really think Black Canary should record a cover version!).




THE COMPARISON:
Well, I opened with this comparison, but I need to circle around and close with it, too.  Oliver Queen is building his very own Ewok village in the Rainier Wilderness.  And if Henry doesn’t refer to him as Paploo, or Logray, or Romba, or Teebo, by the time this arc finishes up, I might loose all respect for him as a character.

THE CONCLUSION:
Yes, I’m still fawning over this series.  There are a few minor issues here and there, but overall I’m really enjoying the new shape of Green Arrow, both the character and the series.

My only niggling point of contention is from the opening KOMA sequence – where the Green Arrow and Batman fans at “Emerald Con” (renamed in the KOMA-2 byline, but overtly called “Emerald City ComicCon”, in the sign behind them) are arguing Bat-vs-Arrow (which us comic book fans won't do). 

Point A, why rename in one place and not the other?  It’s an obvious reference, so are we supposed to take it to mean that KOMA doesn’t value Much’s story enough to proofread such things?  Or is it just an art error?

Point B, the argument over “conservative ideology” versus “SJW big-heartedness” would be fine if we’d had any examples of either character exhibiting such stereotypes in the public eye, which they haven’t.  While Dinah has told Ollie she values his big heart, there’s been nothing public on the page in the name of Green Arrow (just Oliver Queen’s many philanthropic endeavors), and while Batman’s “conservative ideology” has been a contrast in the comics of yesteryear, there’s been nothing in any Bat-title since Flashpoint to demonstrate to the public that he’s got any sort of conservative leanings.  It amounts to a show-me-don't-tell-me situation.  Percy is doing a great job building up Ollie’s liberal leanings, but I feel like there are untold stories that need to be told in order for the public to see that behavior and come to such a conclusion.

I wouldn’t say no to a parallel “Legends of the Emerald Archer” series to fill in the gaps.

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

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