|[ CHEAP WHEN WET ]|
From January to February, 2017, our favorite archer is going to try and keep warm with Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra, Otto Schmidt, and a few bottles of single malt Scotch over at DC Comics. What could possibly go wrong? Burp! Smash! Boing!
TO QUOTE Robert Kennedy: “Whenever men take the law into their own hands, the loser is the law. And when the law loses, freedom languishes.”
Well ain’t that fancy? Poor little Oliver Queen can’t seem to come up with a plan because his mind’s all distracted by four of the five interwoven plots he’s dealing with (I guess “Henry’s whining” doesn’t distract him all that much). It seems that now that Percy has laid out a nice, complex web of story threads for post-Rebirth Green Arrow, he might be slowing down the pace – for the reader, not the characters – so he can focus on each one with a bit more detail.
Green Arrow continues to be a very character-driven series. There’s plenty of action, comedy, and what might grow in to full-on political intrigue, but all of that is to support the character and his stories. The character of Oliver Queen has been shown to be a very introspective person, especially since Convergence. He might come off as self-righteous when a mass murderer tries to compare himself to Ollie, but when we, the readers, get to see what’s going on inside his head, he’s constantly questioning his decisions, weighing up the impossible options, and trying his best to do the right thing. Or, sometimes, he's just waxing poetic on a sunset or a beautiful woman’s face.
Issue 15 opens with Oliver actually waxing poetic out loud: To a woman who appears fast asleep in a hospital bed after being shot through the chest by [Spoiler Alert: if you’re months behind] the Arrow Killer a.k.a. Dark Archer a.k.a. Malcolm Merlyn a.k.a. Jerky McKillpeopleandblameGreenArrowforit. Whether or not our hero heard her response to his confession of doubt before hopping out the window is left to our imaginations. Incidentally, Virginia Mason Hospital is a real place, and Ferreyra’s small rendering of it is our-world-accurate.
And that’s where our quiet contemplation is put on hold. These two issues pull the focus in on thread... oh, let’s call this thread three; former Sergeant Notting and his Vice Squad. When the Vice Squad infiltrates the King County Adult Detention Center (also a real place which looks pretty much just like Ferreyra rendered it) to execute inmates, we are treated to another great stretch of Hollywood action flick and don’t come up for air until the last third of issue 16. That’s like a book and a half of crazy-ex-cop kill squad, bullet-flying, body-dropping, manifesto-spewing, high-speed-chasing*, bad-pun-delivering, heavy-artillery blasting, last-second-saving, too-old-for-this-crap action.
The story goes where you’d assume it goes, but the twists along the way, coupled with a few somewhat unexpected moments, make it a hell of a ride. When we arrive at the inevitable Final Standoff in a Remote Location part of our action flick, O’Neil Airfield (which is not a real place, but you might have heard of this guy named Denny O’Neil?) Percy peppers in a little real-world Seattle history with the 1999 WTO riots as explanation for the SPD’s arsenal** of heavy (stolen) artillery, before bringing back the homeless guy with mad broadhead-sketching skills from issue 12 (whom I’m still calling Street until canon tells me otherwise).
A great detail of this sub-arc was sending Chief Westerberg along with Team Arrow. This allowed for Percy to give us a couple of different variants of a three-way showdown with Notting, Westerberg, and Queen -- all seeing themselves as crime-fighters. This could have been done with just Oliver and Notting, or with a random patrolman. Yet by using these three Percy was able to create a triangle of justice where each shares some commonality with the other two, but also sees them as being on the opposite side of a line they can’t cross. It’s a necessary evil of a vigilante story to have to justify (to the reader) illegal actions for the sake of the law. Having Westerberg instantly side with Green Arrow, despite being a person of interest in the Arrow Killer case, and being a vigilante, was a great mechanism to draw that line with.
Granted, I really thought that his actions in these two issues were leading us up to a very different closing. There was the whole Panopticon adoption back before Rebirth, the shady sweep of the police station before heading to the Seahawks game in issue 14, and now, well, I’ll just say that the bad guys probably aren’t going to show up in issue 17, and that’s not due to vigilante intervention. But Percy pulled a magnificently horrible turn on us, and it’s oh so much crueler.
Especially after four other epilogues.
This selection might be a little laid back considering the amount and speed of action in these issues. However, between Notting’s efforts to be the law and Ollie’s ongoing crusade currently under threat of both law and public opinion, I keep coming back to the theme of taking the law in to your own hands. So, we’ll match these issues up to Woody Guthrie’s classic,
It certainly seems like the Vice Squad sub-arc of Emerald Outlaw has reached its conclusion. Granted, it’s Ben Percy, so there might’ve been something planted here that seems irrelevant but will suddenly be important in issue 24. But since we’ve still got three active plots for Oliver to juggle (Broderick and the Ninth Circle framing Oliver Queen for murder, Merlyn framing Green Arrow for murder, and Nathan Domini most likely being something above and beyond a vapid politician at ideological odds with his old friend Oliver), this issue felt more like a quick burning fuse leading up to some huge explosion very soon.
For some of us, the main focus of these two issues was actually the triumphant return of Emiko Queen. While we knew she was coming from the cover of issue 17, having her pop up two issues prior was fantastic. And her “Call me Red Arrow” running gag, referencing back to her “Call me Green Arrow” insistence when she first came back to Seattle in Lemire’s run (issues 32 and 33) is just double fun on New Years Eve.
I think I might have ranted earlier about wanting her to have her own name, but upon further reflection I don’t see it as a problem. Having a Red Arrow certainly fits in with the Rebirth philosophy, and I’m fairly certain that post-Flashpoint Earth Prime continuity has not had a Red Arrow (
’s been Speedy
and Arsenal, and Mia never took up a bow, let alone a costume.) I still kind of want a hood or some echo of
her brother’s costume, but as long as she’s got her mother’s mask, I’m
happy. Plus she’s wearing Chucks,
and I’m a sucker for a girl in Chucks (Even if they’ve become ridiculously overpriced since being bought by
My continuity disorder can’t let the fact that they became platform heels between issues go uncommented though. Ferreyra drew them classically (with a little dazzle in the heel) but Schmidt jacked them up to impractical wedges. I’ve got to vote classic on this one. Not just for style points, but practical character points. Emi’s been shooting people with arrows since she was barely taller than an arrow sticking out of a fallen body. She doesn’t need the height. And she doesn’t seem the type to do with impractical footing in combat – didn’t she make fun of Dinah at some point for fighting in stiletto heels?
When my only complaint about a series is the inconsistent footwear between artists, I think it’s an alright book (Okay, I kind of raised an eyebrow about Notting’s ranting about saving the city money by killing people in a county facility, but I chalked that up to crazy-people-be-crazy.)
My only question is: where did that water come from?
These are the important things.* If you stopped during this segment to wonder what a county lockup is doing in the middle of downtown Seattle, ask the government of 1986. The real world KCCF is literally three blocks from the Rainier Club where Cy Samson criticized Green Arrow and stumped for Domini before the latter headed off for his buffet of hookers, blow, and bugs.
** I’m trying not to read too much in to Westerberg’s use of the word “aresenal” … but, well, Roy-boy crossover is imminent.
*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.