GREEN ARROW #17 & #18

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[ SPEEDY SALE
My, my, my, what have we here? Benjamin Percy running amuck with not just his old partner in crime, Otto Schmidt, but also a pair of new hooligans: Eleonora Carlini and Arif Prianto. The crimes of February and March, 2017, are something we’ll have to look in to closer now that we have these four together. DC Comics will most certainly want justice.

TO QUOTE Quentin Quire: “Magneto was right.”

THE REVIEW:
Now maybe Magneto and Oliver were right about decidedly different things, but hey, I just couldn’t help myself, could I? Speaking of taking egregious liberties in a review, how many months have I been referring to Chief Westberg as Westerberg? And y’all just let me? What horrid, horrid readers you are! Jeez.

Fortunately, the team that put together this final chapter of Emerald Outlaw are much better people than all of you. Starting right on the cover where Juan Ferreyra gave us not only a badass lineup of Team Arrow and a Misfits reference, but also official canonical heights of our team. Schmidt delivers the inside art for us, with more of the same solid, exciting art he’s been delivering. There are no epic full page splashes to show off anything beyond a introspective topless Oliver in this character interaction-centric chapter, but he delivers some magnificent expressions to said characters and renders beautiful scenery ranging from offices to hellish Ninth Circle caves to the Rainier Wilderness.

On the story side, as anyone who’s read more than a couple of issues of Percy’s Green Arrow run should know, this arc doesn’t get wrapped up in a neat little bow before we move on to the next arc. In fact, thinking back on the threads that have made up our story as of late, nothing is resolved in any way. Percy has, as always, added more threads than he’s wrapped up. I think. [Counting on my fingers] Notting and Vice Squad turned in to one thread and, presumably, were resolved in issue 16. Domini’s campaign is over, but, well, his thread is still relevant and sure to come back around on the guitar. The Arrow Killer, though now known to us, and all but overtly confirmed to be working for Broderick, is still very much at large. Frankly, the jaw dropping turn as to how he’s still at large splinters a new thread that we may or may not have had a hint of back in issue 2. Add on Oliver’s awkward and ill-advised team up on the information war front, a hint of familial history with the Merlyns that may become its own thing, and Ollie’s disagreement with Emiko over her codename and team status, and we’ve got … seven active threads when we cut away to The Return of Roy Harper in issue 18. And it’s magnificent. 

Actually, let’s say six. Henry hasn’t had a chance to whine in a while.

Part 1 of The Black Artery is a great starting point for anyone who hasn’t been following Green Arrow recently. Percy leaves the six active threads behind in Seattle and hops over to the eastern side of the state to start a brand new story with Oliver and Roy crossing paths (for what I think is the first time since Red Hood and the Outlaws 37) at the Spokane reservation (which exists in our world, too) to fight a fairly familiar sounding pipeline project bringing crude from the Bakken formation (also a real thing) in North Dakota to refineries near Seattle.

As I feared, this tale of course came with what I think is the fourth post-Flashpoint version of 'When Roy Met Ollie'. I’ll hold off my continuity rage for when the whole story is told, as I need to do some re-reading to see if I can get my brain to accept the various stories as parts of the same whole. However, I think this first post-Rebirth version that Percy, Carlini, and Prianto set forth is an excellent standard to move forward with. It gives us a big chunk of Roy's history in the area, expanding his backstory beyond just interactions with Oliver and Jason. These flashbacks not only provide echoes to the "now" storyline, but also add strong details to Roy's character; setting up what may be the roots of his additions and a very touching emotional weight to why Lobdell so often had Roy calling Jason "Jaybird."

The one super-fantastic moment of 'When Roy Met Ollie IV', however, was seeing Oliver making his chili for the first time in post-Flashpoint continuity. And, of course, Roy’s response to tasting it.

Carlini and Prianto provide a slightly different vibe than Schmidt or Ferreyra have, but are not so divergent as to feel like a different book or an intermission story like Byrne’s Sins of the Mother work did. Carlini definitely proves she can render a detailed background, especially in the flashback dirty-Roy-in-the-mall scene. Where Carlini leaves the background minimal so as to focus on the character or action, Prianto steps up fantastically with engrossingly gradient skies instead of bland solids so often used by some colorists. 

The “oh chili!” fan in me was also excited by Carlini and Prianto rendering of flashback Oliver and Roy, working together in Ollie’s early New 52 costume and the classic Speedy costume that Lobdell put Roy in for a flashback at the close of Red Hood / Arsenal. The pair (Carlini and Prianto, not Jay and Roy) work beautifully together, and I wouldn’t be upset at all if they were on board to be a recurring art team in rotation instead of just Return of Roy guest artists.

This issue also picks up the thread of the Wild Dog Militia we haven’t heard of since issue 2. Artfully, it’s implied that none of them are actually Jack Wheeler, the character that Arrow’s Rene Ramirez is loosely based on. So instead of rebooting Wheeler’s origins at this point, we get a raging gang of vaguely politically motivated goons on ATVs fighting the tribe members and their supporters on horseback. Plus two fools in superhero costumes. Which is all pretty awesome.

And don’t worry, the issue doesn’t close without implying a tie back to the six threads left behind in Seattle. Oh yo ho ho, my friends. Oh yo ho ho.

THE MUSIC:
This was such a disparate pair of issues, I had a hard time with finding a single song to link them up. So I went with the cover reference of Emerald Outlaw Part 9 as a totally believable tune for Roy to be listening to as he drove from New York to Washington. Thus, the Misfits’ American Nightmare, not because anyone axed their baby’s head (though I wouldn’t be surprised if we learn that Broderick actually has), but because that highway never f*cking ends.




THE COMPARISON:
I’m going to keep harping on the constantly retconned history of Roy and Oliver’s relationship (most of which is, I think, not the fault of any of the creators of this issue) until I reconcile otherwise. To that end, we’ll compare this issue to Fred Madison, the character played by Bill Pullman in Lost Highway, because, frankly, the easiest way to reconcile is to chalk Roy up as a similar character.

I like to remember things my own way [...]. How I remembered them. Not necessarily the way they happened”.

THE CONCLUSION:
Well damn. I can’t conclude. I can only eagerly anticipate the next issue of Green Arrow like a hungry dog outside the butcher shop. So let’s speculate.

A) Wild Dog was once upon a time (i.e. pre-Zero Hour) from Quad Cities. Originally I believe it was assumed to be the “main” Quad Cities in Illinois and Iowa. Though with the modern introduction of his acolytes in eastern Washington, one can’t help but wonder if Roy was speaking locally of the Pullman/Moscow/Clarkston/Lewiston Quad Cities spanning the Washington-Idaho border about as far south of Spokane as the reservation is north.

B) To put some context behind the pipeline’s route, keep in mind that the real-world Spokane reservation is (if my math is right), less than 7% the size of the Standing Rock reservation. Which makes the route through Roy’s particular patch of desert more than 14 times more “hey, why here?” than it’s real world counterpart, implying more story than just a ripped-from-the-headlines parallel.

C) Issue 17 ended with a cute little reference to ages past that poses a very bizarre question (It also contradicts real-world geography, but other illustrations in the issue already moved said spoiler-free landmarks). I’ll be more overt next time it comes in to play, presumably when reviewing issues 21 and 22. But for now I’ll just posit that you can’t say one thing is in the middle of another thing without explaining how you defined that other thing. Because points and lines and relevant things and such. Right? #suckitspoilers

D) I’d better be getting a Roy-meets-Emiko scene within a few issues. The snarkfestivities shall be spectacular.

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

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