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GREEN ARROW #21 & #22

There once was a man named Benjamin Percy, who had his old friend Juan Ferreyra at his mercy. But then, one day, to his, dismay, he found out that Juan ate his Hershey. Or in other words, please check out the following two comic books published by DC in May, 2017.

TO QUOTE the, uh, Bible: “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.”

Those Ninth Circle cats sure do like their religious references, don’t they?  Our hero is, for the most part, nicely placed in the background during parts one and two of the current Rise of Star City story-arc, while we primarily follow the long-arc villains around as they set their plots in motion.  How could Broderick gather up two of the world’s greatest assassins, a corrupt, bug-eating politician, and a local gangster with a penchant for villain team-ups, and not name them after the four horsemen?  Obviously, he could have employed more henchpersons, but there are only five points to his little subterranean altar, and you know he’s not giving up his point.

Oh, right.  Altar.  Fifth seal.  I see what you did there. Nice!!!!

I’ve been gushing over Percy’s run a lot lately.  Even with the magical retcons of Rebirth, I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the longer arc.  It hasn’t quite surpassed Lemire’s run in my eyes yet, but they’re neck-and-neck in comprehensive awesomeness.  That said, I feel it necessary to not get too deep into The Rise of Star City story without airing the concern I’ve had since it was teased several issues back, even though it’s looking like I might be totally unfounded.

To wit, the title obviously references the once-upon-a-time home of Green Arrow, Star City.  Unlike his pre-Flashpoint (actually, pre-Zero Hour) counterpart who moved from Star City to Seattle, the Oliver Queen of current continuity seems to have always been a child of Seattle.  Now, I was a bit concerned that the path of this story might be to transform the vaguely-real-world-esque Seattle in to the classic comic book locale of Star City; maybe leveling some landmarks we’ve been seeing (like the Space Needle and Fremont Troll), or collapsing the entire downtown area within the lay line star pattern.  But it’s already been established that Star City exists elsewhere in the post-Flashpoint (and post-Rebirth) continuity; first in Green Arrow 0, when Ollie bailed Roy out of Star City PD’s lockup, which may or may not still be not-yet-solidified reality, but also in the definitely post-Rebirth Fall and Rise of Captain Atom book, which is where Nathaniel/Vincent/Cameron’s PI finds Genji and his aunt living (This book also puts Star City within an hour’s drive of Winslow Air Force Base in Arizona, far from any of its prior locations on the map).  So, hopefully my fears of yet more sloppy continuity are irrelevant as it appears that the Ninth Circle’s Star City is far more mythological than literal.

Focusing on all the things these issues did well, though, and there’s a hell of a lot of stuff to mention.  For starters, Ferreyra’s art, is, as always, horrific and beautiful.  From The Burned to the terror of innocents to saucy assassins to a city of chaos burning in the pouring rain, he brings the terror and confusion of these opening two issues and clearly defines this story as anything but a gallant hero swooping in to save the day.  Sure, we get some classic hero shots for Oliver, Dinah, and Emiko, but the real artistic star of these issues is the destruction of the aforementioned four horsemen.  Plus let's not forget about Broderick’s Ninth Circle mask -- Ferreyra really needs to sell that splash page as a poster without the dialog boxes and bubbles.

The story is all set-up, so, yeah, perhaps as a single issue (or pair thereof) there’s not much to offer the audience.  But as a set up for the arc of The Rise of Star City, it’s a series of super-strength punches to the foundation of a skyscraper.  We get the epic opening gambit of Broderick’s moves to destroy Seattle, Team Arrow (sans one John Diggle) scrambling to try and respond, and we also get full-on disclosure of the plan to both Oliver and the audience. 

Heck, we even get a name for the Ewok Village headquarters in the Rainier Wilderness before... uhhh... it ceased to be a practical location for Green Arrow’s headquarters.  Well, we got a name once,  and it was a delovely throwback to Mike Grell’s Longbow Hunters that first moved Green Arrow from Star City to Seattle.  But then it was back to bland ol’ “Green Arrow HQ.”  Sad trombone is sad.

Clearly, the theme for these two issues is to strike up Seattle with a shock event... or seventeen.  Until we know specifically what those shock events are a distraction for, these issues are best paired with the apparent mission of The Ninth Circle: to Seek and Destroy, just like the boys from Metallica like to proclaim.

It sure is annoying when you have a bug swarming around your face.  Or, as an analogy for 'bug in your face', an assassin or two committing an isolated crime or two in your city!  To extend this analogy to these two comics, the Ninth Circle’s assaults on the city of Seattle are essentially a swarm of locusts attacking all at once, causing extensive damage to crops, or, if you will, the people, infrastructure, and government of Seattle.  

(Yes, Green Arrow may have run in to a literal swarm of locusts back before Rebirth in issue 45, but I’m pretty sure those were moths.)

Now, let’s not worry that perhaps these issues are basically villainous setups with no plot or character development, even though Oliver does make a very interesting discovery about his father (dude was busy) which leads him to an indignant hissy-fit and some more shift-ups to the membership of the team.  But still, there’s certainly more and better story to come.  It’s officially got another two issues left to go, but a quick peek at the solicits beyond this arc show that Percy’s pattern of spinning one arc in to the next is not going to let up with the “oversized anniversary issue.”

And for those of you who were paying attention, you may have noticed that it’s not just any League of Assassins master of poisons that got chosen as the white horse of pestilence, but one with a history with a certain someone that Henry might have called for help.  Is your hat sense tingling?  Mine is.

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

GREEN ARROW #21 & #22 GREEN ARROW #21 & #22 Reviewed by David Andrews on May 23, 2017 Rating: 5

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