GREEN ARROW #29 TO #31

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[ HARD BUYING LEAGUE
Well, I suppose the summer is officially over, as August and September have brought us two more issues of our favorite Hard-Traveling Hero. Not to be confused with a certain pair of Hard-Traveling Heroes, the original series nor the next generation, and certainly not to be confused with the Hard-Travelin’ Heroz. But that said, its quite possible to confuse this green-tinted sharp-shooter with those Hard-Thinking Creators, Benjamin Percy, Otto Schmidt, and the one and only, Juan Ferreyra. Although it all depends on how easily you are confused by DC Comics.

TO QUOTE Roger Waters: “And if your head explodes with dark forebodings too I'll see you on the dark side of the moon.”

THE REVIEW:
In case it wasn’t quite clear when you saw those covers published a couple of months back, by issues 27 and 28 it should have been pretty clear that Ollie’s cross-country, soul-searching violation-of-parole would involve him running in to each member of the Justice League, mainly to show and / or tell them how he’s changed so they can patch up their post-Flashpoint relationship with the Emerald Archer.  Only, it’s not really the current Justice League he’s talking to, but more the classic line-up.

On the one hand, I really appreciate Percy taking the time to show us Oliver changing and the League changing their views on him, rather than just having a one-panel “oh, we’re totally cool with Green Arrow now” retcon, as so many writers (Percy included) have done with the Rebirth “not-yet-solidified reality” cop-out.  On the other hand, however, the absence of our two current Earth Lanterns, any Aqua-folk, and a young man named Victor, makes the whole thing feel a little bit too heavy on the fan service at the cost of the story being told, especially when events lead to the need for maybe just one more superhero and nobody even tries to call them, but still comments on how likely it is that there might be heavy civilian casualties.

Overall, Oliver’s ghosts-of-Justice-Leagues-past encounters with Barry, Diana, Lex, Clark, Bruce, and Hal served as an excellent mechanism to show us how Oliver sees himself, both then and now, and how others perceive him.  Similarly, each League member pulled no punches in order to tell him off, but were still willing to give him a chance to prove them wrong.  Sometimes it's the willingness to listen that really makes them heroes, which is a nice, subtle dividing line between Oliver and the League.  He claims to listen, but is, admittedly, still very stubborn, and it often takes multiple lessons and a lecture from Dinah for things to finally sink in.

The arc did feel a bit rushed though.  In addition to Oliver’s all-star team-ups, we had cut scenes of Emiko and Dinah’s efforts in Seattle, telling a necessary side story that would have been nice to get a little bit more meat to.  It is entirely possible that such a plan did, at one point, exist, but had to be trimmed down to sync-up Green Arrow’s Metal crossover issue.  Maybe the original treatment even had Cyborg helping out with the data Lex or Batman provided, or had a short, “wait... who are you?”, moment with Simon and Jessica before they called in Hal for support.  Frankly, I would love for Oliver and Jessica to hit it off – as friends and coworkers – solely for a chance to see Percy write Dinah’s response.

The art of Schmidt and Ferreyra continues to impress, and somehow feels like they’re slowly coming together stylistically to make for a less jarring shift between issues, though Emiko is still significantly different under each artist’s pen.  I do have a question for the panel about the Gotham artist wearing a ball-and-chain at his desk in an underground studio, though.  This cross country (and beyond) romp certainly gave them a plethora of unique backgrounds to render, but we still got some magnificent splash pages and close-up character details. To name but a few, Batman and Green Arrow screaming in each other’s faces, Emi and Dinah comforting their rescue, and the intimidating posturing of the Burned lieutenant (BUUUURNED IIIIIN SPAAAAACE) are all artistic stand outs across this series.

Now, I’m all about Hal-n-Ollie patching up and being besties again, but some of the comments just threw me in to a continuity tizzy (Remember how kind I was about Percy not leaning on the Rebirth magic button with the League?  It doesn’t apply to the Hal stuff.)  Sure, they’re “meeting again for the first time” and there's a bit of (re)establishing the current state to be expected as part of the obligatory pomp.  Maybe I just need to go back and reread... something... but Oliver’s comments about Hal dying his hair felt like a Parallax era reference to me, and Hal’s comment about Ollie being on “some soul-searching quest across the country?  AGAIN?” sure did feel like a throwback to 1970.  So it seems the events of a very pre-Crisis story are in our character’s current background, as are the barely pre-Zero-Hour events, yet their more recent run-in immediately prior to Percy taking over the title seems to have been a shared hallucination.  It's probably just as well, as we still haven’t had any explanation as to the vanishing of Mia Deardon, the younger Merlyn, the Queen Foundation, or anything else from Sokolowski’s run.

THE MUSIC:
C’mon, you know you were humming it as Ollie started making friends with his former bullies, right?  Willie Nelson’s On The Road Again, making music with his friends and all that.  Probably more a Roy song than an Ollie song, but I tell ya’, when Hal conjured up that will construct pickup truck (or was it supposed to be a modernized El Camino?), Willie was playin’ on the radio.




THE COMPARISON:
Sure, these issues had Oliver recruiting League members to help him look for clues, protect the public, fight The Burned (both on the information and physical fronts), trace their network, and wander around the stratosphere (rather than, say, asking Henry for help). But in all honesty the real guts of the story was Oliver’s growth as a person, learning who he is, learning to ask for help, and learning what he has to offer in return (Though he’s “still a hot head,” in his own words.)  To repair his damaged sense of self, and his relationship with others, he had to cut a bit of himself out, like repairing a hole in drywall, before he could replace the “dumb ass” (again, in his own words) he was with a stronger person who can stand alongside the greatest heroes he knows.

THE CONCLUSION:
Frankly, Oliver’s tête-à-tête with Hal really had me missing his bromance with Animal Man.  Team Green may be the classic pairing, but Team Blonde has a magnificent dynamic that isn’t quite there with the “higher tier” partnership with a Lantern.  Maybe once all the Metal dust has settled we can get some more team-up time.  But for now, I’m looking forward to Oliver just returning to his team.  He’s learned to ask for help, and despite not keeping in touch with Henry, Dinah, and Emi, as often as he maybe should have, he knows he belongs with them and seems to be aiming to get back to them.  Just as soon as he takes down this global cabal of evil, of course.

Bottom line, this arc ranks seven out of ten enthusiastic League members thumbs up. Lex gets to vote and Hal does not, in part because he’s not actually a League member anymore.  But more so because his comment at the end of issue 31 was way over the creepy line.

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

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