As we came careening through the final months of 2017 and into 2018, a certain DC Comics author brought your favorite tree-hugging archer back to his hometown and his story back to the roots set at the beginning of Rebirth. Benjamin Percy also brought Jamal Campbell, Stephen Byrne, and Juan Ferreyra along to make it all look magnificent, because, quite frankly, it really wouldn’t qualify as a comic book if it was just words, would it? That’s called prose, my friend, or sometimes poetry, and even though Green Arrow might be a gentleman poet in his soul, he’s certainly not a poem. That’d be weird.

TO QUOTE Roger Waters (again):Hush now, baby, don’t you cry. Momma’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true. Momma’s gonna put all her fears into you.

Well, friends, after a well told, but frankly somewhat forced feeling jaunt across the country, where Oliver just so happened to run into half the Justice League plus a Green Lantern (who supposedly doesn’t spend much time on Earth anymore), Oliver is back in Seattle.  On Earth.  Well, its technically Star City now, but not the same Star City where he met Roy (in one of their four origins) or the one that’s in either Nevada or Southern California, but it's definitely on Earth.  Ollie survived deep space, Victoria is back on the job, Kate’s not backing down, some cops are still clean, and the gang is slowly getting back together.  Knee first, when appropriate.

I might have gotten a little more excited than I should have when Kate Spencer came on the scene (Or maybe I’m just a sucker for Ramsey).  But then again, much like the slow reveal of Diggle’s ex-fiancée (which seems to be a minor plot point and not a character), I fear that Kate may just be a character-with-the-right-job-title that wasn’t in use by another writer, and not the tip of the iceberg I was hoping for. Detectives Ros and Shuffleton certainly turned out to be relevant characters though.

Percy weaves a complex story within his pages.  Whether it be our recurring Arrow artist, Juan Ferreyra, periodic guest-star, Stephen Byrne, or Jamal Campbell’s second contribution to the line, Green Arrow is one of those titles that is always beautiful to look at.  Each artist brings their own style to the cast, but the one constant of slinging those arrows across the scene is always a joy to look at, whether it's followed by a heartfelt tête-à-tête, an epic explosion, or a broadsword to the spine.  With the gore of The Burned, Ollie & Dinah’s spicy love, Emi’s epic teenagery, flashbacks galore, and subtlety of intent in the faces of those who betray (no spoilers!), there is a lot of meat for the artists to show off their skills with.  Personally, I wish Campbell had more Burned panels, as his work is my favorite (and his Ollie/Dinah is certainly the sexiest!), but Byrne and Ferreyra are always welcome, and saddling the prior with the flashback issue and the latter with the underwater terrors was certainly the right pairing in my book. Plus, let's not forget, Henry Fyff’s ass crack may be the greatest panel of 2017.  It truly deserves an Eisner.  So much character in so little ink.

But the magnificence of Green Arrow always comes back to the story.  Oliver is never just a punch-the-problem-until-it-goes-away type of hero.  Those stories just won’t work for him.  Legacy parallels to Batman aside, the detective story narrative doesn’t fit Oliver either.  When he’s at his best, there’s a writer behind him that weaves relationships, discoveries, introspection, regret, growth, and a little bit of all-too-real mortal terror in to a story that builds both Green Arrow’s current place in the DC Universe and his backstory, ensuring relevance and legacy in the world he inhabits.  It's these human characteristics that draw people – well, people like me at least – to Green Arrow, and its Percy’s excellence at bringing them to the page that keeps us coming back for more.

Sometimes the moral might seem trite or heavy-handed, but more often than not, the human failings of Oliver Queen make him one of the most identifiable characters in the capes-and-cowls world. His friends stick by him.  His loved ones forgive him.  And his (and often their) eventual redemption is often the shining light of hope that makes these stories parables of the human spirit.  When written at his best, Oliver Queen is the humanity in all of us, good and bad, and its the fact that good always overcomes – in his soul if not in his actions – that makes him a hero, not necessarily that he can shoot an arrow through a falling rope atop a suspension bridge at 150 yards, or shatter a longbow at 20.

Even though there might be some minor gaps or loose ends, God damn it, my friends, this is some top quality writing! Perhaps they’ll get picked up, but more likely they’re the necessary fallout of a periodical publication in a shared universe.  I can live with that, just as long as I eventually get a hot and sexy Percy Deluxe Edition like we did for Jeff Lemire’s runAnd now, my dears, my efforts to dance around spoilers come to an end.  There are things to acknowledge, and from this point forward they go from subtle hints to overt fanboy squealing.  You have been warned.

I had fortuitously fallen behind in my anticipation game, so I managed to arrive at the final panel of issue 33 completely unaware of the return of Moira Queen blatantly pronounced in the solicitation of issue 34.  Sure, it doesn’t fit at all lyrically, but tonally, the bad ass bassline of Danzig’s 'Mother' got immediately stuck in my head, returning as a coda every time we cut back to her and Ollie over the next few issues, right up to her inevitable betrayal and that magnificent frame in issue 35, where Ferreyra puts just enough remorse in her face to remind you that she’s gotten herself in to an impossible position and is maybe not entirely horrible.

Sometimes you see the idiotic decisions Oliver is making a mile away.  You, the reader, know damn well he’s doing the wrong thing, but you also can clearly see why he’s choosing the dumb option.  Again. His heart’s in the right place, but he’s going to get himself into some trouble. Again. Somehow he’ll manage to survive whatever that last bad decision was and maintain his focus moving forward. Then, just like Chip Diller, as played by Kevin Bacon in the 1978 comedy classic, 'National Lampoon's Animal House', he’s going to proclaim to the universe at large, “Thank you, sir!  May I have another?”  Again.  Because that’s the kind of bonehead Oliver Queen can be.

But Oliver’s boneheadism is, in fact, his superpower.  He’s not superhuman, but, as mentioned previously, Oliver is at his best – as a character – when he is hyper-human.  Percy takes the everyday human failings in all of us and amplifies them to proportions worthy of the superhero genre.  Campbell, Byrne, and Ferreyra bring the action, emotion, and world to life, but Percy’s mastery of character and legacy is what ties their differing styles together from issue to issue.  What Lemire did for Robert Queen, Percy is doing for Moira Queen, and it is shaping up to be a beautiful contrast and magnificent endgame.

When April comes around and Lanzing and Kelly whisk us off to some place called Vahkar, I hope we don’t lose too much of what Percy has established (I think we’ll be okay, as Lanzing and Kelly seem to have a knack for picking up the stories of others in a way that feels more like a proper continuation than many writers put an effort in to.)  Perhaps they’ll even bring back some of what was established prior to Percy’s run (which of course straddled the Rebirth deus-ex-machina-ex-machina) but has been set aside since?

So on that note, whatever should we expect of the transition?
  • Will Emiko survive? (Probably, if the cover of issue 37 is any indication.) 
  • Will Wendy survive? (Probably not, if the need for Oliver to feel like a failure is any indication.) 
  • Will Moira survive? More importantly, how does one even fake their death by cancer? And where exactly did she go while she was “away”?! 
  • Will we ever see any of the other battle-bank-submarines? 
  • Will we ever meet Diggle’s ex? 
  • Will Ramsey ever show up? 
  • Will Tommy ever return? Does he even still exist in the post-Rebirth continuity? 
  • Will Naomi ever return? Maybe with a jealous rage directed at Dinah? 
  • Will Mia ever return? Or maybe she’s been there all the time, but Emiko doesn’t let her out of the closet under the stairs? 
  • Whatever happened to George? Did he maybe eat Mia while Emi was in Japan and Ollie was in space? 
  • Will Juan Ferreyra ever admit that the potential juror who complained that Oliver ran over his dog is supposed to look like Ben Percy? 
*** Just reading and writing and rambling in the back of the Joker's old Ho-Home-On-Wheels... Keath.

GREEN ARROW #33 TO #36 GREEN ARROW #33 TO #36 Reviewed by David Andrews on February 14, 2018 Rating: 5

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