GREEN ARROW #37 & #38

Benjamin Percy. Juan Ferreyra. Oliver Queen. Two men. Two books. One fictional character. Well, there’s also Deron Bennett. And Mike Grell’s variant covers. And Emi, and Dinah, and Diggle, and Henry, and Kate, and the Justice League (sorta). But for February and March, DC Comics wants you to focus on two men, two issues, the story comes full circle, the echoes, the grand finale. The heavy-handed epicness.

TO QUOTE Seattle’s favorite son, Bruce Lee: “I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”

Just like many of the regular readers of the Green Arrow comic book, I am saddened by the end of the amazing run of Percy and Ferreyra (and friends).  I’m trying not to cast any preconceived notions on what’s coming next, but I’m really going to miss this creative team, irritating retcons and all.  I believe Percy’s run on Teen Titans wraps up next month with issue 19, but fortunately, it looks like he and Christopher Mooneyham will be taking over Nightwing starting this May with issue 44.  And apparently, Emiko will be part of the post-Percy Teen Titans lineup, returning in June.  Well, neat.  But where’s Juan?

Though sometimes the rotating team of artists got a bit distracting in the post-Rebirth world of DC, it was always Ferreyra’s art that felt like the “real” versions of the characters.  Maybe he wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, as his style is a bit lankier and sketchy compared to other artists, but it felt at home in Green Arrow, and I hope there’s an ongoing title with his name on it again soon.  Two of his most evocative frames in this entire run came in these last two episodes; first in the opening pages of issue 37, while Moira is trash talking to Ollie about Emiko across the tomb of Robin Queen -- that one, silent frame of Shado in an unseen corner spoke volumes that no amount of dialog ever could -- and second, in the opening pages of issue 38, when Oliver stands proudly in court and announces that he will be defending himself with a cocksure smirk and I’m-totally-not-Green-Arrow suit while Kate buries her face in her hands.  Its moments like this that remind us that comics are a visual medium and are best written when the artist is responsible for telling some of – if not the majority of – the story.

And frankly, though it was, in many ways, a very poetic conclusion to his run, Percy’s final two issues felt a bit rushed.  Perhaps there was a time crunch and a longer plan had to be compressed in time for the post-Metal DC Universe.  Perhaps it's just me.  For lack of a better term, there seemed to be a lot of sixties-era dialog posturing that felt a bit out of place in a modern comic.  But far more important than that, there was a beautifully crafted story conclusion with references back to issue 1 (post-Rebirth, of course -- we can’t acknowledge his dog, or Tarantula, or Panopticons -- heaven forbid!) and a not-so-subtle review of all the great new supporting characters Percy brought to the world of Green Arrow.

Honestly, when I made my list of questions in my prior review, the last one I expected to come true was to actually get some page time with Ramsey!  So Percy and Ferreyra had won me over from the first time his little Superman shirt showed up.  If they hadn’t aged up Emiko so much, I think Ramsey and Emi would’ve made a great side team, but now I kind of want some sort of awkward babysitter-protective-kid relationship for him and Wendy.

But, right.  Story.  I honestly thought for a few pages that they were killing off Emiko.  Never have I read so tensely.  Points off, however, for Shado’s awkward reference to Sankō Sakusen (三光作戦, the “Three Alls Policy”) as she appears to brand Moira in the face before a self-sacrificial dive where the brand is revealed to have left no mark.  Points off for Diggle’s awkwardly rushed return with forgiveness via Canary-ex-machina.  MAD points that more than make up for these transgressions for Kate having zero shits to give about taking down Ros with extreme prejudice and incredibly awkward catch-phrasing (Though flashback implied that she was shaking the next day about what had to happen next, in my head-canon it was having to take down Ros in front of Ramsey that actually had her on edge.)  All without dropping the name Manhunter once.  Points off for the horrible heavy-handedness of Dinah playing Emiko her new song and more off for the Justice League intimidation squad, but that’s forgiven for some beautiful Wendy scenes and the hilarity of the prosecutor's daughter meeting Batman.

In the end, though, whatever might have felt rushed or campy in getting there, the power of this final issue was in the aftermath.  After leaving the courtroom drama unresolved (on page) and allowing an indeterminate amount of time to pass, we get a token post-Flashpoint debut of Constantine Drakon as an ongoing two-bit nemesis, followed by Oliver reassuring Dinah of his path forward, dropping repeated references to the conversation they had in the Green Arrow Rebirth one-shot and first issue of the post-Rebirth series.  He re-introduces the Queen Foundation, which had mysteriously vanished (along with Naomi, Mia, Felicity, and, temporarily, Diggle) when Percy took over the pre-Rebirth series, echoes his opening monologue with just enough changes to reflect on the character growth, and touches on status updates for much of the current run; the Trans-Atlantic Railroad, Chief Westerberg, Ana and her unnamed tribe that may just be The Tribe, the homeless artist that I’m sticking to calling Street, as well as the homeless camp and musician family Ollie and Dinah saved back in the Rebirth issue but apparently didn’t die back in issue 12 when Merlyn was killing folks in Ollie’s name. 

One of the more touching details of this final issue was very subtle. The DC Universe has historically shown many civilians wearing the logos of the superhero community. Hell, it's how Jon Kent gets himself a Superboy uniform. As far as I can recall, though, Green Arrow t-shirts haven't been seen in this post-Rebirth world. In fact, I'm pretty sure they haven't been seen at all in the post-Flashpoint world. So how touching that the homeless kid who doesn't even know billionaire playboy Oliver Queen's name is wearing a Green Arrow t-shirt? I mean, Ollie probably bought it for him, but it exists, so there's that.

The best touch of all, however, was potentially unintentional.  As he’s showing off to Dinah how he’s putting others before himself, Oliver completes his tour of Seattle at a home for wayward youth.  Y’know, like back in the opening issue, when he’s showing off all his philanthropic efforts, and us readers were all like “hey, Percy, why not stop at the Moira Queen House for Homeless Youth?”  Well, wise-guys, maybe he had an awesome story arc involving Moira Queen in mind and wanted to gently replace that building with the Dinah Lance Home for Wayward Kids?

Coming this summer: Homeless Youth vs Wayward Kids, an eight-part miniseries!

The story of Oliver Queen is always about a spoiled rich kid who thinks he’s a champion of the people slowly learning how to actually be a champion of the people.  Usually, it involves losing his fortune, and occasionally it involves losing his friends, but sometimes, when its written juuuuust right, it's about character growth, actually gaining a wiser, yet still more idealistic, perspective.  Perhaps like he was so much older then and is younger than that now?  Grand finale, my friends; Bob Dylan, 'My Back Pages'.

Oliver may be a... uhhh.... now how does he put it?  “A hothead and a loudmouth.  […]  A sanctimonious prick.”  He may break hearts and betray friends, but in the end, he realized who trusted him through and through.  He saw the best version of himself put her faith in his friends long before he ever truly did.  When the big finale focused on Oliver realizing that he gets to choose the family that matters to him, it felt more like Dorothy Gale recognizing her friends for the first time after returning from Oz.  “But it wasn't a dream -- it was a place.  And you -- and you -- and you -- and you were there.”

In the end, Benjamin Percy left Green Arrow in fabulous fashion.  The shared universe requires that certain elements be put back on the shelf; Star City going back to being named Seattle.  Merlyn floating in the wind.  Moira and Shado defeated but available for whomever wants to use them next.  The Ninth Circle is presumed defeated but vast enough to strike again.  Cheshire, Brick, and Fyers are still in town, but without overlords.  The Queen Foundation and Queen Industries are once again Oliver’s (until the next writer who wants to bankrupt him slides in a CXO supervillain).

We’ve got character growth and a conclusion, which is more than many comic book story arcs truly put together. We’ve got an Oliver who once again values his friends (but sadly doesn’t seem to count Kate amongst them) and his city. Yes, this is essentially the same conclusion as Sokolowski’s, sans Naomi and Mia, but the story getting there was so much stronger. Sure, we may never have gotten a really good development of Oliver and Dinah’s relationship. Sure, there’s the unresolved thread of why Dinah is fully vested in this relationship yet still using her married name (and thus, apparently, still married?). Sure, the tale of Diggle’s fiancé felt like a tale untold. And did Damian ever actually meet Emiko or was that just a creepy frame of him popping in to her hospital room unannounced? [Editors Note: Yes he did. In the pages of Teen Titans] I care not at all. This was a fantastic run, and I’m going to have a really hard time trying to pick a favorite between Percy and Lemire. (So I won’t.)

I really hope we get a hardcover compilation of this run – pre- and post-Rebirth, continuity-be-damned.  Perhaps we’ll get the uninked cut pages of the fudge-nuggets lady riding across Seattle on George’s back, wearing nothing but a shower curtain and a helmet made of Panopticon parts? Maybe Tarantula will pop up in Nightwing?

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

GREEN ARROW #37 & #38 GREEN ARROW #37 & #38 Reviewed by David Andrews on March 27, 2018 Rating: 5

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