Whether it’s the end of the arc or the end of the run as a whole, the newest Green Arrow issue has some major foreboding going on and it is heavy.
Though Benjamin Percy has absolutely no problem with treading some pretty dark territory, he jumps out of his comfort zone and produces one of the bleakest and demoralizing stories yet. Of course I’m not saying that this is a perspective of a reader disliking the story, but as the characters themselves. Percy has been little by little chipping away an Oliver Queen, humbling him and overwhelming him with injuries both personal and psychological that it’s a great wonder that Ollie hasn’t alienated every single person around him. Typically this isn’t from a lack of trying either.
Yet, something about this issue and I’m sure I’m not the only one who sensed it, is that it feels as though something big is happening soon. Something game changing and possibly unexpected. What it is, I don’t think anyone will be ready for—especially not the Green Arrow who already is on the brink of his sanity. But this, this right here is what separates good story tellers from great ones. Percy has shown us the full potential of his writing and plot making, swirling together emotional drama, suspense and action into the perfect storm that will bring Seattle to its knees, and all of his readers incapable of turning their heads away from what is to come.
The last time we saw Green Arrow, he and his team were spread thin all trying to respond to the multiple attacks and disasters seemingly happening all at once around Seattle. The Ninth Circle and their new right hand, the Four Horseman had been making calculated assaults all over the city crippling its infrastructure and wearing down what protection it had left.
Behind the scenes, Mayor Domini keeps to his puppet role and becomes your typical bad leader mirroring the issues in the current United States. Of course his little charade catches wind up on the local news, and a reporter once saved by Ollie decides to bring the fight to a new front, the media. Meanwhile in the wake of a very emotional revelation concerning the morality of Oliver’s father, he alienates the one person who he needs the most, Dinah Lance, as he plays the pity card only to the point that she sees through the bullshit. How will Oliver get through this dark cavern without his Canary to sing the way out?
Four Horsemen Victorious
Things just went from bad to worse in this issue. While we don’t really get to see Ollie until a quarter way through this book, the scenes are set up with the right amount of suspense and overload of great dialogue to set the stage for the fall of Seattle. The main plot of this issue follows Emiko on a mission in Cedar Water Treatment Plant where alarms were tripped and dozens of guards lay dead from poisoned claw marks; clearly Cheshire has been here.
While Emiko is investigating the scene, Ollie is returning to Henry’s location and unaware of the events that transpired there at the end of the previous issue. While Henry is actually alive and well with Cyrus Broderick, Ollie can only assume his fate when he sees the destruction that the Horseman of Death has left. Cyrus is trying to win Henry over to him and the scary part is that it seems like it’s working. We can only guess what ramifications this might have in later issues. This hits Ollie hard as he has enough on his plate. For him everything just keeps getting worse; first Diggle, then Dinah and now he thinks Henry is dead.
Such hopelessness is so well expressed by both writing and the art that you feel empathic to Oliver; even Emiko’s reaction wrenches the heart. It nearly makes her fight with Cheshire unbearable. Percy sets it up so that we can’t bear to lose another member of the Arrow family and the fight keeps us on our toes. That is until Arsenal decides to finally make his presence known, especially after what he promised Ollie a few issues ago. I do love that Percy tries to at least be humorous to ease some tension by reminding us that once upon time Cheshire and Roy had a thing. Of course no one should ever need an excuse to throw some funny puns our way.
A Pretty Bird Uncovers the Truth
A sizable portion of this comic does concern Dinah and her time away from Oliver, which is still spent trying to help him. If that’s not love then I don’t know what is. Of course a big part of love is jealousy as well. When Dinah is approached by the same reporter that has been helping Green Arrow this whole time, she does get a little jealous—accusing her of having a sort of school crush on him. This part seems like it was merely a flare for drama, but it served its purpose only to strengthen our own love for the Black Canary and of course to realize how much of an idiot Oliver Queen can be. They both work to uncover the truth behind an ancient tome that is a biblical version of the Ninth Circles entire regime.
The whole of the plot comes to head after Oliver encounters those who attacked Henry. It’s a lengthy and tiring fight for our emerald archer as the Horseman of Death strikes with ferocity and a few dozen burned men from the Ninth Circle at his back. He willingly taunts Ollie, telling him how Ollie may live to see Seattle die, even in the face of defeat he’s grinning and jesting. In a flash we see every character involved one by one while in Seattle Cyrus broods over symbolism, the symbol a monument that keeps the life of city bright. Until that symbol is destroyed and madness descends, our heroes all stare in horror as the Space Needle of Seattle falls in a fiery inferno.
In this sort of media you can’t have a dark story without some equally murky art. Juan Ferreyra captures the essence of this bleakness and despair using some of the best shades and use of gloomy colors rarely seen with such variety of pigments. The mixture of its tones and emotion is just so overwhelming that the panels have an empathetic aura to them that keeps us just as worried as all of our masterfully drawn heroes. The fight scenes are so vividly drawn that the colors swirl as if they were swimming in a canvas of water.
Yet, the highlight is when the tower comes down; you can feel the shock, the awe, and the doom that a symbol can represent and what happens when it is destroyed.
This is one comic that will stay in my memory for years to come, as it should for everyone who reads Green Arrow…no DC as a whole. It will definitely stand out among some of the best stories ever written and possibly the crowned jewel of the entirety of DC’s Rebirth series. From the master story, the twist turns of both story and our own emotion, and the flawless way it is expressed visually make this a flawless masterpiece that I’ve ever had the joy to read. Yet, back to what I said at the beginning of this review, it seems like some sort of end is sight, and I can proudly say that how great this book is; on the contrary of what is expected. I am not prepared for it, great job on this one.
Final Score: 10/10
Green Arrow Rebirth #23 Credits
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art & Colors: Juan Ferreyra
Lettering: Nate Piekos