I don’t think it’s a secret that I was super excited for this issue to arrive. It may be a very cliché among DC fans, but my favorite member of the Justice League is Batman, but not for the reasons you may think. Oliver Queen will always hold the mantle of my absolute favorite DC hero and that comes along with the territory of Batman because they are so alike. Both came from wealth and though Bruce may have a much darker past, it’s that separation between light and dark that makes them not only so divided but also so similar. It’s an often made comparison between the two characters that they complement one another’s duality. Oliver is frequently called a lighter version of Batman. With this comic arc, no this series as a whole; that statement is truly put to the test.
Coming back to what I originally meant to start with, I was really excited for this one and was not disappointed. This is me trying to be as impartial as I can…ah the hell with it; this was literally the best issue so far of this arc. The pacing was great. A mystery plot that teams up two of the best detectives in the genre with an elaborate story that balances the tension between Bruce and Oliver expertly while foraging into just how far the Ninth’s Circles influence really goes? Yes, please.
The last time we saw Ollie he was in Metropolis getting in Lex Luthor’s face about an the attack on a Senator when people begin to suddenly try killing themselves all over the building. Superman comes just in time to save them while Oliver and Lex deduce that there’s a cyberattack releasing embarrassing information meant to push them towards suicide. By the end all three save the day, and Lex gives Ollie a lead on the Ninth Circle that takes him to Gotham.
Playing the Playboy
The issue begins with a murder most foul, it seems that Gotham is already starting to feel the effects of the Ninth Circle’s attacks. The main difference between Gotham and Star City at the moment however, is that in Star City the homeless are kidnapped. In Gotham, they are just straight up murdered and left wherever the deed happened. This string of murders has obviously caught Batman’s attention, but while he’s on the streets Oliver is playing a rich boy again and following up on the lead by taking on Gotham’s elite. From the information that Lex gave him he knows that one or all of them are using the Lex currency to not only channel their own money discretely into the black market but, even more disturbing, into human trafficking.
It’s here, while he makes nice with them, that we see the true differences between the two heroes. Oliver seems to have taken a very dark path when it comes his outlook on whether or not people can change. The rich crowd takes a quick liking to him for being ballsy enough to screw up his parole while he’s on trial for murder to enjoy an evening socializing. Seems the Ninth Circle has even infiltrated the infamous Court of Owls. Thankfully, we barely even see them for a panel. Apparently the kidnapping of the homeless are what leads to the rising body count; the Court takes them so that the rich of Gotham can play a violent game of cat and mouse. Offensive to say the least.
Green vs Black
Batman is doing what he can to protect the people running for their lives while Oliver tracks one of these masked fiends. By the time the two finally clash, Oliver is brutalizing the assailant and just about to kill him before Batman intervenes. In one of the most excellent dialogues I’ve seen in a comic book, we get a true war of words between the two as they argue morality, justice, and responsibility.
Yet, before it can even come to the end, an old annoying friend returns. The burned lieutenant that has been evading Oliver’s wrath appears yet again to plague the duo. The two take on the now fire breathing enemy while they use each other’s weaknesses to their own advantage.
It’s a stylish fight between two great heroes with a smart but typical finale. Mister crispy escapes yet again into the sewers. After the fight they take to the rooftops of Gotham. Batman, like the other members of the Justice League, offers Ollie advice to aid him on his quest. Turns out that the circle is weaponizing information on a global scale using the Queen Industries satellites; Oliver’s quest just became “orbital” and we all know what that means. The ever so ‘lovable’ Hal Jordan will be the next follow suit in this series.
The issue closes with a return to Star City where Henry has finally broken the encryption on the tablet taken by Dinah and Emi. Two things he found on this will lead them back to Oliver and hopefully Dinah back to Oliver, please…please? The first is that now they can track all transactions done with Lexcoins, making tracking the auctioneer that much easier.
The second and more vital piece of information was a video left behind of Wendy Poole being dragged away to some location. For those who don’t remember, she is the secretary Oliver was supposed to have killed when he was disgraced. If they can find her before the trial, Oliver’s name will be cleared.
This was definitely Ferreyra at his very best. He captures the darkness and murkiness of Gotham city with the use of heavy shadow shading and dreary colors; we feel the corruption at its core. At the same time, during the elite meet the colors used are vivid but you can feel the darkness that lurks beneath. The action scenes are very well done, adding to the pacing of events with movement and a variety of moves that keep it fun and interesting. The use of background themes is awesome as well, particularly the reflections in blood and wine.
This was a great addition to this already amazing arc, showcasing that the story is going to get darker as the finale draws near. The story was great and well-paced, the development in character for both Bruce and Ollie is excellently crafted with smart and emotional dialogue and actions that put their words to purpose.
Fans of both heroes will definitely enjoy this issue, if not for the story then the best art you can get in modern comics. I would have liked to see more of Dinah and Emi but was sated with their underlying significance given what little content they have. I will forever be an advocate for Black Canary having her own comic, this only cements that.
Final Score: 9/10
All Images Courtesy of DC Comics
Green Arrow Rebirth #29 Credits
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Juan Ferreyra
Lettering: Nate Piekos