For everyone who read my review of the previous issue of Green Arrow, ignore what I said in my criticism.
Yes, I’m still pretty sore that they decided to keep us in the dark about why Diggle decided to betray Ollie in order to save Malcolm Merlyn’s life, but you know what? This new arc is just as great, possibly better (lets see in the next upcoming few issues) than its dynamic and action packed predecessor. Where the last arc focused on a plight that dealt more on a personal level, this one strikes a historical one, on the plight of an entire race. What’s the best of course, is to see the series keep giving us Green Arrow allies we know and love trickle back to us, whether it is in good faith or not.
In the previous chapter of this great series, we saw the return of one of the Green Arrow’s most beloved and nuanced of allies: Roy Harper aka Speedy aka Arsenal. Anyone who was a fan of the New 52 age of DC comics can appreciate the continuation in thematic approach to Roy as a dark, misunderstood adolescent with a dark past and even darker future. We followed him back to the tribe of his family, where he is clearly not welcomed due to past transgressions. He returns to stop the building of an access pipeline that would desecrate and destroy the lands of his people.
At the same time we are given flashbacks to when he an Oliver were in the infancy of their relationship and Roy and precipice of addictive personality. The issue ended with Oliver’s return to Roy to join him in the fight against mercenaries who react to an act of war committed by the tribe.
This is war
#19 opens with frankly one of the most beautifully drawn panels I’ve ever seen, as Roy rejects the name Ollie gave him for his own, Arsenal. The two fight amongst each other in midst of a battle that the tribe is losing, badly, against a privately owned militia known as the Wild Dogs. It isn’t until Roy’s brother, Born, is wounded that they realize to keep the fighting going is folly.
Throughout the fight however, the boy in Roy runs strong—holding a deep hatred for Ollie that words cannot sway. It’s nice to see Roy finally so passionate about something even if it is misplaced. Well, maybe not misplaced, but misguided.
The issue focuses mostly on Ollie and Roy’s past so it’s hard pressed to find a variety of scenes in this issue when both heroes are together alone. This isn’t a bad thing though, it’s actually a great tactic as we get to see Ollie and Roy simultaneously at their closest and at their furthest.
By the end of the comic the two set aside their differences, not sure whether it is permanently or temporarily, to bring the fight to the Wild Dogs as partners. The ending fight isn’t actually a fully fledged battle but rather a prelude to one, an ambush in the style Roy’s ancestors would have been proud of. Whether it was the sway of Dinah’s surprisingly level headed advice to Roy or the fact that all off the tribe accepts the fact that even though Oliver is no longer the head of Queen Industries, he’s taking responsibility for it. Especially since his last name is all over the equipment being used to build the pipeline as well as his money filling the coffers of the Wild Dogs. It quite possibly may be that Roy see’s in Ollie what Bird loathes in him. A bad memory, exacerbated by the the finally revealed memory that Roy may or may not have killed his father on purpose or by mistake.
Past and present collide
Now, what was different about this issue compared to others was how heavy it used text. Granted usually people like a perfect balance of text based story to art. But in this case both outdid themselves, especially the writing.
No where is this writing more prevalent than in the longer flashback moments of this issue. The first of the two main past event was the continuation of the fight we saw between a younger Ollie and Roy facing off against the dangerous Count Vertigo. This scene has significant for two reasons. The first being Roy and his lack of restraint. Ollie, like Batman, is a no kill type of hero. When he unknowingly releases a shock trick arrow that nearly killed the Count he notices his own anger at not the brutality of the weapon but how Roy finds humor in it. Even more interesting is the fact that next issue is called Vertigo’s Revenge. Clearly this one flashback wasn’t pulled from random.
The second event is Ollie’s return home one day only to find his penthouse full of drunken and high teenagers destroying everything, while Roy gets sine action on Ollie’s bed. Whether the scene was supposed to follow New 52 lore or not, we can guess that this was a separation point for the two as Ollie hurdles out insults and titles in anger. It’s clear how Roy takes it as he departs the place forever. This triggers an onslaught of images between the preparation of the current fight to come and the fight that Roy has dealt with his whole life: crime, drinking, bad friends, peer pressure, and drug abuse.
As I mentioned previously, both the text and art outdid themselves. I was greatly impressed by the last issue with the new artist Eleonora Carlini and her excellent contribution to the series. In this issue, she is joined by fellow artist Mirka Andolfo, and the two harmoniously create a series of panels that sing a song to the eyes. In probably the best art I’ve seen for this series, it almost competes against the heavy use of text in this issue and nearly comes out the victor if not for an even match.
The cover uses more dark motifs centering on the detail of character bodily expression and mood of the color. I sincerely hope these two are kept permanently on as the artist because they have my gratitude for creating such a vivid picture as only big budget films can produce or so we thought.
This series has been nothing but a joy to read and this issue stands paramount in that opinion. With a change of pace, story telling style with use of heavy text and both moving and explosive artwork it’s hard not to place this as great story. If it continues like this it may very well be one of the greatest Green Arrow stories ever told.
There is glory in staying the same of course, while keeping to the slow reveal of classic Green Arrow allies and villains. The emphasis on reminding us of their pasts only solidifies the trust we place in the writers to not only tell us a great story but to show they care about the fans. While I want to know the outcome of the previous arc, I am still impressed that my attention can be kept to both, in equal intrigue. Well done to everyone included in this series. Please don’t change it…too much.
Final Score: 10/10
Green Arrow Rebirth #19
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art: Eleonora Carlini and Mirka Andolfo
Colors: Arif Prianto
Lettering: Nate Piekos