The world has been reborn.
Last month’s release of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 kicked off a new era of storytelling for the publisher. The house that gave us Batman and Superman is looking to make up for the mistakes of the New 52 canonical reboot, reinstating old plot points that were erased from their timeline and even bringing back old versions of classic characters that had been discarded in favor of newer, “edgier” ones.
Rebirth #1 promised us character driven stories filled with more heart than fist. Can they deliver? Each week, Kyle Pinion and Alex Lu will dig into the Rebirth titles kicking off DC Comics’ line overhaul to find out. This is week three of DC Reborn.
Note: the reviews below contain **spoilers**. You’ll find our buy/pass recommendation for this book near the bottom of the article, so if you’re looking for a quick guide before heading out to the store, you’ll find it there!
(Editor’s Note: We’ve switched up the formatting on the DC Reborn series a bit. We’ll still be reviewing all the series that come out each week, but we’ll be posting one review per hour instead of all of them at once. We’ll also have a round up post and final thoughts at the end of the day. Happy reading!)
Green Arrow #1
Writer: Ben Percy Art and Color: Otto Schmidt
Letters: Nate Piekos
Alex Lu: Coming off of the Green Arrow: Rebirth #1 issue, I was feeling reservedly hopeful about writer Benjamin Percy’s and artist Otto Scmidt’s take on the “social justice warrior” of the DC Universe. I think that the core relationship between the lead hero and Black Canary mostly worked, but I was not a fan of how quickly the story tried to push the two heroes together romantically. We went through an entire courtship in 20 pages with other, honestly flat, plot points in between! The lack of plot direction and breathless pacing left me feeling a little trepidatious coming into this first issue.
Thus, it’s a happy surprise that Green Arrow #1 ends up being a solid course correction, putting aside some of the more problematic elements of the series while establishing a clear direction for the book. While the book continues to push Dinah and Oliver Queen together at a pace I don’t find totally believable, I do like that the issue puts the brakes on that relationship and focuses more on some new ones. I had never heard of Oliver’s half-sister Emi before this issue and had to look her up to discover her origin, but in spite of that I felt an immediate connection with her and loved the rapport she and her half-brother share throughout the issue. It makes the gut-wrenching plot twist the issue ends on that much stronger.
I know you weren’t as vocal about the expedited pace Oliver and Dinah’s relationship moved in in the prologue– do you think it’s too much, too fast? Did you enjoy the issue as a whole?
Kyle Pinion: Definitely. After I put the comic down, my immediate question was: “where was this Ben Percy back in the DC You relaunch?” The issues that I read were solid, but nowhere near as enjoyable as both the Rebirth outing and this first floppie. I think Percy is the first writer to really get down to the core of what makes Oliver work in years and years. Granted, there was a period where the comic was trying its best to line up with the Batman-ness of the tv series, but Ollie is at his best when his liberalism is fully on display. When Green Arrow is paying off cops and criminals in equal measure, simply to keep people out of jail because he doesn’t believe in incarceration, that is the kind of far-left Green Arrow that I’ve been missing.
And Otto Schmidt, holy cow, just when you think somebody couldn’t improve upon their work in the previous issue, he ups his game even more here. I’m sad that he won’t be on board for Issue 3 (as Juan Ferreyra is taking over, possibly permanently?), but this is the first Rebirth era title that has such a defining presence and sense of purpose that struck me so hard right out of the gate that so far, it’s the surprising highlight of the line…at least as much as one can make that judgement after two issues.
As for Dinah and Ollie? Yeah, it started a bit fast, and crumbled just as quickly, but I’m okay with a little acceleration given that the in-story reason is that their time together had been wiped out. There’s some justification there that I can allow the license for, provided we don’t have to endure too much “will they? won’t they?”.
But man, that Otto Schmidt….
Alex: Say it ain’t so! Honestly, as much as I love Ben Percy’s scripts so far, I really do think that Otto Schmidt’s art is what sells the book. He has a distinctive art style that fits in better with the DC You lineup than the New 52’s or even Rebirth’s. It’s a twisted blessing that he and Percy didn’t end up publishing their run this time last year. According to the WonderCon solicits that initially named the Rebirth teams, both Schmidt and Ferraya were solicited as ongoing series artists, but looking at the single issue solicits on DC’s website, Ferreyra rides on as far as the eye can see. C’est la vie.
That said, no use dwelling on what may or may not be. Let’s focus on the beauty right before our eyes. What strikes me about Schmidt’s work, even more than his inventive linework, is the way he renders action and motion. The fact that he colors his own work is a huge boon in this regard, at it gives him complete control over the visual composition of a page from start to finish. In many situations, pencillers, inkers, colorists, and even letterers can end up clashing and muddling the feel of a story. Blending the former three into one person works wonders– take the way that Black Canary’s sonic screech is rendered, for example. When she uses it on the villains prowling the docks in this issue, Schmidt makes the half-page panel look like an acid drop painting. The screech looks like it’s been drawn over the pencilling with chalk and the line and coloration of its victims are being sucked into its vortex. It’s perfect visual harmony.
Did any particular elements of Schmidt’s art stand out to you, Kyle? Were you too busy gushing like I was?
Kyle: Too much gushing, too much shock, the good kind. I’m just so very happy that DC is making the very smart decision to promote Green Arrow to the top of their line, where given the character’s success in other mediums, he’s getting the kind of push I thought he should have been getting 2-3 years ago at least. This is the Green Arrow run I’ve been wanting to read for years and have never gotten.
Though, really we’ll see how things hold up when Schmidt is taking his break *cue me doing a Kool-Aid Man “oh yeah!” over the news that he’ll hopefully be back*, though Ferreyra is no slouch either and I quite liked his efforts on Gotham by Midnight. Either way, great start, good job all around, I want more, which is something I haven’t said terribly often regarding this property.
Oh, and Emi popped up first in Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s run. That’s worth a look too probably, if you wanna get that background and care to be wowed by some really wild art.
Buy buy buy?
Alex: Honestly, I’m still a little on the fence! I would give it a tentative yes, but that is, again, based primarily off the strength of Schmidt’s art. I mean no offense to Percy’s writing, as I think it is mostly quite strong, but I feel like this book has a villain problem. The molemen and the crooked businesspeople strike me as rather stereotypical and boring strawmen, so I would be happier if the book excised them entirely. Is it too much to ask for a book where Green Arrow and Black Canary just sit at a small tea table and debate social issues (as they clearly want to do anyways)?
Joking– sorta. Ultimately yes, I’d say you should buy this book. However, I have some reservations about the long term health of the series. How about you, Kyle?
Kyle: It’s Ollie vs. another personification of “the man” and “the man” is into human trafficking. I’m all about reading Ollie kicking the crap out of that kind of villainy. You betcha I’m a buy!
Stay tuned throughout the day as we post reviews for Green Lanterns #1, Superman #1, & Titans #1!