Last month, DC Comics kicked off the start of its Rebirth initiative. After a wave of criticism surrounding the way they have treated their characters’ rich histories since 2011’s New 52 relaunch, DC has decided to rebrand. They hope that by restoring their characters’ pasts, they will restore readers’ faith in them as well. Do they succeed? That’s what the Comics Beat managing editor Alex Lu and entertainment editor Kyle Pinion are here to discuss. Book by book. Panel by panel.
Welcome to month two of DC Reborn!
Note: the review below contains **spoilers**. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on this book, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Green Arrow #2
Writer: Ben Percy
Artist: Otto Schmidt
Letters: Nate Piekos
Alex Lu: Welcome back to the Otto Schmidt power hour, also known as Green Arrow #2. At the end of the first issue, we saw Oliver Queen betrayed by his half-sister Emiko and her mother, Shado. He was riddled with arrows and on the verge of death. To boot, his company underwent a hostile takeover and his love affair with Black Canary was on the rocks. This week, we see some quiet but important advancement on all these plot threads. In sum, they make one point clear: this is Oliver Queen at his lowest.
As has been the case throughout the entire series so far, Otto Schmidt is not the heroic artist we deserve, but he is certainly the one this series needed. This book is filled with incredible spreads from beginning to end. At the start of the issue, Emiko and Shado take Oliver’s body out on the ocean in his boat, dropping him below the waves and placing used needles on the vessel to frame his death as a tragic accident. After they finish staging the scene, Schmidt fills the double-page spread with an enormous floating headquarters that has come to evacuate the treacherous pair. The structure is grandiose and imaginative. Thanks to its imposing size and futuristic design, it looks like it could have come out of a Star Wars film. It’s bathed in the light of the moon, which shines through a hollow point at the ship’s mountainous peak. It’s a breathtaking moment for Emiko and Shado, who are dwarfed by the structure, and also for us as readers, bathing in the majesty of Schmidt’s realized vision.
As much as I like to drool on Schmidt, I also want to give a lot of due credit to Ben Percy’s script in this issue. There are a surprising number of plots moving forward concurrently in this series and many of them don’t have much to do with Green Arrow directly. In a lesser comic, Emiko and Shado may have been portrayed as straight-faced villains, but Percy gives them both some needed shades of depth. Emiko displays a ton of reticence about committing to her betrayal of Ollie, but Shado emphasizes that because of their actions, they can be a family again. There is certainly still some mystery, given the introduction of The Ninth Circle cult, but the definition is much appreciated and serves to heighten the level of intrigue that surrounds Shado’s and Emiko’s actions.
What did you think about this issue, Kyle? Was there a particular plot that stood out to you?
Kyle Pinion: From the outset, it looks like we’re getting a sort of “Green Arrow: Born Again”, though anytime you blow up the hero’s home and have him basically working from square one to regain everything he once had or to rediscover himself in some way, that’ll always be the initial touch-stone. But familiar themes or no, it’s still a really enjoyable comic. I know we praise Otto Schmidt to the high heavens here, so I’ll just cap that part of the discussion and say, yes, I definitely agree with everything you’re saying and look forward to more and just how much Juan Ferreyra’s approach with alter the visual chemistry on display here.
The general thought that wormed its way in my head as I read Issue 2 is that I really missed the boat with the initial Percy run on this character, and might need to go back and catch up on just how Oliver got to where we found him in Rebirth. It’s not necessary to read anything that came before, given how clean a jumping on point this series has been, but it’s just my testament to how much I’m enjoying the literary approach Percy is taking with the character. There’s good strong voice in place for Ollie, and as you say, his work on the supporting cast, including Shado and Emiko, while slim here, definitely exudes a three-dimensional nature. Also, as a bit of a literature nerd, the references to Dante’s Inferno were right up my alley regarding the mystery cult that’s pulling all the strings.
I thought the choice to rope the Diggle character back into the story was a wise move as well, and well pitched within the confines of the issue. Much like Josh Williamson’s scripts for The Flash, it’s important to get a few details in that act as familiar waypoints for tv viewers and I know Jeff Lemire’s run (whose tenure Percy is most incommunicado with) initially utilized the character in response to his tv popularity, but to bring him back in a semi-regular role is a great play. If you’re going to utilize anything from that show, he’s the best choice, easily.
I think maybe just maybe, we’re still playing a little short-hand with the Ollie-Dinah relationship, and her internal monologue that belies some strong depth of knowledge about Ollie, even though I’m not sure they’ve spent more than a few days together, seems a bit quick. But, in Percy’s defense I think he’s got a bit of an uneviable task here, trying to get that relationship on the books and put Black Canary in the middle of the action as quickly as possible.
That one tiny quibble aside, this remains one of the best reads of DC’s new line-up and I think I’m hooked for the long run. Any other parting thoughts Alex? Hard to imagine there’s any trouble spots on the horizon at this rate.
Alex: I think it is worth mentioning again that Juan Ferreyra will be the artist for the next couple of issues, stepping in for Otto Schmidt. Unlike Batman which is sticking with David Finch for its full first arc and Aquaman which seems to switch artists every other issue, Green Arrow is changing artists at what looks to be the midway point of the first arc. I hope that the tonal shift in the narrative will be complemented by what will inevitably be a major change in the book’s visual language.
There’s a lot to love in this series no matter what lens you view it from. Ben Percy’s scripts are showing more and more intricacy as the series passes and Schmidt’s art is beyond compare. I hope it sticks around for a very long time. Buy!
Kyle: Agreed, I haven’t enjoyed Green Arrow this much since the Winick days and I’m delighted to be back on board with the character full-time. I’d also like to give a quick shout-out to editor Andy Khouri, who was working on some of my favorite comics during DC You (Omega Men, Doctor Fate, Martian Manhunter, Justice League United) and is bringing some of that same magic to Green Arrow and the highly anticipated relaunch (certainly by me) of Suicide Squad.
Final Verdict: Buy
Stay for our final review of the day: Green Lanterns #2