Written by: Ben Percy
Art by: Otto Schmidt and Nate Piekos
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: June 1, 2016
This is one of the books I've been most looking forward to reading in Rebirth. Sure, the teaser that
Green Arrow and Black Canary are "back together again...for the first time" has me excited, but it's simpler than that. I haven't been too keen on Green Arrow in well over a year and I hope Rebirth changes that because I love the character. Because of that, however, I am a little wary that Ben Percy is staying on the book and am interested to to see if he changes his game a bit or if it's business as usual, just with a different coat of paint. So, do I get to shove it in Eric's face that I took this book over for Rebirth or have I once again, hitched my wagon to a fallen star. Let's find out...
The issue starts off with Oliver ruining his dinner date by arguing politics with a Senator's Daughter. Oh, if I had a nickle... It's a funny little opener, but to me it was more than that. In two panels, Ben Percy has given us more humor in Rebirth than his entire New 52 run and I like that a whole lot. It also gives readers a little heads up that Percy just might realize that while he thinks of Oliver as a social justice warrior, there are better, more subtle ways to go about getting your point across. I love that even more and what's great is that it continues throughout the issue.
Percy continues by showing that Oliver does indeed have a good heart and while that may seem like a given, it really hasn't been lately. He gives money to a little kid and his mother (love the Woody Guthrie reference, by the way), but after leaving them, the mother is snatched...by the sewer people! This is the first hint that maybe Oliver is going about this SJW thing the wrong way.
If we weren't sure of all of this, Oliver pretty much spells it out for the reader and while I am never a fan of this "tell me, don't show me" type of storytelling it leads to the credits page that just made me smile. It's classic Green Arrow or closer to it than he's been for a long, long time and it leads to a fight with...Black Canary?!?! Of course, he doesn't know it's her at first and the whole thing was pretty damn awesome!
I already said that I was pumped to see Black Canary in this book and when she actually showed up, it really solidified what Rebirth can be. Black Canary and Green Arrow should be in a book together and a whole lot more. I loved it when they just stop and look at each other with a "I know you and I know we are supposed to be together" stare that is a nice continuation of what we saw in the Rebirth Special.
Everything continues in Oliver's deluxe apartment in the sky where he helps the little boy (the one whose mother was snatched...by the sewer people!!!) and defends his way of life to Dinah. I continued to like the interaction between the two, but it brings to light some of the pratfalls of having characters "know they should know someone" while also maintaining the New 52 continuity. Oliver knows that Black Canary was in a rock band, but doesn't know her name. Dinah knows who Oliver Queen is, but has no idea about when he went missing on the island. It's no where near a deal breaker, it just comes off as a bit odd when things pop up.
The best parts here are Oliver getting his goatee and Dinah telling Ollie all the bad things the Justice League have been saying about him. It's pretty much all the criticism I've seen about Ben Percy's run on this book and I love that he has a sense of humor about it. I think it's also a bit of a plea to fans to understand that both his and Oliver's hearts were always in the right place.
As they head to look for the little boy's mother, Dinah and Oliver continue arguing about what it takes to make real social change and I agree with both of them. The solicits for this book really point to Oliver giving up his riches to be a better person, but I hope what he's saying here holds true because I want to see him zipping around on motorcycles and airplanes and dammit, I want a ton of trick arrows!!!
Oliver's eyes are opened a bit when he sees where the little boy and his family live, but it's all interrupted by...the sewer people!!! Actually, they are the "Underground Men", but I don't like that name as much. Green Arrow and Black Canary fight them off and eventually find out what's been going on. Again, eye opener.
The issue ends with Green Arrow and Black Canary putting an end to that night's human meat market auction, but it feels like just one battle of an upcoming war. They save the day, but who knows about tomorrow or the next day.
I really liked this issue. Ben Percy took a page from Geoff John's Rebirth playbook and seemed to apologize for what went wrong in his Green Arrow run and showed how it's going to be better. Listen, I wasn't a fan of the whole Social Justice Warrior thing, but I realize now that it was actually the darker tone of the book that threw me off. The whole SJW buzzword thing did as well, to be quite honest, but Green Arrow is the modern day Robin Hood, one of the most famous Social Justice Warriors of all-time so it makes sense. In the end, I had more fun with this issue than anything else Percy has written and I hope I keep saying that every two weeks from this day forth.
I liked Otto Schmidt's art, especially his character model for Oliver, but his Black Canary was a little off. I'm not sure, but it seemed like he struggled to give her a look that fit his style in this book while still trying to tap into her New 52 look as well. It actually got better as the issue progressed and I hope that continues as he gets more comfortable with her. He did nail the Canary Cry, though! Overall, I like how his more "animated" style lightens the mood of the book even as Oliver fights some pretty nasty things.
Bits and Pieces:
Of all the solo Rebirth books so far, Green Arrow made me the happiest. Those that were worried that Rebirth would dampen Ben Percy's spin on Green Arrow can sleep easy while those that didn't like that in the first place may find that with a change of tone, everything is so much better. I'll admit that I was in the later group and so far, I'm sold. It seems that by writing a socially and politically aware Green Arrow that is still fun, Ben Percy and Green Arrow fans can have their cake and eat it too. I like cake and I am happy to once again be able to say, I like Green Arrow.