Green Arrow Volume 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra
Green Arrow is on the hunt for a cartel of human traffickers preying on Seattle’s homeless population. He crosses paths for the first time with fellow crimefighter Black Canary, and there is an immediate spark between the two. Together they learn about the Underground Men, disfigured monstrous beings living beneath the city who are rounding up the homeless and shipping them to a nightmarish facility in the international waters of the Pacific. Green Arrow learns that they are directly tied to his family’s company and are a direct result of his neglect of this legacy. Machinations from behind the scenes quickly turn the entire city against the hero, and he must bring down this evil cabal with help from some wayward friends.
This relaunch of Green Arrow is hardly in line with the reboots characters like Superman or Wonder Woman were given. In those titles, there is a strong sense of starting over or at least wiping the slate clean. Writer Benjamin Percy was already on this title before the Rebirth relaunch, so mainly we have a continuation of that run. The one big difference that was likely an editorial decision was finally bringing Ollie and Dinah back together. If you aren’t familiar, Green Arrow and Black Canary have been a crime-fighting and romantic duo since the 1970s. All of that was discarded from continuity with 2011’s New 52 reboot. To course correct, they are back together, and Oliver has had his Vandyke beard returned as well.
Writer Percy does an excellent job of establishing personalities among its key players. He manages to find a middle way between the hardline activist Oliver Queen and the spoiled rich kid. This is a Green Arrow in transition, in movie terms, this is the character in the second film having established his name but still becoming the hero of legend. Black Canary is incredibly enjoyable as a foil to Green Arrow. She is one of the more inconsistent characters since New 52 rolled out. They eventually turned the character into the frontwoman of a punk band which appears to be the iteration they are sticking with. Percy once again looks for that middle place where the classic interpretation meets this new take, and it comes off very well.
If you had not been reading Percy’s arcs on the previous series, then this will not be the smoothest of the Rebirth efforts. The characters of Diggle, Emiko, and Shado are all introduced as if we know them already, so it makes some of the reveals and twists come across confusing more than shocking. It is not enough to detract from the quality of the story, which is a good blend of fun and dark. However, like most books I’ve read in this Rebirth line the first volume just feels like a starting chapter rather than a complete and full story. The set-up for the next volume has me excited to read it, but I don’t feel that the story presented in volume one is fully resolved. Once again, decompressed storytelling gets in the way of a collected edition feeling like a complete arc.