Review: Green Arrow #43 – “The Night Birds Part 3: The Hood”

Green Arrow #43 (DC Comics) - 2015

Ben Percy’s first arc comes to an end. Does it make a bulls-eye or miss the target?

Green Arrow #43 (2015)

Green Arrow #43 (DC Comics) - 2015

Writer: Benjamin Percy

Artists: Patrick Zircher, Gabe Eltaeb

Letterer: Rob Leigh

PublisherDC Comics

Rating: 7/10

More info

Green Arrow is not a character that is awfully hard to get right, although he has undergone many changes in the last 75 years. Since the relaunch of the New 52, he’s proven to be a character that is incredibly easy to get wrong as well. Yet Benjamin Percy’s first arc, which reaches its conclusion with this issue, has restored much of what we love about the character: his Mike Grell era ties to Seattle, Denny O’Neill’s social conscience, and the reformation of a “Team Arrow” thanks to television influences. So it’s curious to see an issue that gets incredibly close to that classic pastiche of Green Arrow, without actually fully sticking the landing.

The issue opens with a Seattle without a Green Arrow, as the city cowers under the gaze of the Panopticon drones. It would have been nice to see this concept continue for a few issues, with the hero having been captured by Mr. Zimm, giving us a chance to see what a world without Ollie would look like. However, Percy allows Emiko to step up to the plate for the first time since Jeff Lemire’s run, and her dialogue and wolfy companion is exactly what we want to see in a “Speedy” analogue. Her casual domination of helper Henry Fyff not only speaks to her strength as a character, but also to the awkwardness of continually squeezing in the “tech guy” trope since the relaunch of the book in 2011.

Percy continues to take us through a course in first year political science, introducing Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon last month, while having the villain espousing Malthusian population checks this issue. This philosophy is never really challenged by the hero or the villain, with a rapid series of action sequences and surprising twists in the fate of co-conspirators taking their place. While we can appreciate that Percy wanted to bring his initial arc to a rapid conclusion, but the fate of the mysterious albino – and indeed Zimm’s grandiose Bond villain-style revelations about the nature of his plans – are mere panels apart. As Ollie contemplates the orca whales, there’s the sudden realisation that the story is over.

Green Arrow #43 (DC Comics) - Artist: Patrick Zircher

As with the first issue, Green Arrow is largely removed from the picture, and artist Patrick Zircher gets to spend some time on developing the other characters. His action scenes with Emiko are truly dynamic, and the darker and muted shades of Gabe Eltaeb suit this world. From the opening shots, a city deflated by the drone patrols is dealt with in sombre tones and heavy shadows. The latter works best in Zimm’s tunnels, where shadowplay creates a sinister atmosphere. Later, a limb-ripping piece of violence relies on speed-lines and silhouette, and effective way of keeping the graphic nature of the deed in the same tone.

Despite some minor misgivings, GREEN ARROW is heading in the right direction under Percy. Free from the burden of another globe-trotting adventure, and delightfully free of blonde triplets, this grounded approach is where Ollie should be, and here’s hoping Percy stays on this course long enough to give us some status quo. References to the Tacoma light rail and killer whales are no more on the nose than Grell’s lingering shots of the Pike Markets, and it is to Grell that Percy appears to look when he approaches this character. This can only be a good thing, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for the next arc.

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