A new arc takes a turn for the supernnatural in yet another narrative twist for the Emerald Archer.
Benjamin Percy concluded his first arc on GREEN ARROW last month, and while the denoument may have been prematurely reached, it came with a reassuring callback to the tone and setting of Mike Grell’s era of the urban hunter. As Percy launches into the next phase of his tenure with the battling bowman, he uses the grounded tone he established in his first three issues to bring us something a little darker, making good on the promise of a Green Arrow tale with a horror twist.
As has been the case since the book was rebooted in 2011, this new arc comes with another tonal shift, albeit one that is right up Percy’s alley. As Ollie settles into life in Seattle with Kyra, he finds himself at a familiar crossroads. “My history isn’t safe for her,” he muses. “Love isn’t safe for me.” Taking us beneath the familiar Pike Place Markets, and the neon sign that opened The Longbow Hunters almost thirty years ago, Ollie and Kyra encounter a fortune teller who has a story to tell about Ollie’s dog. It’s a callback to the seer who previously warned him about the Night Birds, perhaps indicating that Percy has planted seeds that have yet to fully blossom.
If the perpetual shifts in tone had one indentifiable problem, it was that each creator on the book had an idea of what they thought Green Arrow should be, rather than what he could be. The distinction is an important one, and Jeff Lemire’s back-to-basics approach came the closest to restoring much of the faith the character lost in the reboot. Percy also comes incrediby close in this issue too, capturing a spiritual realism that would not have been out of place in previous eras of the character. However, as he has done for much of his run to date, Percy mostly keeps Green Arrow out of the picture, once again focusing on Oliver Queen outside the costume. More than that, much of this issue concentrates on the background of George the wolfdog, recalling elements of Grell’s ‘Coyote Tears’ and ‘Spirit Quest’ stories from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Despite an absence of a green-clad vigilante for entire issues, Percy’s committment to a sense of place makes this one of the most authentic Green Arrow books of the last few years.
Zircher brings these scenes to life, the most striking of these being the confrontation between a powerful alpha wolf and the hunter who battled him with an ancient weapon. Yet it has been consistently the small details from the art team that have given this GREEN ARROW a foreboding feel, from the heavy use of shadow and muted color scheme of Seattle, to the photographic way that Zircher stages his action sequences.
GREEN ARROW #44 is mostly a prelude issue, albeit one that delivers some powerful scenes in the anticipation of the story to come. The addition of an unexpected ally in the final pages comes as a pleasing twist, and the addition of this character may raise some eyebrows who still haven’t quite come to terms with her actions with another hero a decade ago. Once again, Percy leaves us pointed in the right direction, and now we patiently wait a month to see if his aim is true.
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