Christmas Colors and it’s January

Benjamin Percy (W), Juan Ferrara (A and C)

Cover by Juan Ferrara

Publisher: DC Comics

Price: $2.99

          I’ve been going back on forth on this book. It’s brilliant at times, but it misses the mark a fair bit as well (ironically). I absolutely love Green Arrow, as I’ve gone over before. However, he has had shaky books since Dan Jurgens left the book towards the beginning of the New 52. Jurgens’ work was phenomenal, and I really wish he had stuck with the comic book. Jeff Lemire did do some cool things with the Emerald Archer, and he actually made Count Vertigo a genuinely interesting and threatening rogue. However, the Outsider War story was a very contrived and underwhelming. The Richard Dragon story arc was cool too, but its ending left a lot to be desired. I won’t go into Kreisberg and Solowski’s bit on the book. I will say that they had me excited when they brought Hal Jordan in for an issue. The Green and the Green were united once again.

Benjamin Percy is probably the best writer to take on the Emerald Archer since Jurgens, but even he has had some fairly weak issues. Rebirth seems to have invigorated him, and he has given more personality and energy to the book since the beginning of this initiative. I’ve decided to subscribe to this book once more after the thoroughly fantastic “Murder on the Empire Express” story arc. This was done at the expense of Nightwing. I’m sorry Dick Grayson, but Ollie Queen is just a little closer to my heart. Not to mention that no matter how genuinely good a Percy Green Arrow comic is, it’s always memorable. See also his story from before Rebirth where put together a story that used lycanthropy as an AIDS metaphor.

Green Arrow is currently in the middle of its “Emerald Outlaw” story, and Seattle has completely turned on Ollie Queen. His company has been taken by a fascist elite. The police are out to get him. Malcom Merlin, the Dark Archer, has returned to Seattle and has been framing Green Arrow for a number of murders and attacks.

This issue begins with Ollie visiting a reporter who was badly wounded by the Dark Archer. He feels guilty for the people who have been hurt because of him, but he resolves to keep going.

We cut to a police precinct lockup, and the inmates suddenly get gassed and corralled by the “Vice Squad.” They are led by Sergeant Notting, a vicious police officer who was stopped from beating a small-time dealer to death by Green Arrow. Chief Westberg and a few other officers attempt to intervene.

We return to Ollie questioning if he’s doing the right thing. Black Canary visits, reassures him, and they presumably have a romantic rendezvous. Before things get too steamy, we return to Notting and the Vice Squad gunning down a number of inmates in front of Westberg and the other officers. We next see Arrow and Canary being informed by Diggle about the situation at the lockup.

Westberg finally intervenes and takes out one of Notting’s men before they can kill anymore. A firefight ensues, and Notting’s people retreat. As they get into their armored vehicle, arrows start falling on the Vice Squad from an unknown archer. Westberg’s police chase after Notting, and Black Canary lands on the hood of Vice’s armored car and lets out her Canary Cry. The car still almost hits Westberg, and Green Arrow tackles him out of the way.

Despite all of this, Vice Squad manages to get the upper hand, but, before Notting can kill Ollie, an arrow goes through his arm. More fall, and Vice Squad retreats. The source is revealed to be Emiko, now calling herself the Red Arrow. The comic ends with this dramatic reveal.

This was definitely one of this series’ better issues. It provides a great climax to the story of Notting and his jack-booted police officers. It doesn’t bring an end to this story, but it progresses it in an exciting way.

The tender moment between Ollie and Dinah was pretty sweet, and the conflict between Westberg, a more by-the-books police chief, and Notting, a borderline Gestapo, is enthralling. It also keeps the book from falling into the trap of making police officers into the straw man of this story, this being a tale clearly charged by the police shootings that popped up in abundance last year.

All of this being said, this story is clearly not ending anytime soon. That’s a little disappointing, as I am definitely a proponent of shorter or even one-issue stories popping up in comics more often. Black Panther’s Wakandan democratic revolution story manages to except itself by justifying its great length with brilliant writing and gradually rising stakes.

The return of Emiko as the new Red Arrow was a pretty cool reveal. A part of me wanted it to be Roy Harper, but, given his role on the Titans and his relationship with Green Arrow in the New 52, it wouldn’t have really made sense to have been Arsenal.

I cannot overstate how fantastic Ferrara’s artwork is in this comic. This book is absolutely gorgeous. The colors are composed on something of a gradient, giving them depth and individuality. The visual style of the penciling adds to the noir-esque atmosphere of this tale. It helps the comic look like its constantly in motion. I love the way this comic looks, and I hope Ferrara sticks around for a long time.

This was a very solid book. The quality of this series has been pretty mercurial, but it often manages to be better than it is bad, if that makes sense. It is often very politically charged, and it errs on the side of my bleeding-heart sensibilities. That being said, it could…agitate people with other sentiments. However, this particular tale plays it a lot more subtly than previous issues, and, well, I don’t personally know anyone who would advocate wholesale execution of incarcerated individuals. I’m sure they exist, but I’m not worried about their political fee-fees.

I recommend this book. It’s action-packed, character-driven, and thoughtfully put together. I like it a lot, and I’m sure you will too.

Final Score: 8/10

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