Needles and Arrows
Benjamin Percy (W), Eleonora Carlini, Mirka Andolfo (A), Arif Prianto, H-Fi (C)
Cover by Otto Schmidt
Publisher: DC Comics
You know, the world is a really controversial place right now. It seems like very little can be discussed without it turning into a ravenous argument. We all really need to chill out. That’s why, today, we are going to be talking about the least controversial comic book in the world, Green Arrow by Benjamin Percy.
I’m being facetious of course. Look, I’ve always kind of worn my liberal leanings on my sleeve. Green Arrow has historically been a very left-aligned character, and Benjamin Percy has had no qualms about stepping right into the middle of things. This comic, ironically like another archer-led book right now, Occupy Avengers, is dealing with the Dakota Access Pipeline/Standing Rock Reservation dispute. I do get the other side of this argument, but I just don’t think a few more theoretical jobs is worth further encroaching on Native American territory and wrecking our environment even more. This comic definitely seems to agree with me there. That being said, if you want to duck out now to avoid political discussion, feel free to do so.
I like my comic books dealing with controversial issues. I think art should help us discuss and come to terms with the difficult things in life, even when the art centers around people in tights and capes. However, I do understand that comic books are meant to be a form of escapism for many people, so they don’t want to hear about these topics in their preferred medium of escape. I can totally get that.
The previous issue established the premise of this story. Roy Harper aka Arsenal has returned to Washington state to join up with a tribe of Native Americans to protest an oil pipeline being driven right through their homeland. The law enforcement pulled out of the area and were replaced with militaristic vigilantes who want to see the pipeline go through. Arsenal comes to the aid of the protestors much to the leader’s chagrin, the leader being Bird, a man with a past linked to Roy Harper’s childhood. We get a lot of scenes of Roy’s history with Ollie mixed in with the story of the present. At the end of the comic, Green Arrow comes to their aid as well. Roy is not pleased about that.
In the new issue, an open conflict has exploded between the protestors and the vigilantes, a group known as the Wild Dogs. Arsenal and Green Arrow are helping the protestors, and Bird gets wounded by buckshot. When things seem to be turning grim, Black Canary comes to the scene and bails out the feuding archers.
The story cuts to a brief flashback of Ollie and Roy fighting Count Vertigo for the first time. Even then, Ollie is giving Roy hell over every little thing. He is particularly frustrated with Roy’s trick arrow inventions that keep winding up in his quiver.
In the present, the protestors and our heroes are licking their wounds after the day’s showdown. Bird is angry over what is happening, and he is not happy about accepting the help of GA, Arsenal, and Black Canary. However, he still acquiesces to let them aid the fight against the Wild Dogs.
Black Canary talks to Roy and convinces him to go easier on Ollie. Meanwhile, Ollie is watching press coverage of the protest situation, and he figures out that his company is bankrolling the Wild Dogs.
Roy gets some alone time with Bird, and we figure out what their family feud is over. Bird blames Roy for killing their father, and it seems that he may indeed have been responsible due to a drinking binge.
We get another flashback to the times of Green Arrow and Speedy. Ollie returns to his penthouse after an extended vacation in Las Vegas. He sees the place is filled with teens and twenty-somethings having a party. He goes into his bedroom to see Roy passed out with a girl. He throws out everyone except Roy and proceeds to chew him out, calling him a “A loser, a burden, a mistake.” Roy leaves of his own choice after that.
Back in the present, Ollie tells Dinah about his company’s involvement with the Wild Dogs. The two meet up with Arsenal and decide to fight this thing together.
We next get scenes of the pipeline being built interspersed with scenes of Roy taking heroin in the past. Then Green Arrow, Black Canary, and Arsenal reach the construction site with the intent of bringing it to a halt. The comic ends with this scene.
I’m glad we are finally getting an explanation as to what the history between Ollie and Roy is in the new status quo of the New 52/Rebirth. I always thought they had one of the most interesting relationships between any hero and sidekick. They’ve retconned it a bit so that Green Arrow and Speedy always had a struggling partnership, but I think that’s fitting given how it ended.
The bad blood between the two is really compelling. Ollie was just as much of a screw-up as Roy was, and you really feel for both of them. They’re both trying to do better now, and Black Canary plays a good mediator between them.
I dig the conflict quite a bit with the Wild Dogs. Again, I’m a bleeding-heart, so this stuff appeals to me. However, the villains are evil enough so that there is at least a genuine cause for the heroes to get involved.
I love the art in this too. Carlini and Andolfo make a beautiful and stylized comic with great action scenes, and the color makes it all pop even more.
The attempted parallels between the past and the present seems a little off. It’s contextualizing the strife between Ollie and Roy, but it also seems to be trying to compare the two situations in a different manner by pairing the scenes of Roy’s drug use with the construction of the pipeline. Maybe they are both destroying the environment’s that they’re in? If that’s the intent, then it’s a little trite.
Beyond that, the flashbacks do a good job of not railroading the story too much. That is mostly because they are relevant to what is happening in the present in terms of Ollie and Roy, so it doesn’t feel like a waste of time or space.
On the whole, this was a damn good comic book. The character conflicts are compelling, the action is fun, and it’s just a generally good time. If you can get into a politically-charged super hero story like I can, then this is definitely for you.
Final Score: 8/10