Review: Green Arrow #1

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I don’t usually read a comic twice. Outside of the dense mythology of something like Kieron Gillen’s The Wicked and the Divine, most books are simple enough to understand in one go. Green Arrow #1, however, made me go back to page one the moment I got to the end. That’s not to suggest that writer Benjamin Percy has suddenly turned the book into a complex allegory, but the end of the issue is so surprising, you’ll want to flip back through the previous pages to look for clues.

Before we get to that, though, let’s start at the beginning. After flirting and teaming up in Green Arrow Rebirth #1, Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance a.k.a. Black Canary are hot on the trail of the human trafficking ring they promised to take down. They’ve also brought along Oliver’s half-sister Emiko to shoot a few arrows and trade witty banter. However, after listening to about 2 minutes of their adversarial repartee, Emiko tells them to get a room already—which they promptly do. That may seem a little fast considering these two basically just met, but Percy clearly has no patience for that slow-burn crap. Neither, it seems, do Oliver and Dinah. Sure these two may have felt the touch of destiny the first time they saw each other, but the fact that she obliquely brings up children and he wants to make things more than casual is a little much given their romantic histories.

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Speaking of, Oliver gets a taste of Dinah’s history after she sings the Black Canary song “Blackbird” and then uses the lyrics to hint at her commitment issues. The moment is heavy-handed for sure, but Percy just about gets away with it because Dinah’s former band and its music are almost a character in this issue. From Emiko’s uncharacteristic fangirling to the moment when Oliver walks in on his secretary Wendy playing “Blackbird” mere moments after Dinah tells him she needs space, it’s a smart storytelling device that establishes how famous Black Canary is while simultaneously reminding Oliver of the new woman in his life—as well as her harsh words.

After watching him pay off the cops, Dinah points out that Oliver’s only relationship that doesn’t rely on his wealth is the one he shares with Emiko. And though Oliver tries to convince her of his goodness with a motorcycle tour of the Queen family’s charitable contributions, she’s right to point out that Oliver’s been pretty irresponsible if Queen Industries was involved in the human trafficking ring without his knowledge. The major flaw of superhero characters who are also owners of major corporations is that they always seem to think indulging their adolescent hero fantasies is more important than actually running their powerful businesses, but that’s simply not true. Oliver needs to question his priorities and figure out what kind of hero he wants to be.

However, he’ll have to figure out what the hell happened with Emiko first. When Oliver’s half-sister first showed up, she was a bit of a humorless hardass. Over the last year, however, she’s become an integral part of the story, reminding Oliver of his humanity and pushing him to think of someone other than himself. So it was unnerving and somewhat baffling to see her shoot Oliver through the chest out of nowhere. Her final line to her mother Shado suggests her time with Oliver has been one long con, but it’s frankly a little difficult to buy the idea that she’s just been hanging around and hating every minute on the off chance she ever needed to take Oliver out. There hasn’t been quite enough antagonism or mistrust between them to sell that—or maybe there has. Perhaps I need to look farther back than just the beginning of the issue for clues.

Rating: 8/10

By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to.