Green Arrow #2
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Otto Schmidt
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by DC Comics
Review by Richard Gray
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
“My job,” explains a construction worker to Oliver Queen, the latter of whom is on the verge of losing everything, is “getting rid of the old, making room for the new.” Writer Benjamin Percy has been tasked with exactly the opposite role in the rebirthed Green Arrow, slowly chipping away the vestiges of the "New 52" and restoring elements to the character that could be called “classic.” Yet he has done so over the last two issues in such a way that feels entirely fresh, even if it is borrowing concepts that have been in the character’s history for decades.
The resolution of last issue’s cliffhanger is swift, and briefly ambiguous, but it conclusively restores Shado to the current continuity. If there was ever any doubt that Percy was deep-dish diving straight into Mike Grell’s longbow quiver, then the vision of Ollie tumbling in a fever dream filled with dragons and angels will sharply recall that era. Otto Schmidt’s glorious and quotation of both Grell and some of Ed Hannigan’s artwork, using iconic imagery that knowingly references the “Here There Be Dragons” arc, is faithful to both the character and an exciting direction for the book. The new information in this issue is all about Diggle and a cult group using a spiral symbol of the levels of hell, combining this historical perspective with Percy’s own horror leanings.
What Percy achieves in this issue is two-fold. On the one hand, these literate references to Ollie’s history are intended to summon past goodwill and play it into a modern context: and it works. The notion of Ollie being pushed up against the wall and losing everything is nothing new to the character, and even Jeff Lemire’s urban hunter did the same to the character when he took over as recently as 2013. What we are yet to see is how this version of Ollie will deal with the crisis, one that has very few connections outside of his costumed life. The other thing Percy makes clear is that Green Arrow should very much be called Green Arrow/Black Canary, with Ollie’s storyline alternating with Dinah’s investigations.
Otto Schmidt’s artistic take continues to both refreshing and visually dynamic. An early shot of a seemingly dying Ollie Queen laying in a boat is framed by a vessel that is sleekly stylized to seem as though it’s a grim skull floating across inky-black waters. His figures are lithe, and while he might visually reference earlier artists, there is no question that Schmidt’s style is unique to his version. He primarily gets to explore Ollie out of costume this issue, save for a few shots in character, but these moments are offset by a giant ship that looks more like a vehicle from Tron. This versatility is matched in the color work, used effectively to split the tonal differences between the characters as they come into sharper focus.
Now that he has settled in this revived version of Oliver Queen, Percy is beginning to lean on his wider influence once again. While the main source of antagonism is another shadow group, the not-too-subtle references to Dante Alighieri’s Inferno make for some interesting illusions to Ollie’s current downward spiral. More encouraging is that this time around, Percy has balanced the difficult task of putting an existing character into a new environment, but managing to balance the tensions between the old and new.