Green Arrow #6
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Stephen Byrne
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
Much of Benjamin Percy’s Green Arrow run to date, especially since DC’s "Rebirth," has been occupied with restoring a “classic” version of Ollie to the page. So it’s great to see that he has not thrown the baby out with the bathwater this week and uses this issue to focus on Emiko, one of the more compelling creations of the "New 52: era. The shift in pace and tone is not just a welcome one, but indicative of the versatility of the extended family that has been carefully constructed around the Emerald Archer.
Told entirely from the perspective of Ollie’s half-sister Emiko, the dual narrative continues with the aftermath of the young archer’s attempts at playing double agent to Ollie and Shado. We also get an untold story of Emi’s encounter with the Billy Tockman version of the Clock King, one that shows the differences between the two heroes as much as it shows the bond they also share. Neither the flashback nor the current events end conclusively, so Percy is effectively setting us up for the continuing second arc of "Rebirth" within the guise of this “fill-in” issue.
The structure of this book might cause concerns for fans of the Arrow television series, which has become a little undone by the perpetual and increasingly random flashbacks. However, Percy uses it here as a platform for showcasing a hitherto unexplored character. The voice over, distinctively framed in red, is Emiko’s alone, allowing us to view this pocket of the DCU through the eyes of one of its newest members. It’s a clever trick, as the Ollie/Shado saga was arguably played out by the fourth or fifth of Grell’s original “Dragon” arcs back in the 1980s and 1990s, and here Percy offers a point of difference to his re-exploration of the characters. In the same fashion, Tockman goes from being a one-note joke character to something far more uncomfortable.
Stephen Byrne tackles art duties for the month, and the results are gorgeous. Reminiscent of the energy that Karl Kerschl provided Gotham Academy, Byrne presents character models that could have stepped straight out of high-quality animation. Emiko is the right mix of youthful and ageless, and despite skills beyond her years, but her facial expression classically comical and full of teenage expression. Byrne’s color’s provide a natural texture to the sequences, and the panels that take place inside Tockman’s shop have a beautiful golden glow of dawn about them. Conversely, the present day is shrouded in a purple hue of dusk for an effective juxtaposition.
While the titular Green Arrow takes a back seat this issue, it also means that Emiko finally gets to step up into the limelight and be something more than just a plot device or sidekick. Indeed, Percy and Byrne make an incredible case for her as a solo character, or at least being part of a thematic crossover with the aforementioned Gotham Academy or Batgirl. More to the point, it underlines the wider push of Percy’s run: bringing in Black Canary and other characters to craft something closer to the Team Arrow we once knew, but leaving his own distinctive mark on the title in the process.