Green Arrow #15
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Juan Ferreyra
Lettering by Nate Piekos
Published by DC Comics
'Rama Rating: 7 out of 10
The notion of consequences has a deep history in the Green Arrow corner of the DCU. The meditative opening of chapter four in the “Emerald Outlaw” arc necessarily recalls the 1972’s “The Killing of an Archer,” tempered by the thematically similar fallout from Mike Grell’s The Longbow Hunters. The weight of the world is on Oliver Queen’s shoulders at the start of this issue, with the near-death of a reporter on his conscience at the vigilante crew calling themselves the Vice Squad terrorizing Seattle’s underworld.
The lightly-plotted issue vacillates between an angsty Ollie and the aforementioned squad bringing their own brand of justice. On a broad level, Percy is setting up a dichotomy of the "right" and "wrong" side of street justice, using the classic trope of a violent vigilante to show what the ultimate ramifications of the hero’s actions could be. Think of the relationship between Daredevil and Punisher - it’s easy for us to "forgive" the darkness in Ollie when faced with the darker option, but it also highlights the thin green line that separates costumed superheroes from psychopaths.
Some of Perry’s didactic leanings creep back into this issue, the kind we haven’t seen since his pre-"Rebirth" issues. The leader of the Vice Squad, for example, takes time out from shooting inmates to inform anyone who will listen that “Every inmate costs an average of 31,000 dollars a year to keep here.” A mayoral candidate is described as a “man-child running…on a platform of hate and fear.” It’s probably no coincidence the issue comes out in the same week as the U.S. presidential inauguration. It’s a far cry from discussions around Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon or Malthusian population checks that peppered past issues, but it is illustrative of the willful relevancy that Percy injects into his comics work.
Returning artist Juan Ferreyra’s art is something of an acquired taste in this issue. On the one hand there’s the violence of the attacks, including a close-up of a bloody headshot and gleeful gunplay. It’s coupled with some terrific action sequences involving Black Canary, speedlining her way onto the top of an armored vehicle and sonic screeching her way in through a constantly moving set of panels. Yet on the other hand there’s a full page spread of a semi-clad Canary cradling a shirtless Ollie that looks like it was inspired by soft-core fan art, the kind of page that will be popping up in Tumblr feeds until the end of time. Ferreyra's strengths are in his action-oriented layouts and unreal colors, with the whole issue bathed in an appropriate soft green glow.
Much of the issues appears to be a long setup for the return of a familiar character on the final page. It’s heralded by a full-page glory shot of the character spouting their new codename, a wonderfully impactful moment that would have even more power if Percy hadn’t used the exact motif to announce the arrival of the "new" Merlyn last issue. Even so, Percy and his rotating art teams continue to provide a classic version of Green Arrow, even if it’s a little too "greatest hits" at times.