It’s a new era for Green Arrow! A new creative team, a new direction, and a new villain! We saw Oliver survive a court of law but can even he survive the court of public opinion?
GREEN ARROW (2016) #43 “Citizen’s Arrest Part 1: Model Citizen”
Writer: Julie & Shawna Benson
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Cover Artist: Alex Maleev; variant by Kaare Andrews
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letters: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC COMICS
What You Need to Know:
It’s a new day in the saga of Green Arrow. In the wake of No Justice, Oliver has been entrusted with a box that can stop the Justice League if the need ever arises, his wealth and company have been restored, and his relationships are closer than they’ve been since pre-Flashpoint. With everything coming up Queen, Ollie has turned his attentions back to dealing with social injustices.
What You’ll Find Out:
After rescuing a family from certain death at the hands of a greedy slumlord, Oliver goes about the business of checking in on most of the current state of his life. At Queen Industries, Kate Spencer scolds Ollie over the expensive repercussions of his social justice agenda. At home, living in a lower-class neighborhood instead of a high-rise, Ollie adjusts to life with his new housemate, Dinah. Dinah and Ollie meet Roy for a chili taste test and check in with each other, as family sometimes does. Everything seems to going mostly well for the Green Arrow family.
Until a viral video interrupts lunch. An Anonymous-esque figure calling itself The Citizen appears, offering to judge the corrupt 1% of Star City and bring them to justice, starting with this morning’s slumlord. The natural progression plays out, in which The Citizen returns with the man captured and bound in a guillotine, demanding that the “court of public opinion” judge whether he lives or dies. By the time Ollie and Dinah arrive, the public at large have chosen the latter and the man is executed. The Citizen broadcasts his next target: Oliver Queen.
What Just Happened?
Starting with the art, Fernandez does a great job here with layouts in almost the exact opposite way of my critique of the previous arc’s artist. Here, when Fernandez toys with a stylized layout, it is in service to the narrative—substance over style. In terms of artistic style, I found the art on the backgrounds magnificent, but the characters themselves somewhat inconsistent. There almost appears to be a tonal shift from scene to scene in which the detail fluctuates between a minimalist style with clean lines and a rougher but more detailed style. It is very possible that the shifts are intentional. It doesn’t really need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway… both covers are absolutely stunning.
Shifting focus to the narrative, we see a few interesting threads being pulled at here. The actual structure of the narrative was straight-forward and, quite honestly, predictable. It certainly has the trappings of the first issue of a run, in which we check in on the status quo for the characters in multiple phases of their lives and then introduce a new threat. In this case, the threat is a relatively common trope of a rogue agent broadcasting its own take on “justice” and asking society at large to participate. One interesting twist put into this particular iteration of the story is the use of the term “Social Justice Warriors” and the juxtaposition between social justice and murder. SJW comes charged with numerous connotations, and Julie and Shawna seem primed to explore both the positives and negatives that come with a court of public opinion and the sweeping impact of the digital age on notions of justice, which should prove interesting.
Where the writing is at its strongest, though, is when it comes to inter-character relationships and dialogue. The internal struggle to trust Roy and Roy’s forthcoming admission that he has been struggling personally (another Heroes in Crisis Sanctuary mention), coupled with the blossoming relationship between Dinah and Oliver will likely be where this era of Green Arrow really shines.
Final Thought: It was a slower start than I expected, but that’s not a bad thing. I can see seeds being laid that show the potential for this story to grow and develop over time in a way that has almost been lost in modern comics, which is something I can absolutely appreciate. I do have a feeling that this run may read at its best as a binge-read, but time will tell. Tune in next month!
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