WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS up to Green Arrow #38
With Green Arrow #38, writer Benjamin Percy has closed the door on a chapter in Oliver Queen’s story that will be remembered, not only as one of the best Green Arrow runs of all time, but as the series that set the gold standard for DC Comics’ Rebirth.
The company-wide initiative which restarted most of DC Comics’ monthly comic book series in 2016 was intended to take various characters (many of whom had been weakened in DC’s New 52) and get them “back to basics.” And few characters were as badly in need of such a rebirth as Oliver Queen (a.k.a. The Green Arrow).
When The New 52 reset occurred, Oliver Queen’s life was a shambles following the Fall of Green Arrow storyline, having been largely abandoned by his family and friends. The new universe established Oliver Queen as a Tony Stark/Steve Jobs figure, and CEO of Q-Core, a tech firm responsible for such devices as the Q-Phone and Q-Pad. This conceit was quickly forgotten, as writer J.T. Krul quit the title before the first issue had been released. The creative team on the series changed three times within its first year, only finding stability when Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took over with Green Arrow #17.
Related: The Complete History of Green Arrow
Their run was critically acclaimed, but drew some criticism from long-time Green Arrow fans who felt it took liberties with certain elements of the classic mythology (and expanded it in some shocking ways). It was also easy to see the comic’s direction suffering from efforts to force the Arrow TV show into the comics, in a bid to make them more accessible to fans of the show.
Benjamin Percy set about restoring the classic elements of Green Arrow from the very beginning with Green Arrow: Rebirth #1. This introductory issue saw Oliver Queen teaming up with Dinah Lance (a.k.a. Black Canary) to take on a group of human traffickers preying on the homeless population of Seattle. It would immediately plant the seeds for reestablishing the romance between the two first introduced in the 1970s. The issue also established Green Arrow as a political figure, involving real-world problems which had been absent for the better part of a decade.
Not to mention calling on artists Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra and others to give the Green Arrow book its own visual style – setting it apart from the rest of DC’s books while its hero charted a similarly singular course.
Percy’s run would see the romance between Green Arrow and Black Canary blossom, even as Percy retold the tale of how Oliver Queen lost his family fortune and reinvented himself as a Robin Hood for the 21st Century. While working to round out previously ill-defined characters like Emiko Queen (Oliver Queen’s half-sister, who became the vigilante Red Arrow) and a new version of The Clock King, Percy also restored certain classic elements of the Green Arrow mythology abandoned in the wake of The New 52.
This included a revised origin for Oliver Queen’s first partner in crime-fighting, Roy “Arsenal” Harper, and the return of classic villains like the mercenary Eddie Fyers. Percy’s run also saw Oliver Queen restored to a position of respect in the DC Universe at large, being offered a place in the Justice League!
With Green Arrow #38 , Benjamin Percy has placed the capstone on a monument toward how to rebuild a classic concept from the ground up. The final issue goes beyond tidying up all the on-going story-lines, acting as a coda that shows us just how much of a difference Oliver Queen has made in his efforts to save his city and its people over the last two years.
Fittingly, the final issue closes with an image that mirrors the cover of its first issue – a close-up on Green Arrow’s face. This time, however, Green Arrow’s face offers a wide, defiant grin, as if the smiling swashbuckler were offering challenge to every fat-cat Nazi in need of punching who dares to think that social justice warriors won’t fight back.
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