Family Reunions Are Tricky Business In Green Arrow #36

by Noah Sharma

Green Arrow has, in my opinion, been one of the biggest success stories of DC Rebirth. Not only has it demonstrated that new and yet classic feeling that Rebirth aimed to capture, but it’s made one of DC’s most profitable second-tier heroes into major hero after years of inconsistent writing and failed relaunches.

Everything that was great about Green Arrow #1 is still present in Green Arrow #36, however, as engaging as it all is, as much as I like them, I feel like I can’t be the only one who’s getting tired of the Ninth Circle.

Introduced in Green Arrow Rebirth #1, the Ninth Circle have been fairly directly behind every threat Oliver Queen has come up against for the last thirty-six issues and, as fantastic a concept as they are, it is starting to wear thin. A thirty-seven+ issue story is entitled to some twists and turns, but as Green Arrow has slowly collected his dead best friend’s father (who is also his mother’s lover), his father’s lover (who is also his sidekick’s mother), his mentor (who is also CEO of his company), and his own mother (who was thought dead but really isn’t), among others, one cannot deny that his story has gotten a little complicated.

Thankfully, Benjamin Percy signals the beginning of the climax this issue, bringing a necessary kick of perspective and significance to the events of this issue. In fact, this issue is actually largely made up of short scenes meant to put the players on what seem to be their final marks. Not that you’d know that reading it for the first time. Despite its practical goals, Green Arrow #36 still reads with excitement and polish.

Percy and artist Juan Ferreyra do a fantastic job of packing pages with content when necessary and making every one look beautiful no matter what’s on it. Almost every single page has a complex and brilliant layout to support Ferreyra’s gorgeous watercolor paintings and Percy’s coiling creeper plant narrative as it climbs towards its finale.

Admittedly, Percy’s habit towards puns and grand explicit pronouncements of the story’s themes are really getting the better of him this month, but, especially as we close in on the end of this epic, it’s easy to forgive that when he delivers such pointed writing. Scenes end with a palpable clack and much of the dialogue crackles with movie star charisma. The lines that don’t…well, they also feel a little like a blockbuster movie. There are lines that exist just to fill space that Ferreyra’s art already filled and plenty of familiar moments that, while inoffensive, feel like they’re just going through the motions to get us to the good stuff. Not to mention that Black Canary once again jobs in order to advance the tension of the story, something that always frustrates me, and Percy has generally been better about.

The art in this book remains superb. Sure, Ferreyra’s most dramatic panels can sometimes brush up against the uncanny valley, including one notable splash page where Dinah kinda looks like a zombie, but, besides a handful of exaggerated expressions, this is a notably strong issue of a gorgeous run. The colors remain stunning and Ferreyra shows off his use of textures, crafting subtle, and not so subtle, contrasts throughout the issue.

Ferreyra tells the story beautifully, dancing from panel to panel with enthusiasm and creativity. His panels can be achingly realistic or stunningly stylized, and occasionally they manage to be both at once. His understanding of sea life remains far more inspired by H.R. Giger than Richard Attenborough, but it proves, as do a number of other subjects throughout the book, that Ferreyra can draw horror every bit as well as he can beauty.

Green Arrow #36 is a transitional issue as Benjamin Percy prepares for the end of his epic first arc. It’s clear that this story has sagged a little towards the end and, even as Percy turns to consider the story laid out behind him and pull the series’ many plot threads taut, that still weighs upon the issue. Nonetheless, this issue is plainly still the work of a deeply talented creative team, with gorgeous art and writing that is both electric in its presence and impressively practical. While it’s chained down by the story’s sheer length and size, Green Arrow #36 never lets you forget why this has been one of Oliver Queen’s most successful incarnations and looks fantastic doing it.

Green Arrow #36 is currently available in comic shops from DC Comics.