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Green Arrow: “The Death & Life of Oliver Queen” (DC Comics, 2016; #1-5, Rebirth #1)

Hey, look!  It’s our first Rebirth title!  I’m just quivering in anticipation.

Get it, quivering?  (Don’t judge me.  Yesterday’s entry was in rhyme and you came back for more.  Whose fault is that?)

The new volume of Green Arrow sees Oliver back in Seattle, where he teams up with Black Canary to investigate an underground slave-trading ring.  This marks the first significant* encounter between Ollie and Dinah since Flashpoint—this is an important element of Rebirth’s efforts bring back the relationships and legacy that The New 52 had lacked; and Percy makes the pair’s relationship feel old-hat while still being something new and strange for the two.

Character and relationship are the driving forces behind this volume of Green Arrow—not only in terms of Ollie and Dinah, but also Emiko (who I can’t get enough of; I really hope Percy will eventually bring her into Teen Titans as part of that team as well), Shado, and others.  When characters come into the story later, they still feel like they have history and baggage with the Green Arrow, even if you don’t get the specifics of that relationship right away.  

I appreciate this focus on character, given that I’m feeling a little fatigue around the idea of Oliver being presumed dead and resourceless.  Percy handles those elements well though; and it makes sense to tie in to Green Arrow’s traditional themes of death and resurrection for a line-wide initiative called Rebirth.  By the third or fourth issue of the series, the conflict with The Ninth Circle had me hooked despite my initial misgivings.  In fact, their absolute glut of resources makes Oliver’s lack thereof feel more earned and interesting than I expected.

Schmidt and Ferreyra share art duties on this book, with each coloring his own work.  It’s an interesting pairing of artists; their styles are not unalike, but do have differences that make the handoff between them noticeable.  However, similarities in their page layouts, color palettes, and the angularity of their figures provides cohesion between the two styles; where Schmidt’s pages are cleaner, with sharper features and tighter focus, Ferreyra’s are more textured, with an exaggerated sense of color and light.  Ferreyra also handles the larger, set-piece action sequences (and does so well), although I suspect that that is just a result of the division of labor (Schmidt draws the first half of the arc, Ferreyra the last).  

When Rebirth started, this was one of the first books I decided to skip in single issues, specifically because the first beats of this story were too familiar for my taste.  In that, I think I represent the hardest case to recommend this book.  But if you haven’t read Green Arrow in a while or don’t mind that this book starts from a similar place to some of the character’s other stories, then I don’t have a hard time recommending it at all.  And having finished the first arc now myself, I’m on board with the series and can’t wait for more.

*They met at New 52 Superman’s funeral, but I believe that was the only other time they’ve crossed paths.

Collected in

  • Green Arrow, Vol. 1: The Death & Life of Oliver Queen (#1-5, Rebirth #1)
  • Amazon has listings for as-yet unsolicited hardcover collections of the first two volumes of a few Rebirth titles; Green Arrow isn’t one of them at the moment, but it is not impossible that it might receive the same treatment.


Writer: Benjamin Percy | Artists: Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra | Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot | Covers: Juan Ferreyra


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