Review by Karl Verhoven
In 1995 DC killed Oliver Queen to replace him as Green Arrow with his son Connor. It took them six whole years to realise Connor was dull, at which point they turned to Kevin Smith. He was then an independent film maker with a string of successes, and a known comic fan responsible for the excellent Daredevil story Guardian Devil. Quiver is a revival founded on a mystery and carried out to high standards over ten episodes.
Several aspects mark this as a departure, but the most immediate is Phil Hester as artist. In 2001 there was still a rigid demarcation line between the cartooning applied to series based on animation and the ‘realistic’ style of standard superhero comics. With its stylised theme, Hester’s art is far nearer cartooning, yet effective use of shadow gives it a necessary darkness, and his cameo page of Sandman makes you wonder what he could have done with that character.
Before reintroducing Oliver, Smith takes us around his friends, constructing him via their impressions and knowledge, catching up with their current circumstances and only then presenting the ragged figure seen in the sample art. The preceding page is also clever, seemingly inconsequential, but with clues as to what happens later. The joyful gimmick around which Smith hangs much of his plot is that Oliver doesn’t realise he’s been dead, pitched beautifully as he meets his former Justice League colleagues: “My death? I don’t know. What am I supposed to say to that? Hopefully it’s years off”. Fortunately Stanley Dover, seen on the sample pages, is a very wealthy old man, suitably grateful for being rescued and able to finance Green Arrow. He’s not the only character introduced in passing for whom a larger role awaits. Mia Dearden is a delight.
Smith transfers personality defining dialogue from the movies, if occasionally running over. Time and again he just nails people as he takes Oliver on a tour of the DC universe. It’s easy enough to create an Aquaman as we don’t have an inner voice for him, but his Batman, Superman and Demon are spot on, and there are dozens of clever references for hardcore superhero fans to pick up on.
As Quiver is about how and why Green Arrow has returned from the dead, after he’s had his fun and given us ours, Smith ultimately has to provide an answer, and this is where most revivals disappoint. They pass muster because we’re generally glad to have the character back, but Smith hits the jackpot with an explanation that’s touching, humane and spiritual, and also true to who Oliver is. A two chapter epilogue isn’t as satisfying. It’s a form of closure, but despite being necessary to the overall story, a natural progression of the groundwork laid and a clever twisting of a long forgotten DC feature the mood switches from joyful to sinister, and much explanation is required for it to make sense.
Smith continued on Green Arrow for a further story, Sounds of Violence, and Hester for considerably longer, but Quiver is the gold standard. Alternatively both Smith/Hester collaborations are united as Green Arrow by Kevin Smith.