Review by Ian Keogh
Benjamin Percy’s run on Green Arrow always features interesting sequences, and has been blessed with some great artwork, but despite that it’s never made that leap into a compelling series, and the problems with it are apparent over this hardcover. It combines the paperback releases The Death and Life of Oliver Queen and Island of Scars, designed to reboot Green Arrow yet again.
Coming to comics with a respectable career as a novelist already in place, the first thing to be expected from Percy is a level of originality, but on that score he fails repeatedly. He inherited Green Arrow less than two years after Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino had produced a redefinition of Oliver Queen, transforming him from spoilt rich boy to hero with a social conscience very effectively. This featured a secret organisation with possible criminal connections and possible ties to the Queen family. So why did Percy spend so long on doing essentially the same thing, but not as well? With laughable villains. Also poor is ending a chapter attempting to con the readership that Green Arrow has been killed (again), and all too often when Percy is cooking with gas he’ll throw in something totally against the grain. The second main story is for the most part a decent action thriller if the coincidence of Green Arrow chancing on the villains is ignored, but at the end Percy needs to return him to the USA from a Pacific island. Fortunately the villains have built a railroad underneath the sea. How very Austin Powers!
Highlighting such faults perhaps isn’t fair when Percy has very good moments, such as restoring Black Canary to the series, and working well with Emi, but these are such glaring faults most writers wouldn’t have thought they could slip them past an audience. And why isn’t editor Andy Khouri picking these things up?
Much of the reason these stories are now being presented in an expensive hardcover edition is surely to do with the work of artists Otto Schmidt (sample art left) and Juan Ferreyra (sample right), both of whom produce stunning pages. The caveat is that if two artists have to be used for the series, less contrast between their styles would have been infinitely preferable. Schmidt begins as the class act that Ferreyra develops into as the series continues, working in a form of cartoon realism and very good with the dramatic character beats. Ferreyra isn’t as intuitive with these, but designs a fantastic looking page and moves the story along well, with a few stiff figures along the way. Both artists colour their work, and this is where the contrast is amplified, Schmidt opting for a dark and gloomy world while Ferreyra is brightness personified. Once past the midway point Stephen Byrne also comes on board, and is also very good, although edging closer to out and out cartooning.
When working with villains who’ve troubled Green Arrow in the past Percy is good, and his continuing work overall improves on what’s presented here, but the advice is not to make this a random purchase without checking it out first.