Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Green Arrow #6 - A Review

I was not looking forward to Green Arrow #6. Indeed, I was prepared to outright loathe this issue. And the reason for that can be summed up in two words: Emiko Queen. I've made no secret of my antipathy for Emiko Queen since her first appearance during Jeff Lemire's run on Green Arrow. I don't like her for who she is as a character, being a cliche brat sidekick. More, I don't appreciate what she represents.

Emiko Queen is a living "Exhibit A" to everyone who has ever argued that Green Arrow is nothing more than a half-hearted Batman rip-off without an ounce of originality. For as Batman suddenly acquired a sidekick who was raised by a secretive order of assassins and trained from birth to destroy him, so too did Oliver Queen suddenly acquire a sidekick who was raised by a secretive order of assassins and trained from birth to destroy him. The only effective difference between Damian Wayne and Emiko Queen is their genders and the exact blood relationship between themselves and their mentors.

As such, after the cliffhanger ending of last month's issue of Green Arrow, I was ill-pleased that the fate of Green Arrow and Black Canary was going to be ignored in favor of a story focusing om Emiko. I couldn't think of anything I'd rather read less than a comic focused on Emiko Queen, with the possible exception of a sequel to Red Sonja: The Dark Tower. Imagine my surprise then, to find that Green Arrow #6 is not that bad.

In fact, it's pretty good.

In fact, it's almost as if Benjamin Percy had been reading my complaints about the character and said, "The dude has a point. I should do something to fix that." Because not only does Green Arrow #6 take steps to give Emiko an actual personality beyond "bratty assassin princess" - it also rectifies the various missteps Jeff Lemire made in handling both Shado and The Clock King!

I won't spoil the steps Percy takes with Shado and The Clock King in this issue beyond saying this. Those Mike Grell fans who complained about Shado's seemingly out-of-character behavior in the series so far will be gratified at some of the revelations contained in this issue. And Percy transforms Lemire's new take on The Clock King into a truly menacing criminal mastermind.

This is accomplished through two separate flashback tales, as Emiko tells her own story and of her desire to become her own person and quit being a tool of the various forces that have manipulated her since birth. The first tale shows Emiko's actions following the end of the events of last issue.  The second tale, set one year in the past, focuses on Emiko's attempt to investigate a series of strange robberies on her own, shortly after moving in with Oliver and officially becoming his sidekick. It's a credit to Percy's skills as a writer that both these stories are suspenseful, despite our logically knowing that Emiko must emerge from these stories unharmed.

The artwork by Steven Byrne is astonishing. Byrne has a tremendous sense of visual storytelling and the action of the issue flows easily from panel to panel. There are a variety of colors at play in the various palettes Byrne utilizes and the variety keeps the reader guessing as well as focused on the interplay and contrast between pages. My only quibble with the art is a minor continuity point - that the Oliver Queen of One Year Ago is depicted with his famous goatee, when he was shown to have only recently started styling his beard in that fashion.

That minor wrong, however, I am willing to forgive given how much has been done right. If you haven't given Green Arrow a chance yet, this is a fine time to start. I don't think you'll regret it.

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