Green Arrow #43
Writer: Julie and Shawna Benson
Artists: Javier Fernandez
Cover Artist: Alex Maleev
Variant Cover: Kaare Andrews
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Deron Bennett
Previously in Green Arrow and Justice League: No Justice, Seattle’s intrepid Emerald Archer attempted to free his fellow superheroes from imprisonment at the hands of Brainiac, leading to a confrontation with Amanda Waller—who had used Queen Industries satellites to get some intel from the villain which lead to every QPhone and QPad exploding—and eventually, aiding the Justice League in defeating the cosmic threat of the Omega Titans. In the fallout of these events, the Martian Manhunter entrusts Green Arrow with a mysterious box for the archer to use should the Justice League go rogue…
Summary (Limited Spoilers):
This story opens with Green Arrow and his longtime ally and former sidekick, Arsenal (aka Roy Harper), monitoring a protest of a planned demolition of an old apartment building by its greedy owner, Jubal Slade, in order to build new luxury homes for the super wealthy. Just as the corrupt businessman is about to push the button to begin the demolition, Oliver notices there are still tenants inside the building! He and Roy leap into action, rescuing them from certain death, but Jubal Slade escapes during all of the chaos.
While this is going on, Oliver is reflecting on his new responsibility protecting the mystery box Martian Manhunter entrusted him with should the JL ever go rogue. Worried that no one would be left to look after the box should anything happen to him, Oliver makes up his mind to entrust Roy with the knowledge of its existence. After making plans to meet up with Roy for lunch, Oliver pays a quick visit to Queen Industries where a stressed out Kate Spencer—now working at the company’s legal department—is eager to talk with Oliver about the massive number of lawsuits they’re now facing after the destruction of so many QPhones and QPads and Oliver’s desire to not only replace every single one, but also pay for any medical bills that resulted from said devices detonation. After Oliver brushes this off, assuring Kate that she can handle this, he makes his way to his new home and the underground base beneath it where his new roommate Dinah Lance (Black Canary) is providing some sonic-remodelling, courtesy of her canary cry.
The two go off to meet Roy for lunch where Oliver attempts to impart his secret with the box on Roy, but not before Roy briefly mentions visiting Sanctuary, a mental health facility for superheroes. Both archers are then interrupted by a live-viral broadcast going out across the city. A new masked villain, the Citizen, is urging Seattle’s populace to rise up against the corrupt 1% who run the city, so they might face “true justice”. To that end, the Citizen declares their first target shall be Jubal Slade. Also brushing this off, Oliver and Dinah say farewell to Roy, before heading home. Later that evening, the Citizen makes another broadcast, revealing that they have captured Jubal Slade and set up an online poll for Seattle’s people to vote on whether he’ll live or die. Thus, Green Arrow and Black Canary leap into action…
After the Green Arrow Annual #2 and a two-month fill-in arc, new ongoing writers for Green Arrow, Shawna and Julie Benson have a run that begins in earnest with this issue and it’s a fairly promising start. Much like in the previously mentioned annual issue, the Benson sisters have a good grasp on Oliver Queen’s voice, a man who understands the necessity for change and wants to defend those not wealthy enough to defend themselves and values social equality for all. Likewise, after writing twenty-three issues of Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, they have an excellent understanding of how to write Black Canary (on a side note, her moving in with Ollie seems to imply the Birds of Prey are no longer active in-universe which depresses me). And for the most part, they seem to have a good grasp on how to write Arsenal as well, though the opening of the comic seems to once again reset the relationship between him and Green Arrow to a more openly argumentative, if not slightly hostile one. This I did find a bit disappointing, as much as I did reference Roy’s time with Jason Todd during the New 52 Red Hood and the Outlaws, but not the more recent Rebirth Titans series. I know that incarnation of the team ended on a bit of a sour note, but its conclusion did seem to imply that Nightwing, Flash, and Donna Troy trusted Roy, so its lack of mention here I found a bit irksome.
The continued presence of Kate Spencer—once the superhero Manhunter—from Benjamin Percy’s prior run is nice, though I do hope we finally get to see Kate in action as her alter ego. The plot itself is fine, the Citizen’s scheme feels a little standard for a “villain of the people” antagonist like themselves and the cliffhanger-ending is exactly what I was expecting given the villain’s modus-operandi. The art from Javier Fernandez and John Kalisz captures the bright yet gritty feel of Oliver Queen’s hometown that I usually look for in a Green Arrow story and the action-sequences all look great with facial expressions that are very easy to understand. There are one or two panels of wide-shots where the detailing seems to suffer a bit, but otherwise, I quite enjoyed the visuals of this issue.