Green Arrow #44
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…
As Oliver Queen, Dinah Lance, and Roy Harper bonded over chili, a new threat to the city of Seattle emerged as the mysterious Citizen kidnapped a well-known and corrupt billionaire and live-streamed his execution. He declared his next target to be Oliver Queen…
The plot of this latest issue opens in the middle of a car chase as numerous citizens are hunting down Oliver Queen after the Citizen declared his intention to kill the billionaire archer. After managing to escape to an empty parking lot that he bought every spot in, Green Arrow is met by Black Canary and they use information from Batgirl to try and track down where the Citizen has been broadcasting from. The tip ultimately ends up being a bust as the shadowy foe begins broadcasting again, declaring the three new potential victims for the next broadcast, including Oliver himself.
The Citizen drops a major bombshell, revealing that in his playboy youth, Oliver was unknowingly responsible for the death of a young girl, Nadia Vanderberg, in a hit and run and his father covered it up. Dinah is visibly shaken by this news and refuses to believe this. However, it’s shockingly true, though Oliver never knew about the cover up. He tries to find Nadia’s family to reach out with little luck. He and Dinah continue to try and protect the other two targets. Dinah goes after Franklin Rossmore, a corrupt banker, while Oliver heads after Alison Kim, the owner of a racetrack guilty of doping the horses.
Inevitably, Green Arrow ends up being the one to find the Citizen mid-broadcast as the villain has bound Kim to a timer that will draw and quarter her with her own horses when the timer reaches zero. The Citizen sets the trap off early to distract Green Arrow so they can escape. He’s able to save Alison Kim’s life as the comic cuts to shortly thereafter when Oliver laments what happened to Nadia when they were kids as Dinah seeks to reassure him. Then an unexpected visitor arrives…
I did not care about this issue, unfortunately.
The art is excellent, looking as striking as Javier Fernandez and John Kalisz’s pages in Nightwing! The action sequences, in particular, are dynamic and full of energy.The coloring conveys the moods of each scene very effectively, such as the dim lighting of the car park when Oliver meets Dinah.
Alas, I can’t really be as complimentary with the writing. In previous issues, I’ve enjoyed and found myself engaged with how Shawna and Julie Benson characterize Oliver Queen and his supporting cast. Kate Spencer and her constant frustration working for Oliver is a particular delight and remains so in this entry. However, the reveal of Oliver being guilty of a hit-and-run when he was younger and being responsible for ending the life of another human being is not met with anywhere near the amount of gravitas as it should be. Oliver does brood about it, but something like this should completely shatter him. A plot-point like this could be used to start a compelling character-arc for Green Arrow, but it’s not properly established here. The event doesn’t carry the weight it should. Even worse still is Dinah’s reaction to this.
The Bensons wrote Black Canary quite well in Batgirl & the Birds of Prey; they clearly understand the character’s psychology. But the very blasé attitude Dinah displays towards what Oliver has done is very off-putting. It honestly made me sick to my stomach to read. Like Oliver, this should devastate Dinah to learn and she certainly shouldn’t be so eager to comfort Oliver. Continuing to work to stop the Citizen? Sure. But she should do so bitterly, angry, with the vow that when the case is over, she and Oliver are done. The plotting for the issue itself is fine, nothing is wrong with the book structurally, but this is some of the worst characterizations I’ve ever seen for Dinah. There are no other words to describe this issue but heartbreaking, in the worst, clearly unintended ways.