Emerald Outlaw: Green Arrow #17 (Review)
Green Arrow #17
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art and Color: Otto Schmidt
Lettering: Nate Piekos
I have mentioned some frustration with this series in the recent past, but beyond this series, I've had even more reason to call into question the entire strategic creative direction of the Green Arrow character in DC omics in general. I just have not been sure what DC's plan has been for Oliver Queen in comics for several years. The biggest issue seems to be some degree of contention, or at least uncertainty, on whether or not to just make him Stephen Amell, which, admittedly, would at least be some level of focus. I'm not sure that that question gets answered in Green Arrow #17, and that is keeping this book back from the greatness it could potentially achieve.
This issue opens with Ollie chopping wood in a nearby coastal forest. Recounting the recent events (pretty much everything that has happened in this series to-date), Ollie gets his new strategy firmly affixed in his mind. There's plenty of intrigue being laid out here. And before it is all over, Ollie gets attacked, and that propels us forward to a hyper-amped twist in the plot's climax.
Otto Schmidt's art has been getting progressively better since this series kicked off near the end of 2015. Line-by-line, this is some of the best I have seen from him yet. But it is severely devalued by some messy fight choreography in the closing scenes; a number of panels where I was shaking my head, asking "what the heck is that?" or "where the heck did that come from?!" But other than that, there are some really nice full-page portraits, as well as some spiral panel layout landscape pages that played really well from a storytelling perspective. The Neal Adams / Alex Sinclair Variant Cover rocks. The car processional panel early in the issue's opening pages is done very well, with some excellent blurring on the lights atop the police vehicles, a wash of light across the road that runs across the main path, and dozens of American flags in the picture. And finally the portrait of Oliver standing on a cliff-side, overlooking what I assume is Puget Sound at dusk, with tons of various oranges and light reds and shadow is really sharp.
Percy does some nice work here, playing on his dramatic chops in the opening pages with an appropriately determined intonation from Ollie. Then there is a great scene between Oliver and reporter friend, Victoria. It is a great play-scene full of emotion, as Victoria chooses to help the Green Arrow, a man she is clearly attracted to, despite his confirmation that he is with the Black Canary and that they are exclusive. I really liked the dialogue with Malcolm Merlyn as the fight goes hot in the book's latter half, and the writing effect of having Ollie's inner monologue woven in-between the dialog with Merlyn. But this section also houses my main detraction from the book and why it does not breakout as a superb issue for me. I get that they have been trying to align the comics and the TV shows more closely both here in The Green Arrow and also over in The Flash. It's really more trying to make the books adopt some of the lore from the television shows. But what I wish is that they would just go full-bore with that, or entirely leave it alone. This middling thing of taking thematic queues from the show, but making it just slightly different; I'm not certain that works in favor of the comic at all. We get it here in the back-story of what is supposed to be Thea Queen in the comic, but is a character named differently, who becomes Red Arrow without ever having known Roy Harper. Ditto for John Diggle, who commits the final act in this issue that kind of broke the bank for me. Had it not been for that ending, this book would have been up in the type of score range that makes me add a series to my monthly recurring pull-list.
Green Arrow #17 probably displays the best potential of this creative team of any issue that I have read so far. But it still misses the perfect mark with its efforts to straddle doing its own thing versus echoing the TV show. The ending was particularly off-putting and I wish they had taken the other path. This title continues to be a solid offering in DC's stable, but also one that just seems to never really nail it all down. But they are getting damned close.