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Detective Comics Drops A Meta-Narrative Bomb

Griffin

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[Danny Elfman Theme Plays]

You know what you don’t see too often anymore? Nine panel grids. They’re the old standard, sure, but experimental layouts have become more and more common over the years. So, when you do see a nine panel grid, you’re typically gonna think that it’s for a very important reason. Most of the time, you’re correct. This is one of those times.

Fresh off of his stellar work in the equally fantastic mini-series Midnighter and Apollo, Fernando Blanco renders our opening flashback in a way that is best described as “Oh God She Just Destroyed The Grid”. Okay, not really an adjective but that’s what happened. Shiva slaughtered those Colony soldiers so fast that she broke the panels. In layman’s terms: everyone is going to die.

But, let’s back up a bit since there’s a whole lot going on here. Heh. A lot going on in Detective Comics. What else is new? Well, for starters, Ra’s Al Ghul allying with the Colony. Because that’s the implication here. Now, you have to ask yourself: why? Why would Ra’s al Ghul, the Demon’s Head, the nigh-immortal leader of the League of Assassins, a centuries old eco-terrorist group, join forces with a top secret black ops branch of the U.S. Army?

Why would Jacob and Ra’s ever see eye to eye enough to pool their resources against anything, when Jacob’s whole thing is fighting terrorists just like Ra’s? Well, the obvious answer is the one right in front of you. Shiva and her League of Shadows presents a threat so massive and so terrifying that Jacob Kane actually negotiated with terrorists. But that’s not even the best part.

No, the best part, by far, is that League of Shadows isn’t what you think they are. It’s not what thought they were, initially. You take a look at all the pieces, though, and you start to see the picture that I’m all but certain Tynion is attempting to paint. Something that is difficult to believe was unintentional. And it is an uncomfortably familiar image. Extremely so.

But we’ll get there.

The One Where Kate Isn’t Stabbed

Look, it’s like a motif with her or something. Always with the stabbing, specifically the heart. Don’t believe me? Re-read ElegyCrime Bible, 52, and Batwoman (2011). Then take a look at the solicits for Batwoman #2 (2017) and the variant cover of Detective Comics #953. So much stabbing. Anyway, our heroes are very quickly overwhelmed by the League of Shadows, taking out Batwing and Azrael in a matter of seconds thanks to, presumably, magic katanas. Bruce and Kate huddle up and finally decide to unleash their giant “I Win” button, allowing Clayface to, once again, prove he’s by far the single most valuable member of the team in a fight.

Curse your sudden yet inevitable future betrayal, Basil. I’m gonna miss you so damn much.

Meanwhile, Cass sneaks up on Shiva, and they unknowingly re-enact about twenty or so issues of her original Batgirl ongoing in just under three pages. I’d show the similarities here, but there’s really no need. It’s not like I’m trying to prove Tynion is subverting War Games all over again.

They meet, they fight, Cass gets her butt handed to her because, just like the first time around, she won’t kill. Except there’s a deviation. And it’s not just that Cass learns that Shiva is her mother in the first encounter—that was slowly revealed over a very long period of time back in the early 2000s. No, this time Shiva is not, well, as she says later herself, she’s not playing.

This isn’t a game to her the way it used to be. This is probably one of the largest swerves for those of us who know the old stories. Shiva, who used to be called Lady Shiva and I kind of liked that absurd contradiction the honorific gave her, used to operate under a very specific and masochistic goal. She was searching for a good death. Shiva would cultivate and watch the world’s greatest martial artists, wait until they were in their prime, and then strike, hoping they would be skilled enough to kill her. None ever could.

Clearly, this is no longer the case.

At best, they survived their encounter in a stalemate. Or they won because she was being mind controlled by Gorilla Grodd, but that one was pretty debatable. Mind control has a habit of impairing one’s inherent abilities since they aren’t in full control of themselves. I’m pretty sure that’s the one Bruce is referencing when he said he won. Honestly, it could be another instance but at the end of the day it doesn’t matter which specific fight Shiva threw. What matters is that she did. And that, instead of seeking her own “good death”, she apparently wants to kill everyone else.

Which is very, very bad. That constant search for the right person to kill her and assume the role of the next Shiva—yup it’s a title; her real name is Sandra!—well, that was more or less the only thing that stopped Shiva from slaughtering everyone to achieve whatever the hell she wanted. And as we saw both in the flashback and with how quickly she got the better of Bruce, unless Cass can figure out how to beat her, she’s going to get what she wants. Everyone dead.

And honestly it’s kind of awesome seeing Shiva just completely curbstomp Bruce. The fact that he doesn’t kill is a pretty huge handicap in a fight, and it needs to be addressed like this more often. But, even if he was willing to kill, Shiva would still beat him into the ground. She’s Shiva. She’s the second most deadly non-metahuman on the planet. The first being, hopefully, her daughter.

Pbbbth, hopefully? Of course she is. That’s how this works, just you watch.

Oh! And this little moment got to me:

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Do I even need to say it?

Kate Kane And The People Who Love Her And Want To Talk To Her? (And Also Duke)

That…title doesn’t sound right, but okay I guess. After Clayface reveals that Luke and Jean-Paul vanished in his arms along with the League of Shadows (those katanas have got to be magic), what remains of the team returns to the Belfry. Kate gets a call from Renee, which amusingly goes straight into her helmet. Because of course it does. She starts warning her that, hey, remember how everyone thinks that Batman killed the Mayor? That’s still a thing.

And also literally everything has gone to hell.

What I wouldn’t give to see their texting history…

Aside from getting major Gotham Central vibes, along with, ironically, War Games, this is just so adorable. It is. It really is. This is five issues Renee has popped up in since Rebirth began. Literally every time has been, in some small way, about rebuilding their old relationship into something that won’t just explode in their faces. Well, except Batwoman Rebirth. That was just flashback sex.

Anyway, after that whole thing, Kate forgets that Duke is a Black man while making a snarky comment about getting shot by the police. Because of course she does. Turns out, Duke’s been doing exactly what Jacob told them to do last issue: cross reference the Colony database with the Batcomputer to figure out how many people shouldn’t exist in Gotham. The number is, surprisingly, fifty-seven.

It’s not that I’m surprised at the number itself, but rather that it wasn’t fifty-two. Why wouldn’t it be? This is DC. It’s kind of their thing, especially with Kate and Renee running around. Duke heads off to regroup with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey in a nice bit of shared-universe nodding, and expresses some pretty heavy concern for Luke and Jean-Paul. But mostly Luke.

After he’s gone, Clayface tells Kate that her dad wants to talk to her. Which honestly begs the question as to how Clayface knows that. Was he watching the monitor? Or, just watching him in the cell? Is there a button he pressed that alerts somebody? I dunno, this is just really funny to think about.

The League of Shadows

This is where it gets scary. Not “oh that was spooky” scary, but actual, palpable fear. If I’m right, that is. Again, it is extremely difficult to believe that, considering when all of this was written, this was unintentional. And I’m not talking about Shiva’s sadistic psychological torture of Jacob in his own ops center. At least, not specifically. Though that does complement the meta-narrative.

Let’s just take it one step at a time, since it’s a lot to swallow.

I want you to look at this moment, really look at it, and consider where you may have seen this before. Where you may have heard this before. Why it’s important that Jacob be the one to say this, and why it’s equally important that Kate is the one to hear it. And not just hear it, but understand.

Jacob. You’re married to a nice Jewish girl. Would it kill you to maybe remember that? “Grab Catherine and your things and run.”

He goes on to say that Shiva is “made of evil” and that, again, she needs to run. Now, you have to ask yourself, why would Jacob, who operates exclusively in the morally grey, ever call something “made of evil”. He knows what he does. He knows what he’s done, and what he’s tried to do. He has never denied these things to Kate. So, when he says evil, I think we can safely believe he means that. It’s not hyperbole, especially considering the unprecedented fear and panic he’s showing Kate right now.

You’re looking at a Jewish man begging his Jewish daughter to run from a threat that cannot be reasoned with. From a force whose only goal is her and everyone else dead. The city has already turned against her and her people, just like Renee said. Nowhere in Gotham is safe. The only options are to fight, and almost certainly die, or run and possibly survive.

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We’re talking about a threat, an ideology really, that cannot be killed. Something that very few even believe exists, even if it did at one time, let alone willing to acknowledge. The way the League of Shadows spreads, the way that they’re depicted, the way that Bruce denies their existence—it’s all so familiar, isn’t it? And not just that. Let’s not forget that these aren’t all foreign threats. That was one the largest contentions regarding what Jacob was doing during Rise of the Batmen. The League of Shadows were everywhere and nowhere. They were in Gotham. They were hiding in America.

An old “lie”. A secret army made up of the deadliest killers on the planet hiding in plain sight whose only goal is to spread chaos, and by extension fear. And thus, hatred. And they could do it because it was bit by bit, not all at once. A build so meticulous and slow, yet clearly visible to those who looked, that the only way to stop it was to kill those responsible before they grew too powerful to stop. Like a virus before it spreads too far into a population.

And last, but most certainly not least, a group of people poised to fight this very threat that no one will listen to. That the higher authorities, nor individuals, will believe. Because they aren’t a threat to them, specifically. Not yet. But when it’s too late, and they do become the targets, as all of Gotham is right now, then they believe. Then they understand, for a time.

See? This is how it started. This is exactly how the Nazis took root,  how they gained power throughout the late 20s up to their “peak” in the 40s. And it’s how they’re still doing it. They never stopped. They never left. They hid, sure. In plain sight. They were quiet, and started small all over again. But when the moment was right, they came back in force.

Let’s Just Take A Second And Breathe, Okay?

Wait, wait, just—hold on. I know, that’s a big thing to say. And to be clear, I’m not saying that the League of Shadows are the Nazis. They’re not Hydra. It’s not an easy one-to-one comparison, and it is not supposed to be. It is, however, the same method. The same tactics. The same reactions from everyone else. It’s something that we’ve discussed on our forum, but weren’t quite sure if we were reaching too far, or if we were on to something.

And I hope I can convince you that it’s all but impossible for this to be unintentional. The Colony is lead by a Jewish man, fighting an organization that operates almost exactly the same way that the Nazis did and do. Yes. Do. Present tense.

Before you say that I’m only making this argument due to recent events, I’m not. There has been a spike of white supremacist hate crimes, anti-semitic or otherwise, in the past few months, yes. That’s true. But it wasn’t out of nowhere. It was a slow build that, again, not enough people saw. And if they did, they denied that it was really Nazis, or their modern contemporaries. And for the same reason that Bruce denied the existence of the League of Shadows; it didn’t seem possible.

There is a strong cultural misconception that Nazis only existed before and during the Second World War. This is not true. They look like anyone else. Often sound like anyone else. But now they’re not hiding because they don’t need to. Just like the League of Shadows. Again, not a one-to-one comparison, but you have to admit, it seems incredibly unlikely that this was accidental.

And really, if I am right, how is that bad? How is it a negative that Batman is fighting people that are kinda like the Nazis in pretty much every way except the specifically targeted genocide? Unless you make a case that Gotham is that equivalent, and you honestly can. Population is huge.

But, c’mon, how could this possibly be a loss? If you ask me, it can only make this better. And I’m sure some of you may be thinking “they’re doing this in response to Nazi!Cap”. Well, you could be right. But consider that that was first revealed the exact same day that DC Rebirth began, and that these storylines were planned well in advance. It’s possible that some of the lettering and wording was massaged to better fit that meta-narrative, and if it was, well, that’s kinda great too. But if it wasn’t, that just makes it more powerful.

Either way, we as readers win.

Ahem. Anyway, there’s, uh, two more things I wanted to talk about.

The Two More Things I Wanted To Talk About

Batwing and Azrael are fine, and I’m betting it has something to do with how they were stabbed. Jacob talks about being stabbed in just the right way, and he shows the scar. It’s in the same place that Luke was hit. Jean-Paul was stabbed in the back so…I mean I guess they could have pulled the same trick. I’d assume as much since he hasn’t had his arc yet. Plus, he’s Azrael. He just got here!

And also that Bruce is getting really good at hugging.

That’s like, his third since Rebirth started! He’ll be a hug master at this rate.

So, yeah. Leave your thoughts either here or on the forum, if you’d like. Still love this book, and I love it even more than I did last time. Which is just really freaking crazy, y’know?

Next Week: BATWOMAN #1! Are you excited? I’m excited!


All images courtesy of DC Comics 

DETECTIVE COMICS #952 Credits

Writer: James Tynion IV

Pencils/Inks (pgs 1-3): Fernando Blanco

Pencils/Inks (pgs 4-20): Christian Duce

Colors (pgs 1-3): John Rauch

Colors (pgs 4-17): Alex Sinclair

Colors (18-20): Allen Passalaqua

Letterer: Sal Cipriano

Griffin is an Entertainment Writer operating out of the Chicago area. He likes puzzles, deconstructing other puzzles, and talk show branded ice cream flavors.

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Fanfinites Gift Guide for the Comic Nerd in Your Life

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With the winter holidays bearing down upon us, the panic button for “What do I get them?” is now becoming a tempting last resort. Fear not, our team of Fanfinites has compiled a holiday gift list guaranteed to please any comic geek in your life.

Jorge

Green Arrow Rebirth vol. 4: Rise of Star City
This is a great gift for the green arrow fan in your life, moving into one of the best arcs in the current series of Green Arrow. In one of the most action-packed, fun, and emotional adventures with team Green Arrow it leaves much to enjoy whether you’re a long time reader of the series or just getting into it. With stunning art by Juan Ferreyra and Eleonora Carlini and masterful storytelling by Benjamin Percy, this book belongs in any great DC collection.

Ian

Journey to The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma
It’s a double-whammy, a great comic, and a great Star Wars story. After a disappointing turn in The Force Awakens, it turns out Phasma is just as ruthless and evil as we all hoped she would be. Perfect for the Star Wars fan in your life.

Milan

Sex Criminals Vol. 4: Fourgy!
The end-of-year holidays are always a time inviting good cheer and reflection. And there’s no better way to partake of that spirit than with some bonkers fucking and dildo throwing. Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s magnificent brainchild deeply explores the nuances of relationships, responsibility, and adulthood while compromising none of their usual humour and shenanigans. A must-read for anyone who doesn’t hate happiness.

Priscilla

Ms. Marvel vol. 8: Mecca
You can never go wrong with Ms. Marvel, a series remarkable for its consistent quality over the years. Kamala Khan is an incredibly relatable hero and this was a great arc for her. Mecca shows the power of superhero stories to explore complex real life topics with sensitivity, all without losing humor and superpowered fights. Old fans will enjoy how well this arc ties to her journey so far, but it’s still accessible to new readers.

Kori

Green Lanterns Vol. 4: The First Rings (Rebirth)
It’s no secret how much the Fanfinites love Green Lanterns, particularly Jessica Cruz. With the upcoming fourth and final trade for Sam Humphries’ marvelous run on the title, we finally get to see the birth of the Lantern Corps, and how big of a role Jessica and Simon Baz have in shaping not only the Corps but the universe itself.

Holiday Sweater

If you’re feeling something a bit more festive, don’t forget to take a look at our store! We have a custom-designed holiday sweater this season, made especially for the Kate Kane fan in your life!


Images courtesy of Marvel, DC, and Image Comics

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Saga Delivers a Questionable Respite

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I find Saga‘s plot to be a good selling point on its own. The adventures of a forbidden couple in a war-torn galaxy—simple, neat, and beautifully illustrated and written. However, one other thing I really like is the notion of culture we get on each destination. No two places are alike. With every change of scenery, we get a taste of unique flora, fauna, religion, politics, peoples, and worldviews. It’s quite an ambitious setting, even if we only get to taste a dash per arc. And our heroes’ sour business in Pervious proves no different. Last issue generated a bit of a buildup on this planet’s aesthetic and ethic. Today we start to see what makes this sandy place stand out.

Spoiler alert: it’s nasty. But that’s only as far as the first few pages. The rest, concerning our heroes, is not unpleasant, but ‘strange’ would be underselling it.

Issue #44
“Mommy just had a bad dream”

Whether by Deliverance or Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the collective imaginarium on the hillbilly as a trope paints a rather unflattering picture. Regardless of any possible validity when comparing the trope with real life, we know these characters to be dogmatic, narrow-minded, and prone to violence. If last issue had something of a cowboyish feel, the centaur dune dwellers we meet pose a different theme altogether. Enter a roguish pack that exhibits a disturbing likeness to certain conservative population sectors. The moral coherence on these three is suitably puzzling as well. They’re perfectly willing to rob and kill two Landfallians on their way to Abortion Town, yet they disapprove of the couple’s decision.

A centaur mother and son, and the second human I recall seeing thus far in this comic identify a peculiar set of footprints on the sand. This is how the possible new set of baddies hop on the ‘pursue Alana and Marko’ train. Their motivations may simply be the loot they entitle themselves to, but the outcome of the purpose often involves killing and a callous conscience on the matter.

Meanwhile, the mood aboard the family’s rocketship can best be described as weird. Considering how Alana dispatched last issue’s poop monsters with magic, the tone of grief and urgency have given way to puzzlement. Something I rather love about these panels is the casualness with which they discuss this impossible event. Marko’s fresh out of the shower and in a towel, Petrichor does laundry, Hazel amusingly misuses a word for kinky grown-ups without knowing it. It’s a scene virtually pulled out of a Sunday in any human family’s household. However, Alana violently hurling some black substance is not something that commonplace. That’s a visual cue to remind us things are quite grave, alright.

So, here’s the plan. Petrichor, whose hands are still injured stays behind to watch the ship. She’ll have Marko’s wedding band-translation device to hold the fort verbally and sword-ly. As for Alana, Marko, and Hazel… they’ll put on some cowboy hats (and a hoodie for Marko’s horns). And then they’ll roguishly hop aboard a train, because of-god-damned-course.

We couldn’t forgive ourselves, Brian or Fiona, or life itself, if we didn’t have that scene. This comic handles plenty of the kind of action we’d expect in a movie. And I gotta say, Fiona’s pen translates the feeling of movement really well into the panels. I don’t know how challenging that really is, but Rob Liefeld’s work is a clear indication that it’s very possible to screw that up. So cheers as ever, Miss Staples.

Now, back to Petrichor. Of all the non-hostile characters in this comic, I find her to be the most alluring. Past the novelty of being a trans character not used as a token, she hints so very much. We know her to be very close to her roots in Wreath, its traditions, values and mysticism. This, in turn informs her features as a soldier in a binary war. And that, by extension, nurtures her two most important characteristics: competence and loyalty. However, we don’t know much about her past. This issue corrects that via her stoic mourning of a lost love. The palette of dark blue against pale fire appropriately conveys a feeling of melancholy and gravitas.

Petri casts her lost love’s picture into the fire, which is the universal code for moving on. The ambience grows in relevance. Having done this, she performs a prayer-ritual beseeching the Wreath Saints. The bloodletting is an ingredient befitting the most important of esoteric affairs, be it oaths or blood magic. So, what is Petrichor’s purpose in all this? Well, she’s praying to the Saints to send her someone to fuck. There is indeed some humour behind this apparent dissonance between deed and intent. However, if we go by D. Oswald Heist’s notion that the opposite of war is fucking, Petri has just joined the rest of the cast regarding sexual desire. True enough, when these characters aren’t busy killing, running, or Saga-ing, the’re most definitely having intercourse.

The Saints, on their part, answer to this momentous prayer by literally raining on her bonfire. The dicks. However, that is not the worst development to occur in the scene, as the rogues have followed Sir Robot’s footprints all the way here. Seeing Petrichor’s magic wielding, their most immediate response is to kill her. Although it appears the youngest bandit is not particularly into the idea. We can expect him to thwart the killing, or perhaps prove the gift-in-disguise Petrichor asked for. We’ll see.

This issue closes on a dreamy note, by which we mean a nightmare sequence. Alana dreams about a kinky encounter she had back in the day. The tone turns dark as her partner (not Marko) reproaches her for her habits, to which he attributes her baby’s death. The Fadeaway episode that partially led to the schism between Marko and her was a nasty bit, but we know this is not the reason she lost the baby. This is her own guilt speaking, and it’s difficult to shake guilt off, especially if the character has a conscience. Alana wakes up to find her husband peacefully asleep. But she is not the only one awake inside this train car. Her son is standing right before her.

You know, the one that was never born. Whereas Hazel took more after her mother, this little impossible one takes more after his dad. Cool-looking kids Alana and Marko produce, no doubt about that. This kid looks to be around Hazel’s age, which is just as well, she certainly needs some friends her age to overcome the trauma conga line she has endured. We can surely expect things to get weirder from here on out. But thus far, this has been one of the strangest turns in a comic series that delightfully revels on the bizarre and the unexpected.


Saga #44 Credits

Writer: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

Images Courtesy of Image Comics

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A Great Year for Green Arrow

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When DC’s Rebirth event finally began, there were a lot of expectations surrounding another rebranding of its universe. It didn’t end up being a complete clean slate event like the New 52, but instead drew off of its predecessor and went into an entirely new direction. While still considered somewhat successful, a lot of comic fans were very disappointed to see the way their favorite heroes were reinvented as not every single title was given the attention they deserved, ala the few good titles on the New 52.  One the biggest offenders back then, in 2011, was Green Arrow. The writing brought us a younger Oliver Queen with a personality that was very different from his beloved 70s-90s counterpart and the stories were either just stuck at decent or just plain bad. Equally infuriating was the decision to not include his long time partner and love interest, Black Canary.

However, when Rebirth began releasing its one shot titles heralding the coming of most of its early series I was so incredibly impressed with how Benjamin Percy took what pieces his predecessors had left and shaped to create such a wonderfully fresh entry for a new generation of comic readers. Seriously, the first issue of Green Arrow blew me away with it’s set up to a series long villain that’s still working strong 35 issues into the series, serving as a critical look into today’s society. This is a staple of the Green Arrow history and his label a DC’s biggest social justice warrior. Plus Percy brought Black Canary back into the fold, like he’s my favorite just for that.

The first half of the year for DC’s Rebirth included some really good titles but honestly none of them had me impatiently waiting every two weeks for a new issue like Green Arrow did and this isn’t me just saying that because I’m a huge fan of the character to begin with. The stories for the first fourteen issues were marked with immersive storytelling and mystery that expanded into more with every arc, the build up of a villainous organization that were victorious where counter parts like New 52’s Court of Owls failed (don’t mind my disdain for them), and such great character development on all fronts that not reading into the history of this version of Oliver Queen didn’t make a new reader lost or daunted. In my opinion, Green Arrow is one of the best, if not the best, titles that DC has out right now.

With the year ending though, we’ve seen several great arcs and issues that stood out from each marking them as the pinnacle of storytelling and quality come from each month as the series moves further into greatness. I’d like to look back on this amazing year for the series by picking out the five best issues included in it to help fans remember what has made them love the series and perhaps even entice some new readers into picking up this great series. A note that I will only be choosing from issue #14 and on since that was the first issue of 2017. Also this is simply my opinion of what the five best issues are so if you don’t agree we can discuss it in the comments where I will fight you to death! Just kidding, no but seriously.

5. Issue 29: Hard-Traveling Heroes pt. 4: Hunting Grounds

Highlights: Batman v.s. Green Arrow, Court of Owls Cameo

Now you’re probably wondering why I chose this one when I just showed off how much I disliked the Court of Owls. Well that’s quite simple, if you’ve read this one because they’re given literally the most minuscule of roles and it serves just for Ollie to throw them back into the realm of irrelevance from whence they came. Anyway, this issue has Oliver travel into Gotham and infiltrate said organization to find a Ninth Circle double agent infiltrating their ranks in order to establish a calculated downfall of the city. It’s one of the few times, in this series anyway, that we get to see Oliver don his non-hero self as he infiltrates the Court by simply being himself. What we get from this is a social commentary on the dangers of elitism and a criticism on some activities of the 1%, though I’m sure most of them don’t hunt the homeless for sport.

Go away, seriously

Yet the best part of this issue was of course the fight and then team up between Green Arrow and Batman. This arc was marked by Oliver teaming up with a different member of the Justice League in each issue to take on the Ninth Circle and keeping them from doing to other cities what they had done in Seattle. Having Batman featured in this one was sure to make every fan scream with pure excitement. Oliver is often mentioned as being the lighter version of Bruce, having the same upbringing, well similar at best, they both fight for the same reasons but take completely different approaches to it. Either it was great to see these two battle one another and do battle together as they took on one of the Ninth Circles burnt lieutenants.

4. Issue 33: Trial of Two Cities pt. 1: Homecoming

Highlights: Return of Moira Queen, Oliver and Dinah make up, and the return of Shado

This is one of the more recent entries on this list but definitely sets up the current arc involving the trial of Oliver Queen. For those who don’t remember, Oliver is currently on trial after his death being faked as a murder suicide along with one of his secretaries in order to throw his name in the mud early on in the series. When he reveals that he’s still alive he’s put on trial for her murder and recently decides that in order for him to do any good as either Oliver Queen or the Green Arrow he must clear his name. Also recently he’s been taking the fight to the Ninth Circle which shows us that the climax of the conflict may soon be upon us.

My reason for this issue being on this list is extremely shallow but I’m pretty okay with it. Since the end of the Rise of Star City, Dinah and Oliver have been going through a pretty rough time together which was exacerbated by the fact that Oliver got up and left for the Hard-Traveling Heroes arc. Seeing the two of them make up and resume their passionate relationship is both beautiful and extremely cringe worthy.

We also find out that Moira Queen is still alive and had taken her husband’s place among the ranks of the Ninth Circle. Though it is clear there is a division in their ranks as the heads of the organization feel that her and Cyrus have not lived up to their expectations. They secretly call on the assassin, Shado, to collect their dues from her while Moira merciless ends Cyrus Broderick who has been a villain for most of the series. She drops the bomb that she’s still alive to Ollie at the conclusion of the book but it’s unclear whether she’s there to hide behind her soon or eventually sell him to the Ninth Circle, we’ll just have to see where her cold heart takes her.

Yikes

3.Issue 14: Emerald Outlaw pt. 3

Highlights: Green Arrow vs. The Dark Archer, The return of Malcolm Merlyn

Yeah I know I was stretching with mentioning the 14th issue of the series early on but honestly could you not include an issue that brought the return of the Green Arrow’s arch nemesis? Not only at that, but the original incarnation of said villain? I mean come on the choice was pretty obvious. For those of you who had the…”pleasure” of reading the New 52 Green Arrow you’ll know that the Dark Archers persona was given to Tommy Merlyn in a weird story that I’m not going to get into right now, so seeing the patriarch of the family return to evil glory was pretty amazing.

The Moneyshot!

The issue itself was pretty solid as well. With a string of attempted murders with a stolen Green Arrow, the police are on the hunt for the Green Arrow and Oliver is on the hunt for the archer to clear the Green Arrows name. The ensuing fight between the two is epic and beautifully drawn but also sets up for the next few issue which Oliver would be facing some of his toughest enemies and situations in the entire run of the series.

2. Issue 16: Emerald Outlaw pt. 5

Highlights: Final showdown with the Vice Squad, THAT ending

I tried really hard not to include two issues so close to each other but damn this was a great arc. For the entirety of it, Oliver was dealing with public opinion being against him, the looming threat of the Ninth Circle and the Dark Archer, and the ever violent threat of former police officers who were suspended for unlawful brutality forming the vigilante group know as the Vice Squad. The struggle was absolutely real for Oliver in these past few issues but little did he know it was only going to get worse from here on out.

The final showdown with the group was exciting and action packed as the Green Arrow schooled them in their ways and bringing to a head the social commentary of police brutality in the United States. As usual he hits us with what we need to hear and does a damn good job of it, especially the wise words of Chief Westberg, “…the best person to handle a bad cop…is a good cop”. This statement resonates with how the police force have a responsibility to not only watch over their own but to assure that justice will always be unbiased. The ending though is what makes this such a great book, the very same chief is killed by another green arrow in the Dark Archer arsenal and it really hurts to see him go after how much he’s contributed, pity that it would be blamed on Oliver as well.

1.Issue 24: The Rise of Star City: Finale

Highlights: Everything!

This one was definitely my favorite of probably the entire series. A glorious end to a wonderful arc and sets up just how much a hero can lose even if he wins. Starting off from the previous issue where the Space Needle was blown up to destroy the symbol of Seattle in order to start the conversion in the Ninth Circles corporate run Star City, our heroes are slowly collecting themselves after a major defeat. The issue splits up Oliver as he’s on the hunt for the Ninth Circle’s Seattle leader, Cyrus, as his friends work to defend the city from the likes of Chesire and Brick.

The revelation of his family’s involvement and the subsequent fight between Oliver and Cyrus is brutal and unflinching, ending quite harshly for him. The fight is exciting in the city as the action flows with both humor and amazing art from my current favorite artist, Juan Ferreyra. Yet what I took away most from this issue is not only personal growth and responsibility on his part but on ours. Oliver finally gives himself up to the police, determined in the fact that only Oliver Queen can save this city. As I’ve stated multiple times already, the staple of the Green Arrow series is to bring to our face the social injustices of the day and how we, not need to address, but to give them the attention that they need in order for us to grow and learn to do something about them.

Anyway this was my list I look forward to another great year of Green Arrow and if you haven’t read anything of it yet, I hope this list makes you give it a try!

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