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.
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.
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 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
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!