I don’t know if I’m just biased because of my love for Green Arrow or whether it’s because the Rebirth series is far surpassing the television counterpart, but damn this is the best issue I have read so far. That’s a feat when comparing it to the last issue where we saw Ollie and the team ally with Chief Westburg to fight the Vice Squad. For those not caught up or those recently starting *SPOILERS* the Vice Squad is a team of suspended police officers who are known for their harsh forms of justice lead by one Sergeant Notting who previously was suspended for beating an innocent man who would not exit his car and happened to be filmed while doing so. This group of troublemakers takes the law into their own hands, and their extreme measures cause a pretty high body count. Since Westburg feels Notting is his responsibility, he joins Ollie’s team to take him down.
In an exciting fight, the group is taken out, and Notting is killed by Westburg, which is pretty shocking, for one that Ollie let him and secondly that he would willingly kill a fellow officer. Of the many threats still plaguing Oliver; the elusive Ninth Circle and Malcolm Merlyn, this victory is a hard earned one and light-hearted company with friends is much deserved. Dinner with Emiko and discussion of her future as the red arrow doesn’t ruin the mood until Ollie decides to give Westburg a visit as the Green Arrow to reveal his identity. Ollie wants his support and trusts him to this knowledge. Yet no one sees the ending coming when Merlyn hides in Westburg’s bathroom, killing him with a green arrow. The ending, though sad and infuriating, doesn’t compare to what issue 17, Emerald Outlaw Part 6, brings to the table.
The issue opens up with a moving monologue by Ollie, both to mourn the passing of Chief Westburg and also to remind us that dark days are coming for the Green Arrow. Following the consistent trope of the credibility of media and how the public’s point of view is affected by whatever they seem to report, whether with an agenda or not. For better or worse Malcolm has thrown the Green Arrow’s name through the mud and now branded as a cop killer, it’s going to take a lot to change that. For Ollie the more good he tries to do the more goes wrong.
While previously only having to deal with the Vice Squad and Merlyn, once the former is destroyed some people begin to doubt their own convictions. As the former friend of Ollie, now Mayor Domini has a change of heart when the ninth circle comes back into the fold. The ensuing scene is graphic for Green Arrow standards, but it gets the effect is going for. Ollie may have dealt a heavy hit to the Ninth Circle back in the first few issues of the series. Yet, their resolve or numbers have not faltered.
As said before the issue with media is also a problem Ollie has had to deal with, which given current events, post- election, is an important and relevant message that we all need to hear. A smart move on Ollie’s end, to reach out to one of the survivors of Merlyn’s assaults, a reporter who previously defended him, even if just slightly, puts an edge back on the frontline of his public image.
Show down and Betrayal
This. This was the moment I was waiting for since Malcolm first appeared back on the scene in the first place. Granted they’ve faced off before twice already, this was the big one. Did it live up to the hype? Absolutely. Of course, there were a few good reveals before the fight began. The first being that this was not personal, someone hired Merlyn and the second of course being that it’s the league of shadows. Two things began swirling through my head. First, please don’t be the show, please don’t be the show. The second, please tie into Detective Comics 950, please, please, please. But yes, in all seriousness, I get that Ollie tends to distance himself from Justice League plots and characters, but I think it’s time to change that. He should follow in Dinah’s example and join the rest of the DC Universe.
I digress, back to the fight. Ollie finally seems to get that when it comes to fighting the Black Arrow, he is never skilled enough to finish the job. To fix this, it takes the whole team to take down Merlyn. While Ollie leads him through a fun chase throughout the woods of his island, battling egos by archery, Dinah, and Emi loose traps in their wake hoping to get that one golden shot. Throughout the chase, we also get a reminder of Ollie’s early history with the Merlyn household, which is a good refresher for fans who may not quite remember. In the end, it’s Emi who deals the final brutal blow to Merlyn, and after that, I thought honestly there’s no way he’s getting up from that.
Then the betrayal. This one hurt, and I kind of saw this coming from the character, but not to this degree. I’ll not spoil this until the next issue to give ya’ll ample time to discover for yourself, but damn. The scene was set up so perfectly as well; Ollie truly seemed like he was going to finish off Merlyn for good, a far cry from what happened in his showdown with the Vice Squad.
There wasn’t much change from the rest of the series. The covers are getting much more intriguing and detailed which is nice. The violence, which recently there is more of, is more gritty and unflinching, almost as dark as some Batman art which also sits well with me. The action flows great with the story and keeps me balanced between dialogue and event.
As I said, this was one of my favorites so far in the series. The action, the plot, the wiring, all excellent. It leaves so many questions to be answered, why was Ollie betrayed? Merlyn is obviously working for the League of Shadows but are they working with the Ninth Circle? So many connections and yet are any of them valid? Last thought, the title for the next issue…The return of Roy Harper! Obviously so excited.
Final Score 10/10
Green Arrow Rebirth #17
Story: Benjamin Percy
Art & Color: Otto Schmidt
Lettering: Nate Piekos