Written by: Benjamin Percy
Art by: Juan Ferreyra
DC’s Rebirth event has often meant new entry points for casual fans and returning characters for lapsed fans. The current story arc from issues #8 and #9 tell a side story to the larger arc that writer Benjamin Percy has built since the start of Rebirth. Oliver’s lost the company and his fortune, which was taken from him by a company executive. The executive, of course, was is in league with the main villains of the story line. Oliver’s half sister Emiko, who was the focus of issues #6 and #7, was believed to have betrayed him but was really working to reunite Oliver with his teammates and take down the evil secret society with burned off skin.
Although, do not worry about all that backstory. Issue #9 wraps up a two part tale that serves as a side story to the larger narrative. Oliver, the Black Canary, and Diggle are separated and marooned on an island after the conclusion of issue #5. Readers who have been keeping up are treated to references to the larger plot, but new readers are provided a familiar story of divided teammates working from the inside and out to take down an isolated threat. The hook that Percy uses in this issue is that ultimate threat is actually the heroes. The locals on the island are used and mislead by those skinless villains, The Ninth Circle, from the previous arc. And there already is a character working to cast out The Ninth Circle and reclaim the island and it’s resources before any of the heroes show up. In a nice twist on tradition, the heroes create more collateral damage than good deeds in their “heroic” efforts.
Percy paces the story well providing personal conversation and dialog on top of Stephen Byrne’s frenetic action scenes. The challenge with issue #9’s part two is that comes after a wonderfully scripted, paced, and illustrated part one in issue #8. Artist Otto Schmidt, who illustrated the first two issues of the series, illustrated issue #8 with a detailed, realistic style compared with the cartoony, colorful style of Stephen Byrne’s art in this issue. The result is that the emotional characterizations of the last issue lead to Saturday morning action set pieces in this issue.
Byrne’s art for issues #6 and #7, while cartoon-like remained consistent. Here the villain is illustrated as much older and weathered from one issue to the next. These tonal differences in art are not uncommon in shifts in creative teams or the timelines of publishing bi-monthly issues. Some readers will be fine with the return of Byrne’s style, while other fans will be eager for Schmidt to return again. Byrne’s animated and fun style is well done and feels primed for a Green Arrow cartoon series, but it does create a tonal difference from the last issue.
Issues #8 and #9 are a good jumping in point for old and new fans of the character. Issue #8 was a wonderfully slow paced reunion of the duo of the Green Arrow and the Black Canary and was a solid 9.0 of an issue. Issue #9 continues the reunion and character development while providing the heroes a quick rescue mission to remind readers this is a super hero comic. The conflicting ending provides some potential hooks for Oliver to return to, allowing him to wonder how much good comes from his interventions. Unfortunately, after a strong issue #8, Percy’s conclusion to this side story feels mostly like just another super hero tale.
The story arc of issues #8 and #9 are a strong 8.0, but this issue stumbles after a strong start. The forced connection to the larger plot feels coincidental at best and contrived at worst. Overall, Percy has a great handle on this cast of characters and now that they are reunited, fans of any version of the Green Arrow are in for a treat.