This review is based off a volume that collects Green Arrow #6-11.
If I could say anything about Green Arrow’s time in the New 52, it’s that it certainly had its ups and downs, but still managed to make vital contributions to the character’s enduring legacy. That said, it often felt like creators tasked with writing for the book tried to reinvent the wheel. Furthermore, it was obvious that version of the Emerald Archer was patterned after Smallville’s Justin Hartley, making him look outdated the moment Arrow debuted on The CW.
Enter Benjamin Percy, the writer with the Midas Touch who took the Rebirth concept quite literally, effectively restoring all the quintessential parts of the mythos. From the patented goatee to the bleeding heart conviction to being paired with Black Canary, everything you’d expect from the titular hero is all here. And, as for his look, it’s obvious some inspiration was taken from the Arrow season 4 costume, but just enough to make it appear simultaneously contemporary and timeless.
Speaking of aesthetics, no less than three triple threat artists (those who pencil, ink and color) contributed to this volume and, thankfully, they gel well. Otto Schmidt, who set the visual precedent for the current run, puts in an appearance, with the immensely talented Stephen Byrne having put in the most work. But, to me, it’s Juan Ferreyra who stole the show. Seriously, when I think of Green Arrow in comics these days, I think of him because so many of his pages are nothing short of frame-worthy.
This collection is comprised of three two-parters, the first of which could’ve been included in the previous volume if the powers that be saw fit. Basically, it uses Emiko Queen as its lynchpin, showing her get caught up in the world of organized crime in the present, and teaming up with her big brother in the past. Essentially serving as an interlude when it comes to the series’ main narrative, we at least get to see a reimagined Clock King during the portion that explores yesteryear. As expected, he’s not the greatest threat you’ve ever seen, but does work in a “freak of the week” sort of way.
Once we fully come back to the present, Percy sends us to the one place you go when you truly want to make matters difficult for an Oliver Queen who’s had the rug pulled out from under him – an island. Don’t worry, it’s not a rehash of how he came to be, but rather, a splendid callback. And luckily for our hero, a few of his friends have coincidentally washed ashore as well: Black Canary, for one, whom he, like, so totally did it with on the beach, and none other than John Diggle, whom uncovers a Ninth Circle opium manufacturing center without even trying.
While the ensuing adventure in the middle of nowhere wasn’t quite earth-shattering in and of itself, the true highlight was that of the interaction between characters. Percy just knows how to play Ollie and Dinah off each other, making them one of the most well-oiled (or lubricated, if you prefer) machines in comics today. And, dare I say, the latter feels more at home here than she does with the Birds of Prey.
Clearly, the author saved the best for last by having GA and company board the Empire Express – a train that runs from Shanghai to Seattle, and underwater, no less – only to get swept up in a high-octane thrill ride chock full of murder and international intrigue. It’s the brilliance of the aforementioned maestro, Ferreyra, that brings this pulse-pounding conclusion to life as nobody else could have. You’d be hard pressed to come up with a better or more exciting way to bring the crew back home.
Without a doubt, Green Arrow Vol. 2: Island of Scars continues to prove why this series is one of Rebirth’s best offerings. As I alluded to earlier, it gives longtime fans everything they could want, while managing to be inviting toward newbies. Sure, it may not quite reach the heights the previous volume did, at least in my opinion, but it’s definitely in must read territory nevertheless.
Although Island of Scars may not prove to be Benjamin Percy's definitive addition to the Green Arrow mythos, it's undoubtedly worthy of adorning the shelves of anyone reading this.