When the New 52 reboot hit back in 2011, some characters clearly saw themselves a lot more changed than others. Titles like Batman and Green Lantern had relatively minor changes (although in both cases more changes came down the line as writers used the freedom provided to them to make more alterations) while books like Teen Titans were more or less completely rebooted. Perhaps the most ill-advised change in my book was to Green Arrow. The New 52 launched at the same time that the TV Series Arrow did, so I completely understood the impulse to reboot Green Arrow to make him align better with the TV series version. So when they announced that Green Arrow would be de-aged, that made some sense to me, even if I did not think it made a whole lot of sense to essentially nullify his longstanding relationships with Black Canary and Green Lantern. However, the end result by J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens ended up serving NEITHER goal – it erased all of his comic book continuity and it also didn’t remotely resemble the TV version of the character, either! That, to me, was just a total failure. The book’s creative team changed early on and the book got even worse. Things got so bad that after just sixteen issues, DC brought in a top notch creative team (Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino) to essentially reboot the reboot. And they did so, with a standard “scorched earth” revamp. Lemire and Sorrentino did a fine job on the title. But here’s the thing – despite their addition of the TV character John Diggle to the title, their take on Green Arrow was somehow even FURTHER away from the popular TV version of the character. Lemire and Sorrentino were doing an impressive sort of “ninja noir” tale, and I’ll miss their run, but I can understand the impulse to finally take Green Arrow more in line with Arrow.
And to do so, DC brought in two writers from the show, producer and co-creator Andrew Kreisberg and writer Ben Sokolowski (they’re co-plotting the stories with Sokolowski then scripting the book solo).
So let’s take a look at the latest Green Arrow revamp (three reboots in 35 issues, oh my!) in Green Arrow #35, courtesy of writers Andrew Kreisberg and Ben Sokolowski and artists Daniel Sampere, Jonathan Glapion and Gabe Eltaeb
Right off of the bat, the change in the book’s tone is evident, with an opening sequence that heavily evokes the TV series…
Sampere and Glapion provide a bold, traditional superhero style to their work and Eltaeb gives the whole proceeding a vibrant vibe (this is even more evident later in the story where much of the rest of the issue takes place in better lit situations).
The previous run is quietly abandoned (I’ll probably do a quick Abandoned Love on this issue next week) and Diggle is now firmly implanted as Green Arrow’s partner in crime-fighting. That is something that leaves a little to be desired, if only because there are things that translate very well to television that don’t work quite as well in comic books – and people wearing normal clothing and carrying a gun are one of those things. However, Kreisberg and Sokolowski do a good job at least making Diggle’s personality stand out, especially in contrast with Oliver. In this series, Oliver Queen is an optimist, perhaps even a hopeless one, someone who stands up to a visit from Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor and refuses to pair his billions with their billions because Oliver is most concerned about helping HIS particular city and he does not have faith that their plans can save his city the same way that he believes that he can.
We get a new love interest for Oliver (the head of his Queen Foundation charity), a new villain (his name is Mr. King – is that supposed to be a reference to Merlyn? His name was Arthur King) plus the re-introduction of two old characters, one from Green Arrow’s past (and kind of sort of Arrow’s present) and one from Arrow’s present. The former is the New 52 introduction of Mia Dearden as the person that the new villain is pursuing (I would not be surprised if Mia turns out to be Oliver’s half-sister in this continuity, as well) and the latter is the New 52 debut of Arrow standout Felicity Smoak (she’s on the cover, so I don’t think that counts for much of a spoiler, even though the issue sort of treats it like her appearance is a surprise). Felicity is one of the best things about Arrow, so I have high hopes for how Kreisberg and Sokolowski will work her into the comic book series.
On a pure level of accomplishment, I probably still prefer Lemire/Sorrentino’s run, but based on a combination of quality and practicality, I was quite impressed with how well Kreisberg and Sokolowski have merged the two worlds of Oliver Queen. Sampere, Glapion and Eltaeb did good work, as well (Sampere has been a bit of an unsung hero in the New 52. DC has used him in all sorts of different roles, from launching Pandora’s ongoing series to doing short runs on titles to doing fill-ins to doing Annuals).
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