“Green Arrow: Rebirth” #1 is easily my favorite “Rebirth” title so far. Writer Benjamin Percy and artist Otto Schmidt present a newly goateed, energetic Oliver Queen who teams up with Black Canary for some “social justice warrior” action (yes, they went there). Oliver and Dinah’s highly anticipated reunion has plenty of spark and spirit, as they take on a human trafficking ring menacing Seattle’s homeless population. Schmidt’s art, though, really gives the book its sense of joy and energy, with animated, angular characters, rich greenwood colors and action-packed page layouts. Despite leaning a bit on cliche, “Green Arrow: Rebirth” #1 is a back-to-basics blast.
Schmidt’s fight scenes sing with swashbuckling action and speed. Oliver and Dinah’s fighting tactics — urban acrobatics, charging sprints and quick martial arts movements — are all about fast, focused energy, and their lean, stylized body language conveys that smashingly. More importantly, though, Schmidt excels at crafting each page as a whole. He knows how to make the panels talk to one another, emphasizing the shape and thrust of each panel’s action with its shape. A book with this many seven- and eight-panel pages could have easily felt busy, but “Green Arrow: Rebirth” just feels energetic.
I don’t often have a format preference, but I do recommend reading this one in digital, if possible. The colors on my tablet were deeper than those in my print copy, and Schmidt’s beautiful, natural backgrounds are one of my favorite elements here. In the Jungle, a homeless encampment, he goes full Sherwood-by-Pacific-Northwest, with drenched-looking, green-and-blue pages. From there to the oranges and pinks of the city to Dinah and Oliver’s RomCom-esque finale, he really captures the mood.
As for the script, Percy embraces the character’s Robin-Hood-inspired background. Oliver narrates that he “prefer[s] the job description of social justice warrior” and emphasizes “how much Queen Industries gives to charity.” He takes on a vicious capitalist who preys on the homeless precisely because they’re “so irrelevant they may as well not exist.” Indeed, Oliver’s chest-out, hero’s challenge to his foe is simply saying, “Someone cares.”
All of this self-proclaimed ally-ship and white-knighting could easily feel self-congratulatory, but Percy positions Black Canary as a perfect foil. She provides a much-needed counter to Oliver’s self-image, keeping him in check with observations like, “You call yourself a social justice warrior…but look at this apartment…I think you’re a bit of a hypocrite.” She pushes back against his savior complex with her lived experience as a foster kid. Even better, for all their disagreements, there is a real sense of shared purpose in their team-up.
Unfortunately, there are also some corny lines in here. When Oliver says, “I might be a loudmouth, I might have a lot to learn. But don’t underestimate me,” it almost felt like a line from another story, with its youthful desire to prove oneself. In addition, Percy tries to emphasize Dinah and Oliver’s instant connection, but lines like “There’s something about her… something that makes me feel gratefully defenseless” appear out of the blue. Their rapport is well-established through their actual interactions, so it was disappointing to see some artistic doubt pop up in those too-obvious lines.
As a whole, “Green Arrow: Rebirth” #1 is a breath of fresh air. Black Canary and Green Arrow’s team-up is a dynamic delight, and I can’t wait to see this artist tackle some more fight scenes.