Please note this review contains expletives
Written by: Ben Percy
Art by: Stephen Byrne
Publisher: DC Comics
I keep wanting to give most of DC’s Rebirth books more chances. No matter how many issues in a row they disappoint me, I still drag myself back for the next one, telling myself “surely this one will be better.” Green Arrow is one such book. I haven’t really liked an installment of the series since perhaps issue #2, and that’s in spite of the consistently phenomenal team of rotating artists.
The problem with Green Arrow #6, and the series as a whole, really, is fairly simple: The book is overwritten. This issue seems to be endemic amongst DC’s line, with very few exceptions. It’s almost as if Ben Percy doesn’t have faith that the artists he’s working with can tell the story competently enough through their visuals and feels the need to smother them with text. And it’s a shame–Stephen Byrne is the third artist the book has had, and he lives up to the phenomenal pedigree of Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra.
With this issue, part of the problem certainly stems from the fact that Percy is trying to cram way too much content into a single issue. There just isn’t enough page space for everything he’s trying to do here, and so he over explains rather than just letting events play out organically. Nothing gets enough room to breathe, which annoys me, because Emi is a character that has been consistently short changed throughout this series.
Oh yeah, I guess I should mention that this issue focuses entirely on Emi, presumably setting up a story that will run parallel to Oliver being stranded on an island. The first couple issues established the rapport between Emi and Oliver, and it was actually pretty incredible. I understood their relationship and connected with it. If anything, having Percy explain it to me in a never ending stream of text boxes only weakens the foundation he had started to build.
Ultimately, that’s what this issue is–it’s just Emi explaining her character dynamic with Oliver. Here, let me break it down for you:
Emi: “This is one of Oliver’s character traits. This is how it impacted me.”
This kind of writing has literally zero impact. No matter how many times a character tells me about their relationship to another character, it isn’t believable until I get to see that play out for myself. Oh, and cramming in a few flashback panels where the art is barely visible doesn’t count. I need to see those characters connect with one another on a personal level, and interact like people.
There’s nothing genuine about this issue. The first few pages are supposed to be pay off for Emi and Shado’s relationship, but at this point, I’m left wondering what they’re relationship actually is. I mean, yes, I know they’re mother and daughter, don’t get smart with me. But when Emi apparently decides she wants nothing to do with Shado anymore, I should be pumping my fist, going “fuck yeah, get ’em Emi!”
Instead, I looked at the panel and went “Sure, yeah, I guess that’s a thing that’s happening in this story.”
If it’s not clear, let me spell something out for you: THAT SHOULD NOT BE MY RESPONSE TO A MOMENT THAT IS MEANT TO BE PAY OFF FOR AN ENTIRE STORY ARC. The more I think about it, the more upset it makes me, so I guess it’s eliciting some form of emotional response. But that’s just because the book is not very good.
Ultimately, Green Arrow #6 feels completely pointless. It should have been an engrossing one shot centered around Emiko–one that began to explain her actions in the last arc, and maybe provided her character with a little bit more depth. But nope, despite attempting to do both of those, it succeeds at doing neither. What it succeeded at doing was boring the shit out of me and just leaving me confused. Why does Emiko take any of the actions she does in this issue? Who knows? They don’t make a whole lot of sense.
BUT! Holy shit Stephen Byrne’s art is phenomenal. It feels like the mid point between the work of Juan Ferreyra and Otto Schmidt, tonally. It’s reminiscent of Gotham Academy as well, which, considering the subject matter is fitting.
Byrne’s ability to capture movement is outstanding. The action scenes all look great, and they feel super fluid. Everything else about his art is just as strong, particularly when it comes to portraying emotions. His art does more to make the characters feel human than any of the writing does.
The issue is an emotional rollercoaster for Emi–capturing her at both highs and lows, in moments of anger, passion, sadness, and affection. If all, or most, of the text were to be removed, it’s more than likely I would be giving this issue a glowing review on the back of the work Byrne does. As it is, his art is incredible, and makes me wish I could give this book a much higher score. Unfortunately, enough of it is obscured that I can’t quite justify that.
I feel like I’ve been too forgiving when it comes to some of these Rebirth books, just because I have an affinity for the characters. But Green Arrow #6 is a bad comic. It has the potential to be good, but it’s written into oblivion and lacks any impact whatsoever. I’ve spent way too long writing about it at this point. More time than it deserves, to be sure.