'Green Arrow #41' Is Just, Plain, Good Storytelling

by Richard Giraldi

17 June 2015

A grittier, more grounded Green Arrow is nothing new, especially for fans of CW's Arrow, but Benjamin Percy and Patrick Zircher take that concept to a new level of dark in Green Arrow #41.
 
cover art

Green Arrow #41

Benjamin Percy, Patrick Zircher

US: Aug 2015

If TV has taught me anything, it’s that even Green Arrow can be a badass. Yes, the golden bearded, robin hooded pretty boy who shoots trick arrows works even better in a grittier, more violent and more realistic environment. That’s perhaps why Green Arrow’s latest post-New 52 retooling, from the new creative team of writer Benjamin Percy and artist Patrick Zircher, feels so comfortable easing back from from the bombastic conclusion of Andrew Kreisberg and Ben Sokolowski’s pre-Convergence run. 

Like CW’s Arrow, Percy goes for a more grounded approach in Green Arrow #41. Just don’t expect to find Felicity or Diggle. This story starts from scratch with Oliver Queen underneath the grey skies of Seattle, Washington. Bored, jaded but oddly focused, Oliver spends the much of his time caring for his teenage sister Emi and yawning his way through important business meetings at his namesake company, Queen Industries.

It’s obvious, though, that Seattle is more than just some replacement level location. His motivation behind donning that green hood are founded in his affection the city and its people. A striking scene early on uses Oliver’s inner-monologue to describe his childhood struggle with regret after taking a photo of a ranting homeless person, and that memory fuels his anger when he unapologetically breaks a kid’s phone for doing the same.

Percy’s writing takes cues from suspense films in Green Arrow #41 including fully embracing the slow burn. A ferris wheel death in which a rider was seemingly airlifted from his seat and later found in pieces sets the story in motion. Oliver, who it’s revealed is far more confident in his abilities as a vigilante than a company CEO, seems strangely drawn to the event. He wastes no time examining the crime scene and going over security footage. But, as the reader learns, Oliver’s detective skills don’t help him discover the more nefarious plot currently threatening to damage his company from the inside out. Then there’s a mysterious white-faced man lurking in the background throughout whose alliances and motivations are unclear.

It isn’t until mid-issue that the fully costumed Green Arrow is revealed, and his introduction is a brief but wholly satisfying run-in with a couple of lowly street criminals. Their attempt to rob a woman in an dark alleyway goes awry when Green Arrow disables one with an arrow through the hand, and then shoots the other through the air after a poorly thought out attack leaves him entangled with an arrow. During this melee, Green Arrow sports a quick smirk. Oliver is excited by doling out this street-level justice.

In Percy’s story, Pennytown is established as an underrepresented Seattle community that doesn’t even garner the attention of local news after a string of suspicious disappearances, and it’s the Pennytown neighborhood Green Arrow is driven to protect. This very much recalls how Matt Murdock is drawn to fight back against those vying for control of Hell’s Kitchen in Netflix’s Daredevil.

In fact, that’s not the only similarity between Netflix’s Daredevil and Green Arrow #41. Zircher’s art is not only impactful with its more mature look, but the visual framing of key scenes gives the issue a truly cinematic feel. For example, when Oliver reviews security footage at his friend Henry’s office, the scene is seen a from corner ceiling perspective as if the reader themselves is viewing the action from a security camera. This approach very much recalls the innovative cinematography, specifically the hallway-fight scene, that made Daredevil so compelling.

Then, as if the issue’s near horror-level tone wasn’t firmly in place, Green Arrow #41 concludes with the mysterious white-faced man joyfully dousing someone tied to a chair with bleach. His sadistic smile that encompasses the final panel nears Joker-like sociopathy.

After failing to truly catch on in the New 52-era, it’s easy to root for Percy and Zircher’s dark, bleak and grungy take on Green Arrow. The character has already found an audience on another medium by utilizing similar techniques, so it’s easy to see the appeal of pushing Green Arrow even farther in that direction. And if Green Arrow #41 is any indication, the journey should be quite enthralling.

Green Arrow #41

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