With DC Comics’ summer Rebirth reboot, many monthly series turned bi-weekly, and we’ve now already seen the first eleven issues published of many series. Like the many reboots before it, DC Comics introduced the Rebirth continuity to re-ignite its fan base after the success of the prior reboot–the New 52–dissipated. So many shake-ups and change-ups occurred in the New 52 that you’d pretty much need to read the entire DC Comics line to keep up with what has happened to even the key Justice League superheroes. With two issues per month that’s difficult for any reader to keep up with.
One of the better sellers in this year’s Rebirth line is the Green Arrow title. Under the New 52 Oliver Queen encountered as many changes to his character as anyone. In fact fans of Green Arrow were probably better served subscribing to the Arrow tie-in comic book to the television series to get a dose of the classic crusader. As likely as not the success of the CW Network series coupled perhaps with fans’ hopes for big changes from the New 52, and a restoration of the essential Oliver Queen, could account for the sales success of Green Arrow in DC’s Rebirth universe.
Otto Schmidt served as artist and colorist on the series in the introductory chapters. Bringing Oliver’s older look back to the character, complete with the goatee, was a move in the right direction. Schmidt used the supersuit of the modern update yet his style conjures up both Neal Adams and Mike Grell’s key design elements that defined Green Arrow’s look for decades. Writer Benjamin Percy, who was the writer on the series before the Rebirth kicked in, re-introduced the second key element that defines Oliver: his partnership with Black Canary. The lack of the Arrow-Canary partnership contributed to the wane of Oliver’s story in the New 52–as a solo character Queen was just too much like everyone else. Percy’s other shift is reminding everyone that Queen is first and foremost a fighter for social justice. In contrast to the billion dollar company he sometimes owns and sometimes loses, Queen is the ultimate anti-corporate superhero. So these three elements: his look, his partnership with Black Canary, and his brand of justice, form the framework for what could be a solid Green Arrow series going forward.
Plenty is left to be done. Queen’s social justice efforts have only scratched the surface with eleven issues already in the can. Instead, Percy has opted for some frivolous, but fun, nostalgia: several scenes are spent restarting a romance between Oliver and Dinah, and he’s brought back classic secondary characters like Shado and Eddie Fyers, both from Mike Grell’s definitive Green Arrow series The Longbow Hunters. With the story now firmly set in Seattle, also as Grell had done with the setting–and not Star City–we can see some good attempts are being made to rediscover what made the 1980s and 1990s Green Arrow worth reading about.