By Benjamin Percy & Juan Ferreyra
Green Arrow #21 begins a brand-new arc for Oliver Queen, who starts this issue alone without the help of people like John Diggle. There’s a brief recap provided here as to what Oliver’s been up to and his previous confrontation with Merlyn, as this book is mainly focused on setting the stage and establishing the arc to come. That looks to be a pretty good direction that explores both the past as well as the future. Here we establish that Oliver’s reputation, both in his civilian guise and his superhero guise, has been ruined and the arc itself (despite being a new beginning that is fairly newcomer friendly) also manages to act as an apparent culmination of everything that Percy has been building towards over the previous issues of this series.
The artwork by Juan Ferreyra is fantastic and really the high point of this book – it’s worth picking this up for his art alone. Ferreyra’s art is reminiscent of Andrea Sorrentino’s in this run and it’s always a good thing to be reminded of Jeff Lemire and Sorrentino’s epic run on Green Arrow in the New 52. Here, everything is suitably atmospheric and you get a real sense of doom and dread; an effective sense that something darker is coming. The layouts themselves are unique and really do add to the atmosphere. Rather than sticking to a typical structure Ferreyra experiments with his panels, often to great success. The fact that Ferreyra is on coloring duty as well means that everything is consistently awesome all the way through. It’s incredible, as he captures Star City and Oliver Queen perfectly, adding a rich, almost cinematic feel to the story that really works in its favor.
The Ninth Circle is a really interesting opponent for Oliver; with his enemies everywhere this organization has sunk itself into everything. It’ll be interesting to see how Percy has Oliver tackle this threat, which is a bit different from say, fighting a typical “big bad” villain. The villains themselves take up the large part of this issue and the plot really benefits them, with Oliver not getting as much page time in comparison. The stakes are revealed from the get g,o which works effectively in establishing a sense of agency in future issues. If everything is as strongly plotted and as strongly drawn as this issue alone, then we really could be in for something special here.
Green Arrow #21 is also important for fans of the character with how it that a major revelation that is handled really well. At the same time, this revelation doesn’t become the main focus of the story as The Ninth Circle are still very much front and center. For those expecting an action heavy issue, you may be disappointed as there isn’t much in the way of face-to-face conflict here, but on the whole, because everything is so well plotted it doesn’t stop this from being an fantastic read that pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. One thing’s for sure: if you’re Green Arrow fan, this issue is unmissable.