REVIEW: Green Arrow #10

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Or – “Oliver Queen: Trapped In A World He Never Made.”

I have a love/hate relationship with Green Arrow for nearly 30 years now.  I loved his run in Detective Comics, but hated him in the JLA.  I loved parts of The Longbow Hunters, but disliked the regular title that followed.  Parts of Kevin Smith’s revamp were brilliant, but things fell apart as that book aged.  Green Arrow/Black Canary was fun, but a little too talky and soap opera for my tastes.  The Brightest Day-era GA title was a complete turnoff, but Chris at Gatekeeper recently told me that GA’s New 52 stories were starting to appeal to him again.  Having had good luck with Chris’ recommendations before, I decided to pick up this issue and give it a whirl…

GREEN ARROW #10
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Penciler: Steve Kurth
Inker: Wayne Faucher
Colorist(s): Richard & Tanya Horie
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Joey Cavalieri
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Green Arrow:  Oliver Queen is a study in contrasts.  A businessman who decries business methods, a young man in command of an international conglomerate, a hero with no powers who still has to take crap off Batman.  Of course, the last few months have been hard on Green Arrow, with the mysterious Skylark(s) toying with affections, his business being stolen out form under him, and being rejected from the Justice League, Oliver is searching for a new star to sail by…

SUICIDE IS PAINLESS…

Things open in action-movie fashion, with a young woman on a motorcycle, careening through the streets and rapturously discussing machines which she has loved.  It’s an oddly disturbing monologue, which ends somewhat startlingly as she rockets off the side of a bridge to her inevitable doom…

…only to be saved from the brink by the intervention of Green Arrow!  Yay, hero!  ‘Course, her anger that he didn’t let her die kind of throws a wrench in things, as does her protestations that she’s not even human.  It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Ann Nocenti, but the hallmarks of her work are here (strong dialogue and characterization, combined with moments that are  awkwardly intimate to read about) and the first half of the issue is quite intriguing.  Pauline, the young self-destructive woman, makes our hero question himself (and also implies that his costume has more armor and metal in it than I’m expecting from Green Arrow), but most importantly, has extensive cybernetic enhancements and a BAR CODE identifying her as the property of Macrotics.  There’s a company name that will send a chill down your spine…

ROBOT ROLL CALL!

The second half of the issue plunges head-first into questions of human nature, psychology and free will, and man is it awkward.  Is Pauline a robot or a human?  I’m still not sure, honestly.  Macrotics has a secret, and their “automatons” are as much human as machine, most of them seemingly suffering from severe personality disorders or mental illness.  Having read the issue, it’s clear that there’s more to the story that we see, and the end of the comic (a “Robots Anonymous” meeting for those who seem to be addicted to cybernetic modifications) is a stroke of utter brilliance that seems out of place in the DC Universe.  Then again, the DCU isn’t what it used to be.  The issue ends with Green Arrow having seemingly saved the day, yet leaves many of Macrotics’ “products” in the same position as they were before, only now they’ve been transformed into inhuman hybrds machines, leaving them further out than ever.  There’s no pat ending here, and the issue leaves us hanging, the better to approximate Oliver Queen’s own disillusionment and confusion…

THE VERDICT: I’M TORN.

Art-wise, the issue is fine, with nothing to complain about (other than Green Arrow’s lack of a goatee, but that’s just my old-guy hatred of change talking) and no problemic moments that took me out of the story.  Unlike many who draw Green Arrow, Steve Kurth and Wayne Faucher at least understand the mechanics of drawing a bow, and while their robots were a bit generic, that seemed to be intentional for story purposes.  All in all, it’s an issue that, while flawed, drew my into Pauline’s plight, and made me feel the hero’s frustrations, which is an achievement by itself.  Green Arrow #10 is a confusing but entertaining book, successful in conveying emotion, but a little puzzling as a whole, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s good to see Nocenti back in mainstream comics, and I’m more interested in her Green Arrow than in the one who has been running about he DCU and DCnU since 2009 or so…

Rating: ★★★☆☆