Plot: Benjamin Percy & Pat Zircher
Script: Benjamin Percy
Art: Pat Zircher
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with a man falling from the sky. The man goes splat onto the ground. The bystanders are horrified. The man’s body has been doused in bleach.
We cut to Emiko waking up. Ollie yells out for her help. (Check out the Black Canary music band poster on the wall. Nice touch!) Ollie is performing medical care on a large wolf that he rescued from a dog fight during the night.
We see a news report on the TV talking about the recent rash of deaths in Seattle. The most recent was Willis (Whatcha talking’ bout, Willis?) Coleman who was the unofficial mayor of Pennytown. (Pennytown is a poor area of Seattle.) Coleman’s body literally fell from the sky. (The man we saw in the beginning of the issue.) A bystander is interviewed and says that people have been vanishing from Pennytown for months. That it is now only receiving news attention because Coleman’s body landed in the land of “lattes and yoga pants.” (Ugh. White bitches. Doesn’t everyone just hate them? Wait, is it now okay to be racist against white women?)We shift to the police headquarters where the Police Chief of Seattle introduces a nerdy white male scientist (Oh, shit. That always adds up to a bad evil person.) The scientist unveils the Panopticon which is a spider/snake-like robot. It is designed to scan facial expressions, posture, apparel, manner of speech, geographic location and more. All of which can quantify the likelihood of criminal intent. The one black cop in the room says this talk of profiling worries him. (Because white cops are the only cops who stomp on people’s rights. Oh, wait. Maybe not.)
The scientist (who really looks like a wacky Nazi scientist) says that the good guys have nothing to fear. Just the human waste and the scum need to be worried. (Wow. This is really on the nose.)
We cut to a man at an outdoor cafe. A young girl snatches the hamburger off his plate and then runs to a nearby alley. She sits down and begins eating the burger. The Panopticon then appears on the scene and rips the girl’s arm off. (LOL. Really?! Stereotypical character meet over the top situation illustrating a basic point. Perfect.)We hop back to Ollie’s condo. Ollie wonders what the word “panopticon” means. Emiko explains the definition of the world “panopticon.” Emiko says that Ollie should really know all about this because Ollie backed the project. We then see Ollie on the phone with the executive who runs Queen Industries. (The executive is wearing a bowtie. Never trust any man who wears bowties. Never.) The executive feeds a pet spider (who has eyes like the Panopticon robot. Gee, how subtle.) Ollie complains that the Panopticon project is “Fascist. Racist. Classicist.” (It is all of the -ist’s!! Throw sexist on top, too! The first victim was a girl. I’m pretty sure it is speciesist since robots hate humans.)
Ollie says that who cares if a hungry kid steals food when there are cyber attackers stealing millions of dollars all the time. (Who cares about drunk drivers when there are murderers running around every day?! Not sure if Ollie knows how the theory of laws and the legal system operate in an organized society.) The executive points out that Ollie signed the contract and that there is nothing they can do now. The executive says “How about the CEO who doesn’t even know what’s happening at his own company.” The executive says that Ollie either needs to step up his commitment to the company as CEO or step down.
We cut to Ollie in the Arrowcave (Okay, so it’s not actually a cave. But it is a cool room full of all of his equipment, weapons and vehicles. And included among everything is a sweet lifted 3rd Generation Ford Bronco from the early to mid 1980’s. Screw the lame motorcycle! Drive the Bronco!!) Sadly, Ollie hops onto the bike. Ollie says that he is going to Tacoma where the production plant for the Panopticon robot is located. Ollie tells Emiko to reach out to Henry and find out if he has gotten an ID on the albino. Ollie then tells Emiko to take care of “his dog.” Emiko retorts “Oh, it’s your dog now, is it?” Ollie replies “My dog. My city. My sister. My responsibility.” (Mine, mine, mine. How selfish of Ollie. It really isn’t always about you!)We shift to the albino. (Speak of the devil. And what is up with the racist treatment of albinos? Why do they always have to be the bad guy?!) The albino leads a group of riot police up to a group of protestors. (Wait, why would some random civilian dude be leading the riot police?) The protestors have signs that say “This is what the 99% sound like.” (Wait. Pennytown is being presented as a low-income area where people have no money. So that would mean it is an area where the inhabitants are living below the poverty line. Therefore, shouldn’t the sign read “This is what the 14.5% sound like?“)
The albino tells the protestors to go home or they will be punished. The protestors refuse to leave and ask the albino “You and what army?” The albino then points to the army of Panopticon robots filling up the sky behind him. (How in the world did the protestors not see that army of robots the very second that the albino first approached them? Did these robots just immediately materialize out of thin air?)
We slide over to Ollie zipping along on his motorcycle. Ollie beats himself up over not paying attention to the contract he signed for the Panopticon robots. Ollie thinks about all the good charitable work he does and that he has to start paying attention to the details. Ollie arrives at the assembly plant. Ollie walks into the building and is stunned to see that it is empty. Suddenly, the evil scientist appears on the scene driving a Panopticon robot. (This is a luxury model. A one-off model the scientist made for himself. Sorry. You can’t get one.)
And with that we have ourselves a good old-fashioned slobberknocker! The scientist laughs at Green Arrow’s lame choice of a bow calling it “yesterday’s weapon.” The scientist says that today’s weapon is the drone. (Hey, now! Don’t besmirch all drones! There are some really cool Go Pro styled drones used for photography and video! This is unfair treatment of drones. Would that make this droneist?) The scientist grabs one of Green Arrow’s explosive arrows and it blows up next to Ollie. Green Arrow is knocked out.The scientist says that he knows Green Arrow just wants to protect his city. The scientist says that he wants the same thing. The scientist then picks up Green Arrow’s unconscious body and leaves the facility. (Well, thank God you don’t just kill the hero right now and be rid of him forever!)
We zip back to Ollie’s condo. Feeling a great disturbance in the Force, the wolf wakes up and walks over to Emiko. The wolf goes over to the window and then begins to howl. (Is this wolf psychic? How does it know that Ollie is in trouble? Perhaps it is a Jedi-in-training.) End of issue.
The Good: Green Arrow #42 was not a well written issue. Having said that, there were some nice aspects to this issue. First, I have to compliment Percy on delivering something that many current comic book writers seem utterly incapable of doing: Delivering a nice compressed story. Green Arrow #42 is impeccably paced and plotted. Seriously. Percy delivers an issue that is jam packed full of plot development.Green Arrow #4 is certainly not a thin read. The reader gets plenty of content for their money. This is the inverse of my take on Secret Wars #4.
Percy moves the story along with a clear purpose in mind from start to finish. There is not a single wasted panel in this entire issue. It is impressive how much ground Percy covers in Green Arrow #42. Even better is the fact that the story never feels rushed. The story progresses in a pleasant fashion and the scene transitions are seamless. I love how much plot progression we get while still maintaining a purposeful, but not rushed, pace.The real strength of Green Arrow #42 is Pat Zircher’s artwork. Zircher always turns in a quality job and this issue is no exception. What I particularly love about Zircher’s art is his excellent attention to detail. Zircher understands that the small things matter. The little details that many artists feel are not worth putting into their panels are exactly what makes a setting fully developed and helps the reader to escape their world and fully enter the world of the comic book.
There are several excellent examples of this incredible attention to detail. First would be the Black Canary rock poster in Emiko’s bedroom. That is a nice nod to the new Black Canary comic book. It is also a nice tip of the hat to the longstanding relationship between Ollie and Dinah. Then there is the Robin Hood poster in Ollie’s condo. It is nice to see the acknowledgment of Ollie’s source of inspiration for his career as the champion of the underdog.Another example is the lovingly detailed Ford Bronco. Sure, Zircher could have drawn a generic truck for that panel. But, instead, he took the time to draw a detailed and accurate reproduction of a 3rd Generation Bronco. That level of detail and attention to your craft is what separates the true pros from the amateurs.
Lastly, Zircher takes the time to draw some wonderful architecture for the buildings of Seattle. Sure, Zircher could draw generic buildings. However, he takes the time to draw indicivula and unique architecture for the buildings in his panels. The little things matter. The details are important.
The Bad: Green Arrow #42 was tough to take seriously and tough to sit through. Percy constructed Green Arrow #42 out of an unpleasant concoction of stereotypes and clichés that are malodorous to the reader. The entire story is uninteresting and unoriginal in every aspect. The reader feels like everything they get in this issue they have seen before and in a much better fashion.The writing was adolescent at some points and downright amateurish in other parts. Percy handles all of the literary themes in this story in such a clumsy fashion. The themes and messages Percy tried to conveying were way too obvious and on the nose. They come across as unartful. Percy practically beats the reader over the head with them. There are numerous examples of this through out the entire issue. Just one example is the mean executive feeding the multi-eyed spider he conveniently kept on his desk that has eyes just like the Panopticon robot.
It all is just too much. The overly dramatic and ham-fisted way this story was delivered only served to make the reader laugh at the most inappropriate moments. Less is more is definitely a maxim that Percy should take to heart with future issues of Green Arrow.The dialogue vacillated between stiff and generic at times to being down right ham-fisted at other moments. The character work was completely lacking. Ollie is presented as bland as possible. He is a one-dimensional character. I get he has a bleeding heart, but there simply has to be more than that to his personality. Ollie is so incredibly undeveloped to the point that he is more of a cardboard cut-out than an actual fully developed character. Emiko plays her role as the dutiful and run-of-the-mill sidekick. There is nothing engaging about her character in the least bit.
The villainous scientist was as one note character. Did he even have a name? Who knows? His identity and character really did not matter outside of him being evil and a scientist. The villain is the most important ingredient to any story arc. The villain is the engine that makes a story hum. Without a compelling villain it is almost impossible to craft a story that successfully engages the reader.
And the Panopticon robot? Boring. The Panopticon robot comes off like a generic killer robot that we have seen many times before. And its actions were too predictable. And they were way too fast, as well. The robot went from zero to insane in just its first mission! I like compressed stories as much as the next person, but Percy should have at least given us an issue of the robot acting somewhat normal before going batshit crazy. The villainous scientist and the Panopticon robot came across as unintentionally comical. They were like campy villains from some low budget Sci Fi movie.The poor dialogue and lack of character work combine to create the perfect storm where there is zero chemistry between any of the characters. The reader never gets invested in any of the characters. This also leads the reader to not becoming invested in the story itself.
Also, there are several moments where the story lacks internal logic. Part of that is due to the adolescent style of writing that seems to gloss over facts in favor of a thematic message that the writer badly wants to convey. One example of this would be the scene with the protestors, the albino and the army of Panopticon robots. These gaps of logic or completely unrealistic moments simply serve to rudely pull the reader out of the story.
Overall: Green Arrow #42 is marred by flawed and undeveloped writing. This issue reads like it was written by a student in a creative writing course in undergraduate school. However, Zircher’s artwork is so enjoyable that it alone almost makes this issue worth the price of admission. Still, I have a hard time ever recommending a comic book based on the artwork alone. In the end, Green Arrow #42 is such a dull and unoriginal read that I simply cannot recommend that anyone spend their hard earned money on this issue.