Julie and Shawna Benson kicked off their run on Green Arrow with a hot start. Right away the Bensons built on what came before and put their own mark on this series by introducing a new villain in Seattle in the form of The Citizen. This new villain has taken Green Arrow’s approach to protecting his city to another level as The Citizen is going after the one percenters. Not only that but The Citizen has integrated social media into the way he hands out his own form of justice by letting people watching his livestreams vote on if his targets should live or die for their crimes.
Writer: Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On the radio different people call in to voice their support for the Citizen on a show. At the same time Oliver Queen races through the city as he tries to outrun people coming after him after the Citizen made him one of his next targets. After a long chase Oliver is able to lose his pursuers and sneak into a parking garage.
Black Canary is there waiting for Oliver with his Green Arrow gear. They then head into the internet cafe Batgirl told them that the Citizen has broadcasted from in the past.
Inside the internet cafe they are unable to find the Citizen. They do catch the Citizen’s new broadcast where they reveal their next target are Franklin Rossmore, Alison Kim and Oliver Queen. The Citizen then reveals he has one of Oliver’s high school friends, Kevin Carlson, hostage. The Citizen forces Kevin to reveal that when they were kids Oliver killed a woman after driving drunk and that Oliver’s dad paid the cops off to cover it up.
Green Arrow leaves the internet cafe with Black Canary going after him.
In the parking garage Black Canary questions Green Arrow on what the Citizen said. Green Arrow, after talking to his lawyer Kate about what was revealed, confirms to Black Canary that he did cause the woman’s death that the Citizen talked about. Green Arrow says he is not going to allow another person to die so he and Black Canary split up to protect the Citizen’s two other targets.
Black Canary is able to reach and get Rossmore to safety.
When Green Arrow arrives at Kim’s place he finds security guards already knocked out. When he enters a nearby barn Green Arrow finds that the Citizen has tied Kim to four horses, that she likely illegally dosed. The Citizen tells Green Arrow that if he does anything they’ll pull the trigger and cause the horses to rip Kim apart immediately.
The Citizen then starts their livestream. They talk about about how the Kims, like the Queens and Rossmores, will never truly pay for their crimes since the justice system will let them do whatever they want but the people watching can by voting can be the true judges.
Green Arrow has enough of what the Citizen is saying and is able cut three of the ropes attached to the horses. He then gets on the last horse and is able to free Kim from being dragged to death. In the middle of Green Arrow saving Kim, the Citizen is able to escape.
Green Arrow then shuts off the livestream with one of his arrows.
Later at the Bunker, Oliver admits to Dinah that the Citizen likely got away because he couldn’t stop thinking about the woman he killed when he was a teenager. Dinah tells Oliver that he has to stop blaming himself and that he did the right thing in how he saved Kim.
Dinah then gives Oliver some of the home cooked chili she made. As they enjoy their diner Oliver hears something outside.
Believing it is the Citizen they both get ready to fight. Superman suddenly appears outside their place and tells Oliver that they need to talk. End of issue.
The Good: A superhero story is only as compelling as the villain that they go up against. Julie and Shawna Benson have a great understanding of that as they continue to develop the Citizen as a compelling new villain in Green Arrow #44. With the rise of this new villain the Bensons have found a unique way to explore Oliver Queen’s past and present at the same time.
Starting out Green Arrow #44 with Oliver being chased by the people that the Citizen inspired to take action against the one percenters of Seattle set the stage for the rest of this story. In this single chase scene the Benson sisters were able to get across how effective the Citizen’s approach has been. This scene elevated the Citizen without them actually having to be a consistent physical presence. Going with this route makes the Citizen an even more compelling villain as he is doing what you normally expect from the heroes to inspire others to rise up in a positive way.
From there the Benson sisters are able to continue the build of the Citizen’s goals by revealing one of Oliver’s dark secrets that his father buried. Bringing to light this true story is a reminder of what kind of person Oliver and his family were. It gives credibility with the public that what the Citizen is doing in the right thing to do as Oliver and all the one percenters are easily able to get away with things that everyone else would go to prison for a long time.
Green Arrow admitting to Black Canary that everything the Citizen said was true made his heroic redemption be even more meaningful. To Green Arrow this has become personal not just because the Citizen is coming after him but because of the extremes the Citizen is taking. This goes against the justice system he is trying to help create and killing is absolutely the last option not the first. Though given how personal this all is it’ll be interesting to see if the Bensons have Green Arrow hesitate as he told Black Canary he did when saving Alison Kim.
Creating a situation where Green Arrow and Black Canary had to split up to save the two people the Citizen said he would target was a good test of how their partnership will go. There is no choosing in this situation as Green Arrow and Black Canary are equals and have full trust in getting stopping the Citizen. And even if they didn’t capture the Citizen we got to see how Black Canary was there to lift Green Arrow’s spirit when he is still beating himself up with how he failed.
The ending with Superman appearing was an effective hook ending for the next issue. There are multiple things that this could be about and it is likely about Roy Harper recently being the latest superhero to enter Sanctuary. This is something that the Bensons briefly touched on in the previous issue when Roy talked to Oliver and Dinah. Digging in deeper into Roy’s current situation keeps Arsenal a part of this series while also further building the mystic around Sanctuary since Green Arrow doesn’t know about it yet.
The Bensons have also done a good job with working Kate Spencer into this series. As we see in Green Arrow #44, Kate has a very low tolerance with Oliver’s crap. She is not afraid to call him out on the problems he is causing for himself and the company. That provides a great compliment to how Dinah deals with Oliver. At the same time the Bensons don’t just make Kate out to be the typical hardass. She has her caring side which we see after the Citizen’s broadcast as Kate spoke in a much more soft and understanding tone. This helps make Kate more of a complete supporting character that fans can understand.
Javier Fernandez delivered another great looking issue. Fernandez is at home with this series as his style fits in well with the street-level hero like Green Arrow and Black Canary. With how quickly Green Arrow #44 moves Fernandez keeps the sense of momentum moving forward. This added to the tension around the Citizen’s plot and how Green Arrow and Black Canary could not waste time in stopping Seattle’s newest villain. At the same time, Fernandez did a great job getting the emotions Oliver and Dinah were feeling during the slower, personal moment that ended Green Arrow #44.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Green Arrow #44 carried the momentum created by the previous issue to continue the development of the latest threat to Seattle. In the process Julie and Shawna Benson have created a villain that is unique to Green Arrow. Along with the way the Bensons ground everything that is going on with the relationship between Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. With how early on we are into the Bensons run this is a great time to get into Green Arrow if you aren’t already.