Richard Gratton's Fantastic Reads 4 U

Green Arrow #20
DC Comics
Release Date: 04/05/2017

Green Arrow #20 brings us to the conclusion of the three-part Return of Roy Harper story arc. The story is fast-paced and action-packed, but as it has been throughout this title, the art leaves a little to be desired. Writer, Ben Percy has a good sense of his characters and the direction of this book, but DC's pace of production is not always conducive to quality art and storytelling; which is detrimental to some titles and not so much to others.

The Return of Roy Harper is a multi-layered, politically relevant, socially conscious comic book story that is also entertaining. Utilizing flashbacks to Oliver and Roy's history together and the fall-out that drove them apart, Percy creates a layered story, rich in background, not just between Oliver and Roy, but also Roy's adopted Native American family. Beyond this, Percy also capitalizes on the current Dakota pipeline protest to make his story current, relevant, and accessible to more people.

There is so much going on here: social activism, political activism, an unsolved murder, a battle with addiction, and family unrest. This story is packed with content. One glaring weakness for me (beyond the art) is the villain in the flashbacks: Count Vertigo is a flat character who is underdeveloped and lacks a purpose other than to be the token bad-guy who wants to wreak havoc on people.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint about DC comics right now: the bimonthly (or semi-monthly, if you prefer) publishing schedule. Granted this brings in more revenue for DC, but what does it do for the quality of the comics themselves? I can't possibly afford to read all the DC titles, especially not all the ones published twice a month, but some of the ones I do read are showing the strain of the shortened deadlines. How does this show? For some titles, it's in the lack of crisp writing, where stories are dragged out longer than necessary, such as Batman's I Am Bane. For other titles, it is the use of multiple artists and the lack of quality art by professionals whose work is usually much better and more refined than what we are seeing now, such as Green Arrow or the Godwatch storyline's creative team in Wonder Woman. Two titles completely unaffected so far by this scheduling are Aquaman and Detective Comics.

The art in Green Arrow looks unfinished part of the time, not all the time, but some of the time. It is inconsistent at best. This is a real shame too, because Percy's storytelling is smart and aggressive to the point where we are compelled to read more just because we want to know what happens next.

Green Arrow #20 is an action-packed conclusion to an ambitious story filled with subplots and backstory. For the most part it is well told and works. The art is lacking, but is probably a result of publishing deadlines. Hopefully, DC will eventually back off from its rigorous schedule and focus more on quality rather than quantity. Either way this title is well-worth the time and money.

Scale of Awesomeness: 8 out of 10