Part of the fun of superhero comics is seeing how certain series reflect their impact on readers back to them. In some cases, these circumstances come off as a bit preachy, feeling like a way to generalize what people take away from a certain superhero. But one of the best recent examples of this -- one that very poignantly shows the impact of DC’s superheroes -- is in Green Arrow #40.
The second half of Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s arc has several different purposes, mainly as one of two short stepping stones between Ben Percy’s and Julia and Shawna Benson’s runs. But what started off as the beginning of a new era for DC’s Emerald Archer brings so much into its second installment, and almost completely sticks the landing.
The issue picks up right where last month’s left off — Oliver is seemingly left for dead in Vakhar, Rhapastan, after being shot by a Deathstroke-inspired teenage warlord. While most readers had assumed that Oliver would find a way to survive that attack, who it is that helps him survive, a quartet of young heroes named The Vakhari Resistance League, is a genuine surprise.
From there, the issue takes on a unique sort of connotation, one that puts Ollie’s superheroics, and those of the heroes he regularly teams up with, into a fresh sort of context. As Oliver quickly learns, each member of the Resistance League is inspired by a Justice League member, embodying the essence of these iconic heroes while fighting in their own set of dire circumstances. (Also worth noting: one of the heroes has a Flash-related nickname that’s one of the issue’s biggest laughs.)
If another superhero had been the first to cross paths with the Resistance League, the end result might have come across as a little forced. But with Oliver, it tonally feels effortless. As one of the children points out, after Oliver refers to the group as superheroes: “We’re what we have to be. Surely you understand.”
And to an extent, both Oliver and those writing the issue know that he never truly can understand, with the “White Savior” of it all still being addressed in pretty nuanced ways. The Resistance League arguably play a bigger role in the issue than Oliver does, to a point where fans will almost want a solo series about the team. But the way Lanzing and Kelly craft the group, with a similar sort of "making the best out of a bad situation" energy the duo brought to Gotham City Garage, is done in such a consistent way that fans probably will not mind.
Oliver’s genuine goodness and sense of emotional responsibility is still heavily weaved in, in a way that illustrates how nuanced the modern Oliver Queen has become. All at once, Oliver feels like a combination of his updated and classic selves, one with such a genuine desire to work to be a better man. It’s something that Percy nailed pretty perfectly over his 52-issue run, but Lanzing and Kelly show just how easy it can be for other writers to embody as well.
(And for those who were initially worried about Black Canary’s absence from this arc, don’t worry. Dinah’s presence can be felt throughout the decisions that Ollie makes in this issue, something that will hopefully strengthen the bond of the fan-favorite couple when they reunite next.)
Also breathing life into the issue is Marcio Takara’s art, which continues to feel like a fitting spiritual successor to Juan Ferreyra’s art on the previous run. Certain panels have such a visceral quality to them, popping with color without being too overwhelming for the plot at hand. Marcelo Maiolo’s colors and Deron Bennett’s letters fill a similar sort of role, creating a story that’s way more cinematic than some would think it needs to be.
As I mentioned above, “The Children of Vakhar” finale almost needs to be several different things, and it essentially succeeds at that. The issue is equal parts an emotional examination of the series’ title character, an interlude for what’s to come, and a standalone story that shows the different things a superhero can mean. All in all, the issue shows just how important it is for DC to keep Green Arrow in its quiver.
Published by DC Comics
On May 2, 2018
Written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly
Art by Marcio Takara
Letters by Deron Bennett