Several years ago, nineteen-year-old Ollie Queen is working as a glorified office boy on his father’s oil rig, in the latest chance he’s been given by his magnate dad to prove he’s not a feckless pillock. Unfortunately, he is a feckless pillock, and in this zero month special celebrating one year of the New 52 he’s invited several dozen of his bestest pals onto the rig for a party.
By his side is best pal Tommy Merlyn, who laughs at Ollie’s attempts to fire a bow and arrow straight, and girlfriend Leena, who reckons Ollie could at least try being something other than a 24-hour party person. Leena flounces off after a little tiff, just as supervillain Iron Eagle arrives, having taken advantage of the relaxed security Ollie’s instigated for his shindig. The bad guy stresses that he’s just after oil, and if everyone sits tight, no one gets hurt.
Unfortunately, this is the moment that an impulsive, overconfident Ollie finally decides to prove his worth – and it’s his friends who pay the price
Judd Winick marks a brief return to Green Arrow with an impressive glimpse at Oliver Queen’s past, narrated by the hero himself. The events on the oil rig set Ollie on the path towards heroism, both in terms of landing him alone on a desert island, and teaching him to think before he acts – except when taking aim; that’s when a developed instinct must be trusted.
The story also shows us how Ollie became acquainted with Roy Harper, the future Arsenal, and makes it believable that Tommy might move from friend to foe. I was surprised to see Ollie having a play with a bow and arrow before his island sojourn, but an existing interest explains why he’d fashion a bow when he became a reluctant Robinson Crusoe. I’ve never thought any explanation necessary, mind.
Storyteller supreme Freddie Williams II puts a lot of work in here, giving us a vibrant cast of characters, great movement on the page and detailed backgrounds. For the first time in awhile, Williams has an inker, and Rob Hunter does a first-rate job, capturing the character of the linework. I’m not sure where Williams is going next, now his stint on Captain Atom is over, but I’ll certainly give that book a look. The pages are sensitively coloured by Tanya and Richard Horie, and sharply lettered by Rob Leigh. The cover comes from penciller Ivan Reis, inker Joe Prado and colour house Hi-Fi, and actually manages to make the latest Green Arrow costume look good. It’s just a shame the cover credits regular series writer Ann Nocenti for Winick’s work. There’s another error inside, with Ollie referring to Iron Eagle as Raven – wake up, chaps!
Otherwise, this is a top-notch flashback tale, deepening Ollie’s character and setting up Merlyn (I never did understand that as the name for an archer – now it’s his surname, which is fair enough) as Ollie’s greatest enemy. Winick doesn’t have any work planned for DC in the near future, but I hope this isn’t the last time he adds to the Green Arrow myth.