This review contains spoilers.
Green Arrow #51 is written by Benjamin Percy with art by Szymon Kudranski and colors by Gabe Eltaeb.
An infection spread over Seattle turning men into werewolf creatures known as Wargs. Oliver Queen was also infected. In desperate need of a cure, Oliver and his sister Emiko have traveled to Africa to find Doctor Miracle who can theoretically cure Ollie. However, Deathstroke also hunts for Doctor Miracle. Green Arrow’s plane was shot out of the sky and he was taken prisoner along with Emiko.
Green Arrow, with the Lukos disease, is not easily held captive as he soon proves. However, Deathstroke arrives and kills all of the natives. Green Arrow and Deathstroke have a fight which the latter easily wins. The issue ends with Deathstroke seemingly killing Green Arrow.
The art is fantastic. Eltaeb’s colors are lush and are really able to shine in this environment. It’s nice to get out of rainy Seattle for once and have something colorful to look at. The action is also really well drawn. It’s dynamic, looks cool and is very easy to follow.
Green Arrow looks like Green Arrow. Enough said. I will not get over how cool it is to see classic Ollie physically at least.
Deathstroke is too good in this. I get that Deathstroke is a bad-ass but there is a limit to the plausibility. What made Slade such a foe in New Teen Titans was that you could see how his mind worked. He wasn’t invincible; he could take hits and get knocked down. He would then learn from that and adjust. Like Batman, Deathstroke’s greatest ability is his intelligence. If he could be beaten, it was more fun to see him win because he would have to work for it. He was challenged. In recent years, I’m never worried about him because he wins almost every fight with ease and can go toe to toe with people he absolutely should not be able to. I do not buy for a second that Slade, as good as he is, can taken this Werewolf-Ollie head on. But, he does. If he had used some sort of strategy or mental manipulation, that could have been cool. Instead, he just beats Oliver in a straight fight.
Percy’s intention seems to be to create a hybrid combing Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Green Arrow with Mike Grell’s. That is a good idea since those are the two strongest interpretations of the character but it doesn’t completely work. I love that Percy is trying to make this book politically minded again but it’s not very subtle. The themes and political commentary are practically shouted to us in Oliver’s pretentious narration boxes. It’s a nice attempt but I wish Percy would let the story stand on its own without having to blatantly spell it out.
Overall, the art is great and I love the effort being put forth. But, the writing isn’t very subtle which takes me out of it and there isn’t an engaging conflict. Slade is able to win too easily so there’s never any tension. It’s certainly not bad but it doesn’t leave much of an impression. I would wait for the trade on this one mainly for the art.