Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester (p), Ande Parks (i)
Struggling with the injuries he received during last issue's encounter with the assassin-for-hire Drakon, we see Oliver manages to make a equal mess of his personal life, when he attempts to let Joanna know he's not looking for a relationship with her. We then end the issue with Oliver having a second encounter with Drakon, though this time out he's able to put on a better show.
The rematch Green Arrow has with Drakon in this issue is an impressive display of Oliver's ability to assess a situation where the odds are stacked against him and make the changes that need to be made. What's more it also smartly has Oliver recognize that a long, extended fight is not in his best interests, so he's willing to cut his loses and makes no effort to rescue the other monsters from the fire. In fact this final battle does such a great job of respecting the abilities of both fighters, that I was a bit surprised that Judd Winick is able to completely forget the idea that Oliver had an arrow rammed through each one of his hands. I mean injuries like this would surely make themselves felt during the heat of battle, and even if he is loaded up on pain killers, from a simple entertainment standpoint it would've made for a far more exciting time if these injuries had been even partially acknowledged, let alone have impacted his performance. The grin & bear it routine only works if such injuries are in a location that isn't put to constant use in combat, and asking the readers to accept that Oliver is able to perform at 100% in spite the injuries to his hands is asking to much of the readers. The issue does a pretty solid job of resolving the situation with Oliver's fling with Joanna, as it's about time someone took him to task for his inability to keep it in his pants.
As for the art, the work of Phil Hester continues to be quite effective when it comes to the darker aspects of the material, as the scene where we see Oliver bleeding out from his wounds, while he continues to fire arrow after arrow into the target is a wonderful visual representation of his inner torment. The battle scene between Oliver & Drakon was also quite effective, as Oliver's shift in the way he attacks is neatly presented, as is Drakon's growing frustration.
The biggest scene in this issue would have to be Oliver's encounter with Joanna as Judd Winick does a wonderful job conveying the almost flippant attitude Oliver takes when it comes to dealing with women. I also enjoyed the fact that he was caught trying to dismiss Joanna as an opportunistic, and that his attempt to degrade her, while making his own actions seem more noble was completely shot to pieces. The big fight that ends the issue is also quite entertaining as we know going in that Oliver got his head handed to him during their last encounter, so having him change his approach to a simple delaying action, so that he has enough time to make good his escape was a smart move on Judd Winick's part. I did find myself a bit put off by the idea that Oliver's injuries look to vanish during this battle. Still, I guess the scene where we see Oliver practising through the pain, and the blood loss we witness during this exchange is a sign that Judd Winick isn't going to ignore the problem outright.
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