by Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
The power and dangers of money have been an ongoing theme throughout Benjamin Percy’s tenure on Green Arrow, which is why the Ninth Circle make such effective villains for his Oliver Queen. Their bizarre supernatural backstory is by far their least interesting facet; they’re most fascinating because they’re supervillain bankers, primarily using the power money brings to achieve their goals rather than brute force or even coercion. Like most bankers, they also invest in other organizations to achieve mutual goals — but since they’re supervillains, so are their partners.
In Green Arrow 26 those partners are the Black Hole, the group of scientists who have been plaguing the Flash throughout his Rebirth adventures. They’re looking to obtain the secrets of the Speed Force for themselves; the Ninth Circle are looking for more weapons to help fracture cities and rebuild them as corporate-owned entities, like the new Star City. It’s notable that the Ninth Circle only seems to be funding and supervising the Black Hole’s operations, yet ostensibly stand to do more damage with the results in the long-run. That’s the power of money in action — with relatively little effort, the Ninth Circle stand to gain a tremendous amount.
This partnership essentially amounts to a supervillain team-up, necessitating a superhero team-up in return. The two group’s primary opponents, The Flash and Green Arrow, attempt to work together to break up their operation, but have to work through some serious personality clashes in order to do so.
Barry Allen is generally a very nice person, but he has a history of not getting along with Oliver Queen. In the old continuity he was implied to be jealous about his BFF Hal Jordan’s friendship with Oliver (a relationship that has never existed in the New 52/Rebirth, but is teased twice in this issue — once by the storyline’s title itself, and once when Ollie stops at a gas station and mentions that he could have dropped in with a buddy in a past life), but here it appears to be rooted in the consummate professional’s disdain for Oliver’s sometimes sloppy, reckless, and antagonistic methods.
Despite their differences, though, Ollie and Barry are able to save the day, and even seem to learn to enjoy working together by the end — meanwhile, the Ninth Circle’s enforcer abandons the mission when the going gets tough, and their coerced technician willingly gives up valuable information. The lesson here is the same one we’ve seen echoed throughout this run, only amplified from a street level to a more global, superheroic scale: working together with a group of like-minded allies is always more effective than just throwing money around until you reach your goal.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?