“People” are the Detail that Matters Most in Green Arrow 28

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

At one point in Green Arrow 28 Lex Luthor compares himself to Sherlock Holmes, priding himself in his ability to be 12 steps ahead of everyone else, and proving it by (rather accurately) analyzing Arrow’s current situation based off of a few small clues in a most Cumberbatchian fashion. Yet for all his genius and detective prowess, there’s one small detail Luthor is rather blind to: people, especially the people who have helped make his company great.

In contrast, both Oliver and Superman are hyper-aware of the people they protect, more than anything else. Juan Ferreyra and Benjamin Percy highlight this just a page before Luthor’s big Sherlock speech in a sequence that’s more understated, yet far more impressive.

Clark may use X-Ray vision to confirm that this man is indeed carrying a knife, but it’s his instincts and understanding of human nature that leads him to check in the first place, and Clark is able to fell him by essentially turning the people around him into a Rube Goldberg machine, even finding time to help an old woman into a cab in the middle of the sequence. Clark isn’t just observant, but he truly understands the thoughts, humanity, and inherent value of the people he’s watching, and that ultimately gives him a leg up over Luthor, whose powers of observation exist only to make himself look good, and therefore are full of blind spots.

The New 52/Rebirth incarnation of Lex Luthor is an interesting character to me because he genuinely seems like he wants to do good and be a good guy; he’s even smart enough to turn down the Ninth Circle’s business offer. His problem is that his heroism is motivated by selfish reasons, by his ego, and thus he tends to overlook that the people he’s supposedly trying to protect are the most important details of all. Ollie’s smart enough to know that he’ll never convince Luthor of humanity’s intrinsic worth, but he can convince Luthor of their value to him, something the Ninth Circle exploits by trying to use Luthor’s employees against him.

Ollie’s gambit works; Luthor genuinely feels like he’s had an epiphany (and even if he’s still only thinking of people in terms of their value to him, perhaps he has; baby steps, people), and becomes Ollie’s ally in this fight, despite having far more in common with the Ninth Circle than Green Arrow and Superman. Oliver cares about people because he has a “bleeding heart,” not because he’s a detective, but that kind of compassion still gives him a perspective Luthor likely will never have.

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