Mike Grell’s ninth volume of Oliver Queen’s adventures as Green Arrow, Old Tricks has an overarching theme of one’s past coming back to haunt them throughout. Culminating in The Wonder Year, which takes us back to the early days of Ollie’s vigilante escapades.
As I’ve noted in past reviews of the series, it’s the complex relationship between Oliver and Dinah which guides the underlying character arc against a backdrop of flying arrows. In the first adventure, Triggered, the couple host a new year’s eve function at their home. Things don’t stay joyous for very long of course. Not just because of an assassination attempt on his life but also because Ollie succumbs to a moment of temptation when Marianne kisses him. As it happens, it’s the same moment that Dinah walks in the room to witness it. This awkward love triangle between them becomes a square when Shado (the mother of Oliver's child) returns to help track down the would-be assassin. Triggered has everything that makes Mike Grell's run so great; action, suspense, mystery and interesting character dynamics.
In the next installment, Killing Camp, with their relation seemingly over, Oliver takes advantage of the shady operative Fyres’ offer of a job for the CIA to take his mind off things. From here the volume becomes a little bit more by-the-numbers than I was expecting from the last in the series, ending with New Dog, Old Tricks which does however close out the fantastic run with a powerful and heartbreaking final panel.
The Wonder Year seems a bit of a tacked on standalone which takes us back to Green Arrow’s origins (a sort of Year One story) however in a way it also sets up Oliver with a clean slate for whatever may come next. Ollie’s first adventure in many ways mirrors his last, ending in tragedy. Grell reminds us that when all’s said and done, Oliver is Green Arrow and that despite his own personal hardships and losses or perhaps because of them, he will continue to try and save his city and while the separation from Dinah may be a new beginning for him or yet another step toward an oblivion of loneliness, it will continue to be business as usual for his alter-ego, for as long as he can anyway.