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Green Arrow #17 – Review

GREEN ARROW #17

By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art)

The Story: Things are blowing up for Oliver Queen—but not in a good way.

The Review: When Green Arrow first relaunched, it was somewhere near the bottom of the list of new 52 titles I was interested in.  J.T. Krul and Dan Jurgens was the creative team at first, and neither had impressed me enough to garner my interest.  I checked in when Ann Nocenti took over, having never been exposed to her work before, and was thrown by her off-the-cuff writing style (which continues to bewilder me on Catwoman) and Harvey Tolibao’s bland art.

So you must understand that I jump onto this title with little to no idea what’s been going on for the past year and a half.  I have no attachments to anything or anybody in the story.  I wouldn’t know if anything written fits in with anything already established.  I’m putting my complete confidence into this title based solely on Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s credentials as writer and artist—which is a risk, I understand, but one of the more promising ones.

Even from an outsider’s standpoint, however, I think Lemire’s playing with fire here.  Although he’s avoided coming right out and saying so, he’s made it clear his intention is to redirect the series.  Translation: wipe the slate clean and start over.  And the only way to make that work in the brand new continuity of the new DCU is simply to do away with everything he has no use for, like long-running supporting characters (I’m assuming) Emerson, Jax, and Naomi.

In fact, the issue’s opening pages reveal not only Lemire’s mission statement for his run on the series, but also perhaps his opinion of the work that’s come before him.  As Oliver Queen reflects on his life up to this point, he realizes “that it was all a joke.  An expensive game…  I was Oliver Queen.  I was the Green Arrow.  But now I’m no one.  And the man who had everything is about to die alone.”  In other words, this is both a fictional and spiritual rebirth for our hero, allowing Lemire to remake the emerald archer into a whole new image.

Judging by the dialogue running through the issue, Ollie’s previous image wasn’t all that impressive.  He endures disappointment and disdain from both his friends (Emerson: “Maybe it will force you to grow up…give you a second chance.  A chance to become the man you were supposed to be.  A great man.”) and enemies (Komodo: “You have no idea what you could have been, do you?”).  I’m not sure I like how direct and pointed these criticisms are; they feel a bit too forced and corny to be entirely convincing.  Nevertheless, I appreciate that Ollie’s cockiness gets called out, tested, and utterly defeated at every turn.  These aren’t great moments for our hero, but they are necessary if the goal is to strip away the superficial elements of his personality to reach something deeper, more noble and more sincere.

If Lemire wants a more grounded, urban tone to Green Arrow, Sorrentino makes a great artistic companion.  Sorrentino’s noir-ish, hatched style immediately conveys street-level storytelling, and he proves surprisingly adept at depicting Ollie in battle.  Though his visuals tend to be a little static, they also emphasize how clean, fluid, practiced, elegant, and graceful Ollie’s kind of martial arts can be.  Where Sorrentino almost defeats himself is in his erratic, experimental use of colors.  His pattern of bleached panels, touched only by single spots of colors, clearly shows that he’s trying some new things and finding ways to make the issue look more hip and modern, but not every attempt works and at times it even distracts from the story.  My bet is that Sorrentino will find a happy middle ground in a couple issues, but for now, his work is ambitious, but not entirely successful.

Conclusion: If you’ve been a fan of the title up till now, I suspect you’ll be nonplussed to discover all you’ve invested in has been practically wiped away.  If you’re a newcomer, you’ll appreciate the possibilities introduced in the issue, though none ripen here.

Grade: B

- Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: - Oh, no.  Don’t tell me we have to go back to “the Island” again.  I would be happy if we never had to refer to that tired origin story ever again.

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8 Responses

  1. Okay…..I tried this out, but it really didn’t speak to me at all. It felt like something that was written for someone who is a longer term GA fan. I mean…..I didn’t immediately delete it from my iPad or anything, but I didn’t see any reason to buy the next issue.

    • Frankly, I don’t think it was an issue that begged to be followed, but I think for what it is, it’s a solid effort.

  2. Jeff Lemire is a force. Ever since I read his Essex County stories, I’ve been a fan. Besides his short run on “Superboy”, I’ve enjoyed everything he’s done. “Sweet Tooth” was especially wonderful. I think I’ll wait for reviews on later issues before investing in his run on Green Arrow, though. The only exposure I have to the character is from the GL team up trade paperbacks and the excellent cameo in The Dark Knight Returns.

    • I’m not sure if you hung in there, but I really thought the last arc on his Superboy run was quite good, much better than everything else (barring the first issue, which was a strong opener).

      Personally, it’s Justice League Dark that hasn’t done much for me. I’ll probably drop it after this arc is done.

      Trillium is going to kick all kinds of ass though.

      Re the review: I can’t imagine there are actually die-hard fans for the Krul and Nocenti runs who’ll be all bereft over it being dusted away. If these people exist, I worry more for their sanity than anything else.

      • I stopped reading after two issues. Is it worth picking up the trade paperback? And I forgot about Justice League Dark. It didn’t make the cut when the new 52 was launched. There were too many other books on my list and boy do they add up.

        • well..here in Canada, Amazon.ca is selling one trade that has the 11 issues of Lemire’s run for $17.55. For that amount I’d say it’s totally worth it.

          That being said, if you dropped it after the first two issues, it really doesn’t get any better until that final arc starts. I also thought that Pier GAllo’s art got better in that arc as well.

          Superboy is, basically, Lemire finding his niche and voice in the DCU. He starts out doing fairly boring Silver Age-y type stuff, clearly stumbling around trying to find his creative place in the DCU…but then gradually moves into “weird/pulpy” stuff where suddenly, everything clearly clicks for both him and Gallo. In that sense, you could say that thta final arc is in many ways a pre-cursor to Animal Man and Frankenstein and the success Lemire found with those books

          • I can echo a little of what Alex has to say here: Lemire really excels with the weird, semi-creepy stuff, and anytime he moves to a different genre feels like a bumpy transition for him. On Superboy, he tried to incorporate his own tastes onto a title that begged for pure adventure-superhero silliness, and so the result is kind of a strange chimera.

    • I’m going to have to agree with you on the Superboy point. I really thought it didn’t know it wanted to do with itself for a long time, and by the time it started taking on some personality, it was too late and the new 52 was upon us.

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