By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)

The Story: You don’t hit rock bottom until you need to rely on someone who’s hit rock bottom.

The Review: For all intents and purposes, Lemire’s takeover of this title serves as a mini-relaunch.  As such, I plan to review it under my usual standard for any new series.  If a writer seriously wants you to hop onboard, his best bet is to make sure he grabs your attention as soon as possible and build momentum as quickly as possible.  If he doesn’t hit the ground running right out the gate, he won’t have the luxury to slow burn the rest of his first arc.

While I certainly won’t say #17 was the perfect launching pad for Lemire’s run on this series, it did efficiently clear ground for his new storyline, which did bear a bit of intrigue.  Still, that doesn’t earn enough brownie points to forgive whatever missteps or problems that might pop up in the next few issues, leaving Lemire little room for failure.  Whether it’s one big, breakout moment or a premise/concept so compelling you just have to see it through, Lemire has to find a way to establish Green Arrow’s integrity, and soon.

This issue, unfortunately, doesn’t quite do it.  It’s your standard frame-up, with our hero trying to clear himself and discover his enemy at the same time, and the only gloss of novelty is the tie-in to Ollie’s dad and the island on which he had his secret origin.  Lemire obviously wants you to think this secret history of the late Robert Queen is a big deal, but he doesn’t succeed in making you feel the impact he wants.  It’s going to take a lot more than a few fancy, unidentified artifacts in a secret back room at the Queen Tower to surprise you.

We do get a few hints of what’s going on.  We learn that Komodo in his daytime capacity runs Stellmoor, a corporation taking advantage of the recent confusion in Queen Industries to acquire Ollie’s family business.  We also know that Komodo has an intimate connection to both Emerson and Ollie’s dad, and all three are attached in some way to the Island where Green Arrow was born.  Magus makes mention of “the Outsiders,” though he doesn’t elaborate on who they are or if they have a connection to the Batman-centric team.*

Perhaps Lemire should have spent more time embellishing this material or getting Ollie where he needs to go faster, and less time on introducing new characters like geeky, semi-employed, potentially stalkerish Henry Fyff.  There’s a lot of awkward exposition that goes into setting him up (Henry: “I mean you actually came down to Q-Core and fired me personally.”  Ollie: “Yes.  I remember.  And I also remember that you were stalking one of my assistants…”); he’s not exactly a lovable character on sight; and he doesn’t serve much of a role in this issue anyway.

Sorrentino does deliver a great urban look to this issue, and so long as he gets good coloring, there’s no reason why this can’t be one of the most visually striking titles from DC.  Maiolo evens out some of the strange tones Sorrentino applied to his own art last issue, especially with lighting, as now you don’t have the strange effect of characters looking fully lit in dark settings.  We also see a much more judicious use of the bleach-out effect, which Sorrention overdid in #17.  Overall, a much better artistic outing this go-round.

Conclusion: Lemire’s reputation, diminished as it is, and the rapidly improving art still earns a little benefit of the doubt against an otherwise unremarkable issue.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * There’s even greater confusion on this point since Batman’s Outsiders still maintain operations within Batman Incorporated, whose place in the present DCU at large is uncertain at best.  The recent death of Damian Wayne indicates Inc. has some impact on the DCU, but otherwise, events in Inc. are completely ignored.

– Perhaps feeling a tad guilty about seemingly killing off several major supporting characters so flippantly last issue, Lemire brings back Jax long enough to have him personally killed off on-screen in a last moment of loyalty to Ollie, and Naomi gets to stick around for the time being.