By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)
The Story: Komodo goes a little too far in sharing his love of work with his daughter.
The Review: Switching genres is always a tricky deal for any writer. Not only do they have to overcome the many missteps along the way as they navigate unfamiliar territory, they have to deal with the skepticism and expectation of the readers, too. Lemire made a name for himself with offbeat stories, largely placed in rural settings, driven by sci-fi conventions and family drama. To go to an urban crime series starring a costumed archer is quite a switch indeed.
The previous two issues showed Lemire still trying to find the right voice and rhythm for this series, and this issue continues that trend. This doesn’t bode well for the title’s success in the long run, since the fast-paced world of serial comics doesn’t really allow much time just so the writer can find himself. Even so, this issue takes another incremental step forward to getting the right tone and intrigue for the series, even if it doesn’t feel quite enough for the arc’s mid-stage.
Although Lemire is no stranger to action-oriented series, street-wise action is kind of a different beast from what he’s done before. To make a really enjoyable sequence requires a combination of careful timing and creative choice of tactics. Whereas his first couple issues felt like little more than Komodo and Green Arrow just shooting wily-nily at each other, there’s more variety in their placement and strategy here which gives their duel much more life.
Not to mention the fact that Ollie actually kind of holds his own in this issue. Komodo clearly outclassed him in their earlier bout, but here, Ollie gets a few good hits in and even has the upper hand at a certain point. The only downside to this is it suggests that for all of Komodo’s high-and-mighty attitude towards our hero (“Keep talking. It’s what you do best.”), he’s actually not that superior in skill, which undermines his viability as a villain a little bit. I think I would’ve preferred it had Komodo continued to school Ollie the whole time, making Ollie’s soul-searching and reinvention more necessary.
We might’ve also avoided having to involve Komodo’s daughter, Emiko, in the proceedings. I’ve always disliked the young prodigy characters, partially out of resentment that someone can match an experienced adult on sheer natural talent alone, and partially because those characters tend to be gratingly cocky. Emiko does fall in that category, being not only vicious and scarily competent (even more so than her dad, apparently), but mocking as well (“You’re right, Daddy—he isn’t very good.”). Still, her utter defeat of Ollie does lead to the one laugh-out-loud moment of the issue, where he explains his injuries to Fyff, “…Got beat up by a little girl.”
Diverting as all this is, it also feels distinctly like Lemire stalling for time, unsure how far along to take Ollie on his path towards self-actualization in this first arc. No wonder he keeps frustratingly mum on the secret life of Ollie’s dad (who apparently died at the hands of Komodo, but how and why remains a mystery) and the true motivations of both Komodo and Magus. Komodo snaps at Ollie, “H-hasn’t the Magus told you all of my secrets yet? Or is he playing his little mind games? Just giving you cryptic little morsels, like he first did with me—” This almost perfectly captures what Lemire’s doing with you in this issue.
Sorrentino has definitely found his groove with this title, although in a way, this may have more to do with Maiolo’s coloring assistance. Although the targeted bleaches of color were almost randomly employed far too often at first, Maiolo has figured out a way to use it tastefully, either to call attention to certain details or add greater drama to big moments. More than the improvements in coloring, Sorrentino’s art shows signs of moving away from the somewhat romantic qualities he used on I, Vampire to a grittier, more appropriately pulpy feel. I should also add that letterer Rob Leigh’s use of bold, capitalized sound effects also add an extra layer of style and energy to the art.
Conclusion: It’s clear that Lemire and Sorrentino are finally getting comfortable in this new outfit they’ve chosen for themselves, which goes a long way to looking good in it.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Hm… Emiko, for all her twisted violence, seems dismayed that her dad would inflict the same on police officers. What does that say about her perceptions of her dad, I wonder.