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

The Story: Green Arrow wonders how many more shirtless villains he’ll have to deal with.

The Review: And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.  Lemire was one of the few writers who managed to use his Villains Month offering as simply another chapter of his ongoing series, which is all well and good.  It’s just kind of unfortunate that the story had to center on Count Vertigo, who has turned out to be a less than impressive figure, even just within the Green Arrow canon.  Even Komodo, a newcomer on the scene, has had more impact.

So I’m not sure we really needed to have another encounter with Vertigo so soon after the last one, in which the villain all but whimpered and curled into a fetal position once his disorienting powers were removed.  For his second act, Vertigo basically uses the exact same strategy as before, only on a wider—specifically, a “half-mile”—scale.  A blunt sort of strategy, but as a blanket response to archers, an effective one.

Even so, it doesn’t take that much longer than last time for Ollie to push his way through it and give Vertigo a satisfying K.O. before once again ripping out the count’s headgear.  And despite Ollie’s grandstanding about Vertigo going to jail, we all know that’s not going to last forever, right?  So this isn’t the end of ol’ Vertigo—which is good because getting suckerpunched isn’t exactly the finale he wants to go out with.  At least he gets to demonstrate a far more devastating range to his powers than you’d usually give him credit for, which leads to a triumph of willpower on Ollie’s part.

Actually, the threat Vertigo poses is not so much in his abilities but in their after-effects.  At the opening of the issue, we see Ollie still fluffing easy shots as he recovers from the last time he got a dose of Vertigo, with Fyff wringing his hands over the possibility of ().  Imagine what the full brunt of Vertigo’s amplified powers will do to Ollie now.  It’d be interesting if Lemire runs with this for a long-term plotline, especially with bigger challenges on the horizon.

At this point, the Outsiders have started to fade into the background of Green Arrow a little bit.  As long as Shado is around, there’s no danger they’ll disappear forever, but as even she must recognize, there are more pressing problems to deal with.  For a character who’s gotten relatively brief page-time, Richard Dragon sure has made the most of it, going from dark horse to new overlord of Seattle crime—or Seattle itself (“From now on, nothing happens in this city anymore unless I want it to.”)—in just a few days.  Not bad for a master of purely close-hand combat, though how he plans to single-handedly maintain control of an entire city remains to be seen.

Internally, the Green Arrow team goes through the usual growing pains when a new member comes suddenly and unexpectedly on board.  Shado obviously causes tensions for Naomi’s recently revealed attraction to Ollie, and Naomi stoops to a bit of mean girl-ness in reaction.  Her real issues are so transparent that even a hard-edged assassin can see through her and offer some salty advice.  Says Shado, “I’ve seen the way you look at him.  I’ve fallen in love with a Queen man too…you should be careful.”  I’m glad Lemire cleared up the middle-school rivalry quick; the team will have more substantial conflicts ahead now that John Diggle has made his official DCU appearance.*

Sorrentino is kicking the art out of the ballpark every issue nowadays.  The rough patches of the title’s early issues are long gone, and he’s certainly made Green Arrow the visually stylish equal of Marvel’s archer book.  Whereas David Aja takes a clean, simple approach to his design that’s almost retro in appearance, Sorrentino thrives on details, taking on an urban ostentatiousness in the way he uses sharp graphics to flash on key images and emphasize certain points of the story  There’s a double-page splash of Vertigo releasing the full extent of his powers, sending panels splintering off the page and orbiting around him, as if the whole city is going topsy-turvy from his power.  It’s a fantastic display for Vertigo that has little to do with Lemire’s script.  And at this point, I’m not even sure I want to see Sorrentino’s work without Maiolo’s colors anymore; can anyone else have such a great instinct for switching between bold and soft hues?

Conclusion: Vertigo’s return does nothing for you, but there’s still quite a bit from his appearance and much else besides that makes this issue worthy reading.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Naturally, you’re curious as to whether Diggle’s presence was part of Lemire’s original plans or editorially imposed.  Sure seems like an order from higher up in the WB hierarchy to me.