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

The Story: Even on a deserted island, there are local treasures.

The Review: I never did read the early run of this series, so I don’t have a precise idea of what the general direction or tone of it was, but my understanding is that pre-Lemire, Green Arrow was a more high-tech, street-driven version of your typical Batman comic.  Had the series remained on this track, it probably would have been doomed to failure.  It invited too many unflattering comparisons, and prevented its star from truly developing his own identity.

So while Lemire’s efforts on the title have produced mixed results in terms of individual issues, the whole scheme of Green Arrow has definitely changed for the better.  The introduction of the Outsiders and the various weapon clans that compose them drew the title away from the urban crime it used to wallow in before, and with this issue, Lemire firmly leads Green Arrow into a newer, more mystical era.  Within that framework, Ollie is less a vigilante in the sub-Batman mold, but an adventurer and survivalist a la Indiana Jones or Nathan Drake.*

This is a welcome evolution for Ollie, as the old way leaves him hopping over rooftops, eating dripping slices of pizza and knocking back cans of pop with the overanxious Fyff and finicky Naomi.  Following Shado into hidden caverns on jungle islands to seek out ancient relics sounds like the much better alternative, no?

In theory, this has all the makings for a perfectly entertaining comic, but problems in execution keep Lemire from reaching that level of greatness.  Too much of this issue, for example, is spent recounting old information, presumably to fill in new readers.  For veterans, this is simply panels wasted, and a lot of excess wordage in the dialogue.  Ollie tells Fyff, “Emiko—my half-sister—she’s the only family I have left.”  That extra “my half-sister” is, in context, completely unnecessary.  Lemire puts it in solely for the benefit of those who aren’t up to speed with all of Green Arrow’s soap opera developments.

And for the love of Mike, Ollie needs to stop with the self-loathing already.  Enough!  Every issue has included at least one scene devoted to Ollie hating on his old self, either the man he was before Queen Industries blew up and was seized from him, or the man he used to be before he ever put on the green hood.  “Hell, let’s be honest.  He wasn’t even a man, was he?  …He was just a boy.  A rich, spoiled, snot-nosed little punk.  No direction. No aim.”  I can only imagine how annoying it’d be to read this kind of talk, repeated ad nauseum, in a trade.

Aside from those relatively minor irritations, the issue neatly sets us up for what is clearly intended to be a long, wild ride.  This is only “Book 1” of The Outsiders War, which means Lemire has quite an elaborate plan for the future of the title.  If this issue is any indication, he’s taken inspiration from Arrow in choosing to explore Ollie’s past while simultaneously advancing the plot in the present—a sort of iffy choice, given how the TV show often failed to integrate the two storylines in any unified manner.  So it goes here.  The moment Lemire reveals that Ollie’s time on the island consisted of more activity than just emulating Robinson Crusoe, we immediately risk a divergence in the mythic tone of the present arc and the decidedly militaristic shenanigans of the past.

Honestly, though, it’s sometimes hard to keep sight of the script’s problems with the art is so visually enticing.  By now, it’s become almost cliché to praise Sorrentino’s work on this series, but it can’t be helped.  This is gorgeous work, plain and simple, with some pages rivaling the most splendid, CGI-laden scenes of summer blockbusters.  Look at the misty interior of the massive secret cavern housing the Totem Arrow, with the eerie statuary carved into the cavern’s high, verdant walls, the broken stone path jutting out below, all leading to a platform where the totem glows on its stony pedestal.  And with Maiolo’s haunting greens, purples and golds…I mean, come on.  Who can deny the beauty of this scene?

Conclusion: An issue that, like the rest of the storyline, has the potential to be far greater than it actually is, though still solid in every respect, nonetheless.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Of Uncharted fame.  And how kickass were those games, huh?

– Shado tells Ollie, “This life we’ve chosen…there is no room for love.”  What makes her think that Ollie has somehow become part of that “we” she mentions?