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

The Story: Fathers—you can (barely) live with them, and you can live without them.

The Review: I was a bit wary when last issue revealed that Ollie’s time on the island involved more than him playing out his own version of Cast Away.  Given the timing, it was hard not to be a little cynical and see the move as an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Arrow.  But upon reflection, giving Ollie a more humanly oppressive environment on the island does make sense, if only by giving him a reason to become a crusader for the oppressed once he returned.

So just as I started to approve of Lemire’s new developments, he threw in another, one that I find a lot harder to take.  It’s impossible to get through this review without discussing it in full, so spoiler alert: Ollie’s dad not only planned his son’s stranding on the island and most of the torments he suffered there, he’s alive to see the current fruit of his work.  Make no mistake, it’s a twist you weren’t totally expecting,* but one that saps the grandeur of Ollie’s origin story.

Look, I understand why Lemire did this.  In light of his new mythos regarding the Outsiders, the various weapons clans, and the fact that Ollie’s dad found the home of the Arrows on the island before his son ever did, it would’ve been a stretch to believe, as Shado points out, that Ollie “just happened” to end up on that same island and learned to pick up archery.  But I argue that this not only supports Ollie’s destiny as Green Arrow, but his own personal integrity; he made the most of his grim circumstances to better himself, as he’s so often reminded us issue after issue.  Having Ollie’s dad orchestrate the whole affair is little more than manipulative nepotism.  It’s like finding out you became a surgeon only because your dad hid your acceptance letter to art school.  Sure, you’re successful now, but that success was precipitated by a lie.

For Ollie, the situation is even worse because unlike the aspiring art student who could have just waited out another application year (and got his own P.O. box), Ollie had no choice but to submit to the tortures his dad inflicted on him, tortures which twisted his very own morality.  The island didn’t just make him a survivor; it turned him into a killer, one who took the lives of what we now know were mere hired hands.  Again, you can’t help wondering if this, too, is just another way to bring comic book Ollie closer to television Ollie.

If there’s one redeeming point to all this, it’s the intense personal and family drama that’s bound to ensue from Ollie’s discovery.  And at least this ought to shut Shado and her increasingly annoying ambiguities up, which is definitely good as you were getting quite tired of that conversational dance (and Ollie’s impotent reactions to it).  Perhaps instead of all this endless hinting, Lemire can focus on the action, which doesn’t nearly rise to the level you expect of such a martial arts-driven series.  The Shield Clan proves almost contemptibly susceptible to trick arrows, while their leader, Kodiak, fails to demonstrate any special skills with his weapon at all in routing Ollie and Shado.

Sorrentino’s art is unstained by any of the script’s strangeness, and in fact may be the single reason why Green Arrow remains the solid hitter it is.  This issue is proof that as strong as his work on the series was to begin with, it has nothing on his current product.  He’s definitely mastered the use of inset panels, not only to call attention to crucial details, but to advance the story in a logical fashion.  After Ollie gets hit by a thrown shield, Sorrentino uses a couple small insets to highlight the ricochet of the shield and its return to its owner, keeping the action flowing in an otherwise static panel.  Sorrentino has also improved his approach to drawing faces, which used to be a bit lax and rudimentary, but now has enough detail to reveal clear expressions.  Maiolo is also getting subtler at coloring the characters, giving them actual flesh tones instead of the washed-out hues we’ve mostly gotten.

Conclusion: Sorrentino’s art stays the big selling point as Lemire’s storytelling choices continue to fluctuate in dramatic and entertainment value.

Grade: B-

-Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * Unless you’re smarter than me, that is, which is entirely possible, as I once ate half a sandwich with the wrapper still on it.  For full disclosure, I was both an adult and completely sober at the time.  And if you can believe it, I observed a quarter of the way through that the bread seemed unusually dry, but proceeded to eat anyway.  On the plus side, I got a couple years’ worth of fiber out of it, I believe.

* “See the recent Katana series,” the editor’s note says.  No, thank you.