By: Jeff Lemire (story), Andrea Sorrentino (art), Marcelo Maiolo (colors)
The Story: It’s not a great feeling when your dad chooses a pointed stick over you.
The Review: To be honest, I’m still trying to wrap my head around last month’s revelation that Ollie’s dad is still alive. Talk about your quintessential “What the what?” moment. More than just the sheer soapiness of it all, however, the existence of Robert Queen means that a rather predictable family conflict is in store: Ollie’s initial rage and disgust at what is obviously a painful betrayal, and a later, probably forced reconciliation amidst tragic circumstances.
This issue features the first half of that developing relationship. I must admit, Lemire’s pretty committed to milking all the drama out of this plotline, stacking one destabilizing accusation after another. In some ways, Ollie’s incredulousness at what his dad has done helps us deal with just how insane Robert’s whole plan to turn his son into “a weapon” is. Insane and selfish, as almost all of Robert’s actions revolved around his own lust for the Arrow. Ollie’s reaction is nonplussed, to say the least: “It’s just an arrow. You left me—you left Mom—for this?”
Robert tries to justify himself by referring to threats from Komodo and the Outsiders, or pointing out what a stud his son has become, but nowhere does he actually apologize for what he did. He claims that he maintained some kind of watch on his family in Seattle vis-à-vis the late Emerson, but if that’s the case, he purposely stayed away when Moira “got sick” and “wasted away in her bed.” That’s pretty cold—probably too cold for Ollie to ever realistically forgive except in some dire circumstance.
Anyway, the big positive that comes out of this development is Ollie’s rejection of the legacy his father fought so hard to preserve for him. “It’s just an arrow” is meant to highlight Robert’s outrageous sense of priorities, of course, but it also implies that Ollie needs no glowing green arrow to be Green Arrow. For Robert, there is no greater goal than to “reclaim the Outsiders,” but for Ollie, that’s a very small, pointless sort of ambition.
After all, what does one gain by taking leadership of the Outsiders? Some secret prestige and extra power, perhaps? From what you see of Golgotha, Komodo, and Onyx’s power struggles, the inter-clan conflicts, even among those who already consider themselves rogues, hardly seem worth the effort. It doesn’t help either that thus far, none of the Outsider warriors have proven so impressively dominating that they seem any more special than any other DC martial artist.
Still, the Outsiders provide a big, sprawling backdrop to what would otherwise be a much smaller universe for Green Arrow, as we’re reminded by a brief glimpse of happenings back in Seattle. City mobsters and even the likes of Richard Dragon seem inconsequential compared to secret weapon cults, especially if it’s only going to take John Diggle employing Ollie’s latest sidekicks in taking Dragon down during Ollie’s absence. I say let Ollie go off on his exotic adventures and let the more civilian heroes build their street cred against urban villains.
As always, the issue is an outstanding showing by Sorrentino, one of the only artists who dares to tell a story entirely within the confines of sound effects, and almost completely pulls it off. If there’s one flaw to this particular storytelling choice, it’s in the use of white figures against colored letters, which occasionally makes the intense action difficult to see. Otherwise, Sorrentino is finding increasingly ambitious ways to capture the thrill of battle in static images, for which he deserves much credit.
Conclusion: Few surprises here, but the ones that do exist are entertaining enough. Sorrentino continues to be DC’s biggest artistic daredevil and Green Arrow’s greatest asset.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – I am definitely seeing a dearth of women among the Outsiders. Except for Onyx (and I guess, technically, Shado), I don’t believe there is a single lady in the bunch.