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

The Story: Don’t look so down, Ollie; it’s always a shock going back to the grind after an overseas trip.

The Review: Sometimes, I really feel sorry for ol’ Green Arrow. Although technically a contemporary of Batman and a predecessor to Hawkeye, in recent years, they’ve overshadowed him to the point where he feels like a craven copycat. As a billionaire vigilante fighting the good fight in a crime-riddled metropolis, Ollie’s got nothing on Batman’s legendary war in Gotham. As a human among near-gods in a premier superhero team, both Batman and Hawkeye outclass Ollie in reputation, skill, and personality.

The mythic Outsiders had the potential to change all that; at the very least, they might’ve sent Ollie in a radically different direction from his counterparts. Imagine if Lemire had committed to a long-term, globe-hopping adventure, allowing Ollie to take his time and discover all the ancient secrets each band of Outsiders held. Imagine epic battles of weaponry that’d give you new appreciation for mortal combat. Imagine him gaining knowledge and skills that could finally let him rival the Dark Knight himself. Too bad the Outsiders turned out to be little more than a squabbling band of cosplay nerds with ambitions of terrorism and white-collar crime. Too bad the most Ollie got out of the experience was some unwanted family members and a broken arrow.

And the moment he returns to Seattle, he goes back to being a Batman analogue, struggling with his few allies to keep order in a big city dominated by minor crime lords and small-time rogues. It’s almost hypocritical of Ollie to taunt the likes of Red Dart, Brick, and Killer Moth as D-listers when he’s almost on that level himself. The difference is his opponents have the awareness to admit it: “But the thing is, you know what you get when you add three D-listers together? A real ass-kicking.”

Anyway, who is higher than a C-lister in this issue? Certainly not Richard Dragon, whose re-conception Lemire completely botches. Let’s set aside the lame move to have Dragon recount his own origin story to Diggle for basically no reason; we can blame that on Chatty Villain Syndrome. Dragon’s origin is basically the Batman origin in criminal clothing: watching his beloved father get taken down, setting off to distant and exotic lands to better himself, becoming a master martial artist and returning to his city to reclaim his legacy. In this, Dragon’s early history resembles not only that of Batman, but of Iron Fist (whose life is practically ripped off Ollie’s) and even the Shroud. It’s utterly bizarre that Lemire would go for a new origin that’s even less original than the ones of previous Richard Dragons.*

Furthermore, and you can blame this observation on my recent readings of Batman Eternal, but doesn’t that whole thing about Dragon’s criminal father ruling Seattle “firmly and fairly…like a business,” until Ollie appeared to stop him smack of Roman Falcone and his similar downfall by Batman? As such, we go full circle: Ollie’s redundancy leads us to Dragon’s redundancy which makes Ollie even more redundant.

It’s also kind of sad that we waste so much time on all this instead of giving Sorrentino the pages to make the sequence of Ollie versus the Three D-Listers even more spectacular. As disappointed as I’ve been with the all-too-brief action sequences on this series, I’ve never had reason to complain about Sorrentino’s artistic efforts with them. Almost all the title’s life comes from his Mission: Impossible-like vision and Maiolo’s urban colors. Even Dragon’s story, drab as it is, is visually stimulating from Sorrentino’s vectored, cut-out storytelling.

Conclusion: Almost totally derivative except for Sorrentino’s thoroughly distinctive artwork.

Grade: C+

-Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: * There’s a possibility, given that this Dragon claims to have murdered his mentor and taken his name, that his mentor was one of the heroic Richard Dragons. But that doesn’t help us, so much, does it?

– “Hello, big brother. Long time no see.” I hope Emiko’s being ironic, considering she just saw him what contextually should be less than a day ago.