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

The Story: How to slay a Dragon with a single arrow.

The Review: Not that I don’t appreciate a bit of moralizing in my comics, but I also prefer that it not be overt. As any of us who have ever encountered a born-again evangelist screaming at joggers and bicyclists in a park know, preachiness can be a real drag. Once we reach a certain age, that After School Special (A.S.S.) tendency to say outright the moral of the episode is boring and tiresome. We know what the lesson is; we just choose not to use it sometimes.

Lemire’s a family man and a bit of an innocent in his writing, so maybe he can’t help himself, but it’s nonetheless disappointing when he resorts to a final cliché between Dragon and Ollie. As Dragon has Ollie in dire straits, he crows, “[Y]ou’re not good enough anymore, Arrow.”

“Maybe, Dragon,” Ollie admits. “But you know the difference between you and me? I don’t’ have to do it alone.” And like clockwork, Ollie’s supporting players fly into action and Dragon is defeated by that most wonderful of things, teamwork. It’s the kind of thing you’d find endearing in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but embarrassingly corny here.

Ollie’s line to Dragon is also flawed from a storytelling standpoint. Lemire builds up Dragon to be inhumanly aware and perceptive, instantly identifying both Diggle and Ollie’s weak points and striking accordingly, while deflecting all of their counterattacks. It seems somewhat anticlimactic that after such a masterful show, he’d be taken down with a one-two shot to the femoral artery even though Ollie signals such a double-play is about to happen. Such is the way of superhero comics, I suppose.

Equally as forced and corny is Emiko’s integration with the rest of the cast. I see her as the female Damian Wayne: trained to be precociously superior in most respects, and thus having no use for most people, especially a nerdy doughball and shrill techie. It’s natural for there to be a long climb before reaching mutual affection. So it seems a bit incredible that it only takes Naomi yelling at Emiko to “just shut up and do what I say!” for Emiko to mutter, “…I’m actually starting to like you.” I don’t buy it; this is the same kid who ran away from her own mother, after all.

Ultimately, though, I appreciate the new sense of camaraderie among Team Arrow, with Fyff and Naomi as Ollie’s loyal buddies, Emiko as feisty sidekick, and Diggle as right-hand man. That last part is especially exciting, as Diggle’s centered professionalism easily makes him the least annoying of Ollie’s cast. Arrow fans already have a strong emotional connection to Diggle, but even if you don’t watch the show, you can quickly catch on to the understated guy bond between him and Ollie. Diggle declares, as they prepare to face off Dragon, “This is my mess. I came back to clean it up.”

“It’s our mess, Dig,” Ollie corrects.

“Fair enough.” For them, that’s an outpouring of emotion, one Ollie tips over when he adds, “It’s good to see you.”

“Stop it. I might cry.” After that, it’s down to the business of shooting with bow and gun, just as it should be.

Sorrentino’s highly technical art with its emphasis on pinpoint panels is perfect to capture Dragon’s meticulously precise style of martial artistry, and the sequence of him systematically beating down Ollie and Diggle is exactly the kind of drawn-out action you’ve been waiting for. Painful as it looks, Maiolo gets even more dramatic flair out of it by mixing and matching panels of full color, monochrome, and no color at all. Wherever Sorrentino goes, I hope Maiolo follows, because no one better understands how to get the most out of Sorrentino’s art.

Conclusion: A solid landing for a mostly entertaining arc, leaving Ollie in a very good place for future adventures. You might say that his superhero life has only just begun.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – What do you suppose Emiko’s superhero name will be? Sin, maybe?

– If Emiko hates guns, I wonder how she takes to Diggle.