Today, Mikyzptlk and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 17, originally released February 6th 2013.
Mikyzptlk: I’ve been waiting quite a while for this to happen. Finally, a talented writer with a clear and long term vision for Green Arrow has come to save us from the meandering mediocrity that has plagued this title since its New 52 inception. I was extremely excited when Jeff Lemire was announced for this book, and intrigued when he stated that much of his influence would be coming from Mike Grell’s run of the character. That book was an extremely adult take on the Emerald Archer, and would have easily been printed under the Vertigo banner, had it existed at the time of its publication. I was also excited to hear that Lemire’s intentions would be to take this character back to square one and essentially start over, fantastic news for anyone disappointed with the run thus far. I’m happy to say that Lemire’s first issue met both of those expectations, and delivered something that I’m extremely interested in reading further.
Issue 1…I mean, 17 of Green Arrow begins with Oliver Queen stranded in the desert Uncharted 3 style. He’s lost everything including his fathers company, his money, and apparently, all of his superhero equipment. We then flashback 3 weeks to find Ollie storming into the office of the man who lost him everything. Mr. Emerson has been in charge of things while Ollie was off playing hero. He explains that all of his babysitting of Ollie left the company vulnerable to a takeover. Ollie doesn’t have too much time to argue however, as an archer assassin uses a trick “grapple-arrow” to pull Emerson out of his office window, plummeting him to his doom. Security is left thinking Ollie has become a murderer, so he makes a break for it. He quickly attempts to get aid from his friends at Q-Core, however the assassin is again one step ahead and BLOWS IT ALL TO HELL. Ollie is understandably stunned, but makes it to one of his safe houses where he is able to suit up as Green Arrow. GA knows that whoever he is up against has somehow discovered his secrets, but decides that’s it’s time to hunt down whoever it is that’s been messing with him. Yet again, however, his antagonist is one step ahead and appears at his safe house. He reveals that his name is Komodo, and he means to put an end to Oliver Queen. A fight begins as Komodo uses Ollie’s own arrows against him. As Oliver is about to be taken out for good, an eyeless man by the name Magus comes to his rescue and claims that Ollie was “never supposed to leave the island!”
WAIT…hold on a second, that’s not right. Okay, here we go.
Okay, so yeah, I couldn’t help but be reminded of one of my favorite television shows of all time when I read the conclusion of this issue. But you know what? LOST was awesome, and this issue was too. It’s clear that Lemire wishes he could have had this character from the start, but since that wasn’t in the cards he had to go with plan B. He’s stripped Ollie of seemingly everything that he’s garnered since the beginning of the New 52. He no longer has Q-Core, his allies, or even any of his cool trick arrows. While this issue spent the majority of its time in the past, its present shows us that Ollie is in some seriously dire straits. He’s shown nearly dying in the dessert, with pretty much nothing in the way of supplies. This promises that we are going to be able to see him become the hero we are supposed to love. Lemire…I mean Mr. Emerson even says it himself.
Lemire has even found a way to incorporate the island into his take on the character. The island has always been a big part of Green Arrow’s origin since that’s where he learned how to use the bow and arrow, but I’ve never personally seen it used beyond his formative years. Again, Lemire is making this character his own by taking us back to GA’s point of origin, essentially giving us a Secret Origin story. Of course, I have no clue where Lemire is going with this, but I have to assume that since we are going back to the island that birthed Green Arrow, we are going to be seeing glimpses of his past as Lemire defines the characters future. I can’t tell you how incredibly excited I am to see where the story goes from here. What is so special about the island? And does it involved electromagnetism? Alright, that was last LOST joke that I’ll make…in this review.
Andrea Sorrentino is the artist and colorist of the series and he’s definitely a good fit for the tone that Lemire is going for. I’m really enjoying his pencils and his colors are interesting too. You can probably tell from the pictures above that he’s going for something a bit more stylized with the coloring. The color green was definitely at the forefront of this issue, but black and white imagery with variously colored backgrounds were also used. The colors in this issue at times highlighted things of importance, foreshadowed events, or even gave away allegiances. Now, while I appreciate this style for its storytelling uses, I can’t help but feel that I wanted to see a bit more detail in the colors. This is entirely to blame for this issues beautiful cover.
I’ve been quite enamored by this image since I first saw it. Everything about it, including the coloring done by Hi-Fi, is incredibly striking to me, and I was looking forward to seeing more of this kind of thing in the interior. Instead, we got something that looked like this.
I don’t want to imply that I dislike this as I understand where it’s coming from artistically. The pencils are just as striking inside, and as I said, the coloring is being used to help tell the story in a very interesting way. Still, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing out on the beautiful coloring seen on the cover, and I wish there was a way to incorporate that depth of color into the issue itself.
Okay Shelby, what did you think about the new “first issue” of Green Arrow? I’m not sure what your history is with the character or if you’ve ever liked him in the past. Either way, did this issue hook you at all? Are you cool with Lemire throwing away the first 16 issues of this book or do you think he should have stuck with what he was given and just build from there? Any thoughts on what Komodo and Magus are all about? Lastly, do you think that Green Arrow will encounter any Smoke Monsters while on the island? Damn it, I’ve already broken my promise.
Shelby: My only exposure to any New 52 Oliver Queen was the abysmal zero issue, so I’ve got no problem with Lemire starting from scratch. It’s exactly what he did with Justice League Dark, and I think I can already see some of the same results. He has such a talent for stripping characters down to bare bones, reducing them to just their essence, to what makes them tick, and rebuilding them from the ground up. If you haven’t read Lemire’s Underwater Welder, I highly recommend you do so; it’s a great example of his style.
As much as I love Lemire’s writing, I want to talk about Sorrentino’s amazing pencils. Seriously, the art in this book took my breath away. Unlike Mik, I have no desire to see Hi-Fi’s colors carried to the interior, I L-O-V-E Sorrentino’s minimalist, mod style of inks. The panel when Emerson is pulled from his office is one of my favorites in this issue.
This is the only mostly black and white panel on the whole spread; the super high contrast really emphasizes the action. It’s the equivalent of a bullet-time shot in an action movie: it focuses the eye on what is happening, simultaneously slowing down the action and drawing attention to it. The green window is interesting. At first, I just took the color as a way to tie this panel to the rest on the page, keep the black and white from being TOO jarring. But then I skimmed the book again, and black and white with a green accent is kind of Sorrentino’s go-to color scheme for inset panels.
I can’t help but think of Hawkeye when I read this book, and not just because of the whole arrow thing. With Hawkeye, artist David Aja has created a very specific feel for the the book with his ultra-slick, graphic style and cool, purple-based color palette. Sorrentino has done the same with his loose, almost manic style pencils and cool, green-based color palette. My LCS was shorted this book, so they sold out before I was able to get there last week. This is one of the few times I am disappointed to have to read this online and not have a physical copy of the book; the art is that gorgeous.
I’m excited for this title. I’m looking forward to learning more about a character I know very little about, and I’m definitely looking forward to learning from Lemire. With his writing and Sorrentino’s fabulous art, this title is already shaping up to be one of my favorites.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?