Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Green Arrow 18, originally released March 6th, 2013.
Patrick: I love a good narrative twist. I think we all get a thrill of adrenaline when the facts, as we knew them, are turned on their heads, and we’re forced to re-examine our characters, our priorities. There’s also that split second where you, as a reader or audience member, need to decide whether you’re on-board with the changes that are presented in the twist — can you accept this new reality?
Down, but certainly not out, Oliver Queen makes his way to the one ally he has left. Did I say ally? I meant dude he actually fired at one point. Together, Ollie and Henry Fyff take stock of Green Arrow’s dwindling resources and decide to break into Emerson’s office at Queen Industries. G.A. succeeds at infiltrating the office, but he’s presented with more questions than answers. The questions double when Magus shows up and issues some vague prophecy-esque pep talk, insisting that Ollie has no idea who he is, who is father is, and — most importantly — who it is his destiny to become. Magus’ only instruction is to go to Black Mesa, Arizona to wait. It’s a good thing these instructions are so brief, because Komodo has been up to all kinds of torture (and murder, don’t forget murder) in order to track Queen this this very spot. Amid the whir of police helicopters, Ollie stages a zip-line escape only to have the line cut short by a well-aimed Komodo arrow.
Let’s talk about what Ollie found in Emerson’s office, because clues to the series future seem to be everywhere. Ollie knows that he’s looking for something, anything that will shed a little light on his current predicament. What he finds is a well-stocked armory, complete with maps of his island. It’s a great reveal, and Andrea Sorrentino knocks it out of the park — look how small an insignificant Ollie is in the panel when compared to the objects in this room. The situation is literally bigger than he is.
There are also pictures of Ollie’s father on the island with Emerson and a mysterious third person. Last month Magus said “you were never supposed to leave the island,” but it hadn’t occurred to me that the island has a history of shaping generations of Queen men, as is implied Robert Queen’s presence on the island so many years go.
There’s also the subject of the third dude in the pictures from the island. Sorrentino seems to like drawing the same haircut on a few different characters, but this looks like Magus to me.
Naturally, that sets my IMAGINATION ON FIRE. There’s a world and history here that is just outside Ollie’s reach. This is immediately more engaging than any other take on the character I’m familiar with. He’s no longer just a spoiled kid with incredible assets and a knack for archery; he’s not a trust fund kid forced to survive without his inheritance; he’s not a crusader for social justice. He can still be all these things, but there’s a far more mysterious “why” behind it all that I find so impossibly enthralling. It’s a little bit like how Luke Skywalker is more effective hero in Star Wars because he has this massive history with the Sith and the Jedi that he’s totally unaware of. Even some of Ollie’s dialogue with Magnus has the ring of “You flew with my father in the Clone Wars?”
Also like Star Wars, Jeff Lemire makes certain we understand just how evil our big-bad is. I don’t just mean “to what degree is he evil” but “in what way is he evil.” The scenes at Stellmoon revolve around Komodo conducting a relatively benign (if opportunistic) business meeting before he bails to take part in a little daddy-daughter torture time! Komodo’s the kind of guy who prefers to get his hands dirty, so much so that he seems to have been teaching his daughter how to love these same activities. I mean, he just straight up kills Jax in front of her. That’s some cold shit, right there, but Lemire presents it as casually as a father reading a bedtime story to his child. The effect is chilling, and it’s match by a dramatic momentary shift is color scheme.
Actually, the coloring throughout is fantastic. I was a big fan of Sorrentino’s ultra-high-contrast colors in the first issue, but Marcelo Maiolo’s colors allow for a lot more detail, which comes in handy when depicting more complex backgrounds, such as the Seattle skyline or even that secret room I posted above.
Drew, I wouldn’t say that I needed all that much convincing that this series was going to be worth our time, but any doubts that may have lingered after issue one have basically disappeared with this new promise of island-related mythology. How about you? Are you ready to tackle this mystery or does that sound too origin-story-ish to you? Do you think Lemire’s going to stick to Ollie’s very specific arrow-count going forward? He’s got such a limited quiver at this point, it’d be really cool to see the creative team work around that restriction.
Drew: First off, allow me to throw my support behind the other obvious theory regarding the third man in that photo: it’s Komodo. In addition to the patches of gray hair on the sides and back of his head — a feature Magus doesn’t share with the photo of the third man — we learn that Komodo (AKA Mr. Lacroix) is CEO of Stellmoor, which has a vested interest in Queen Industries, and indeed holds Robert Queen in high esteem.
If Lacroix’s ruthless talk of “re-branding” sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Lemire goes out of his way to draw comparisons between himself and Lacroix — even going so far as to give Lacroix an even Frencher name than Lemire — painting Lacroix as a scheming motherfucker with a loyalty to the consumers of the entity he just took over. The fact that that entity just happens to involve a man named Oliver Queen is just icing on the comparison cake.
In that light, the pointed, personal way Lacroix re-kills Oliver’s friends (or at least Jax) may serve as an apology to fans of the series — Lemire knows he’s being a bastard killing these characters, acknowledging that this aggressive takeover isn’t the friendliest approach. But, both Lemire and Lacroix need to find Ollie, and this is the only way to do it. The result on the other side will be a stronger, rebranded company (or comic book), with more ties to its deep past than its recent history.
It’s Lacroix’s historical memory that has me most excited for this series. Lemire has already demonstrated that he has no loyalty to what has happened on this title since the relaunch, but in tying his agent of change to Ollie’s family history, I think he’s suggesting a loyalty to older generations of Oliver Queen. I’m still relatively new to Green Arrow, so I can’t claim to know how that loyalty to history might manifest itself, but this is clearly good news for long-time Ollie fans.
To answer your question, Patrick: I’m not bothered by the origin story-like elements here, at all. My general aversion to origins mostly hinges on the fact that the character necessarily doesn’t appear as we know them until around halfway through the story. That more-or-less means that the “story” doesn’t start until then (usually with a crammed-in villain origin, evil scheme, and epic struggle). Lemire has already avoided this on both fronts by having both the hero and the villain established before the origin is explained. It also helps that I’m now interested in the answers to these questions — presented up front, those “answers” would feel more like exposition — so I’m actually looking forward to learning more about the island.
Sorrentino’s art continues to impress, from his distinctive inking to his intuitive layouts, and Patrick is absolutely right to single out Marcelo Maiolo’s color work, as well. It’s tough to pick a single image to highlight this, so I’ll go with this one just because I think it begs a fun question:
Do you suppose Lacroix is responsible for the big Xs in place of Magus’ eyes?
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?