Today, Spencer and Shelby are discussing Green Arrow 20, originally released May 1st, 2013.
Spencer: They say a hero is only as interesting at the villains he fights. That’s true, but I’m going to take that theory one step further: A hero is only as interesting as the world he lives in. World building is often overlooked, but Green Arrow writer Jeff Lemire clearly understands its importance, and he’s worked overtime to provide Oliver Queen’s world with a tangible sense of history. Magus only knows how that past will come to shape Ollie’s future.
After his long trudge though the desert, Green Arrow finally arrives at Magus’ tent, and impressed by Ollie’s tenacity, he promises answers. But first we flashback to one week prior, where Komodo makes plans to finish off Green Arrow—using Naomi as bait—despite this being in clear violation of his superiors’ orders. Ollie follows the trail to the Queen Family Mausoleum, and while Fyff frees Naomi, Ollie and Komodo face off one last time. Just as all seems lost, Ollie turns Komodo’s words back on him and stabs him in the eye. Komodo escapes, but now he’s the one on the run, and Ollie heads off to Black Mesa to begin his search for answers—where he is immediately knocked out by an ally of Magus.
Lemire has mainly used this introductory arc to tear down the old status quo and introduce elements that will no doubt come to define his run, and fortunately for him, it doesn’t feel like all these unexplored concepts are bogging down the story yet. The promise of major answers in the next issue helps of course, but I think the main reason it works is because the actual story has been simple enough to follow—basically boiling down to Green Arrow vs. Komodo—even as mysteries develop in the background.
Meanwhile, these mysteries help to flesh out the world Green Arrow is operating in. It feels lived in, and the characters have a shared past that gives their interactions more meaning, even if we aren’t quite privy to all the details of it yet. The story of The Island and how it relates to Robert Queen, Ollie, Komodo and possibly even Magus could fuel stories for years. There’s also the various evil agencies at work to consider: We know Komodo is working for the Outsiders (led by Golgotha, named after the place where Jesus was killed—so I’m thinking this is a bad dude), but he isn’t necessarily a part of the group yet; also both figures are connected to this “Clan of the Arrow,” who appear to be some sort of archery elitists. There’s a lot going on, and I’m thrilled to watch this brand new Green Arrow mythology be built from the ground up.
(And speaking of these shared, implied pasts, we theorized in previous discussions that Komodo was the one to take Magus’ eyes. If so, that adds a special layer of sweet, sweet karma to the way Ollie takes him down.)
Even the supporting characters get in on the act, as the history between Fyff and Naomi (be it stalking or a crush) not only provides a moment or two of comic relief, but also looks like it could cause some complications in the future.
After the review, I’ll be taking your bets on when this love triangle will begin.
As for the art, I’m going to say something slightly sacrilegious here: I wasn’t a huge fan of Andrea Sorrentino’s work at first. I like clean bright art, and this just looked too sketchy and dark and a tad too inconsistent for my tastes. I’m proud to report, however, that I have since changed my mind. What I’ve come to realize is that this kind of art isn’t necessarily about the details, it’s about style and setting a mood, and Sorrentino (aided by colorist Marcelo Maiolo) comes through with that in spades.
I think the shootout in the graveyard, particularly the above panels, is this issue’s best example of what this art team is capable of. There’s some truly impressive storytelling going on, especially in regards to the use of the mostly black-and-white inset panels. Usually they’re used to show smaller details, but this panel actually manages to convey two things at once: Ollie dodging Komodo’s arrow and Ollie firing an arrow of his own. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.
The colors in the graveyard are much dimmer than usual, washed out, giving the entire fight an eerie feel. This fight is also excellently paced, cutting back and forth between Fyff’s louder, more brightly colored rescue and the grim, mostly silent shootout between Komodo and Green Arrow, all leading up to that brutal fistfight and the explosive red and black splash as Ollie takes Komodo’s eye. This is the work of experts here, and I’m sorry I ever doubted you, Mr. Sorrentino.
So now it’s time to shine the Arrow-Signal on you, Shelby. Are you as intrigued by this book’s numerous mysteries as I am, or is it a little too much? What are your thoughts on how Ollie ended up in the desert? (Honestly, I found it a little anticlimactic). And seriously, how much can I put you down for in the love triangle pool?
Shelby: I am definitely intrigued. Spencer, you are absolutely correct in your praise of the universe building Lemire is doing here. In just four issues, Lemire has taken the origin of Oliver Queen and expanded it, adding new mysteries, new allies, and new enemies. Even though Lemire literally blew up everything the new run had established for for this title, his interpretation of Green Arrow has preserved the core of the character all while offering something fresh for new readers. I was actually pretty satisfied with finally finding out how Ollie got to the desert. I like that he showed the initiative to get himself out there. I also really liked that it was both straight-forward and mysterious. How did Ollie get there? Well, he just drove out there, but then a unknown figure by the name of Butcher knocked him out and left him survive his own sort of vision quest in the desert. It’s a best of both worlds sort of situation.
Another great talent of Lemire’s is knowing when to shut up and let the art shine, a task which is certainly made easier with an artist like Sorrentino. I know you included a panel of the graveyard shootout, Spencer, but I want to take a closer look at the full spread.
The pacing of this whole scene is so smart. You’d think the actual fight between Komodo and Green Arrow would be the source of tension, but with the muted, softer color palette and zero dialogue, it serves as a background to the real tension of the scene, the bomb diffusion. It also highlights something I’ve never really considered before: a bow-and-arrow fight would be largely silent. Compared to a gun fight, anyway. The thwip of the bow string, the occasional chok of an arrow hitting home would be pretty much it.
DC makes a lot of editorial choices that I find…questionable, but putting Lemire, Sorrentino, and Maiolo together on this book is a home run. No, a grand slam. No, one hundred grand slams. Lemire has spent the last four issues establishing the base for his Green Arrow; now that he’s got this first mini-arc out of the way, I am very excited to see this mythology continue to grow. And my guess for the love triangle? Ollie hooks up with Naomi and is totally clueless about the effect it has on Fyff, who nurses his disappointment until it becomes a bitter resentment, and he begins to take Ollie down from inside his own organization? Seriously, I would read the hell out of that.
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?