Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Green Arrow 22, originally released July 3rd, 2013.
Shelby: Last night I was hanging out with friend and fellow writer Taylor; we’re going to the steampunk weekend at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, and we needed to spend some time crafting toy guns into steampunk weaponry. After adding some gears and coils to the rubber band shooter he’s going to use, Taylor started to play around with some copper wire, but ultimately decided to keep it simple with what he already had. It’s easy to give in to the temptation to add more stuff to a craft project because you can, but it’s important to know when something is finished, to keep things simple instead of cluttering your project with unnecessary extras. Jeff Lemire is the king of keeping things simple; his books may not have a lot going on, story-wise, but he definitely knows how to use simplicity to let a book shine.
Ollie and his crew have made their way to Vlatava to the compound of Zytle, ruling monarch of the tiny country. Using all sorts of fancy new trick arrows, Ollie busts his way into the fortress, where he finds his first dragon.
He frees the woman, who confuses him for his father Robert, but before Ollie can explore that further they are attacked by Count Vertigo. With a quick remote assist from Fyff and an EMP arrow, Ollie is able to disrupt Vertigo’s attack long enough to get away with Shado. Once they escape the fortress, she reveals that not only was Robert Queen “her Robert,” but also Emiko, psycho child of Komodo, is actually her and Robert’s daughter and Ollie’s half sister.
DUN DUN DUN! Huge cliffhanger reveal! I have to say, even though its a fairly transparent comic book move, Shado’s reveal definitely caught me unawares. As soon as we see her costume, it seemed pretty obvious Shado was probably Emiko’s mother. That by itself is an interesting enough development; it calls Shado’s loyalties to question, making us wonder if she would really help Ollie find Lacroix, or if she actually sides with the father of her daughter. But to have Lacroix raise as his own the daughter of his enemy (whom he killed) adds a whole new level of complicated to these characters’ relationships. We already know Emiko is fiercely loyal to the man she thinks is her father, how would her loyalty change knowing her actual father was dead by Lacroix’s hand? We’ve already guessed that Ollie is going to have to face off against Emiko, especially after stabbing Lacroix in the face with an arrow; now, he’s going to have to fight an archer who is better than him, a child, and his sister. To quote the esteemed Lando Calrissian, “This deal’s getting worse all the time.”
Plot-wise, Shado’s confession is probably the most interesting thing to happen, the bulk of the book is devoted to Ollie shooting things and Fyff and Naomi competing to see who made the best trick arrows. Once again, Jeff Lemire proves to be smart enough to let Andrea Sorrentino take the reins when dealing with a villain whose power is making people disoriented.
This is so, so smart. Sorrentino takes his normal trick of highlighting aspects of the scene with little, inset panels, and instead of having Marcelo Maiolo tweak the colors, simply knocks the panels askew. As Count Vertigo begins to twist the perceptions of the characters in the scene, so too does Sorrentino begin to twist our own perceptions of what is happening. This might be one of the more clever artistic executions in a comic book I’ve seen.
On my first read through this issue, I was a little underwhelmed. The art blew me away, obviously, but most of the story fell a little flat. There’s not a ton going on, and no great character development to speak of. But after reading through it a couple more times, I think that simplicity is part of this book’s (and Lemire’s) strengths. Patrick, what did you think of this issue? Was the simple “Ollie shoots a lot of arrows!” story not quite enough for you, or do you like the pace Lemire is taking with this book? How about that Sorrentino, eh?
Patrick: Oh heavens, no Shelby – I was not underwhelmed in the slightest. I always think the most fun we can ever have with Batman is just watching him do what he does well. There’s all sorts of pathos and blah blah blah and whatever that we can explore, but the detective work, the gadgets, the tactics will always be at the heart of the character. Understanding how a superhero works can be an absolute delight when handled with the deft care that Lemire does. Ollie brings the same Batman-level of precision and tactics to his castle-invasion, but he gets to be a little more cavalier and playful about it. That’s what makes it all the more devastating when Count Vertigo is able to muss with all that precision. Plus, I like seeing that 3D mapping arrow in a narrative more competent that Prometheus.
I appreciate that after Lemire and Sorrentino’s first 5-issue arc (can you believe we’ve been reading this thing for half a year already?), that the subject of Ollie’s past and his legacy are still cards very much in play. After last month’s mythology-widening drug trip, it’s reassuring to see that the people, and not the concepts, are still the heart of this series.
Hey, speaking of people – what do we make of Oliver Queen these days? I can’t quite tell whether we’re supposed to read him as rightfully confident or overly arrogant. We know, for sure, that he was too arrogant, and much of the first story arc has been about breaking him down and forcing a little humility down his throat. But then he approaches a castle full of guards without even knowing what he’s up against or even what all of his arrows can do. All of his prep work has been done by the support team – he didn’t even know the first thing about the country he was going to invade. Maybe all of that growing up he was ordered to do in the issue 17 is still a long ways coming. It’s not even like Ollie has a lot of say in the direction his quest takes him, with Shado being so much more knowledgeable than he is, it is her priorities that will dictate the story going forward. Unless…
There seems to be some kind of something bubbling in the background of this issue. Back in Seattle, the three major crime bosses are having a rare meeting to discuss a mysterious individual that’s been encroaching on their turf. Rather than find common ground, the crime lords suggest:
Maybe Green Arrow’s been shirking his “real” responsibilities for too long and he’s got to divert some of his attention away from this silly mystic quest so he can square things up back home. It’s so strange to get this tiny look into the Seattle underworld, apropos of nothing else in the story. Perhaps it’s a reminder that for all the fun world-exploring our heroes do, they’re supposed to be fighting crime. Either that, or it’s just the promise of a fun gangster story in a few months. Hey, color me satisfied either way.
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?