Spencer: Perspective is an amazing thing. Things that look small or large from far away end up being the exact opposite. Some items, when viewed from another angle, reveal surprising secrets. Even as a more metaphorical idea, perspective is pretty great; when I have trouble writing these reviews, sometimes I need to take a step back from the issue at hand, look at it from an entirely new perspective, and then I’ll find the angle I need. In Green Arrow 24, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino play with both forms of perspective as Shado takes on Richard Dragon and Ollie faces down Count Vertigo.
Ollie’s eardrum is still on the mend after his last run-in with Vertigo, throwing off his aim and making him useless in battle. As Shado, Naomi, and Fyff debate how to treat him, Count Vertigo appears in the heart of Seattle, wrecking everything and calling out Green Arrow. Shado knocks out Ollie and goes to stop Vertigo herself with Naomi’s “Rocket Arrow”, but she’s attacked and effortlessly defeated by Richard Dragon, who leaves her with a message: from now on, nothing happens in the city unless he wants it to, and Green Arrow needs to shape up or ship out.
With Shado indisposed, Ollie confronts Vertigo himself, and despite his massive disadvantage, he’s able to figure out the pattern behind Vertigo’s power, stomach through it, and K.O. Zytle with one punch. Meanwhile, Crime Boss Billy Tockman (aka the Clock King) is confronted by the mysterious Diggle, a man who seems to have connections to both Green Arrow and Batman (somehow).
The idea of perspective in this issue seems most obvious with Richard Dragon, our mysterious Kung-Fu master. As he tells Shado, his strength is that he “sees everything”:
Indeed, Dragon sees Shado from every possible angle, allowing him to discern her movements, strengths, weaknesses, and any possible action she could take. It’s a remarkable offense and defense; I think Dragon is by far the most talented and/or powerful character we’ve seen in Lemire’s Green Arrow run, and he’s certainly going to give Ollie a run for his money whenever they inevitably clash.
It’s pretty hard to imagine how Dragon could be taken down, but if you’ll allow me to speculate for a moment, I suspect that his defeat will probably have something to do with his unique perception. There’s a Calvin and Hobbes strip that jokes about Calvin being able to see an issue from all its angles, thereby rendering him incapable of making a decision (and reducing the world around him into a cubist mess). It’s played for laughs, but I can see something similar happening to Dragon if he were to become overloaded with possibilities (In both this aspect and in Sorrentino’s depiction of Dragon’s skills in action it reminds me of Barry Allen’s “Speed Mind” over in early issues of The Flash, which eventually led to a similar outcome).
Also, thanks to the way he takes down Count Vertigo, I finally believe that Ollie has what it takes to (eventually) defeat Dragon as well.
Vertigo’s power at first looks unstoppable, and Shado and Naomi’s strategy involves shooting a rocket-arrow into it rather than risk setting foot near the man. Ollie is left no choice, however, but to step within Vertigo’s range; thus, he’s forced to look at the problem from a different angle. Thanks to his prior experience fighting Zytle and to an ability to think outside the box, Ollie is able to march right through Vertigo’s waves and land one of the most satisfying blows I’ve seen in a long time.
Lemire and Sorrentino ace the pacing for this scene; the page prior begins like a standoff in an old Western, before forcing Ollie through the above spread and straight into the punch. The four pages work together excellently, and of course, Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo are as on their game as always, filling these spreads with that brilliant, panels-chipping-away effect that so perfectly illustrates Vertigo’s unique abilities.
I’m also impressed with how Lemire handles Ollie’s characterization here, though. We’ve mentioned in the past that Ollie often feels like the least developed character in this title, but I feel like this issue did a lot to help put that opinion behind us. Ollie isn’t dumb nor is he untalented, but this book loves to contrast him against far more skilled and knowledgeable characters, sometimes leading to that impression. Here, though, Ollie gets to strut his stuff, reminding us of what he went through on the island and proving that he has more mettle than anyone’s giving him credit for. It’s a pretty exciting development.
While it has little to do with perspective, the introduction of Diggle still feels worth talking about. Diggle as a character originated in the CW’s Arrow TV Show (if you pick up the print copies, you’ve probably seen 3 ads for it per issue), where he works as Oliver Queen’s “bodyguard”/Green Arrow’s right hand man, but he’s named after writer Andy Diggle, who wrote Green Arrow: Year One; it’s an amusingly circular history, which thrills me to no end. Here, Diggle seems poised to play a more sinister role, but considering that he also apparently has a past with Ollie, I imagine that Diggle’s arrival could allow us to view both characters from a new perspective. Should be a blast.
Count Vertigo’s perspective on the rise and fall of America was another point that interested me, but I’m just about out of space; Drew, did you have any thoughts on Vertigo’s fate and how he views America and Vlatava? What’s your perspective on Ollie’s triumph and the emergence of Richard Dragon? And with name like Tockman, did that poor man ever even have a chance to become anything other than a supervillain?
Drew: I was a bit surprised at how quickly Vertigo was disposed here. For all of the buildup to this showdown, all Ollie had to do was grin and bear the dizziness and land one good punch. Or, you know, Ollie could have just launched the rocket arrow in the first place — Naomi makes a point of saying that it doesn’t even need to be aimed (which only makes me wonder why anyone needs to fire it). The bigger problem is that I was never fully invested in the conflict here — unfortunately, it feels like Lemire isn’t totally invested, either. Vertigo mentions his disdain for American corruption, but it rings hollow coming from a despot. Also hollow: Vertigo’s dismissal of American’s fear of terrorist attacks as he’s terrorizing Seattle. None of these points actually have anything to do with why he’s attacking Seattle, making them feel like generic supervillain window dressing. That kind of mustache-twirling gets beyond out-of-hand when he Darth Vaders his most trusted advisor for daring to contradict him. I get it: he’s the bad guy.
Lemire makes such a big deal out of what a big bad Vertigo is, it’s a total letdown that he goes down so quick, just to be hauled off by a couple of cops. I have my suspicions that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Vertigo in this arc, but I hope he’s gone for a while — I think having him recover and return again would feel stale, and I’m much more interested in the larger mythology.
Speaking of larger mythology, this issue treats us to the meeting of two of the “dragons” from Ollie’s vision.
Magus’ instructions weren’t clear as to exactly how Ollie would need to confront these dragons — is he meant to fight Richard Dragon? Work with him? Both? Either way, we finally have Richard Dragon in the same place as one of our key players, suggesting that we might finally be able to advance the mythology towards the big fight with Komodo.
But first, we’re going to take some kind of swing into Zero Year to learn more about Diggle. I can’t say I was clamoring for the origin a character I didn’t even know existed until this issue. I have a lot of faith in this creative team to make that issue fun, but I am a bit frustrated that the story is getting sidetracked yet again. Lemire’s discursive approach to narrative is often one of his greatest strengths (the “Tights” issues of Animal Man spring to mind), but it can also punish fans for being invested in the larger story.
Yeah, this issue left me wanting. Lemire gave us a few breadcrumbs, and Sorrentino delivered some typically stellar art, but all I could think about was how much Ollie’s perspective effects looked like the “Touch Fuzzy, Get Dizzy” level from Yoshi’s Island.
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