Green Arrow #17 Review

By: Rob Gruszecki


            A lost and broken man stumbles through a desert in Arizona bereft of equipment or hope. As his exhausted form eventually collapses under the blistering sun we get a look inside the mind of a defeated hero, once proud and vain, conceding that his existence up to this point has been nothing but a bitter joke, a failed attempt to be more than just a vacuum for his father’s money, a bottomless pit of hedonism and privilege. This shattered dream once used to be a name people would remember and cherish, a title held in esteem that now lies alone in a wasteland awaiting its slow death, searching for the meaning of ‘superhero’ as skin boils and consciousness fades.

This is only a description of the first page of new creative team Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Justice League Dark) and Andrea Sorrentino’s (I, Vampire) take on Green Arrow for DC’s New 52. Starting in issue 17 this new run already promises to be the next huge title amongst Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman with dense and immediately captivating character development and dark tones, hauntingly dramatic. This issue boasts another perfect blend of accessibility for brand new readers who want an introduction to the Emerald Archer and an effort to embrace old continuity and stories paving the way for a clever and exciting direction. With only a four-panel first page you will find yourself reading something truly special only to be followed by an execution of plot so deftly explained and laid out concisely in two pages that gets the ball rolling quickly, interestingly and efficiently leaving room for 17 pages of noir mayhem. The Kill Machine part one is bursting with Ed Brubaker crime action, Andy Diggle espionage thriller and Greg Rucka pacing and delivery. That’s not to say that this book doesn’t shine with ingenuity on the creative team’s part but more to paint a picture of the flow and direction of this new Green Arrow story.


Jeff Lemire has always been a personal favorite of mine with works such as Sweet Tooth that played with apocalypse, Essex County that delved into the lush stories of small town Canadiana and most recently Underwater Welder exploring fatherhood and family dynamics with a unique eerie spin. With Animal Man, Lemire brought an obscure Vertigo character and made him both accessible and one of the most inventive and enjoyable titles in the New 52 line. What captures me most about this new territory for the creator is that pulpy noir has never really been a part of his arsenal and yet he writes it with such comfort and effortlessness that you would think he had been writing crime fiction all this time. With only a 20 page first chapter in this new addition to the legacy of Oliver Queen, Jeff Lemire provides, intensity, suspense and revitalization the character had been begging for.


Handling the visual side of Green Arrow is Andrea Sorrentino, a dream fit for the book with sharp character designs, jagged and harsh landscapes and absolutely breathtaking panel work and layout. Each page in the Kill Machine part one is outstanding and hopefully will catapult Sorrentino to the forefront of mainstream comic art as what he has to offer in these 20 pages are vivid, evocative and gritty. Combining the atmosphere of a corrupted city drowned in sin with aggressive and dire desperation to quell that reality, Sorrentino drives Oliver Queen from a desolate sand dune, to a claustrophobic corporate office, through dark and damp alleys of Seattle, into billionaire funded safe houses rich with toys and eventually directly into the hands of a new and formidable enemy. All of which are drawn with unique precision and passion that jumps right off the page.


It has been a recent and welcome trend to try and rebuild characters armed only with very good aim and access to medieval weaponry as is proved by WB’s new Arrow series and Marvel’s masterpiece Hawk(guy)eye. This new storyline starting in issue 17 is the New 52’s answer to that and it is a tremendous success. This is an excellent opportunity to jump onboard for what will surely be a monumental time for the character and the creative team.


Rob Gruszecki is a writer, musician and Wednesday warrior

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