Green Arrow #17
Don’t let the double digit number in the title put you off, this is the first Green Arrow book that I have ever read and so there is no necessity that you be a fan of the man or familiar with his mythology to be interested in this issue. Why am I starting to read his story here and now, of all possible places? Conventional wisdom would suggest that it has something to do with the CW’s Arrow, that after adoring the characters adventures there I have come to his roots here for another hit; this though is not the case. If perchance you were someone tempted to do what I just spoke I would blindly suggest trying the book that shares the shows name rather than the core comic since DC seemingly haven’t changed the character to match up with the other medium. What they have done though, and what caught my eye on this comic, is change the creative team to contain a name that calls to me like a siren song: Jeff Lemire.
There is an assumption made about comic readers – correctly, for the most part: that they have a tendency to fall in love with certain characters and will buy any book that bears their likeness. As a newcomer to the medium, one who has no deep-seated allegiances about the opposite approach; that of following writers and artists who have proven themselves able to achieve t whichever book they decide to work on. Nowhere has this approach paid more dividends than in the case of that other Archery comic, the one printed and published by DC’s rival Marvel: Hawkeye. I had no love for that man, nor his purple jumpsuit but with the appearance of Fraction and Aja’s names on his cover I became a buyer and with every subsequent issue I become a bigger and bigger fan. So I figured he’ll, if lightening can strike once why not twice? If one great writer can revolutionise one companies C-list hero why can’t another?
Actually though Lemire’s approach here is the exact opposite of Fractions, treating GA’s gaudy guise and silly superpower as the most serious of matters: the green hood becomes ripped rags he letting him from harsh desert sun and the bow becomes a symbol and a battleground, Queen battling with another archer, the pair parrying and rushing ripostes from long range. Honestly it reminded me more of Fraction and Aja’s first shared project, their revamp of The Immortal Iron Fist. Oliver Queen, like Danny Rand did there, has his company ruined by the corporate ally controlling it, is given hints of a hidden heritage and is hunted down by a shadowy figure connected to both whose skills vastly outmatch his own. The tone though is where the two stories separate, Lemire isn’t bringing any trace of B-movie style to his story.
Strangely then the style that the book does have, thanks to artist Andrea Sorentino is on its surface similar to that of Dave Aja’s. Both pencillers employ an almost impressionistic approach to the faces of their figures, extensively using shadows as shading for their almost two-tone art. I say ‘almost’ because there are sharp splashes of a certain colour employed in near-each panel to punctuate certain elements or moods; like Lemire’s writing the art here differs from Aja’s in that it is much darker, much grittier, realistic rather than cartoonish and the simple page structures support that. Sorrentino was strongly praised for his work on I, Vampire but personally I never quite saw the appeal; his wasn’t a name that I followed like i do Aja’s and yet I was pretty impressed with his work here and feel that it both suits and strengthens what makes this run relevant.
So this was the first issue of Green Arrow that I’ve ever read, but will it be the last? Probably not, because while it didn’t win me over as completely as that other bow-and-arrow book there is the potential here for a very solid story, a final panel that hooks almost as well here as it did in the third season finale of LOST and an author who odds dictate will pull as much drama from both as is proper. It’s not a first-shot bullseye but it hits the target and shows signs of skill, which is more than people have been saying about the series in the past and more than enough to earn it another few of my dollars.