Review by C.J. Bunce
Today DC Comics switches gears with its New 52 Green Arrow title, with writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino re-starting the series in a new storyline called “The Kill Machine.” Lemire is best known for taking the obscure DC Comics character Animal Man and turning his story into one of DC Comics’ best reviewed series. Italian artist Andrea Sorrentino is best known for his haunting run on the New 52’s I, Vampire, and his great covers for a short X-Files comic book series, with a style he seems to be carrying forward in Green Arrow Issue #17, released at comic stores everywhere today.
With Issue #17 Lemire seems to be taking some tips from the Berlanti/ Guggenheim/ Kreisberg playbook. Their highly successful Arrow TV series on the CW Network follows Oliver Queen as he deals with the events he faced on the mysterious island where his yacht Queen’s Gambit marooned him, and where he honed his physical skill as archer and fell into his current psychological state. The TV Oliver Queen is echoed in Lemire’s lead character although differences show through–Lemire’s Oliver seems a bit younger and impulsive whereas the TV Oliver relies on his charisma and is more measured in his actions. But you can’t say more about that by way of comparisons with only one issue to go on. Fans of the Arrow TV series should keep an eye out for a familiar villain element in this first issue.
“The Kill Machine” finds Oliver responding to the loss of Queen Industries by the trustee managing the company since his father’s death–his father’s best friend. Lemire is overtly giving his Oliver a clean slate, destroying the world Oliver knows and removing any relationships that might reveal Oliver as anything but a lone wolf. In this way it will be interesting to see how much of Mike Grell’s original stories of the urban archer shine through. Grell’s Oliver, through dozens of issues of amazing stories beginning in the late 1980s, was the last time the character was completely redefined. Can Lemire reinvigorate Green Arrow and still keep true to the character’s long history? He has developed several issues beginning with Issue #17 so we will learn the answer as we keep up each month with the series this year.
As a result of rebooting 52 new comic books series, it probably should be no surprise a character like Green Arrow got sidelined so much throughout the various titles, being ignored as part of the Justice League’s first year of stories, relegated to cameo status in other books. Although you’ll see some critics blaming the creators of the New 52 Green Arrow for a lackluster performance in his own title series, it makes more sense that no planned vision was laid out for the character for these creators. Just look at the frenetic switches made on the writing and artist teams in only 16 issues: Issue 1 featured writer JT Krul and artists Dan Jurgens with inker George Perez, an established team that had a history with the character. The problem was they weren’t writing the character they had previously built, instead forcing Oliver Queen from the mouthy, snarky and tough voice of reason for the Justice League into a one-note young impulsive action hero that had nothing like Dinah Lance to keep him grounded and focused. By Issues 6 and 7 Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens were sharing writing duties, with Harvey Tolibao drawing the story each month. Fave borg.com creators writer Ann Nocenti and artist Freddie Williams II were just getting started with new paths for Oliver before the change to today’s creative team. For the character’s sake hopefully one creative team will get a chance to grow characters and story for longer than a six-issue run.
The result from the first issue with the new team beginning today is that we’re off to a good start. Look for some nice layouts and iconic Green Arrow imagery from Sorrentino. His faces have some gritty realism and his portrayal and stances for Oliver in full garb evoke Mike Grell’s urban hunter–the Oliver we all loved in The Longbow Hunters mini-series. Grell, who (along with Neal Adams) is one the two best pencillers in Green Arrow’s 70 years of stories is a good bar to aspire to. Sorrentino also has the best cover featuring Oliver in the Green Arrow monthly since Mauro Cascioli’s cover run a few years ago.
Green Arrow is due to be featured in Justice League of America #1, due out later this month. We’ll review that series here in the coming days.