Tuesday, June 10

Green Arrow (New 52), Volume 4: The Kill Machine (DC Comics, 2014)

Reprinted from issues #17-24 and 23.1 (2013) by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino

Green Arrow has never been a character I really followed. I liked him well enough in the context of Green Lantern's “hard travellin'” partner in the classic Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams stories of ca. 1970 (which I didn't really read many of or appreciate at all until much later, but I was only eight years old), in the context of the Justice League (especially as Hawkman's political opposite – although I was always far more on Hawkman's conservative side than Green Arrow's liberal side), even occasionally in his own stories (e.g, The Longbow Hunters), but beyond that, not so much. It was mainly as a second-tier character that he worked best for me. I had no interest in the new, beardless, younger Green Arrow of the series which came in with the New 52 in 2011, and frankly found him an uninteresting character those times he did appear in titles I did get. Green Arrow can be interesting – I particularly liked him in the Smallville TV series, and when I first heard that the CW was developing a [Green] Arrow follow-up, I was quite disappointed that it would be an entirely new reimagining of the character with no connection to Smallville. I've written elsewhere of my revulsion at the debut of Arrow in 2012 [LINK], but in the same place of my giving it a second chance at the end of the first season such that it became one of my most highly anticipated shows through the second season. It's surprisingly good, with a rather broad appeal. I was surprised along the way to find that my parish priest watches it, as well as our parish liturgical director and his wife (who are avid archers themselves); my wife doesn't actually follow it, but she will watch it with me if she happens to be in the room; the show is a runaway success by CW standards.

Well, after about a year and a half of lackluster and eroding sales on the New 52 Green Arrow comic, DC handed it over to a new creative team for radical makeover. I was immediately intrigued. The new writer would be Jeff Lemire, one of those writers I don't outright follow but whose presence will definitely predispose me to pick up a title if it is in any way interesting to me. Artist Andrea Sorrentino had blown me away throughout his run on I, Vampire. But I really wasn't wanting to add another monthly title, and Green Arrow is definitely not a mainstream character for me. I therefore determined to get it in collected form. I've been looking forward to it for a long time. One result of the effective synchronization of the original New 52 cohort of titles is that if they did collect them consistently every six issues and publish them as soon as possible, you'd get waves of collections coming out, slamming the market twice a year with dozens of new collections all at once followed by several months of … nothing. Feast or famine. So, from the beginning DC have staggered their collections. It's an entirely reasonable strategy … that unfortunately creates sometimes long delays between the appearance of the last issue in a collection and that collection finally coming. The current issue of Green Arrow is #32, I believe – which means eight issues have appeared since the last one collected here. I'm 'way behind in the story.

But back to what is in this story. Remember, I know virtually nothing of the New 52 series before Lemire and Sorrentino ... But it seems a real effort is being made to align the comic book series closer to what has worked well for the TV series. Characters – some carrying over from previous issues, others being introduced (I think) in this story arc – are clearly comic book versions of TV characters whether they carry the same name or not. They fill the role. On the final page, Ollie's sidekick in the TV series (no, not Roy) is introduced (I think) and presumably will play a major role going forward. Of course, this realignment can only go so far without completely muddling DC's overall continuity (assuming they even care, which at this point I'm not so sure about), but it does create a nice synergy between TV and comic, if I might be forgiven for using the term so liberally of late. But the overarching story arc here seems to be driven by Oliver Queen's experience on the Island and mysteries and legacies surrounding his father, just like the series. It's a good story, enhanced by Sorrentino's art which is as much a thing of beauty as his atmospheric depiction of vampire Andrew Bennett. I will be continuing with this series in collected form.

Cheers!, and Thanks for reading!

Reviews of the constituent issues (1718192021222323.124)

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