When I began collecting DC’s New 52 titles about two years ago, I had no intention of, or interest in, reading about a Batman knock-off who shoots ridiculous boxing glove arrows. Things stayed that way for the first sixteen issues of the title as I continued to read reviews of how bad the book was. Then way back on issue #17, Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took over the creative duties on this book, and turned a comic that I could’ve cared less about into one of my favorite titles in the New 52.
Yes, it’s really that good, and no one is more shocked than I am that I’m reading this book and that it’s kept on my pull-list while other DC books have fallen by the wayside. The combination of Lemire’s story and character development with Sorrentino’s art has struck the perfect chord and created one of the premiere story arcs of the character’s history.
This issue continues the Outsiders War story arc in Part 4: The Prague Offensive. The Outsiders War has been one of my favorite arcs in any comic in the past few years, and this issue really pulls out all the stops with a cliff-hanger ending that I really didn’t see coming, and one which has huge implications in its resolution.
Sorrentino’s art has never been better, and it’s one of the huge attractions of this title. His clever use of panel layouts has always been fantastic, with crafty “calls-outs” that focus in on specific parts of the scene, such as a spear hitting someone in the chest or close-ups showing how, from a distance, Green Arrow identifies criminals as seemingly innocent dock workers. Toward the end of the issue, he makes ingenious use of the environment, a cathedral, to create elaborate panel borders based on the church’s gothic architecture. It’s a really nice touch – it’s subtle, and yet it somehow improves the already great art.
Sorrentino’s pencils and inks are complemented and expanded on by Maiolo’s spectacular coloring job. Sadly, I rarely notice a coloring job unless it’s bad, but the colors on Sorrentino’s art in Green Arrow are just the absolute perfect match. Maiolo uses a subdued, dark palette of colors for most scenes, but then makes the choice every once in a while to shift to a retro two-color palette of white and green or white and bright red to call attention to certain emotional or action-packed scenes. It’s somewhat reminiscent of old 1960s Italian pop-art, which is fitting considering Sorrentino’s background.
In terms of plot and story, Lemire has been setting the stage for the Outsiders War since he took over the title with Sorrentino a year ago, and many story threads in this issue are brought forward that date all the way back to issue #17. This issue is a great example of Lemire’s writing, with some nods to actual serious current events, such as underage sex trafficking in Prague (which is a real problem). He juxtaposes that seriousness with a lighthearted and clever way of incorporating some of Green Arrow’s goofier equipment, such as his thunder-clap and umbrella arrows. Green Arrow actually has a little internal dialogue about these that he shares with the reader, and the scenes are set up for Sorrentino and Maiolo to have a lot of fun making them come to life visually.
The Lemire and Sorrentino run on Green Arrow is one of the best examples of the New 52, and the Outsiders War arc in particular stands out as a perfect blend of story, characterization, art, and above all, fun. If you think that Green Arrow is just a cheap Batman (or worse, a cheap Hawkeye) imitation, think again and check out the Outsiders War. Issue #29 is Part 4, but you can easily pick up the previous issues to catch-up.