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Thursday, February 7, 2013

DAMN Good Comics -- GREEN ARROW #17

At last, an issue of Green Arrow that doesn't curl up in embarrassment when compared to the Arrow television series.

When DC Comics debuted their rebooted DC Universe "The New 52" almost a year and a half ago, many fans of Green Arrow hoped the new series with a younger Oliver Queen would finally get the character back on track with fresh, engaging stories and artwork.  Unfortunately, writers J.T. Krul, Keith Giffen and Ann Nocenti, and artists Dan Jurgens, Harvey Tolibao and Freddie Williams seemed at a loss about how to make that happen.  The revolving door of creators and poor editorial direction combined for some of the most impenetrable Green Arrow comics in recent memory.

And then, almost mercifully, along came the TV series Arrow to remind everyone about how interesting Green Arrow could actually be when handled well.  Classic runs like the Mike Grell era and Green Arrow: Year One by Andy Diggle and Jock were major influences over the look and tone of the television adaptation and the supplemental Arrow digital comic series.

So it's welcome to see that DC woke up, smelled the (damn good) coffee, and made the Green Arrow comic series more like Arrow.  They turned to Jeff Lemire, who has had considerable success with Animal Man and taking over Justice League Dark to rescue Green Arrow from the downward creativity and sales spirals.  In his first issue, "The Kill Machine, Part 1," Lemire strips away pretty much everything from the previous sixteen issues.  Bland supporting characters Emerson, Jax and Naomi are swiftly taken off the board, Queen Industries is bought out without Oliver's knowledge, and Oliver is being hunted by a rival archer named Komodo.  Oh, and a mysterious figure with no eyes named The Magus shows up with ominous hints that there was more to Oliver's marooning on an island than he realizes.  That's more like it.

There's a major upgrade artwise as well, with Andrea Sorrentino producing some excellent work.  His moody style resembles a cross between Jock and David Aja, which is certainly nothing to sneeze at.  Also, his deliberate panel layouts draw the reader's eyes exactly where he wants them to go, with rectangular box outlines focusing on specific elements of action sequences.

All in all, Green Arrow #17 is essentially another Green Arrow #1 and that's a good thing.  As long as Lemire and Sorrentino continue to deliver and positive word-of-mouth spreads, this series should claw its way back from almost certain doom.  If you're a longtime Green Arrow fan that gave up hoping for something better, or an Arrow fan hungry for more, do yourself a favor and jump on board now.

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