(DC Comics, 2014)
Written by Jeff Lemire
Artwork by Andrea Sorrentino
Color Artwork by Marcelo Maiolo
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Whether it is intentional or not Jeff Lemire has flawlessly matched the tone and attitude of the television series Arrow in his current Green Arrow story arc which he wraps up here in issue #31, Book Six of The Outsiders War, but that’s not a bad thing. In the television series, the narrative is a tapestry of present time events and flashbacks tightly woven together to build a tense, emotional drama full of action and characters that could have been lifted straight from the comic book. Many of the flashbacks deal with Oliver Queen’s time spent while stranded on a tropical island full of deadly dangers, not the least of which is Slade Wilson, once an ally of Oliver’s Slade goes on to become Deathstroke and the bane of Starling City. Lemire’s Outsiders War mirrors many of the elements found in the Arrow narrative including the island setting. However instead of Slade Wilson, Oliver must contend with the Outsiders and Totem Clan the outcome of these perilous tribulations is a confrontation with the malicious Onyx and Komodo. The story is primeval at its core, striking a very basic, instinctual chord that is enhanced by Andrea Sorrentino’s stunningly dynamic artwork. Lemire brings Oliver Queen into sharper focus than ever before, essentially deconstructing the character in a trial by fire premise; he astutely uses the characters of Onyx and Katana as catalysts providing Oliver an unexpected chance at catharsis.
This issue features some brutal battle sequences between Katana and Onyx but as exciting as this conflict is, it is but a preliminary bout; the real climactic moment comes when Ollie faces Komodo, the character who has been the driving force behind Oliver’s torment. The final page of this confrontation is one of the most poignant of the entire arc and that’s saying something because this is one of the most dramatic, tightly coiled, suspenseful stories I have read in any book this year. The action overall in this issue is poetically rendered and beautiful in its visceral portrayal of brutality. The violence is epic not only because of its scale and degree but because of what is at the heart of it, the motivation behind the punches, the kicks, the slices and stabs. That is what defines this arc; Lemire is one of the most intelligent writers working today, his narratives are complex, well thought out and beautifully composed, The Outsiders War, particularly this concluding chapter is a prime example of his creative genius. As arduous a trek as this has been for Oliver, there is truly no rest for the weary as Richard Dragon is waiting in the wings to see what Queen has left in him, Green Arrow: Broken begins next issue.
Andrea Sorrentino has a very unique, very dramatic visual style that works extremely well with the tone of this arc. It’s dark and gritty while maintaining an aesthetically pleasing balance of minimalism and detail. There is a very cinematic feel to the way the panels are used, almost grid-like in composition the action breaks free from the format at times to jarring effect. This works wonderfully to pull you into the violent world that is unfolding before you. I am a huge fan of Sorrentino’s work. The images are so strong on their own but when Marcelo Maiolo’s colors are added the work becomes even more stunning. Maiolo’s palette oscillates from vibrant stark solid colors to subtle, almost water color tints conveying an endless range of emotions and moods.
Green Arrow has been one of my favorite books since Lemire took over on issue #17. He has brought his poetic sensibilities to this title vastly enhancing the quality of narrative and character found in the series as a whole. The Outsiders War has been a standout arc in a run defined by its complex and satisfying stories. If you have missed out on the excitement thus far now is your chance to jump on with a new arc beginning next issue, however if you are looking for some really great stories in the meantime pick up Green Arrow #17-31 and take a trip to Starling City.(4/5)
Shawn is an aspiring writer/ artist who has been reading, collecting and living comic books for over 30 years. He lives in Baltimore with his wife, their son, lots of cats, dogs and other various finned and furry friends.