GREEN ARROW: WAR OF THE CLANS
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorists: Marcelo Maiolo w/Andrea Sorrentino, Matt Hollingsworth & Hi-Fi
Additional Artwork: Denys Cowan & Bill Sienkiewicz
Letterers: Rob Leigh, Dezi Sienty & Taylor Esposito
With all this free time lately I decided to do a re-read of one of my favorite Green Arrow stories, the complete Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino run. I've been a diehard GA fan since I picked up an old copy of THE LONGBOW HUNTERS by Mike Grell. In my opinion, this is right up there with that seminal book. What Lemire and Sorrentino accomplished with this book, is absolutely astounding. While, Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer and Judd Winick had some great runs with the character, this has to be my favorite amongst all of them. I'll even go out on a limb and say that this run was the best thing to come out of the New52 era, and I'm a huge fan of Snyder & Capullo's BATMAN.
While this run begins at issue 17 of this particular series, Lemire makes this completely accessible without having to read the prior 16 issues. Don't worry, you didn't miss much. He wastes no time throwing us right into the action, while also throwing in a new adversary. Komodo, who we learn is a member of a secret organization, The Outsiders (not the one you're thinking of) and also has ties to Ollie's past. After being framed for the murder of Emerson, the head of Queen Industries, Ollie seeks out help from friends but realizes he's on his own. Komodo ends up being more of a threat than Ollie bargained for. But after he gets a new crew together, Naomi and Fyff, he sets out to discover the mysteries of his past with a little nudge from the mysterious Magus.
Along the way we get to see an updated Count Vertigo, who was experimented on as a boy, the new backstory adds so much depth to the character making him truly terrifying. The way Sorrentino depicts his powers is brilliant, the detail with which he shows the Vertigo taking over is on some other kinda level. Lemire puts Ollie through an emotional and physical ringer. While taking down Vertigo he saves Shado (a character introduced in THE LONGBOW HUNTERS) and learns that she was his father's lover and that he has a sister.
While he continues his hunt to take down the Outsiders, his journey take him back to the island, where he was "born". I wont give away to much of the story points here, but the new twists added to Ollie's past show Lemire's brilliance at characterization. He adds so many new layers that really take you into the psyche of Ollie and make him even more interesting of a character.
But while Ollie is away, a new threat has risen in Seattle, Richard Dragon. This isn't the Dragon of old though, this one is a ruthless killer and a great new take. The way Sorrentino depicts Dragon's fighting skills by identifying weaknesses was unique and awesome to see. With no Ollie in town, Diggle asks Naomi and Fyff to help take him down. This was another thing I really loved, Lemire brought Diggle into the comic. It's ironic that he brought a character in from the show, since the show would go on to take ideas from this series.
Eventually, Ollie takes down the Outsiders along with the help from someone long thought dead and Shado. He forgoes the coveted totem Arrow and shuns being the leader of the Arrow clan. This was my favorite addition to the GA mythos, the 7 clans. It consisted of Axe, Shield, Spear, Fist, Arrow, Sword, and Mask Clans. We even see that Katana was the wielder of the totem sword, further tying her to Ollie beside being members of the JLA. The battle between clans led to Emiko, Ollie's sister, learning of her true heritage, and helping take down the rogue clans. When Ollie returns to Seattle, he makes quick work of Dragon and his crew and takes back his city. Bringing Diggle and Emiko to the team set the future up to be very bright for our favorite Emerald Archer.
Phew... ok now that I'm done talking about the overall plot. I'll talk about writing and art.
Lemire, tackled a character that some might consider B-List, but he writes him as if he's in the upper echelons of DC's pantheon. The book has such an indie vibe to it and steers clear of the rest of the DCu for the most part. My only complaint is that this run didnt last longer. Pairing with Sorrentino, made this book stand out from everything else at the time. The way Sorrentino uses scenes of black and white with greens and reds helped draw your eyes to key images while also making your eyes start all over the place. The collaborative effort was one that would translate extremely well when they went on to do their indie hook, GIDEON FALLS.
If you're a big fan of Green Arrow then this should be the first book you pick up. While New52 was far from DCs best eras, this stands firmly as, not only the best of New52 but one of DC's best runs ever.