Jeff Lemire has received a great deal of praise for his improvements to the newest volume of Green Arrow. Green Arrow #28 shows why some of those compliments may be misplaced. That’s not because it is a bad comic, but because it is a very good one. However, it’s greatest strength is clearly Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork.
Sorrentino has been praise-worthy for all of her work on Green Arrow thus far, but #28 highlights her strengths. Most panels focus on figures over backgrounds. Jungles, deserts, and cityscapes are all capably rendered, but they always serve the needs of the characters occupying them. When both Olivers and Shado cover the exposition that consumes the first half of the comic, it is clear they are in a jungle. Yet there is very little detail to the jungle, only a scattered handful of signifiers like vines and a waterfall. The rich blues and greens that color the panels are the primary descriptors of scenery. This minimalist take on background brings forth her figures though, which allows for incredibly dynamism in this action comic.
Green Arrow is more of an action-adventure story, than it is a superhero one. The action is more similar to that of Raiders of the Lost Arc than The Avengers. Green Arrow takes damage and his mistakes are often painful. Opponents are shown to be skilled and if they are defeated, it is through brutality, not quippy fisticuffs. Sorrentino’s line work emphasizes the unique shape of each character. Muscles are realistic and reflect the different skills and backgrounds of the person who wears them. This creates a very realistic feel for combat, where even incredible feats feel possible.
The absolute highlight of Sorrentino’s work in this issue though is the battle with Kodiak, which is framed entirely by onomatopoeia’s. Every “THWACK” and “BAM” reveals the next moment of an ongoing fight between four combatants. This framing device limits what is revealed to the forms of the fighters. Yet those forms are always clear and the cause-and-effect links between each sound make perfect sense. The onomatopoeia framing also emphasizes the brutality of the action. This is not characterized as a superhero battle, where everyone will be back in one month to rinse and repeat. Blows, whether they are by fist, shield, or arrow, come with a visceral impact. Bones are broken and tissue is torn.
It’s unclear how Lemire and Sorrentino layout an issue of Green Arrow together, but it’s clear that both of these creators are at the top of their game when it comes to composing pages.
Green Arrow #28 advances its various plot lines, but they generally fall into standard action genre tropes. Whether it is the exposition dump that occurs at the beginning, when a secret benefactor is revealed to have been shaping Ollie’s destiny or the surprise coup wherein the hero’s arch-nemesis seizes even greater power. That’s not to say this is particularly bad writing, merely that it is standard.
In general Green Arrow lacks the emotional punch that so many of Lemire’s comics carry. The reveal that Oliver’s dad was still alive may have proven shocking, but it did not play as a sympathetic change in momentum. Although this is a truly devastating moment for the titular character, it falls somewhat flat with readers.
Green Arrow #28 is a perfect example of how art can elevate a standard story into something extraordinary. The plotting, characterizations, and dialogue are all well done, but are not worth noting individually. However, the visual telling of that standard story makes it seem like something new and spectacular. Sorrentino’s art is capable of making the mundane into the sublime.