Green Arrow #21 Review

(w) Jeff Lemire
(p) Andrea Sorrentino

“The Kill Machine” finishes up this month with not a bang, but a subtle whimper. I want to like Jeff Lemire’s run on Green Arrow, I really do. And there are elements that I think are very strong, but Green Arrow #21‘s attempt to expand the mythos of Oliver Queen actually backfired and made the character a whole lot less charming. Since Ollie technically defeated Komodo last issue, this issue is mostly about tying up all the loose ends Lemire has left dangling.


First and foremost is how Ollie and his father are connected to the island where Ollie first learned to shoot a bow. Magus — Lemire’s ‘deus ex machina’ that’s been popping up from time to time to lend a helpful story about the past — finally decides to lay out the cards for Ollie and explain everything. Turns out Richard Queen and Simon LaCroix were friends once, but LaCroix murdered Queen. The reason? I’m not entirely sure. Magus explains that, “…LaCroix was everything your father wished you would be. He made him his protege in both business and his quest for the arrow. And then LaCroix killed him for it.” Doesn’t make too much sense to me: to murder the man who gives you opportunities unbounded. But that brings me to my second point.


Years ago, then-Marvel writer J. Michael Straczynski attempted to explain that Spider-Man was just the current avatar of the Spider God who had bestowed the power of the spider to various humans throughout history. It was a stupid and pointless endeavor that only succeeded in cheapening the character’s rich narrative history, betrayed the core concept that anyone can rise up to a hero, and generally mucked up Spidey’s continuity so much that everyone basically just doesn’t talk about it anymore. It was a ridiculous attempt to give more meaning to a hero who didn’t need some deeper meaning to his powers. It was completely unnecessary.

This is the feeling I’m getting from this whole ‘weapon clans’ concept Lemire is introducing. Basically, Oliver Queen was always destined to pick up a bow and become one of the most formidable and talented archers in the world because there is an ancient Arrow Clan of which is family was part of. I understand that part of the ‘New 52’ is actually making some things new, but this is the kind of change that makes fans angry.

Oliver Queen used to be about helping the less fortunate because he felt a sense of responsibility due to his being born into wealth. He took it upon himself to learn and grow as a person and become something better than he was before. And for a few issues, Lemire was beginning to lean toward this direction with the character after 16 issues of Ollie being a total ass and a pale ghost of his former self. Instead, Lemire decided to make Green Arrow just another hero who was ‘destined’ to become a hero instead of reinforcing Ollie as an example of peoples’ ability to do better.

This just doesn’t feel fun anymore. It feels forced. Not everything in a comic book universe has to be tied to fate, destiny, or past events. Sometimes, heroes arise because they need to and not because their great-great-grand uncle was cursed by an evil warlock for generations or somesuch like that. I like Lemire’s dialogue; it’s quality work and the all characters feel organic. I also love Andrea Sorrentino’s artwork. It’s honestly just the story that’s turning me off of Green Arrow now.


One thought on “Green Arrow #21 Review

  1. Look at Green Arrow # 19, page 3: Oliver admits he probably couldn’t have made the impossible shot that Komodo threw at him. A normal superhero would never say he/she is inferior in comparison to his/her villain: Oliver, on the contrary, admits it, because Lemire loves to deconstruct the superhero mythology.
    Second deconstructing detail: at the end of the issue, Fyff asks Oliver what happened, and he replies “Got beat up by a little girl.” A superhero is supposed to be invincible and to defeat even the most powerful villains, so Oliver admitting that a child defeated him is something delightfully nonconformist and unusual.
    Third deconstructing detail: A superhero never escapes flat out, and never gives up. Oliver, on the contrary, decided to wave goodbye to Komodo when he realized he had been encircled. And he ended up in a dump! Can you imagine any other superhero in a situation like that? AWESOME!!!
    Lemire’s deconstructing the superhero mythology in a more evident way in Animal Man (which is my favorite New 52 series, along with Vibe). For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.

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