For this review I took a look back at the entirety of the arc, rereading it twice to fully formulate my critique on this issue. Be warned, there are spoilers abound.
- As a whole, the Outsiders War arc of Green Arrow is poorly structured/paced. Each issue would stretch out a particular piece of singular narrative for 18 pages and spend the last 2 pages or so building up to a big reveal that would serve as a transition to the narrative. I believe this was meant to undercut the more meandering parts of the arc. To explain further, the first issue serves as setup while exploring Oliver’s past on the island. This is perfectly okay, until it hinders the rest of the arc by leaving only five issues to get into the real meat of the arc. Then the next 2 issues focus on a singular fight scene between Oliver’s crew and Kodiak’s shield clan. The leaves approximately three issues to get the war going. It could be argued the actual war doesn’t start until part five of the six-part arc, leaving the rest to be rushed out and feeling ineffectual as a whole.
- This rushed feeling definitely plays into this issue. Every emotional beat doesn’t feel properly conveyed as it should be, and I can somewhat reluctantly say I felt almost nothing at the tragic moments in this issue. I would have given this issue extra pages for the necessary space to let these moments sit a little longer, rather than rushing to get through to the end. Twenty pages just isn’t enough space to give this arc the proper emotional climax it needs. It almost feels a little sterilized. I completely get the tone the writer and artist were going for but it almost feels mechanically built into the story and on-rails, as if Oliver needed this tragedy for character growth (which is not a specific storytelling device I am a fan of).
- I’ve given Sorrentino plenty of crap in the past for recent issues of this arc but he and Maiolo are absolutely phenomenal here. The two-page spread on pages two and three is a collage/mosaic of earlier scenes in the series forming the shape of Green Arrow’s face. In a book that always strives to do something creative, this might just be the peak in terms of pure aesthetic design. It’s eye-catching and pleasing visually, mostly due in part to Maiolo using varying shades of green (and green is the best basic color on the spectrum. Anyone who says otherwise is wrong) and Sorrentino just being an absolute creative force. Other choice moments include Komodo’s death, where the absence of color on Komodo when he’s shot through the heart is impactful and powerful, especially when the entire scenery around him has gone a stark, blood-red color. It drives home the point that death can happen in this series. It’s almost shocking because practically no one of major importance has died yet in the new 52.
- Some observations – I love that Ollie broke the totem arrow and it’s very symbolic of where his growth is headed. As I understand it, this is the end of the first half of Lemire’s run on the book, and by the looks of it, is going to head into a distinctly crime noir-flavored toned. Immortal Iron Fist to Daredevil. I look forward to it.
- I swear Ollie is going to be getting a Johnsian treatment, because his newish rogue’s gallery looks sick. Everything from semi-obscure choices like Red Dart and Killer Moth to more of his main villains like Count Vertigo and Brick. I hope they each have a distinct personality and method of madness so they can really feel like a gallery of rogues, which is something I feel Green Arrow has always needed. They also need a group characterization, like how Flash’s rogues act as a family. Feel free to post your ideas for that group dynamic below.
- As an individual piece, Green Arrow #31 is only somewhat satisfying but as the conclusion to a whole story arc, it’s a little more gratifying than that. It could easily have been paced better, and given some extra pages, but it did what it set out to do, and that’s what matters I think. I look forward to the shift in tonality next issue.
My Score: 3/5