"Green Arrow" #17 from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino is exactly what the character needed after a rough slump. Lemire has taken a book in freefall and turned a major corner to attempt a new take on both the concept and the series. The result is a crime mystery costume book that raises the stakes and grounds the character. Amidst some corporate problems and a very intriguing villain, there is some superb action delivered through the art.
Lemire lays out a lot of establishing business in this issue. It appears the writer has a story to tell and he knows where the ship is sailing. Queen has his world brought down, in a "Born Again" manner, and there is a higher legacy at play. It's assuring that Lemire has the confidence to play in all aspects of "Green Arrow's" world. He wastes no time in bringing everything together to build toward the one narrative, tightly weaving the structure as it builds with tension and releases with action. The progression of the story is beautifully executed through the pages.
Smartly, Lemire gets straight into the action of this story -- a good choice, considering he composition and dynamic flow of Andrea Sorrentino's art. The pages are remenicent of David Aja's "Immortal Iron Fist" action chops as Sorrentino uses insert panels to highlight certain dramatic and bombastic moments amidst the kinetic action, such as when Queen is ambushed and gets into an arrow fight. This skill set, used consistently but not overbearingly, allows Sorrentino to slow some pages down, deliver detail on multiple planes of a panel, and also brings movement to a static image. The pages are slick with design and yet also rich with storytelling flavor. This is most certainly going to be one of the best looking books of the year if Sorrentino keeps getting scripts from Lemire that show off his best work.
Oliver Queen is still the weakest thing about this title, something that needs to be addressed to really turn this book around. However, everything else gets an upgrade in this issue and the overall vibe is one of the best parts of it. Lemire writes this book like an urban crime tale that just happens to have arrows and hoods. This low level approach feels somewhere between Brian Michael Bendis' "Daredevil" and Matt Fraction's "Hawkeye." It's interesting to see two arrow-styled comics on the stands and I'm going to closely watch if the market will support both of them. While both might not occupy exactly the same space, they're not entirely dissimilar, either.
"Green Arrow" #17 is the sort of issue that welcomes new Green Arrow fans and demands their attention. When an old character can be repurposed in a new manner with such a clean effect, it deserves to garner some attention. It's nice to see this book succeed with a new direction through the art, action and grounded crime element. This is the turn old fans of the character have been waiting for since the New 52 launched. Lemire and Sorrentino have made "Green Arrow" finally matter. Dive right in and enjoy.