Written by: Jeff Lemire
Art by: Andrea Sorrentino & Marcelo Maiolo
What is it that makes a run on a character a defining run? Is it taking the character to new places? Establishing a new supporting cast? Breaking that character down and rebuilding him or her from the ground up? Whatever it is, all of them are applicable to Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s run on Green Arrow. Issue #34 serves as a conclusion to what the duo had started when they came onboard with the seventeenth issue. The journeys that these characters have been on – Diggle, Emiko, Fyff, Naomi, and, of course, Oliver – end here. The best part about this issue, as a conclusion, is that none of it is heavy handed. Just from the dialogue and inner monologue, you can tell that these are not the same characters that they were when we met them initially.
The reason that this issue is so successful is for exactly that reason. The plot takes a backseat to the characters, which are undoubtedly the most important element of this book. The actions that the characters take in this issue are, in many ways, defining moments, moments that mark the end of their voyages. Naomi’s journey of coming into her own ends with her taking down Killer Moth. Emiko’s quest for making her own choices, and being accepted, culminates with Oliver accepting her as his apprentice. Diggle’s arc of trying to do right his wrongs ends in the battle with Richard Dragon. And of course, Oliver’s journey of finding himself comes to an end in the last page of this book, in which he’s fully come to terms with the fact that he is the Green Arrow, and above all, he’s a hero.
So all that character stuff is great. Fortunately, not only are the characters rich and vibrant, but the plot is as well. While this seventeen issue run has undoubtedly been one continuous story, it can be broken into a few different segments, and Broken is one of them. This issue, then, ends up being a conclusion to both the story as a whole, but also this segment of it. As such, the Arrow family (or whatever this little group is going to end up being called) has to go toe to toe with the big bad: Richard Dragon. Diggle and Oliver are the two going after him, and the battle between the three is one of the coolest fight scenes I’ve ever seen in a comic. Part of this comes from Lemire’s interpretation of these characters, but mostly, it’s a result of Sorrentino’s gorgeous layouts and the distortion provided by Marcelo Maiolo’s colors. The panels within panels give this fight a unique feel, and, as such, it unfolds differently than most other battles in comic books.
This particular plot line, as with the rest of the arcs in Lemire’s run, only serves to advance the characters. This arc served the purpose of forcing the Arrow family to return to Seattle, where all of their journeys began. Other than that, it was interesting enough to hold my attention, however, not the most original plot in a comic book. That being said, it’s amazing to see how a familiar revenge plot can do completely new things to the characters involved in them. Really, that just goes to show how skilled Lemire is at the craft of making comics.
When the dust settles, the Oliver Queen/Green Arrow that delivers the heartfelt inner monologue of this issue’s final two pages is not the same character we knew seventeen issues ago. And he is still definitely not the same character we knew before the start of The New 52. At this point, that doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is the Green Arrow we have now, and this is a status quo that is satisfying for everyone. At this point (and I know I’m not alone in this) I care more about this character now than I ever had before. It’s a shame that Lemire and Sorrentino won’t continue with this, but it’s because of them that I’ll be giving future runs on the character a chance I may not have given them in the past.