Thursday, 6 March 2014

Green Arrow, Volume 4: The Kill Machine Review (Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino)

Why’s it so hard to make Green Arrow good? His counterpart, Hawkeye, over at Marvel has the best series ever but Green Arrow continues to stink up the New 52 like a month old dead dingo. 

This new run on the character, this time with one of DC’s “best” writers (more on that later), Jeff Lemire, has Oliver Queen visit the head of Queen Industries who’s an old friend of his father’s. A heated argument over who controls what ends with the old friend being shot through a window by an arrow, then dragged off the building and Ollie being accused of his murder.

Right away this story screams stupid – if a projectile weapon somehow manages to get through plate glass and kill someone, the glass is going to be on the floor of the office, right? Which is of course the case here. But the guards run in, see the mess and instantly accuse Ollie of the murder when, after just a few brief moments of thought, they could’ve determined otherwise. But no, this is now unfortunately the main plot of this book. 

Ollie has to fight a dark archer called Komodo (like the dragon – so you know he’s evil, because dragons are evil, get it?) and bizarrely, Komodo’s daughter as well, who, despite being 10, manages to kick Ollie’s ass up and down the place (this is why the Justice League didn’t want him!). There’s some mystery over the island where Ollie became Green Arrow – it always comes back to the island for this guy doesn’t it? – and some guy with X’s for eyes called Magus is on a magical mystery tour. 

Ollie and Komodo battle numerous times in the first half of the book until Ollie nearly kills him by stabbing him in the eye with an arrow. Didn’t a king die in the Battle of Hastings that way 1000 years ago? So Ollie basically tries to murder his enemy, which isn’t the most heroic move – he’s lucky he didn’t die! 

I’m going to have to revise this assessment that Jeff Lemire’s a good writer because of his work on this book. His writing is what made me abandon the book halfway through. After Komodo’s beaten, Ollie heads to Black Mesa, Arizona. Here’s the actual dialogue from that page which I wrote down because it is the worst expositional writing I’ve read all year: 

“So tell me again, Ollie, why you have to drive all the way out to the middle of nowhere, alone, while you’re still recovering from injuries that would keep most men in a hospital bed for a month?”

“The Magus told me to go to Black Mesa if I wanted answers”

“The creepy guy with no eyes is your only lead?”

“At this point, yes. and, while I don’t completely trust him, he does seem to … know things. And if what Komodo said is true… if he really did kill my dad … well, this is something I need to do alone. and I need to know what the hell they were doing on the island together all those years ago.”


I can’t remember the last time I read such clunky dialogue. “Here’s a summary of the story so far AND an explanation for my motivations, idiots!”. 

This was followed up by a redneck Arizona sheriff hassling Ollie (“’choo doin’ out here, boy?” etc.) and I gave up. Crappy writing and stereotypical characters are a powerful one-two punch to end any reader’s relationship with a book. 

Andrea Sorrentino’s art isn’t bad but nothing very special. It’s not done in the DC house style which is definitely a plus and I did like the way the hallucinatory sequences were rendered, and even some of the action is pretty decent, but the art isn’t enough to save this book. 

Lemire has written some good books, though none at DC, and his Green Arrow is just plain terrible. I could’ve either stuck with it and read another 100 pages of this trash or put it aside for good and read something worthwhile – I chose the latter. 

Cue comments like “But dude it gets WAYYY better in the second half - you should've stuck with it!” which are never true. Or my favourite - "if you didn't finish it, you can't review it!".

Green Arrow Volume 4: The Kill Machine

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