Green Arrow is my favorite superhero, which is why I’m so glad Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino took the title from one of DC’s worst to, arguably, their best. Month after month I’ve loved this series since their run started on Issue #17. This September, DC declared “Villains Month” and all of their normal titles will focus instead on dastardly foes of the world’s greatest superheroes. This month’s issue of Green Arrow focuses on Count Vertigo, a foe GA recently escaped from in the fictional European state of Vlatava. But Vertigo wasn’t defeated for good, and he’s got a few more moves to make on the Emerald Archer…
Count Vertigo is, as you’d expect, the star of this special issue. In fact, Green Arrow doesn’t even show up for a single panel, as we’re treated to a story that belongs solely to man known known as Werner Zytle. Still reeling after his last encounter with Oliver Queen, Zytle heads to Vancouver to pick up some loose ends. He uses this time to reminisce on his youth and how exactly he became the man he is today. We learn how Vertigo obtained his “powers” (which are technology based), where he grew up, and what his family was like. The story ends as Vertigo prepares to confront Green Arrow on his home turf in Seattle.
Jeff Lemire’s done great work with Green Arrow for the entirety of his run. This issue deserves special commendation, since, although forced to fit into DC’s event Villains Month, Lemire still manages to connect the tale to the main story arc. At the same time, the issue is written in such a way that if a fan of the series takes this month off, they’re not missing anything insanely crucial to the core story. Some might dislike that, but I actually enjoy that Count Vertigo’s backstory, while integral to enjoyment of the overall narrative, can be avoided by those who only care about the adventures of the Emerald Archer. The story itself is well written. There are no great moments of stand out dialogue, but nothing glaringly wrong or even mediocre. My one complaint is that the story made Vertigo’s mother a prostitute/drug addict, which I feel is a trope used too often in villain origin stories.
Andrea Sorrentino’s shadowy artwork is absolutely stunning and is by far the biggest draw for this title. The way he draws the distortions caused by Vertigo’s power is amazing and creepy, and I’ll admit I got a bit of a headache looking at it, which is a good thing since that seems to be the intent. Sorrentino’s character design for Vertigo is great, and the way he drew the emaciated form of Mama Zytle and the tortured bodies of those Werner has defeated are riveting. Marcelo Maiolo provides a color palette which keeps which Lemire’s narrative and Sorrentino’s artwork, giving us darker tones with the occasional spot color of red or green to draw our eyes to key features.
Green Arrow #23.1: Count Vertigo is a very good comic, though not the best of Lemire and Sorrentino’s current run. The art is par for the course, meaning it is stunning, while the writing is very good, but nothing as interesting as prior issues. Even so, I encourage everyone to check this series out as it is DC’s best series in my honest opinion. This issue can stand alone, but I’d suggest starting with Green Arrow #17 and then catching up to this chapter.
-amazing art from Sorrentino and Maiolo
-well-written story which explores Vertigo’s backstory
-a full contained, stand alone story which still influences the main arc
-some trite tropes in Vertigo’s backstory
-Vertigo’s powers still not fully explained
-weaker storyline than previous issues of Green Arrow
Brett Simon is a twenty-three year old comic enthusiast. He got dizzy from looking at the 3D motion cover on this issue.
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