#13 might pick up some extra new-reader sales. In theory, that might even be true thanks to last month’s #0 issue. But if this is the case, clearly no one told Ann Nocenti, Freddie Williams II or anyone else connected with this comic.
“Green Arrow” #13 actually directly continues from “Green Arrow” #12 (which thanks to “Green Arrow” #0, was published two months ago). Ignoring the fact that someone higher up should have asked Nocenti for a different story so that this could have been a better jumping on point, there’s very little indication (just one brief narration box that at a glance looks like a “this is who Green Arrow is” box) that this is a story that began in a different issue.
The opening page is messy. Williams II took over as artist last month, but while his new rough style worked well on “Captain Atom” with Jose Villarrubia’s coloring, the different tone of story and the much more standard colors from Richard and Tanya Horie results in a jumble. The idea of a time-lapse image where we get eight drawings of Green Arrow running, jumping and drawing an arrow isn’t a bad one, but between the rough features, the strange swoosh effect around him, and the scattered credit boxes, it’s not graceful or smooth. That’s what an image like this needs to pull off this sort of feat, and it never comes through.
The book itself feels a little nonsensical in places. Green Arrow using arrows to chop off the ponytails of the Chow Brothers is written in a way that doesn’t make much sense, and the three kids narrating and cheering the comic end up annoying rather than amusing. (Their story’s conclusion feels like Nocenti trying to make a point about images of violence, one that is perhaps undone by her creating a comic book full of violent images to tell that idea.) The dialogue is cheesy and overstated, and it makes you wonder if anyone actually talks like this at all. In terms of structure, this feels more like an old arcade game than something with a strong narrative. Things just jump out of nowhere and attack, and after being vanquished are replaced by new foes.
There are also some real problems with perspective in this issue. When Fang unleashes a ghost at Green Arrow, it’s drawn in a way that makes it look 50 feet tall. It’s only when you turn the page that you can start to realize that it’s actually human-sized. Suzie Ming’s big debut as she bursts through the center of the page (with panels all around her) also results in a moment where you have to re-evaluate how big she is; it’s not a good layout choice at all.
This is the third time I’ve given “Green Arrow” a try (#1 and #7 being the first two attempts), and at this point I feel it will be the last for a while. This comic is all over the place, but not in a good way. The story flow is erratic and the art is equally unstructured. Considering there’s a loose television adaptation about to debut, if this is the best “Green Arrow” can look then perhaps it’s time to retire the comic until something more suitable can be put together.