First, the good news: if Andrew Kreisberg, Ben Sokolowski, Daniel Sampere, and Jonathan Glapion’s take on “Green Arrow” had begun with issue #17 (after Ann Nocenti and company departed the title), I think there would have been a large sigh of relief from most readers. It’s in line with the “Arrow” television show, and it’s perfectly competent. Here’s the bad news, though: after an incredibly strong run on the title from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, it’s difficult to go from amazing back to competent.
Removing all comparisons to the previous creative team, “Green Arrow” #36 is exactly average. Green Arrow is running around shooting bad guys, and faces from the show as well as pre-reboot “Green Arrow” are making appearances as well. It’s absolutely by-the-books storytelling. There’s nothing wrong with it, and sometimes that’s a real victory. You can read “Green Arrow” #36 and be content. On the other hand, aside from a surprise old face from “Green Arrow” getting revived in the “New 52” continuity, there’s nothing at all memorable about this issue. (Swap out the returning character’s name with a different one and she’d be instantly forgotten, for that matter.) There’s no real spark, no moment to make you sit up in your seat and take notice. That’s what this book is missing in order to move to the next level.
Sampere and Glapion’s art in many ways falls into that category too. Some scenes are nice, like the old face on page two making her escape from the bad guys as she vaults across the alleyway. The art is pleasant with a smooth line, reasonable anatomy, nice poses. There’s nothing flashy about it, but it gets the job done. Having arrows serve as panel borders is a nice touch on the fight on the bridge, but otherwise nothing stands out as being super special. But while it would be great to have a distinctive and strong art style on board, Sampere and Glapion are doing just fine. It’s a bit average, but I’ll take average over incomprehensible any day of the week.
In the end, it’s hard to dip back to middle of the road when you’ve had such an amazing lead-in. I understand why this creative team sounded good to editorial — Kreisberg and Solokowski work on “Arrow” after all, and Sampere and Glapion draw very much a house style of safe looking art — but even with a hit television show, a comic needs to be more of a draw than being all right. This can’t just be “Arrow”-lite, it needs to give readers something particularly exciting or attention-grabbing to make them want to read more. After two issues, I don’t see that on the horizon just yet. So far, “Green Arrow” is slipping into the realm of forgettable comic books, and that can prove to be a sales disaster over time. Here’s hoping something exciting happens soon.