I’ll be reviewing every issue of DC’s ‘Futures End’ month, in which every book of the line skips ahead five years to tell a story set in the future of their current narrative. Will the books be good? Doesn’t this sort of wreck the tension of all the current storylines? Why does everybody still have the same costume? All will be found out in what I’m calling ‘Reviewer’s End’.
Starting with the best of the first week’s comics, Green Arrow is by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, Marcelo Maiolo and Dezi Sienty.
This issue actually marks the very end of Lemire and Sorrentino’s Green Arrow run, which took one of the worst DC titles and turned it into – absolutely – my single favourite. Gritty and hard-won, the pair worked fantastically well as storytellers, which is why the credits here list them both as such rather than ‘writer’ and ‘artist’.
The story sees Oliver Queen grow out a ponytail and beard as, five years in the future, he’s vanished into the background. He’s been succeeded as Green Arrow by Emiko Queen, who starts off as the most dynamic force in the issue but then is quickly relegated to background. The thrust of the story revolves around a conspiracy which Oliver has found out about and needs to shut down, but can’t do anything about until he’s got some final business out the way. It’s about setting up his legacy before he dies – and every page of this issue seems to hone in on the inevitability of his death.
In that respect, it should probably be mentioned that Oliver Queen was found dead at the end of Futures End #1 all those weeks ago.
So this issue is all about finishing off Green Arrow’s legacy, and seeing him off into death. But the fact this comes as a prelude to Futures End means Lemire can’t pre-empt the twists of that year-long book, and so this issue has to keep holding back secrets from us in deliberate and frustrating ways. He just about manages to make the secretive nature of the comic worth it, but there are moments where it becomes very annoying that Oliver won’t just tell people what his plan is.
Sorrentino’s work here is resolutely solid throughout. He doesn’t make any of the great experimental choices that have punctuated his run on the character, but he tells the story well and creates a wonderful sense of foreboding atmosphere throughout the issue. By now he completely dominates this world, and it’s hard to imagine any other artist being able to take on the myriad characters, locations, and ideas Sorrentino has introduced.
All in all, this is a fine comic. It offers a look at the legacy of the Green Arrow title, but subverts reader expectations at every turn. This isn’t a culmination of Green Arrow by any means, and the creative team have left the new team plenty of ideas to work with. As far as a complete story – well, you don’t get one here. You’ll have to read Futures End to find out what the conspiracy is which drives this issue. It’s a decent finale for the pairing of Lemire and Sorrentino, but perhaps slightly frustrating if you just wanted a clean conclusion to their run.
[Follow the jump for spoilers regarding the end of the issue]
What this actually proves is that Lemire’s run on the character isn’t over at all, and will continue across into the Futures End weekly series, in an interesting and unexpected twist right at the end. Things are set up to be a true finale – but then at the end, the clock resets and Lemire gets back to work. Oliver Queen didn’t actually die in Futures End #1, and all the ominous talk of his death was just a ruse to get the world to think he’s dead. He remains the main Green Arrow, and will be continuing his story over in Futures End – with Lemire, presumably, at the helm.
It’s a strange way to end the story, this. This was built up as the final issue for the team, when actually it’s only Sorrentino who leaves the character. I’m not sure how that sits with me. Once you’ve finished the issue and go back to re-read it, however, this does become a whole lot more satisfying. Mixed bag, overall, this one.