By Matt Johnson
Arrow has been quite a success for the CW. It’s been bringing in a respectably sized audience over in the US while doing well oversees too. As the show is an adaptation of the DC character Green Arrow, it wasn’t too surprising to hear that it was getting a comic book tie-in.
Arrow issue 1 collects the first three chapters of the previously digital only releases. Each chapter is handled by a different creative team, which gives the issue a very disjointed feel. That wouldn’t be too much of a concern if each story had a sense of consistency but all three are radically different. The first story is written by show creators Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg, perplexingly their story is the weakest. The plot is purely a very quick catch-up of Oliver’s backstory, anyone who has seen the pilot episode will already know everything it has to say. Mike Grell provides the art, which is a respectable nod to the man who modernised Green Arrow back in the late eighties. Unfortunately though this is far from his best work. Character faces differ from shot to shot and the colour work also alternates haphazardly. It’s a bad start to the issue that feels both pointless and rushed.
Thankfully the middle tale is much stronger. Writer Ben Sokolowski keeps things simple with a story that mimics a typical episode. Unlike the first chapter this is a new take on a familiar formula: Oliver goes to confront a corrupt businessman, then some violence happens. It fits the format well and comes across as a nice compact tale that hits upon what would be the highlights were it made for TV. Meanwhile Sergio Sandoval is responsible for the issue’s art, he has a clean solid style that matches the tone. There’s nothing daring about it but it gets the job done well.
Finally the last chapter is an origin tale of Triad mercenary China White, a recurring rival of Oliver’s. Beth Schwartz tells a story that’s quite stereotypical but remains enjoyable despite the predictability. Jorge Jimenez’s art has a vaguely manga inspired look to it with lots of action lines and some dynamic backgrounds. His rendition of China White is full of life though, he captures her range emotions well but some of the side characters are represented noticeably weaker. As was the case with the first chapter, the limited amount of pages detracts from the quality. A couple of the scenes rapidly whiz by and definitely could have benefited from some more space to play out. That said both Schwartz and Jimenez have still produced an admirable piece of work in the limited room they had.
Altogether the whole issue is an uneven package. There are some problems present, but enough entertainment within to balance them out. If you’re enjoying the TV series then chances are you’ll enjoy Arrow 1. It’s not terribly deep, but it serves as a nice companion to the show. However, if you’ve already stopped watching Arrow, or never started, there’s little reason to read this as it depends almost purely on pre-established context. Any appreciation of this issue is purely driven by how much desire you have to see more of Arrow. Fans will be able to overlook the flaws while everyone else should pass.
Posted on April 1st, 2013
Category: POWER PANELS, REVIEWS
Tags: Andrew Kreisberg, Arrow, Ben Sokolowski, Beth Schwartz, Comic Review, DC Comics, Green Arrow, Jorge Jimenez, Marc Guggenheim, Matt Johnson, Oliver Queen, Power Panels, Sergio Sandoval