Since jumping on the title with issue #17, Jeff Lemire has been adding all-new layers to Oliver's mythos. We've seen new characters here and there and heard about certain aspects, but now we're diving into the story that'll finally unravel it all. Even though Lemire's creating a big world around Oliver (one which reminds me of what Geoff Johns did with Green Lantern), this issue is mostly dedicated to the hero himself and what he's endured to become the man he currently is. It covers a lot of familiar territory, but it's presented to us in clever manner and with a sharp script. Because of that, seeing Oliver master a bow as he's stuck on the island doesn't feel redundant -- it feels immersive.
While they don't have the opportunity to hit us with any energetic action, Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo still have produce a lot of mighty fine looking panels. The scenery and landscapes are presented beautifully and with so much life. The character work remains strong and the emphasis on lighting is particularly commendable. There's also quite a few clever panel layouts and I love the decision to have some of Oliver's memories presented from his perspective. All in all, it should come as no surprise by now that this is yet another wonderful looking issue.
Seeing as this is pretty much pure story building and designed as a jumping on point, there's a whole lot of exposition and some panels are absolutely loaded with dialogue. Everything's well done, but there's no real "wow factor" with this one. It's basically laying down the building blocks, but at least it ends on a note which will promise some excitement in the next chapter.
We've been hearing so much about all of the different clans and this opening chapter serves as mostly buildup to the greater picture. There's nothing explosive here, but I dig the character-driven emphasis with Oliver and you can really feel there's something epic coming around the corner. A few big factors are set in motion and, now that the set up is primarily out of the way, it's time for the "war" to truly begin. A return to the island may feel redundant (especially if you're watching Arrow), but with Lemire's creative writing and Sorrentino/Maiolo's impressive artwork, it's a very welcome trip and I'm seriously looking forward to the next issue.