Green Arrow 23.1 is one of the first releases of the much darker titles in the Villain Month run. It does not get much darker than this, in fact Green Arrow #23.1 is pitch black!
Jeff Lemire gives the reader an origin issue of Count Vertigo, retold in a truly gritty way. Vertigo is seen as being an unknown heir to a kingdom, but circumstances beyond his control have led to him living a rather tainted and poverty stricken life. Instead of being the ruler of Vlatava, something that he was destined for, the young Vertigo is forced to live in poverty. His mother is a prostitute that brings clients back to their home in order to earn her money for her next fix. She eventually gives him up to Crius hospital, where they use children as test subjects. Vertigo’s childhood was anything but fun, in actual fact it setup the perfect recipe for creating a psychotic villain with mommy issues.
The amount of despair in this issue lets you actually feel sympathy for Vertigo. It humanises his character a bit. All this pain should not be inflicted on anyone. However, it has made Vertigo stronger and more goal orientated, whilst maintaining a solid sense of superiority. But it is how he goes about completing his goals that shows us that Vertigo is a villain at heart. Vertigo’s new found powers have boosted his ego tenfold, and he is on a mission to fulfil his destiny and all those in his way shall perish.
Sorrentino’s art really suits this issue. His unique visual style creates the darkness and despair associated with our lead character. Marcelo Maiolo’s colours immediately let you know that this is going to be a realistic and dark tale. Expressions are well presented and the way in which Count Vertigo’s powers are displayed is priceless and graphically violent. Each time he activates his powers to the point of exploding someone’s cranium, the panel switches from full colour to black and white and a load of red. But this issue is more story focused, action scenes are few, but this allows you to get a great understanding of who the character is and what made them this way.
The story is gripping from the get go. The reader is finds themselves immersed in a detailed world, one filled the tragedies and disdain. You will witness a child’s innocence being lost and a psychopathic anti-social being born. With his sense of superiority and hunger for power, Vertigo looks as though he will be a formidable opponent in the upcoming Green Arrow issues. This is truly a solid issue that is filled with art which will leave you in awe as so many pages stand out. Jeff Lemire creates a villain that is believable yet extremely cruel, the ending of this issue shows us that some evil has no remorse!