“The Vertigo Treatment”
Writer: Scott Beatty
Artists: Phil Hester(p), Ande Parks(i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Oliver Queen, continuing his rather psychotic quest to relive key moments from his previous life, returns to the remote, Pacific island where Green Arrow was born. A former adversary, Count Vertigo, has followed the emerald archer and plans a final showdown.
Ugh. I knew this was a fill-in issue, but at least I could hope for an exciting action sequence or an interesting character study. Scott Beatty, regular writer on Gotham Knights, does have a decent premise to explore. Remember the classic movie “Hell in the Pacific” starring Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune? Two WWII pilots are stranded on a deserted island and try to kill one another rather than work together for their mutual survival. That pretty much sums up the plot of this issue, though Beatty spends about 75% of the page count on useless exposition.
I am not immersed in the long history of Green Arrow, so I have absolutely no idea who this month’s villain Count Vertigo is; I kinda guessed what his special ability might be. Beatty makes it clear that the Count has a deep hatred of Green Arrow, but provides no rationale for it. Vertigo is apparently an expatriate of the nation of Vlatava, and is currently an agent for the D.E.O. (Department of Extranormal Operations) reporting to Director Bones (who is actually a skeleton in a three-piece suit); I don’t know who he or the D.E.O is either. Apparently Beatty doesn’t think an explanation is warranted.
My biggest problem with the storytelling is the confused butchering of the timeline. It wasn’t clear whether the events on a particular page were immediately occurring, had happened yesterday or was a dream sequence. I was never sure of what I was reading until a couple of pages later; I had to re-read previous scenes to figure out what the hell was going on. Time-Location Captions would have helped tremendously.
Regular artists Phil Hester and Ande Parks perform to their usual high standards, but I wish that they or colorist James Sinclair could have made the flashbacks and dream sequences stand out more. Sadly, Matt Wagner’s cover painting is an uninspired remake of issue seven. Apparently the entire art team, including Wagner, is out of the picture for the next three issues; these guys keep me coming back all by themselves, so I am really questioning my purchase next month.
I want to be charitable here, because it seems like Scott Beatty had good intentions. Unfortunately, he wasted far too much space setting up a fight that lasted only a few pages and was otherwise fairly meaningless. We never learn much about the antagonists or what their motivations might be, short of simple revenge (revenge for what?). One hopes that the upcoming Green Lantern crossover with writer Judd Winick is more polished and thought out. This is a very tenuous time for the emerald archer.
As I began writing this review Wednesday night the first bombs were falling over Iraq. Meanwhile anti-war protests have been nearly constant in San Francisco and Oakland, which borders my home in Alameda. I was a soldier during the previous Gulf War, so this is a very trying time for me; guilt, anger, hope, worry – that sort of stuff. Comics were very popular in the Army (at least in the units where I served). I remember reading Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns in the early days of the Desert Storm and recall that it was one of the few times that I was able to tune out the darker realities surrounding me. I am neither for nor against the current war, but I am definitely pro-soldier – you might hate the war, but please support our troops. Super-hero comics are a big source of morale in the military – and morale wins wars, believe it or not. Thanks for listening, I’d love to trade Emails with anyone who wants to exchange thoughts – click on the link at the top of this review.
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