The Ninjabot

Green Arrow for Dummies

Posted on October 21, 2012 at 2:21 pm by Jeff Mueller

With the premiere of the CW’s new show “Arrow“, a Smallville-esque take on the Green Arrow comics mythos, hitting the airwaves last week (Check out the review of the episode here) I thought it would be good to provide a primer for those interested in the character.

The Green Arrow was first introduced in 1941 by DC Comics. The character, essentially Batman with a bow and arrow, has never been a major player and was basically nothing more than a supporting character for his first 25+ years (He didn’t get his own book until 1983). Over time the Emerald Archer became a very politically charged character, and while having a few successful runs carrying his own book, who finds a home as a fan favorite supporting character for the DC Universe as a whole; playing parts in such story-lines as “Blackest Night” and “The Dark Knight Returns“.

So who the Green Arrow exactly?


Green Arrow is the super-hero identity of Oliver Queen, whose origins mimic that of another classic superhero with no powers per say; Batman. Born into wealth, Oliver Queen’s parents were killed in a tragic safari accident leaving him the sole inheritor of the family business and billions of dollars. Unlike Bruce Wayne, it took Oliver awhile to develop heroic thoughts. He grew into a rich, drunken, adrenaline junkie playboy with no real sense of responsibility or direction in his life. Everything came crashing down on him during a boating accident in the middle of the ocean which left him stranded on a remote island. Salvaged from the wreckage was a longbow, a memento from a Robin Hood movie, and some very basic supplies. During the time spent on the island Queen developed his skills as a hunter and as an archer to survive. It was this experience that turned him around, making him realize how he had previously taken everything in his life for granted. He finally escaped from the island when he found the island was used as a drop site for drug smugglers (the plights of drug use have always been a strong theme for this character over the years); using his newly developed skills, he disrupted their operation, then captured and delivered them to the authorities before returning home. Finally feeling as though  had a purpose in life, he chose to use his abilities and vast resources as a crime-fighter. (Sound familiar?) With the nickname, Green Arrow, coined by the press he set about protecting Star City from that day forward.

For those of you who want to dive in to reading some of Green Arrow‘s best story-lines, here are some recommendations in relatively chronological order.

Green Arrow – Year One (Issues #1-6)

Up until 2007 Green Arrow’s origin story, while remaining semi-consistent, was a little hazy on the details. Generally told in flashback format, the specifics would change depending on who was writing at that time. This 6 issue mini-series fixed that. While giving nods to other author’s spins on the story, Andy Jock provides a very compelling and well told take on the history of the character. He manages to tie in allusions made regarding Oliver meeting and practicing with Howard Hill as a youth, lay the foundation for the inevitable loss of his family’s fortune and introduce China White as the first entry to his Rogue’s Gallery.

Green Lantern (Issues #76 – 89)

Yes, you read that right… Green Lantern. Following Oliver Queen losing his fortune due to forged documentation he became an outspoken advocate of the underprivileged in society and the political left wing, joining Green Lantern on a series of on-going adventures in 1970. This story arc by Neal Adams and Dennis O’Neil is some of the most relevant and thought-provoking work to ever grace the pages of comics (even more incredible was this went to print when comic books were still very much considered a children’s medium.) The story begins as the Guardians of the Universe realize how out of touch Green Lantern is with the world he is sworn to protect. Directed to observe the realities of the everyday man, he teams with Oliver Queen who points out his ignorance when it comes to the realities of the lower class.  The stories dealt with various social and political issues, where Green Arrow would often advocate radical change in opposition to Green Lantern’s desire to work within existing institutions of government and law. Through the months, each character found their beliefs challenged by the other.

It was also during this run that probably the most famous Green Arrow story appeared (Green Lantern #85–86). That was story that contained the revelation that Green Arrow‘s ward, Speedy (back in the 70s every super-hero had to have a kid side-kick it seemed), was a heroin junkie. Highly controversial in the days of the Comics Code Authority, this book recieved national coverage. It was then that Oliver Queen realized that he couldn’t constantly shirk his responsibilities at home to be a hero trying to save the world. This story planted the seeds that would forever be a part of the character; the dangers of drug use and the responsibilities of family.

Longbow Hunters (Issues #1-3)

This mini-series, written and drawn by Mike Grell, finally defined the character in a way that had never been done before. This very violent and realistic story was presented in, what was a that time, some of the most beautiful art to grace the pages of any book to date. The mix of styles, and the multi-media approach (standard pen & ink, watercolors and pastels interwoven seamlessly) made this book stand out in a big way! The story depicted a very back to basics approach for the character (no more boxing glove arrows here) and fully defined his relationship with Dinah Lance, the Black Canary. It was also this mini-series that introduced the character Shado, who would eventually bear Oliver Queen a son.

Green Arrow – Quiver (Issues #1 – 10)

Around 1995 DC Comics killed Oliver Queen and had his son, Connor Hawke, replace him. In 2001, under the expert direction of Kevin Smith, they brought him back to life; launching a new Green Arrow series with a 10 issue story arc called “Quiver“. A very deep story, tying in many relatively low-key DC characters (Etrigan the Demon and the Spectre play significant roles in the advancement of the plot), that goes back years and does a very good job of tying up some loose ends and continuity issues from some major DC events like the “Final Night” crisis. The story revolves around Green Arrow, revived into a world unrecognizable to him, facing the fact that he has died and that time has moved on without him. Suffering from partial amnesia he must come to grips with the mistakes of his past and the fact that he is now but an empty vessel with no soul. Heavy stuff which ends with Green Arrow regaining his humanity and triumphing over a very disturbing enemy in the process.

So there you have it, an overview of this very cool character and some stellar story arcs you can easily find in your digital comic shop (if you don’t ComiXology you should be ashamed of yourself), so stop being a Green Arrow dummy and get to reading! Let us know what you think of the books, recommend your own favorite story arcs and weigh-in on how you feel about this TV adaptation!




For more random geekery than you can shake a polypropylene bag at, follow @TheMightyJerd on Twitter! 

    • Something is wrong with this website, cant read it in chrome – everything is ok in firefox… also I cannot add this comment 3rd time now.. Hope its gonna work now.

      • Lisa

        I'm reading and posting in Chrome. Maybe clear your cookies and history? Stupid computers.

    • Duane

      I'm also using Chrome with no problems… weird.

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