The History of Green Arrow
His is name is Oliver Queen, and he is the Green Arrow. All the fans of the show know who Oliver Queen is. Who Green Arrow is but not all know the history of the character from its source material. In this article we are going to look at the character from its earliest incarnations to present day.
The first archer to appear in comics was The Arrow. He is connected in no way to Green Arrow but his mention is important due to the similarities in the title and the show. The Arrow first appearance was in 1938 of Funny Pages #21, published by Centaur Comics. The stories were very basic, as many of the comic stories were back then, he would get his own title that would only last a few issues in 1940. His costume was Red or blue, depending on the artist, and in these early adventures he did not have a secret identity. Later Malibu Comics would reimagine him during their Protectors/Genesis universe as a former government agent named Rick Palmer, born somewhere in Texas.
In the Project Superpowers series by Dynamite Entertainment, The Arrow would be a character within the series. He would be reimagined as Ralph Payne, a US Intelligence member who decided he would be more effective as a vigilante.
Even though the Arrow Character was the first archer, he became more or less a sort of “knock off” of Green Arrow and Hawkeye (from Marvel Comics), yet the most similarities he has is with another archer many know as Shaft, from the Youngbloods series (Image Comics).
The Green Arrow we know best began in 1941, in More Fun Comics #73. Form the very beginning he was influenced heavily from Robin Hood and Batman. He had the Arrowcar, Arrow Cave, Arrow Plane and his very own sidekick; Speedy etc. The main influence however came from the Green Archer a novel by Edager Wallace that was later made into a 1925 Movie serials.
Green Arrow might have been in danger of slipping into comic history as a relic had it not been for him being a sub-feature in Adventure Comics, that most often featured Superboy. He along with another familiar character, Aquaman owe their longevity to this. This would also eventually be nodded at during the Smallville TV series, in which Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and Arthur Curry/Aquaman would be among the first costumed heroes introduced in the television series.
Green Arrow would continue to make guest appearances in various titles and he was in the early pages of Justice League, mostly as a second tier background character.
Green Arrows retransformation and new look was first shown in Brave and the Bold #85. When he teamed up with Batman. A couple of years later we saw the Oliver Queen we came to know and love in the comics over the next 20 years. The Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams run on Green Lantern/Green Arrow redefined the character as a leftist protector of the people. Ollie had lost his fortune and became a representation of the “angry youth” of the time, while Green Lantern was the former generations establishment. They decide to rediscover America together and become partners, giving the two a sort of Batman/Superman relationship. It was this personality of Ollie that was portrayed heavily in Justice League Unlimited, The Batman and to some degree Smallville.
It was during this run that the character became involved with Black Canary and Roy Harper was found out to be a drug addict. The series set Green Arrow for the first time apart from Batman, making him more of his own character.
In 1987 DC launched another Green Arrow series, starting with the mini-series Longbow Hunters. This became a very popular series. It was meant to attract more mature readers, and gave Ollie a darkness he had not had before. It was the Longbow Hunters and the succeeding ongoing series that introduced a lot of what we see in the TV series we know today. It was during this time that characters like Shado were introduced, in a later story Shado raped Ollie (as he was disabled from pain and medications) and would eventually conceive a son, Robert. She forbid him of having anything to do with him. While Shado was in the flashbacks, her character comes out a lot more in Nyssa Al’ Ghul, whose character we will examine more closely in a future article. At this time Green Arrow was being written by Mike Grell, who largely kept Ollie out of the mainstream, and the series by and large stood on its own.
Shortly after this Sandra Hawke was introduced, who apparently was the mother on Ollie’s Illegitimate son, Connor Hawke. This storyline would be the inspiration for the famous (“Baby Momma Drama”) in the first half of Season 4 of The Arrow.
Starting with Issue 63 of this series DC began putting Ollie back into the mainstream and took him out of the mature line (Which had evolved into Vertigo). Ollie was back, and played a prominent role in Zero Hour (When he shot Hal Jordan in the chest with an arrow after Jordan became “possessed” by Parallax) It was not long after this that the Eden Corps story happened and Ollie was killed. From then on Connor Hawke (Ollies illegitimate son) would be the feature character in the comic series, until it’s cancellation with Issue #137.
Ollie was resurrected in the ten part series, Quiver written by Kevin Smith (for those unfamiliar with him he is famously known as Silent Bob in the Clerks movies) Quiver brought Ollie back after the events of Final Night (check out the article on DC Wikia), in which Parallax (Hal Jordan) while reigniting the Sun also resurrected ollie’s body. The Quiver storyline also introduced Mia Dearden, who would eventually become the new Speedy, and whom Thea Queen is heavily based on in the TV show. At first the Ollie after the resurrection was merely a sort of copy without a soul.
The Identity Crisis story line (which is when I personally started to become a major fan of the character) Ollie was a big player. (For a bigger view on the story as a whole, check out the story, it’s a good read.) This event triggered a lot of stuff that would affect the entire DC Universe, including the OMAC Project and later Infinite Crisis. Infinite Crisis would start the Green Arrow/Deathstroke feud that would pour into One Year Later and be the main storyline of Arrow Season Two. The One Year Later Story would introduce Ollie as the Mayor of Star City. Something we saw the beginning of in Arrow Season 4 with his campaign and will most likely see more in Season 5.
In 2004 Judd Winick became the writer of Green Arrow after Brad Metzler left the Book (Ben Rabb came in for a couple of issues between Metzler and Winick).
Winick begin the series at roughly the One Year Later mark. He first began building a rouges gallery to Ollie, including Merlyn, Constantine Drakon and Brick, all of which were used in one way or another in the Arrow Series, most all were introduced in Season One. Merlyn had always been a part of the Green Arrow Mythos, but until this point they more or less rivals at the skill of Archery and only faced one another on the occasions Oliver was thwarting a League of Assassins contract. Ollie at this time at once again amassed a large Fortune.
In 2007 Andy Diggle, wrote the Green Arrow: Year One story, which reimagined the origin, which is heavily portrayed in Season Four flashbacks. In the story Ollie is attacked and thrown overboard of his boat, and washes up on the Island where he learns of a smuggling operation. Upon witnessing the inhabitants slave like conditions, he begins taking apart the smugglers operations and returns as changed man, becoming Green Arrow. An interesting note, is each of the origins reimagined by each of the authors are incorporated in each season, in which the flashbacks are tied together.
Green Arrow/Black Canary that spun off from the wedding special. The series begins in December 2007 and ends in 2011 with the introduction of the New 52. The Green Arrow/Black Canary series more or less focused on the entire Arrow Family, with a few interesting storylines. The biggest storyline for Green Arrow during this time was actually in Justice League: Cry For Justice. For the whole story feel free to check it out, but the Green Arrow part of the story is basically Hal and Ollie forming a “Darker League” as they go against JLA villain Prometheus. The largest part of these storylines are nodded at in Season Four, and it seems the Damien Darhk story is indeed supposed to be about this storyline as many of the same events, told in a different way happen, including a member of the Arrow Family (Roy Harpers litter girl dies during the destruction of Star City) and the end of the Laurel and Ollie relationship, and a nuke being aimed at the city. In the end, Ollie shoots an arrow between Prometheus eyes.
Soon after all this takes place, and the story plays out with tie-ins and aftermath the Flashpoint Paradox The New 52 is born.
It is after the New 52 that the show and the comic begin really influencing one another. The first New 52 issue was in September of 2011, and the pilot premiered the very next year in October.
The new 52 would introduce Naomi, an African American computer hacker and Jax, an engineer who developed Ollies weaponry. Issue #24 would introduce Diggle into the comics, and later Felicity. The Killing Machine, The Outsiders War, and Broken would in a lot of ways be heavily influenced by the show and vice versa. Something I will delve more deeply into in my Season by Season articles. The introduction of Emiko, Ollies half-sister without a doubt was influenced by Thea. Ollies connection to Argus is also deeply influenced in the comics if Justice League of America (The U.S. government version of the Justice League) Headed by Amanda Waller and Steve Trevor. We also see a version of Katana in the TV series that is reminiscent of her role in the Outsiders War.
As this is written the Rebirth storyline is taking shape in the comics. At the same time in the Arrowverse over in Flash things have been setup for the Flashpoint Story. How these events affect the show or how what happens in the show affects the comics, will remain to be seen.
In the Next Article: I will begin my Season by Season break down of Arrow, and explore in more depth the storylines taken from the comics that inspire the stories we see in the show.
Final Thoughts: The History of Green Arrow is very rich. There were a lot of stories in the series that I assumed were just copied from Batman (indeed some were) but upon researching for this article and ideas for future articles, I am beginning myself to see a lot more of the Green Arrow mythos in the show than I previously thought there were. Some are very subtle. Some come right out and slap you in the face. But you have to know the source material to get it. When comparing a TV show/movie to its source material, you can’t just look at recent sources. You have to go back, sometimes to the very beginning. When I first started watching the show I didn’t understand why they had to call it Arrow. Or why he referred to himself as The Arrow. It seemed made up, but after researching I see where that came from. Sometimes you have to dig below the surface of the source material. Green Arrow played a huge part in two major events in Justice League. One being Identity Crisis and the other being Cry For Justice, the show had bits and pieces of both, worked into the show.
Another thing you have to do, is look at the show as a sort of “Elseworld” where events you are familiar with play out differently. This is something we will explore in more depth during the next summer and into the beginning of Season Five. In the meantime, I encourage you to research your own, read some of the comics, read the Wikias on the comics, and check out forums on each of the major subjects that interest you. Then re-watch the previous seasons, and see what you see. And please leave let me know what you think and let’s start some discussions in the comments section.
Regards to all FlArrowverse