The emerald archer may be a superhero of the small screen today, but Green Arrow has been kicking around on the small page since 1941, a creation of Mort Weisinger and George Papp in the pages of More Fun Comics. A rich playboy stranded on a deserted island, Oliver Queen had to find his inner hero by innovating with the most basic tools, a bow and an arrow. When he returned to civilization, he decided to use his newly found survival skills against the criminals that he found preying on the innocent.
The TV series version of the character in Arrow is a deviation from the printed superhero, but that should come as no real surprise to any comic book reader. Not only does every TV program and film take liberties with the source material, the comics have been in flux since the Crisis of 1985 which saw the collapse of several fictional realities into one. Since then, DC Editorial has kept obsessively revising their creations every few years in an attempt to reach a new audience. Each time, the origin stories of these time-honored heroes have been revised and altered to the point where any connection to the source material is marginal at best.
This brings us to the New 52 (about to get over-written shortly in favor of the DC Convergence). Returned to an earlier point in his career, Queen was still a billionaire playboy who prowled the streets in a green costume armed with high-tech weaponry and ‘trick arrows.’ But editorial struggled in finding a personality for this GA and a revolving door swung open and closed on various creative teams.
Enter Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino who brought a new mythology and style to the series (just in time to cash in on the success of the TV program). Queen Industries was attacked. Green Arrow became a fugitive from the law and a blind sage rescued him from a deadly assassin with a mission to utterly destroy Queen and Green Arrow. Thus began a ‘from the ground up’ rebuilding of GA’s crime-fighting career and a journey that would uncover a vast sprawling epic with the focus being the very island where he found himself.
Pretty nifty, right?
This series of stories (spanning issues 17-33) firmly established a gutsy, all action comic with eye-catching visuals, a strong supporting cast and interesting threats. It also fleshed out GA’s home of Seattle, rife with criminal families and blood-thirsty vigilantes as well as The clan of Outsiders who secretly vied for world domination. It got a bit too much at times as Oliver’s back story became more interesting than the hero himself, but it was fun and entertaining. It even included am archer with a sharply-coiffed goatee who was not dissimilar to the classic Green Arrow of old.
Sadly, like all things in comics, the hard work of Lemire Sorrentino in The Killing Machine/Outsiders War did not last and they moved on to other things (so did the comic). But for a while there, Green Arrow was must-read monthly book that attracted attention from new and old fans, critics and those unfamiliar with this daring archer who was all but unknown from 1941.
Collected in print: