Hitting the Mark On Green Arrow
GREEN ARROW #1
On June 23, DC comics will yet again re-launch their emerald archer with a brand new number one by the stellar up and coming team of JT Krul and Diogenes Neves, the same team that brought you the sales smash Fall of Green Arrow
. DC promises this to be an all new premise to the Green Arrow mythos but when pertaining to location, they borrowed from an even more legendary archer. The unrelenting streets of Star City have now been replaced by (what this writer has dubbed) "Starwood Forest," lush and full of new life thanks to the power of the White Lanterns! But I'm getting ahead of myself, let's pull back the string of this bow and look at a hero who has turned his world upside down with the release of a single arrow!
Oliver Queen did not acquire his skills as an archer out of choice, but rather as a means of survival. Shipwrecked, he taught himself to overcome the brutality of nature by forging a weapon he could make easily and use from a distance. Unwittingly he planted the seed of heroism that made him not only fight for himself but for the safety of others. Returning to the "world of man," this once aloof millionaire became DC's patented liberal hero. Using his fortune, soup kitchens, half-way houses and youth camps were built for the under privileged denizens of Star City, making Oliver Queen a savior in the eyes of the community. Though this made "Ollie" feel like he was finally making a difference, it did not satiate his hunger for adventure. Donning the emerald hues and classic style costume of his boyhood hero, Errol Flynn, Oliver Queen also became Green Arrow, the trick arrow wielding archer. By day Oliver Queen could save the down-trodden, but by night Green Arrow could save them all!
Never as popular as most of DC's super powered heroes, Green Arrow struck a cord with readers that craved a hero that had everyday problems and couldn't rely on super strength or speed to come out on top. This introspective into the life of the "everyman" hero led to two major differences in Green Arrow that were not truly present in DC's other superhero books. First, was a focus on current events that were seen as taboo for most of the main stream books the "big two" were putting out. The most shocking storyline was the reveal that Speedy, Green Arrow's original side kick, was a heroin addict. DC had never focused on such a controversial topic at that time and it payed off more than just in dollar signs. Writers and readers began to expect more emotional stories from this character than just a back alley scrap with some muggers. More recently, controversial topics began to arise once again into the pages of our emerald archer. Judd Winick's run gave us the new Speedy, an ex-prostitute living with HIV, trying to find love with Connor Hawke - Oliver Queen's son ( I guess if you're a teen hero in the DCU don't pick the moniker Speedy!). Over the last few months the rising star, JT Krul, has brought Roy Harper a.k.a. Red Arrow, a.k.a. Arsenal, a.k.a. original Speedy, back to the seduction of the needle and has done something even worse to Oliver Queen. But before I get to that there is the matter of the second big difference between Green Arrow and other heroes.
The second difference is that Green Arrow has no major villains or rogues gallery to perpetually challenge him. Some may say that Dr. Vertigo or Deathstroke the Terminator fall well within the parameters of a major threat, and they are, but consistency is not something these two have enough of to don the phrase "major" for me. No, there has always been a bigger threat to the happiness and sanity of Oliver Queen, Oliver Queen himself! Though he has constantly stood vigil for those he has sworn to protect, he has treated those he has held most dear with nothing short of disregard. He lied to his son about the fact that he knew about his birth because he wasn't ready to deal with a child. Later he began a relationship and partnership with his son, not because he felt sorry for his actions but because he felt cheated out of his son's training. He gave Roy Harper the "tough love" route when he and Green Lantern found out about the heroin addiction, leaving his "adopted son" alone to become a man and later a hero. His relationship with Black Canary over the years has been nothing but volatile, ranging from head over heels in love to "Ollie" sleeping with any heroine or villainess that looks longingly his way; this includes his one time team-up partner Black Lightning's daughter!
Though he has mended most of his relationships lately, even marrying the love of his life Black Canary, one man has dissolved Green Arrow's peace and tranquility with the push of a button, and forced him to push away all that he held dear. At the end of James Robinson's "Cry For Justice" mini series, the mega-villain Prometheus and his underling, the Electrocutioner, lay waste to the center of Star City, killing thousands by detonating a bomb. The death of his people left Green Arrow enraged, but the death of his granddaughter pushed him to cross the line of a hero. Lying to his friends, his wife and his family, "Ollie" makes a deal with the villain Shade to find the location of Prometheus, where he stood poised at the brink of hero or murderer. "Ollie" makes the choice that sends him at odds with everyone in his life, he lets a single arrow fly straight through the forehead of the man who killed thousands, thus making him the same as the man pinned to the wall in front of him. No one knows of the heinous act until Barry Allen and Hal Jordan find the body of Prometheus, yet again with the help of Shade, and bring the authorities to Green Arrow. He turns himself in, has his identity revealed, his wife leaves her wedding band on the bars of his jail cell and he stands trial for his crimes in front of a jury of those he has always protected. His JLA companions slide into the benches behind him and with a whisper, Oliver Queen shocks the "Man of Steel" by saying,"So now you show up" (absolutely brilliant writing!). Though found not guilty by the jury, the judge rules that Oliver Queen must never again set foot inside the city he has given so much to protect. The last we see of our emerald archer he is walking alone, head hung low, his entire life stowed in a duffel bag, a hero without a home, a family or a cause. An overhead pan shot reveals a star shaped forest that has grown up over the once destroyed heart of the city. A chance at life where death had previously laid, perhaps a chance of redemption for a man that has always given his all for the citizens of Star City, a man that has failings but has always tried to do what was right.
Within the depths of the forest stalks a man that no longer has a life, a man that breathes in the aroma of dew and earth where once stood concrete and steel. He waits for those who harbor evil in their hearts to meander into his realm, where he uses the shadows and underbrush as an element of surprise. But within that same camouflage lurks something that hunts the hunter. Is it only memories of the past that seep into our heroes head causing anguish or is it something more corporal that stalks him, seeking to deliver penance for the life he took. Oliver Queen thinks he stands alone, but does he really?
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