Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Least Likely to Change: Green Arrow

Talking about Green Arrow is always difficult. Particularly right after breakfast.

But Green Arrow is one of the handful of characters who has remained around since the Golden Age and through all the subsequent ones.

How much has he changed, or, more precisely, how different is the current, modern Green Arrow from his Golden Age version?

Uses arrows? Uses trick and gimmick arrows (no matter how loudly fans insist that he doesn't)? Is a wealthy public figure? Has a ward who assists his crimefighting under the name of "Speedy", while wearing a red and yellow outfit and using arrows? Lives in Star City? Civic-minded do-gooder? Is well known and respected among the superheroic community, no matter how absurd his schtick? Total lack of regular, non-laughable foes?

You know, in many ways, Green Arrow has changed surprisingly little. But again, I have to correct myself. Green Arrow has changed a lot; he grew ridiculous, secret-identity-ruining facial hair, acquired a sociopolitical patina, cultivated cantankerousness, fired his original sidekick for becoming a drug addict, went on a roadtrip in an RV with some brain-damaged toy salesman, lost his fortune, changed his costume and became a dark loner, died, acquired an illegitimate offspring (or, uh, two...? I lost track!), started and stopped a romantic relationship with Black Canary 142 times (roughly... I kind of lost track), came back from the dead with a new body, raped our childhood with the help of Stanley & His Monster, spent a year looking for a piece of jewelry he lost, studied some martial art (somewhere, at some point; I lost track), acquired a second or third fortune (I definitely lost track), adopted a prostitute, fought the sound-effects guy from Police Academy, started hanging out with Black Lightning, got replaced in the Justice League (three times; I kept track), became mayor of his city, and proposed to an old flame.

But how much he's changed isn't the question; it's how different he is now from his Golden Age version. Yes, he's changed alot, but he's come back to a form surprisingly similar to the one he started in. What's now his backstory has changed a lot; but most of his changes in the last several years have been centering back to the core of his Golden Age version. He's being portrayed less as a self-centered, pompous hothead, and more as a talented individual looking to better himself and the world. Less serious about himself and his opinion than about what he does. Almost, you know, respectable (if not likeable).

I'm not necessarily making the case that Green Arrow is the Least Changed from his Golden Age version. I'm just saying he's probably not as different as you think.

How different do YOU think the modern Green Arrow is?


Anonymous said...

It's an accepted fact (even by the characters themselves) that Green Arrow originally was modelled on Batman (with the Arrow-Cave, Arrow-Car, a teenage sidekick, etc). I think GA has grown into his own man over the years. His willingness to hold political office, get directly involved in social issues, and carry on a romance with another superheronie (all things Bruce Wayne/Batman doesn't do) make him his own man. So, to answer your question, I think he HAS changed, but not as much as, say, Green Lantern or the Atom.

totaltoyz said...

acquired an illegitimate offspring (or, uh, two...? I lost track!)

It's just one official one, really: Connor Hawke. Shado's child was the result of her raping Green Arrow, certainly nothing he can be held accountable for. And his alleged parentage of Cissie King has never been anything more than fanboy speculation.

SallyP said...

Aw c'mon, I like ol' Ollie. Yes, he' a bit of a jackass, but that's part of his charm. Yes, his backstory is a tad on side, but I defy you to find any hero whose isn't.

And he makes chili. You forgot the chili.

Steven said...

And his alleged parentage of Cissie King has never been anything more than fanboy speculation.

It's a little more than that. Ollie definitely has another illegitimate child that isn't Conner or Robert, so that's three anyway. Bonnie King dated Ollie way way back, and out rights says Green Arrow's the father in an issue of Young Justice (though Cissie nervously laughs it off as a joke). And Green Arrow 1000000 refers to Oliver Queen's sons and daughters.

It kind of just makes sense.

totaltoyz said...

Bonnie King dated Ollie way way back, and out rights says Green Arrow's the father in an issue of Young Justice (though Cissie nervously laughs it off as a joke).
I think that was just Peter David referencing the internet speculation, not the first or last time he's done that.
And Green Arrow 1000000 refers to Oliver Queen's sons and daughters.
Which could be a reference to "legitimate" heirs born at some time later than the present, to a married Green Arrow and Black Canary.
It kind of just makes sense.

Lauren said...

Both Hawkeye (aka Purple Arrow) and Green Arrow have gone through bad indentity changes over the years.
I did like the Green Arrow from the a retcon Batman/Green Arrow first meeting from years ago.
A loudmouth clueless energetic jerk that wants to fight crime with a bow and arrow. No skill, resources or friends to help him out. Just batman hanging around to yell at him for being an idiot.

Maybe the idea of an archer in superhero comics doesnt work. Way back in 1941 Superman fights "The Archer" and kicks his butt without little effort. Maybe that was a hint.

Anonymous said...

What I found most interesting about Green Arrow 1000000's revelation of Oliver's descendants was that Connor took it as proof that Ollie was still alive (or at least, wasn't going to remain dead)--it never occurred to him for an instant that any offspring that he may have himself one day would be Oliver's descendants, whether Ollie was alive or not!
One wonders what that means about all those future Flashes we've seen with the last name Allen, now that Barry's only male descendant, Bart, has died without issue. Of course, I also wondered why Wally never even wondered why the only future Flash named "West" was his Kingdom Come daughter, Iris.


The Mutt said...

Green Arrow and Hawkeye have always been favorites of mine because I absolutely love the idea of unpowered archers running into battle next to Superman and the Flash

Mike Loughlin said...

Green Arrow may have been the first DC character to gain a consistent, recognizable personality beyond "good person." (or "super-dick") The surface trappings are the same as the Golden Age incarnation, but no Golden Age hero would do some of the things Ollie has done (good or bad).

Chance said...

He's pretty much the same... He's still green, ain't he? Case closed.

Batiduende said...

> fought the sound-effects guy from Police Academy

You know what honestly surprises me about Onomatopoeia? That he has plenty of vocal fans who think he is actually a cool villain.

MaGnUs said...

"Vocal" fans. Oh, that's funny.

totaltoyz said...

He's pretty much the same... He's still green, ain't he? Case closed.

And, as we all's not easy being green.

Anonymous said...

I think archers occupy a special niche in superhero comics. The bow and arrow is a classic weapon, very present in the popular imagination due to the legend of Robin Hood and the Artemis stories from Greek myth. The bow and arrow is an unusual skill, moreso than being able to use a gun, and characters who use them can be interesting to read about, especially if they have a huge variety of trick arrows like GA and Hawkeye. Seeing them in action can be fun...wondering what special arrow they'll use to get out of a particular jam. It gives them a lot of versatility that a lot of "one-note" characters (Flash and his speed, Thor and his strength, Cap and his acrobatics, etc) can't bring to the table.

If guys with bows and arrows don't belong on superhero teams, then why are Green Arrow and Hawkeye so popular? Hawkeye is so popular, he won a contest for "favorite Avenger who doesn't have his own series". He led the West Coast Avengers and the Thunderbolts, and has had several mini-series over the years. GA obviously has served long stints in the JLA, and has had long-running series and features of his own.

By the way, as far as classic weapons go, the other place to look is the trusty sword. Besides the Black Knight, who else in either stable of superheroes uses one of these? Is it strange that guys who use bows and arrows show up on a regular basis but guys who use swords (Swordsman, Valkyrie) don't? Do you think it's because it's difficult to write a sword-using character without coming up with contrivances why they don't hack their enemies apart (Remember how Black Knight would hit enemies with the flat of his sword, or use a glorified lightsaber that stunned people?), whereas Hawkeye and GA can more realistically get away with incapcitating bad guys without killing them?

totaltoyz said...

I'm certainly not denying that Green Arrow started out as a Batman clone. But that is true of dozens of Golden-Age heroes. Crimson Avenger and Sandman started out as Shadow/Green Hornet clones and later became Batman clones. Star-Spangled Kid and Stripesy were Batman and Robin with the roles reversed. Mr. Scarlet and Pinky. Cat-Man and Kitten. Et cetera, et cetera.

The Mutt said...

Swords are brutal weapons, designed to kill. Unless you are going up against another guy with a sword, you're going to look like a murderer. That's why they use that "flat of the blade" nonsense, which makes them look like a guy too stoopid to bring the right tool for the job.

Anonymous said...

Or like the blade-using Ninja Turtles or Wolverine in their cartoon incarnations. It's like, "CUT that Shredder fool, already, Michelangelo!!!"

Starwolf said...

Kevin Smith said in the introduction to Quiver that the story was partially about outdated liberalism in the modern world.

I still don't know about Green Arrow's "Abbie Hoffman" like rantings, and if Dennis O'Neil really wanted Ollie to be known for that. Especially how most writers make Ollie always be right if he's arguing with anyone *except* Black Canary.

The biggest exception was Brad Meltzer in Identity Crisis. Mindwiping various villains made sense. The argument to mindwipe Batman was half-assed.

MaGnUs said...

Starwolf said "It's like, "CUT that Shredder fool, already, Michelangelo!!!""

Uuh.... Mike uses a pair of nunchaku, which can beat you black and blue six ways to sunday, but never cut you... I think you meant Leonardo. *geeky grin*

Harvey Jerkwater said...

It seems that GA hasn't so much changed over the years as had some blanks filled in. He used to be a cipher--just some dude with an Arrow Plane and arrows with moose antlers on 'em. Not a lot of personality, beyond bland Golden Age Go-Get-Em Heroism. Now he's the same guy, with a smidge of texture.

He's a lot more like his golden age version now than he was during the Grell years. Ollie's reverting to his origins, sorta.

Scipio said...

"It seems that GA hasn't so much changed over the years as had some blanks filled in."