Thursday, August 20, 2015

Give Robin Hood a Rest

Here's my own stab about how one might re-establish Green Arrow with a unique spin.

In this, I am taking my cues from James Robinson's work on Starman and Palmiotti & Gray's work on Hawkman.  Even Johns on Aquaman, really.

They, and other creators, have taken similar paths to revitalizing sidelined or messed up characters

  • Start with some of the essentials of the characters; start with the original version.
  • Add in some of the traditional elements of the mythos (like supporting characters and villains), tweaked if necessary.
  • Take scattered, pre-existing elements from DCU history and cluster them around the center figure through some logical link(s).
  • Look for gaps and fill those with new  but consistent elements to round out the themes.

I call this approach "retrovisionistic".

In the usual approach to Green Arrow, the 'essential' toward which the writers gravitates is "Green Arrow is like Robin Hood".  I mean,  he certainly looked like (the pop culture image of ) Robin Hood when he was created and in every visual redesign he's pretty much been update to whatever the pop culture image of Robin Hood is at the moment.

And there is nothing wrong with that. But it's not really the angle from which he began.

The original Golden Age Oliver Queen was a wealthy (like Bruce Wayne) archaeologist (like Carter Hall and Kent Nelson) who was a great expert in Native American cultures.

Wow; Ollie was always a pompous know-it-all, huh?

Mort Weisinger (with Mort Meskin) had, a few months earlier, create a costume "cowboy-theme" vigilante.  Named, easily enough, "Vigilante." You know him; country singer Greg Sanders, who became a part-time crime-fighter to avenge his father's murder.  Like you do.

So, then, Mort Weisinger (with George Papp) created a costumed "Indian-themed" vigilante: Green Arrow.  

That's why when they introduced, Roy Harper, Ollie's ward (? Adopted son? Pet? Houseboy? Toady?), his origin was: a white boy raised by an Indian raised in the wilderness.

"Ugh" indeed.  

Apparently, among its many fascinating aspects, Earth-1 has isolated mesas large enough to support entire forest ecosystems.  Given how bizarre it is, Earth-1 should really be one of the biomes in Civilization: Beyond Earth.  

Wow, Roy and Ollie pretty much started OUT doubting each other, huh?
BTW, nice dress, Roy.

Give Robin Hood a rest.  Start with THAT for a change: Green Arrow as a modern-day 'Indian', a lover of native culture and nature.

But, where can you go with that?  I'll discuss that in my next post...


CobraMisfit said...

By all things holy, I'd read that.

John said...

Didn't Ollie also cheat in a contest with Roy, here, to make the kid doubt that he was a better archer than Green Arrow? I wonder if there's some mileage to be squeezed out of the fact that, unlike other heroes, all of Ollie's allies showed up fully-formed and became almost subservient. Roy, Dinah, Connor, and so forth, all heroes in their own rights, who just ended up tagging along with the first sanctimonious jackass father figure to come along.

Also, behold the inexplicable power of DCU magnetism. Just standing near a magnet makes anything metal you might own seek out other metallic items to the point where they'll overpower any other force or inertia...probably explains Desert Forest Mesa (or maybe Roy and Quoag just crashed into Biosphere 2 decades before it was built).

Steve Mitchell said...

To reinforce the Indian theme for a retrovisionistic Green Arrow, DC should feature him frequently in team-ups with Super-Chief and Dawn Star. Then, when DC and Marvel start doing crossovers again (inevitable, if only for the money), these characters could meet up with Red Wolf and Lobo, and maybe even battle Tomazooma, the Living Totem!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm intrigued. Please present your vision, the Absorbascon brand is known for quality in character concepts.

Though let's face it, ANY VISION AT ALL would beat DC's current lack of one.

Bryan L said...

Hmm. I'm intriguied. Protecting the environment? Policing tribal lands? Running a casino?

And yeah, I have to agree with Anonymous that any or all of those is better than the current comics version.

Unknown said...

So archery is Green Arrow's theme, but his actual superpower is super knowledge of Amerindian ways and traditions, with archery being only its most superficial aspect. Meaning that his costume doesn't just conceal his identity, it also conceals his powers and motives. That is seriously hardcore.

Slaughter said...

Looking mighty fine there, Owlwoman. Would colonize but I'm a sucker for mixed amerindian women.

Night Owl was more of a... Hadean-American, possibly.

What's wrong with Aztek?

If you consider Hawaiians native americans - well, they're polynesians but they were certainly there before the white man - then a good part of Kesel's Superboy supporting cast should figure in your expose (Tana Moon, Inspector Makoa, Silver Sword...).

Sticking up for the environment would add a nice angle to Green Arrow. Maybe make Star City be full of polluting, toxic industries, complete with a downriver native preserve in the same state, and poor towns as well. The rich get the gains, the poor get the waste. Could even make Green Arrow be counter-cultural by supporting thorium-fueled nuclear power instead (nuclear power is counter-cultural now) of solar and wind-based solutions - which one could easily accuse of being something rich liberals are for just to appease their conscience with namby-pamby solutions rather than admitting energy poverty is a real issue.

This might water your tongue with ideas:

Anonymous said...

Clearly the Lost Mesa is located in a small municipal park in Central City...