If we want to make GA distinct and culturally relevant in a more modern way, how do we do that if we aren't focused on "Green Arrow as Robin Hood" but rather "Green Arrow as Native American"...?
By weaving two concepts repeating in his character and storylines:
simplicity versus complexity; and
unity versus diversity.
Our modern world is increasingly complex and diverse, and in a 'shrinking' world society the ability to manage that complexity with diverse people and approaches is key to progress and betterment.
Superman is the most humble and human of all superheroes, even though he's the most powerful Wonder Woman is/has been an ambassador of peace and goddess of war. Hal Jordan's an addled mess with a will of iron. Aquaman, king of the sea, was raised on land. Flash is the fastest man alive, and Barry Allen one of the most slow and methodical. Batman combats criminal violence by breaking the law and beating people up. At the core of most character that maintain our interest long-term, there is some inherent contradiction whose dynamic tension powers that interest.
|And J'onn's just...weird.|
But, what possible contradiction could fuel our interest in Ollie? He's a complex man, in a complex world--his wealth comes from its complexity--but he longs to be simple and to have a simple life. That's why a high-tech billionaire would become an expert on native American culture: a fascination with 'the simple life' it represents.
In fact, of course, tribal life isn't and never was 'simple'; almost by definition, native cultures have complex societies and systems of belief, ritual, hierarchy, skills, and crafts. But even full intellectual understanding of that wouldn't prevent an idealist like Ollie from romanticizing Native American culture. In one of his most recent incarnations (and perhaps his current one, who can tell?) Ollie's "Q Tech" is like the Apple company, priding itself n making high-tech devices that are simple and help regular people streamline their lines. Making things simple through increasingly complex technology. I'm sure the irony of that would pain a sensitive soul like Ollie's, making his romantic fascination with America's original 'simple life' even more understandable.
Green Arrow is the man who wants problems to be simple enough to be solved by shooting an arrow -- which is why he develops an arsenal of complex specialty arrows. Just as Oliver's love of simplicity lead him toward complexity in his armory
|Some more complex than others.|
I appreciate DC's desire to diversify its cast of characters, both in their socioethnic origins and their styles. Why, then, not have a hero for whom it's not just an 'add-on' but an essential element? And why not have that be the logical choice: Green Arrow?
Ollie's a rich white guy fascinated with a group of minority cultures (Native Americans). His ward is a white kid RAISED by Indians on a reservation. As suggested by Absorbascommenter CobraMisfit, use Vigilante as his "rival" crimefighter (a laughing singing cowboy who takes very little seriously, compared to the serious CW-like Oliver King). And Vigilante's sidekick, Jimmy Leong, a.k.a. Stuff, who hails from (Star City's) Chinatown, would serve as a hook into stories about the local Asian communities.
|I love that kid.|
John Butcher, who has been his ally before.
|That.... may not be a good idea, though.|
Black Lighting, who moved to Star City and was working with GA during Winick's run
|Thus sparking Ollie's growing interest in reaching out to the black community.|
Apparently we should add "Jungle Fever" to the list of 1001 Ways To Defeat Green Arrow.
Thom Kamalku, in Inuit mechanic, has nothing to do since Hal Jordan went away to space. Why wouldn't Ollie hire him to be his mechanic and tech guy? Ollie could use a "STAR Labs Cisco Ramone" of his own.
|You deserve better, Kairo.|
You want Green Arrow to have a friendship with Green Lantern? Of course you do. Well, as long as Hal is off playing space-rebel, while not start pairing Ollie up with ... with.... ugh, Simon Baz, I actually had to LOOK UP his name, because so little has been done with 'the Arab-American' Green Lantern, and what has been done has been... not ideal.
|Wouldn't dream of it, handsome.|
There are more examples you can think of, I'm sure. These are just the low-hanging fruit.
All would not be happy with whatever tribe Ollie gather around himself. That would be part of the point, I should think. Ollie wants to embrace diversity but....diversity is complex. It's not simple. Instead of being the all-streetwise liberal big-mouth of the 1970s, Ollie becomes the modern day liberal white guy: desperate to be 'inclusive' but not really having any idea what that actually means. A well-meaning guy who tends to romanticize other cultures than his own and, in the process, rob them of their own rich complexity. I can imagine some lively conversations around the Arrowcave, and a good writer can imagine many more.
DC; (once you are done with this new sure-to-be-cut-short attempt at rebooting GA as a horror title) instead of just tossing in a few Bat-wings, Alan Scotts, and Val-Zods in the corners of the DCU, consider building some of the very issues I think you're hoping to address into the best character you have for doing so: