Tuesday, December 27, 2022

How I May Come to Love Green Arrow

 THIS is all that matters this week:

Possibly this decade.

It's from Geoff Johns' latest retconshriftfest, Courtney & the Golden Age Sidekicks That Never Existed #2. It's a perfect example of why I am happy to indulge any of GJ's flaws or stumbles as a writer or just choices I don't care for (one of which we'll be discussing later this week).  I can forget or ignore details of stories I didn't care for; and he makes large-scale sweeping changes so casually that please me so deeply that All Is Forgiven, like a sitcom husband at the end of a 30-minute episode. And this one?  Oh, I can forgive A LOT for the sake of canonizing:


It was suggested before, but here it is, loud, bold and unretractable: at some point in his contemporary career, Ollie Queen (AND ROY HARPER) went back in time and were STRANDED in the 1940s for a good chunk of time, where they operated as THE GOLDEN AGE GREEN ARROW AND SPEEDY.  Ollie SHAVED his goatee to do this, as a disguise.  


For one thing, this it just plain HILARIOUS. 

It means IT ALL HAPPENED "for real" to "our Ollie", the one who used to run about raving about 'fat-cats'. All of it. Gayland. Bull's-Eye. The Black Raider. The car-catapult.  The Octopus. OSCAR AND ALEXANDER THE GREAT

I'm gonna assume that in some Noodle Incident that I hope is never, ever explained ,Oscar and/or Alexander the Great is responsible for Ollie & Roy traveling to and getting stuck in the '40s. Or maybe it was Per Degaton's doing because--YES. Because Per Degaton needed Ollie to join the Soldiers of Victory so he could affect Alexander the Great's life, so that Per Degaton could defeat him at the Battle of Arbela. Yes; Roy Thomas would approve.

Now, we know already there is an Earth-2 where all this stuff ALSO happened. So this is completely gratuitous. GLORIOUSLY, DELICIOUSLY gratuitous.  Geoff Johns has gone OUT OF HIS WAY to do this. And, meanwhile, ONE PERSON is missing after the "Dark Crisis" hoo-haa: Ollie Queen, who will be sought for by His Family and found, of course.  

But why?

Here is my hope. Golden Age Green Arrow (let's deem him "Oliver") was introduced in 1941

I love that the first thing we see Oliver do is set out on a vacation.
I love that Speedy is called The Cyclone Kid ONCE, and never again.
I love that in his first panel (and in many of his early stories), they refer to previous cases we never hear any more about.
Golden Age Green Arrow may be stupid, but it's stupid FUN.

He was reinvented some thirty years later by Denny O'Neil in 1970 as a more "Robin Hood", anti-establishment type (whom we will label as "Ollie").

And a self-righteous, hypocritical, judgemental, loudmouthed jerk. But that's neither here nor there.  Because you could be an anti-establishment type WITHOUT being any of those.
Like Robin Hood.

Well... that was over FIFTY years ago now. It ain't 1970 any more. Like a lot of the DCU, Green Arrow is twenty years overdue for a refresh.  And who is more likely to fix a broken character with a refreshed view of their origins than Geoff Johns?

There have been some very successful templates that could be followed.

"Batman: Brave & The Bold" did an excellent job of figuring out who Green Arrow would have to be and what his relationship with Batman would be like.

Everyone remembers how GRIM AND VIOLENT CW's Green Arrow was.  Me? What impressed ME was how HILARIOUS Steven Amell's Oliver Queen was when appropriate. His Oliver Queen was a masterpiece of comedy entirely due to the strength of his performance.  CW Flash was Vaudeville but CW Arrow was the Frasier of superhero shows.

Add "Shakespeare Trivia" to the list of "1001 Ways to Defeat Green Arrow".

But, as usual, Geoff Johns seems to be forging his own path. And here's what I hope it is, based on the revelation that "Ollie", AS SOON AS HE HAD THE CHANCE, chose to become "Oliver".  

  • He shaved his goatee. 
  • He built an Arrowcave and filled it with trophies and giant statues of friends and foes. 
  • He created a giant yellow Arrowcar with a fin and a catapult.  
  • He invented a host of absurd trick arrows.  
  • He wore a brightly colored Robin Hood outfit, with a little feather in his cap.
  • He got an apartment in the city.
  • He took vacations and played tennis.
  • He had an Arrow Signal that was a flaming green arrow in the sky.

He didn't do this because he '"had to". He didn't do this "to fit in".  "Ollie" is not a conformist.

He did this because he WANTED to. He did this because this is who he always WANTED to be. 

And it is PERFECTLY consistently with his personality.  NO WONDER he is so righteously angry all the time. He WANTS to be the Golden Age Batman. He WANTS to fight crime COLORFULLY. He WANTS it to be fun.

He's both of the De La Vega Brothers, rolled into one.

But too often the world sucks and doesn't cooperate.  And he resents that.  It's the fault of greedy people and vicious villains. They have failed him; they have failed this city, and that ticks him off. He doesn't WANT to be grim and gritty. And the people who force him to be WILL pay.

And THAT is consistent with that guy in Brave&TheBold. AND that guy on CW. "Ollie Who Became Oliver" then had to come back to be Ollie and is angry about it, but who still has flashes of unapologetic Golden Age zest and Robin Hood swashbuckler flair?

THAT is a Green Arrow who is interesting.

THAT is a Green Arrow I could come to love.

P.S.  Is it any wonder Speedy turned to drugs after returning from the fabulous '40s? Now, even THAT finally makes sense.


Anonymous said...

This is bonkers and I love it.

So, "our" Green Arrow going to the past, presumably with memories of the present intact. I like to imagine Oliver getting into a fight with Hawkman and finding himself shouting: "someday they're going to invent plastic and I'm going to make a cat arrow out of it!"

I observe, wryly, that they're STILL trying to patch the holes left by CoIE.

- HJF1

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, “Ollie is angry because he has to be grim & gritty but longs to be a swashbuckling adventurer” would be consistent with the Mike Grell run. Grill’s Ollie is old-fashioned, has a sense of humor, and deplores the violence of the modern world. Given that the Grell run is where “grim & gritty” Ollie gets codified, putting connective tissue between Golden Age GA and ‘80s GA is impressive.

- Mike Loughlin

Scipio said...

It also makes sense of "Ollie The Tech Billionaire" if you want to fold that in. Because, although Ollie as a tech genius seems a bit of a stretch, Oliver as man who invests in 1940 in everything he knows will pay off he gets back to the present is definitely in character.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, interesting. They could even have Ollie invest in things that he knows will be important at some point in the future, such as the Daily Planet or the Wayne Skylight Glazier Company. Not that I think of Ollie as being that forward-thinking, but they could go there if they wanted.

- HJF1

Scipio said...

"Not that I think of Ollie as being that forward-thinking"

Now, see here. I'm not GA-booster, but even I must give the man his due. He had an atomic bomb arrow. Just in case. And a boomerang arrow. And a vacuum. And an aqua-lung arrow.

I'm sorry, but if there's a hero who wins on "forward-thinking" it's Oliver Queen.

Scipio said...

OH, now THAT gives me an idea. Let ME write Green Arrow and he will have made provisions to preserve many of the giant props from Old Gotham City and the re-install in STAR CITY AS TOURIST ATTRACTION.

"Prop Town" would finally give Star City some of the individual character it still lack after all these years. Best of ALL...

Anonymous said...

If I ever get to rule DC Comics with a tyrannical grip, you'll definitely get the chance to write Green Arrow.

Scipio said...

What a fitting punishment that would be.

cybrid said...

How 'bout the Vigilante, a fellow Soldier of Victory? Did he go back in time too, or is there simply not a modern-era Vigilante any more (IIRC he at least appeared in a few issues of Justice League of America)? And how about Aquaman, who coasted through the fifties right alongside Green Arrow and Speedy? These questions and many others will...

Anonymous said...

How many people actually want the Golden Age Green Arrow back anyway?