Saturday, December 03, 2005

Off Target on Green Arrow

I know I'm asking for it when I say this, but .... I just don't get Green Arrow.

I can understand (believe it or not) why people are into Hal Jordan; he's just not my kind of guy. But Green Arrow? I don't get how he can be anybody's kind of guy.

I know Green Lantern has lots of fans (oh, I hear from them!). But I was shocked (no, really, I'm not being snide here) to find that Green Arrow has lots of them, too.

The Green Arrow Compendium, The Green Arrow Message Board, Green Arrow Fansite, good reviews, the Green Arrow fanlisting, he Green Arrow Fan Film site (gulp!) which is actually on IMDB, a potential real Green Arrow movie (gulp gulp!). Even our friend Brad Meltzer likes Green Arrow; go figure.

I was suprised because my perceptions of Green Arrow are that he went from being a wan Batman-manque` to being an annoying, conceited, self-righteous, hypocritical womanizing jerk, without much in between. At what point could someone get to like him?

Characters like that can be interesting. And useful, particularly when used to illuminate the personality and viewpoint of others. But that's pretty much how I see him, more as a device for revealing the characters of those around him, rather than an independent figure in his own right.

So, I'm not saying he's useless, or should be donated to Marvel or anything. I'm just saying I don't understand how anyone can actually like Oliver Queen himself.

I await, without snark, any explanation my readers have!


Anonymous said...

I started liking Green Arrow when he appeared in Green Lantern/Green Arrow books in the early 80s (I think that's the time frame). I liked him because he was a wisecracker. That's my main impression of him.

Amy said...

Ollie is a man of conflicting opposites. As the commenters above me have mentioned, he's both morally righteous and a complete cad. His archery requires a certain mix of both power and grace. He's a cutting-edge progressive and an old man who longs for the good old days. He's snarky, but cares about the little guy. He's one of the few characters willing to call others out on their arrogance (read: Hal), but is not without his own pretension.

Watching him, as a character, find the fine balance among all those contradictions is supremely entertaining.

Anonymous said...

I really do like Green Arrow. I'd have a beer or two with him. It's Batman, even pre-COIE Batman, I couldn't stand being in the same room with: a borderline psycho at worst and spoiled upper crust elitist at best. Ugh.

Ollie is an idealistic hero with feet of clay. He's probably what any of us would most be like, complex and tripped from our higher aspirations thanks to choosing the easiest or most pleasurable way out. He's like Nate from Six Feet Under. But unlike Nate, who ended up thoroughly unlikeable by the series end, Ollie always tries to clean up his mistakes or struggles to come back to higher ground.

I mean, who HASN'T slept with someone, or did something stupid or hurtful, even though we know it wasn't right?

I also always enjoy his unabashed leftist leanings. Whether you agree with him or not, no one could ever deny that his ranting was at heart, motivated by a deep sense of moral justice, even when he was just trying to annoy Hawkman.

I also enjoy that he's totally comfortable around Gay men. He's been shown as being able to flip sexual innuendo jokes right back at a surprised Gay man (who ended up being a particularly nasty villain, but I digress). Can you imagine Superman and Batman being comfortable making jokes like that? I sure can't.

Finally, that Boxing Glove arrow. Damn sexy. I wish he'd shave off those ugly chin pubes of his though.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I can see how somebody would dislike Green Arrow. The first Hawkman trade (Endless Flight?) gives a good example of a place and a fan that definetly wouldn't like Green Arrow.

But the reason I like him came about in the obsidian age JLA arc. His membership was requested on the replacment JLA and he said "No one beeps me in the middle of the good stuff and tells me to shoot Titano in the eye from 2000 yards."

But you know if they did that he'd actually try to. Despite his cantankerous exterior is a guy who seems to very much enjoy being a super hero. I always liked that, he fights for the little guy but he generally likes doing it.

Scipio said...

JNR; I've never gotten pop-ups when accessing this site, or even a signal that a pop up was suppressed. I do know, however, that the poll function does generate them if you vote in the poll.

Walaka said...

I was around for the reboot (before there were such things) of GA from a Batman-knockoff into Robin Hood. I must admit I like his lefty leanings, but never really got into the "new" character as whole, the O'Neill/Adams GL/GA run notwithstanding.

I actually liked him better as a rich guy who was trying to be Batman; I always felt as if he knew he never could be and that his adventures were just slightly ridiculuous. I also thought his old costume had an elegant simplicity that the new one (especially the Mike Grell hoodie version) never matched.

That said, I really enjoyed the exchanges between unreconstructed-red Green Arrow and conspiracy-theorist-libertarian Question on some episodes of JLU I saw.

BTW, I have never, ever gotten a pop-up on this site. (Firefox 1.0.6 on Mac 10.3.9)

Shon Richards said...

Green Arrow's flaws make him more accessible to readers than some of the more virtous characters. In team books he comes across as the reader's POV because he can't hear planets rotate. In his own book, he comes across as your buddy that you know is not perfect, but he has your back.

You know, I never liked the character till Dark Knight Returns when he shows up with his one arm. He seemed like the only hero you really did not ever want to cross.

Anonymous said...

Scipio's right - Green Arrow's too much of an arrogant jackass to work well outside the context of a comic or supporting character role (compare with Guy Gardner). Also, his power is he shoots arrows at stuff. I mean, really.

By the way, why is Green Arrow considered a great big lefty when he's killed a whole bunch of people? As far as I can tell, he's got a bunch of "old hippie" politics left over from the days of 1970s "relevant" comics, but beyond that he actually acts like a right-wing thug. Is hypocrisy combined with self-righteousness all that endearing?

Julio Oliveira said...

I know that I'm being snarky here, but I think most of the appeal of Green Arrow is that he is the classical Marvel character, but at same time he doesn't appear out of place on the DCU. I mean with all that "darkening of the DCU", "making the heroes more humane" and all of this marvelization of the DCU that is all Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis fault, he is even more at home than ever.

Anonymous said...

Green Arrow is that guy who's a dick, but it's ok because everyone knows it, even him. Superman, Flash, & the rest are dicks, but they do their dickery off-camera.
Or in Silver Age Superman's case, carefully hidden on the front cover.

Craig said...

as a man with facial hair, i'm glad there's SOME hero out there representing the bearded set.

Anonymous said...

The idea of a Robin Hood-type superhero with a social conscience is an excellent one. There are a lot of good stories to be told about protecting the powerless from the powerful, especially when the powerful have the law on their side -- or in their pocket. Also, just because Ollie's a womanizing cad doesn't necessarily make him a hypocrite -- obviously, a lot of old-school socialists believe in "free love," etc.

My problem is that Ollie's politics are often under-exploited -- these days, it seems he's usually shown going after, e.g., small-time drug dealers, instead of, say, pharmaceutical companies, crooked cops, corrupt politicians, etc. I'd like to see him go back to doing more in-your-face political stuff -- like, trying to break a detainee out of Gitmo, say. After all, the Robin Hood thing only really works if he's in constant conflict with the powers-that-be.

One of the really great things about Watchmen was that all the heroes represented a different branch of philosophy -- deontology, utilitarianism, existentialism, nihilism, etc. Since Identity Crisis, DC seems to be trying to put these thorny ethical issues front and center, but it's been pretty ham-fisted so far -- obviously, not everyone has Alan Moore's insight into how to make these philosophical conflicts meaningful and dramatically compelling. But the idea is still strong -- superheroes should grapple with these kinds of ethical dilemmas, it's a natural source for conflict and and a wellspring of storytelling potential.

Ragnell said...

Wish-fulfillment. Oliver Queen says things you want to say, but know better than to. And he's funny at it. He does things you want to do, and never gets hit with harsh consequences that you fear. Everyone just shrugs and says "Well, that's Ollie!" Even Black Canary, an otherwise intelligent woman, never leaves him for good because all of womanizing.

He's walking Id. How could you not like that?

Anonymous said...

He's walking Id. How could you not like that?

Except that in real life, nobody likes that. He's the drunk ass at the party who's tries to forcibly grope someone else's girlfriend right after giving a slurred speech on female empowerment.

And I do think by Scip's standards he's a Marvel donation. Not in the sense that "this character is worthless," although I realize that's Scipio's basic approach, but in the Devon sense of "this character is really a Marvel character at DC." He's got the feet of clay, he's got the character flaws he can't get past that writers have hammered into the ground, he's got the touches of "gritty realism" (Black Canary gets tortured/raped, Speedy gets HIV) next to touches of the totally absurd (boxing glove arrow).

Anonymous said...

After reading some of the insights (especially Franny's) above, I like Green Arrow even more than I did before.

Anonymous said...

Ollie as a "womanizing cad" must be a recent development. When I read the character in the 70s and 80s he wasn't like that, he was always faithful to Dinah.

Now Hal, he's always been a horndog, right from the start!

Ragnell said...

monkey in blender -- Well, I'm not going to hang out with him, or *shudder* date him. I'm going to read about him and laugh to get over my stressful way because he behaves in a way I never would.

It's the same appeal that had Bart Simpson on every other shirt in the nineties, and everyone spewing his atrocious catch-phrases. Walking Id.

Anonymous said...

I got into the character during the Mike Grell years, and found him really likable (despite the overdone violence of Longbow Hunters). I liked that he messed up, and had to go through tough times quite unlike Superman or Batman or even Spider-Man. He stayed a populist hero even under Grell's more right-leaning approach. Sure, he can be obnoxious, but he's usually right.
Plus, bows & arrows may be the most impractical crime-fighting weapons ever, but they look cool.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I don't have the issue number offhand, but it's an old Justice League of America issue, under 200 maybe: the Shark was the villain, Hal gets taken out early and has to go back to the Satelite to lie down, and while Superman and Wonder Woman are fighting super-evolved animals Green Arrow struggles to flip a switch. (OK, it was set for someone with super strength, but it doesn't look great typed out.)
That was my first exposure to Ollie: he can be a jerk, he can say things that make you mad or embarrass you, he might make a pass at your mom or be your real dad; but he's a guy that's not going to give up, is going to try to do the right thing, and will come through for you in the end. So, not my favorite character, but one that's fun every so often.

Anonymous said...

Dude's got the coolest goatee in comics and he (used to) shoot arrows tipped with boxing gloves. How can it get any sweeter than that?

'Nuff said.

Scipio said...

"Hal gets taken out early and has to go back to the Satelite to lie down."

Did he get hit on the head? I bet he got hit on the head.

I love when Hal gets hit on the head.

Anonymous said...

I'll say this: I like Green Arrow, for pretty much the same reasons everybody here has already laid down. My wife thinks Green Arrow is the best superhero ever, for pretty much those same reasons.
I don't, but I can see where she's coming from. He's flawed, but he's not MARVEL flawed. He's low-tier - even the OMACs make fun of him, in their blithering endless text-box-less way. He is a hero of the heart, but definitely not of the head.
Also, see Green Arrow in JLU. How could anyone not get the appeal of the character after that?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I can see the appeal of that, Marvin... but it's definitely a Marvelish appeal. Which isn't a bad thing in MY book - but does make him fair game for Devon and Scip, I think.

Hate Filled Poster said...

"He's the Voice of Liberalism in a world where youth=Leftist, so the real question is why don't more kids like him? Why is Hal the darling of the "new" generation?"

Hal only appears conservative when held up to Ollie. I have a few comics where characters accused Hal of being "the liberal hero". Weird eh?

Scipio said...

"a world where youth=Leftist"

I'm not familiar with that world. Earth-Y, perhaps?

Hate Filled Poster said...

I don't know I was just quoting the post above. All I was saying is Hal isn't really conservative.

Anonymous said...

Also, see Green Arrow in JLU. How could anyone not get the appeal of the character after that?

Absolutely agreed. The Arrow/Canary/Question/Huntress episodes have been by far the strongest in the JLU's run.

Anonymous said...

Ollie as a "womanizing cad" must be a recent development. When I read the character in the 70s and 80s he wasn't like that, he was always faithful to Dinah.

Yeah, it's pretty much a Winick invention. He's had him cheat on Dinah with Black Lightning's niece, and Joe Kelly had him have an adulterous affair with Manitau Raven's wife.

And that's the problem with him right now... hacks. Green Arrow is a great character when used properly.

Amy said...

Oh, Ollie's cheated on Dinah long before Winick came around. One of the more famous (or rather infamous) instances was with Shado when Mike Grell was writing the series.

But yes -- Ollie's womanizing, like the emphasis on Hal's daddy issues through his father's jacket, is a mostly modern invention.

Dean H. said...

Here's the thing about Green Arrow, he is the only character in either mainstream DC or Marvel comics that has an actual, real-world political viewpoint. His brand of leftism is a little dated. The late '60s and early '70s are long time ago. However, you might actually meet someone who thinks about the world the way Ollie Queen does.

The womanizing combined with femminsim is not so bizzare a combination. I knew a half dozen guys like that in college. Ditto the jock arrogance and the leftism.

To me, Green Arrow is the first truly three-dimensional comics character. A good writer can put him in a scene and you do not know what he is going to do.

You couldn't even say that about the early Marvels. The post- Stan Lee, Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko era was a return to one dimension. Those characters weren't perfect, but they were perfectly the same. You know exactly what, say, Wolverine will do in any given situation.

Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams took superhero comics half way from Lee-Kirby to Alan Moore with Green Arrow. That is what makes him cool.

Unknown said...

'Arrow shooting guy" has a pretty basic appeal. A guy firing an arrow looks cool. A guy with a quiver looks cool. And narrative-wise, it's the ultimate Chekhov's gun.

Scipio said...

Ollie as a womanizer is an odd characterization to developer, since he's only one of the two ongoing superheroes from the Golden Age who never had ANY love interest, not even for one single story, even through the Silver Age. The man was a monk until Black Canary showed up.