Saturday, June 06, 2020

The Red Devils of Gayland

This is a subject I've been able to avoid successfully here for 15 years, but now (for Heroclix-related reasons) I can avoid it no longer. It's part of a broader topic of the inferiority of Green Arrow's Rogues Gallery.

And that's from people whose rogues gallery is nothing but guys in monster masks.

The CW solved this by just rummaging through DC's bin of bargain villains dented by Batman.  But you can't do that as easily in Heroclix where Batman villains literally have a sign on them that says "Batman Enemy".  So when you want to expand GA's roster of foes, you switch from bargain-hunting to dumpster diving, which brings us to:


Some people need their asses kicked to get them to Gayland.
Never seen anyone run OUT of Gayland, before, though. 
Must have realized they were wearing white socks with suits.

It begins with a series of "Final Destination" style deaths at the local eponymous amusement park.

PLEASE tell me that's George Beecham's fedora beside him in that pool. 
No self-respecting man would be murdered from a great height without his fedora.

Fortunately, Ollie Queen and his Boy Quiver are in Ollie's bedroom, which is within eyesight distance of Gayland. So to speak.

Try not to think about why Red Vest isn't wearing shoes
and what Ollie is getting dressed FROM.

All of Green Arrow's action -- um, crimefighting action, I mean -- starts with either staring out the window or at the TV.  Remember, the authorities notify Green Arrow he's needed by shooting a flaming arrow signal momentarily across the skyline, which, if he's not staring out the window all the time, he'll miss.

Try not to think about what happens when that lands
or what "Green Arrow is needed" means.

Grabbing his Gayland-peeping binoculars, Ollie sees: a hung man!

Well, of course, he's hung, honey; it's Gayland.

Oh, sorry, I mean to say "hanged". 

Ollie's blond hair dye to arrive...?

Commissioner Nameless gives Ollie a free hand.  So to speak.

Translation: My officers are afraid to enter Gayland,
but you and the boy seem to be dressed for it already.  

I guess it's appropriate that Star City has a nameless, faceless Police Commissioner.  Would YOU want to be known as the man who calls Green Arrow for help?

"That'll never happen again, Number One."

TOMORROW: Speedy ejaculates Green Arrow into an open window.


John C said...

"Hey, Captain, wouldn't it make more sense to signal Star City's preeminent hero with something more persistent, so that he'd have a better chance of--OK, now that I hear it out loud, I retract the question."

Honestly, I'm surprised that Green Arrow never inherited Vandal Savage as a villain. I feel like every DC superhero is eventually forced to pretend Vandal Savage is their arch-enemy for a few issues. But at least he now has George "The Cement Fedora" Beecham, once his metagene activates. A-a-a-any minute.

What's sitting to the commissioner's left, though? Is it an avant garde ergonomic chair? Poorly camouflaged Bat-Phone? Shoddily wrapped gift in Speedy's colors? Speedy posing as a large box in a complete misunderstanding of mime?

Yes! said...

Green Arrow's lack of a rogue's gallery has got to be the biggest hurdle to his status. Can anyone explain why it took 60 years for writers to realize he needed to do more than fight generic criminals or one-shot villains!

The only real 'iconic' Green Arrow specific Rogue that comes to mind is Count Vertigo. If I stretch the notability and tradition criteria
I can add Brick and Cupid, with dishonorable mention to Onomatopoeia, who is at least memorable.

To me, Merlyn always seemed like a Justice League villain that happened to pair off againt Green Arrow. I think there were plans to upgrade him to 'dark reflection' enemy since the new 52, but the ideascape around that got diluted by the likes of Komodo, Shado, Oliver's Dad, etc.

Green Arrow had a late start in a sense, he didn't graduate from back- up status till the 80s
Since then, there seems to be a problem; Writers either use non- costumed criminals (Mike Grell's legion of nasty urban decay) or 'surprise' the reader with a Batman or other DC villain. Prometheus, Everyman Deathstroke the Terminator, Doctor Sivana. Doctor Sivana? How have none of the mad scientist types (that surely must have cropped up) stuck around?

Bryan L said...

Yes! Activate George Beecham's metagene. Cement, Adobe, Stonework, Boulder, Slab, Foundation, Butte, Plinth, Bollard, okay, I'm running low here. I rather like Stonework though. Foundation is makeup, so ... okay, that works. Butte ... well, the less said there, the better.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the problem with Green Arrow's rogue's gallery is, he just doesn't lend himself to rogues. I should explain myself.

Batman's deal is that he has countless abilities, and his great foes tend to challenge one aspect or another of his abilities (the Riddler challenges his detectiveness, the Joker challenges his planningness), or they're somehow thematically compatible (Two-Face is about justice and so is Batman), or they require Batman to punch well above his weight class (Killer Croc or Blockbuster). Fertile grounds for solid foes.

Or in the other direction, Superman has the likes of Lex Luthor, whom he could beat pretty easily most days, but refuses to because of his morality and hope. Superman's also got enemies way out of his weight class (Mr. Myxzptlk) but that requires Superman to outthink them. Or the Flash, who fights guys with cold guns and boomerangs, and he could beat them easily if he really put his mind to it, but they've got fun gimmicks so he lets them get away with it.

Okay, so that brings us to Green Arrow. He has no real powers of his own (beyond phenomenal archery skills, credit where it's due) so he can't really punch down like the Flash does, because he's already at the bottom more or less. On the other hand he isn't so good at what he does that he can punch outside his weight class like Batman does. If anything he's like the gimmick enemy some other hero would fight.

Since it's hard to come up with a good arch-villain, abilities-wise, his foes should probably be more philosophical adversaries. If I were in charge of all the comic book companies, I would make Green Arrow a Kingpin adversary, one who rarely if ever faces off against the Kingpin directly, but is nibbling at the edges of the Kingpin's empire. I would also make Green Arrow just popular enough of a public figure that the Kingpin is very careful about how he approaches "the Green Arrow problem". I'd have the Kingpin play a delicate game, where Wilson Fisk publicly praises Green Arrow while sending non-costumed goons after him so it would always look like mere street criminals.

DC could of course try to create their own The Kingpin, but man, there's like a 120% chance it would be an obvious and unsatisfying ripoff.

Scipio said...

"I feel like every DC superhero is eventually forced to pretend Vandal Savage is their arch-enemy for a few issues."

That made me laugh out loud. Green Arrow DID fight Vandal Savage... on the CW>

Scipio said...

"What's sitting to the commissioner's left, though? "

Scipio said...

"Can anyone explain why it took 60 years for writers to realize he needed to do more than fight generic criminals or one-shot villains!"

Green Arrow first appeared in 1941. Except for a four-issue miniseries in 1986, the first time he actually had his own comic book (rather than just being a back-up or a feature player) was in 1988; so for 40 years, it wasn't really a priority. And by 1988, the DCU wasn't in ideal "new villain-making" mode.

Steve Mitchell said...

You are all missing the real point here--there's a Gayland Heroclix map about to strike!

cybrid said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
cybrid said...

When you think about it, the fact that Green Arrow has so few archenemies means that most of Green Arrow's enemies simply don't return for a second round (and you can hardly be "archenemies" based on just one fight). Because Green Arrow kicked their *sses THAT thoroughly. ;-)

Maybe the majority of Green Arrow's enemies, the ones who fought him only one time each, understand what so many other villains do not, that, upon being released from prison, one of the dumbest things you could possibly do is get in the face of the guy who put you in prison IN THE FIRST PLACE, the guy whom you KNOW DAMN WELL is capable of defeating you. Also, that revenge is just plain stupid and life is too short. Maybe upon release, they just set up shop in a DC Universe generic big cities that does NOT have any resident super-heroes.

And if most of Green Arrow's enemies recognize these things, you know what that means? It means that most of Green Arrow's enemies (at least by the time they get out of prison) are JUST PLAIN SMARTER than most other super-villains, which reflects well on Green Arrow having defeated them to begin with, didja ever think of THAT? Of course you didn't. Nor should you have. ;-)

The possibility of Star City being just really incredibly so much better at keeping super-villains locked up than is Metropolis, Gotham City, Coast City, Central City, And The Rest may also be a factor.

That said, Green Arrow's rogues gallery, spanning the golden age to recent years, is presented here: