Thoughts and observations on Green Arrow, classical liberalism, freedom, comic books and matters of social justice.

Friday, January 25, 2008

"Oliver, the tribe has spoken."

The origin of Green Arrow lacks one essential detail, conflict. Spider-man and Batman begin with murders, Superman has the destruction of his planet, Captain Marvel and Green Lantern are called to take on a solemn duty, and Captain America and Wonder Woman are charged as ambassadors to a fallen world. Even those heroes lacking a formal call to duty have some type of fantastic beginning; the Hulk and the Flash are born in explosions, Iron Man is created as a means out of bondage, Madman is a resurrected hit man, and Daredevil and Plastic Man are bathed in toxic chemicals.

Oliver Queen was shipwrecked. He fashioned a bow and arrow to hunt game and survive and once rescued he decided to utilize his new found skills to fight crime. No unmistakable call to arms and no miraculous transformation; just a decision to shoot arrows at bad guys. As I’ve written previously Queen received a much needed make-over in design and motivation; trading in a generic do-gooder tendency for the fight against “social” injustice. It’s important to note, however, that this was a short lived crusade; more modern interpretations of Green Arrow have him fighting monsters, zombies, and bounty hunters (a shift back to his less-than-original beginnings). Green Arrow’s role as “defender of the common man” does get lip service from time to time by those writers wishing to connect back to the character’s glory days.

A revamp to Green Arrow’s origin was recently completed in the story, “Year One.” I plan on getting the collected hardcover edition and reviewing it here, but from what I’ve read about the story it keeps to the original shipwrecked concept. Perhaps this is why Ollie hasn’t resonated with a greater number of readers; a hero must be more than what he can do. While purists would balk I believe Green Arrow would be greatly served by a more severe origin re-write. I don’t subscribe to the notion Oliver Queen had this dormant “super aiming” ability which he taps into with his bow. This type of device is justify him standing shoulder to shoulder with DC’s big guns; not unlike turning Batman into Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius.

Being Joe Blow who can lose a fight makes Green Arrow accessible and helps define his character. Maybe he just needs a little nudge from his past to help him on his way.

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