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

Monday, April 18, 2016

Why Green Arrow?...starting from square Zero Hour

Why Green Arrow?
And now a few thoughts about the “why” of this blog, beginning with a kind of stream of consciousness detail of what attracts me to the Green Arrow character (not in the Biblical sense).
The use of an archaic weapon.  Even though Batman is best known for his “a-rangs” Oliver Queen’s use of the bow and arrow set him apart from other heroes and Hawkeye notwithstanding, still does. It makes for dramatic, if somewhat predictable, comic covers that are exciting and draw you in. There’s just something about the potential, kinetic energy of a tautly drawn bow.  Add to that the Robin Hood motif evolution by Neal Adams in the 60s and you have a visually striking comic book character.

The Van Dyke beard also included by Adams, marked Oliver Queen as somewhat counter-cultural. At the time the Van Dyke (not a goatee strictly speaking) was a symbol of the intellectual thinker. Adams himself sported a Van Dyke at the time and it was a brilliant design addition to the Green Arrow character. It’s a real shame the “goatee” is now sported by every second guy and all NASCAR fans (darn you 1990s!).
A social and political conscience. As I’ve admitted before everything I like most about Green Arrow comes from the rather brief run of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams in the pages of Green Lantern (i.e. Green Lantern/Green Arrow) in the late 60’s and early 70s; correct me if I have the exact timeline off. It’s funny to think that the main impetus for the collaboration of these two characters was stemmed from the common color theme of their names and costumes. O’Neil and Adams took full advantage and played straight laced Hal Jordan against pseudo-hippie Oliver Queen. Admittedly the dialogue is a bit ham-fisted in retrospect, it was a shining, first example of the important issues a “funny book” could address.  
It would be easy to simply the book as a Right-wing vs. Left-wing debate, with the left-wing winning more often than not, but I say that’s an over-simplification. I do not see Oliver Queen as a liberal in the modern sense; rather he is an example of “classical liberalism.” Freedom is paramount. Responsibility is shared by all. Do for yourself and for others who CANNOT do for themselves (note the emphasis). I read Ollie as adhering to the Biblical motto, “Let he who does not work, not eat.” If you can, you must. If you cannot, we’re all here to help.

Oliver’s beef with Hal is the blind eye he turned toward the little guy. Green Lantern would be first in a fight against a would-be world despot, magical ring wielding villain, or super-powered terrorist group. Oliver opened his eyes to the comparatively smaller, but no less compelling, crimes of the slum lord, small-time crook, cult leader and tyrannical job boss. Interestingly these same themes are explored to perfection by the Marvel archer Hawkeye in his most recent series (I can’t recommend highly enough). In fact, given the character’s history that series should have been a Green Arrow story.

It is for these reasons most of all that I find myself continually returning to Green Arrow.

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