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Essential Green Arrow Stories

Updated on January 14, 2016
Green Arrow in his trade mark costume
Green Arrow in his trade mark costume

Who is Green Arrow?

Green Arrow is a hero from DC comics that first appeared way back in 1941 in 'More Fun Comics'. He has been involved in many team ups since, as well as being a back up story in Detective Comics for a while, but he did not actually receive his own title until 1983.

His real name is Oliver Queen, a billionaire businessman from Starling City, who learnt his skills with a bow when he is washed overboard from his boat. He washes up on a remote island and has to deal with some smugglers there. When he returns to civilization, he is greatly changed by his experiences on the island.

He has fought as part of the Justice League, teamed up with Black Canary and also travelled America with Green Lantern, producing some memorable storylines.

He has not always been the most fashionable of heroes, but the recent TV series 'Arrow' seems to have changed this a lot, and although they have used some creative interpretation in their writing of the series, there are also many elements of their stories which have clear roots in the comic books.

''The Longbow Hunters trade paper back.
''The Longbow Hunters trade paper back.

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters

This Green Arrow, written and drawn by Mike Grell, was originally published in 3 parts in 1987. It tells the story of an older Oliver Queen, living with his girlfriend Dinah (aka Black Canary), having resettled in Seattle from Starling City having seemingly lost his fortune. While decorating his new apartment he is reminded of his time on the island where he hunted with a wooden bow and none of the gadgets he has become accustomed to. He decides he has lost his edge and needs to go back to basics with his longbow.

At the same time the Seattle papers are reporting on the 'Seattle Slasher' and a 'Robin Hood' Killer. Oliver sets out to track down the slasher, while Dinah goes undercover to investigate some drug dealers. Oliver soon hunts down the killer but he is too slow and the killer escapes. Oliver chases him and eventually catches up to him. He is about to take the killer down when another archer appears, kills the slasher and then disappears. He pursues her and there is a face off on the roof top. Again Oliver proves to old and slow and the archer escapes. having severed Oliver's Bow string with an arrow, a shot he feels he could no longer make.

As the story progresses Oliver learns more about the mysterious archer, who turns out to be a girl named Shado who is working for the Yakuza to avenge the shame her father was forced to face in the past. Their paths continue to cross and we learn Shado's quest is related to the drug dealers Dinah is investigating.

I don't want to ruin the rest of the story for you, but Oliver has to overcome a lot of self doubt and faces some incredibly tough choices that will eventually change the character for some time to come. It is a well written story with great art work, although at times I found it confusing the way that panels flowed, some going across the double page and some going down, however I guess this is to do with the way the comic is adapted to fit a graphic novel format. It is still a really interesting book and a must read for anyone interested in finding out more about the Green Arrow character, although some of the content is quite graphic and it is suggested more for mature readers.

The cover from issue 4 of the Green Arrow: Year One comic series
The cover from issue 4 of the Green Arrow: Year One comic series

Green Arrow: Year One

This is a modern take on Green Arrow's origin story, written by Andy Diggle with art from Jock. If you are a fan of the TV show, you will recognise a few elements of this story, such as the boat and the island, however the story of why he is one the boat and what happens on the island are quite different.

Oliver Queen is a thrill seeking, millionaire playboy, who travels the globe looking for adrenalin highs and drinking and partying with models. He has employed a former British special forces officer named 'Hackett' to guide him in this. While attending a charity auction he drunkenly bids $100,000 for a bow that had belonged to a stunt archer who had worked on the original Robin Hood movie and who had trained Oliver in Archer as a youngster. After making a fool of himself he decides to lay low for a while by tagging along on a shady business deal with Hackett who is setting off on the boat to complete the deal on behalf of Oliver.

Unfortunately the deal turns out to be a fraud, with Hackett attempting to steal all the money that was supposed to go towards the deal. Oliver gets knocked out and thrown overboard. He washes up on an island and struggles for survival, using and developing his bow skills to enable him to hunt. He signals a to a passing plane for rescue but the plane turns and fires on him. Oliver fires an arrow at the plane, injuring the gunman and causing the plane to crash. When he goes to investigate the crash site he discovers the island is being used to grow poppies for heroine, by criminal China White. He also discovers the islands population has been enslaved to farm the crops.

The rest of the story is about how Oliver fights the drug growers, recovers from injury and finds himself. It is a really interesting story that offers an excellent way into the comics for someone who has had their interest sparked by the TV show. One of the best Green Arrow stories I have read, I highly recommend it.

Green Arrow: Hunter's Moon Vol. 1

This Green Arrow storyline follows on directly from 'The Longbow Hunters' and is also written by Mike Grell, although this time the art is taken over by Ed Hannigan, with inking from Dick Giordano. The book is made up of three separate shorter stories all set in the Seattle area.

The first story is the title story. Oliver's girlfriend is still coming to terms with events from the end of 'The Longbow Hunters' and the pair visit a counsellor to help her overcome some of the problems she is having. It turns out that their counsellor was a victim of kidnap and abuse as a youngster and the perpetrator of these crimes has just been released from jail on bail as he appeals part of his sentence, having served 18 years in prison. His bail requires him to stay home in his mansion he inherited from his father who made a fortune in the brewing industry and the police have his home closely guarded.

However, the victim soon receives an item in a hand delivered envelope that was taken from her dress while kidnapped as a child. Green Arrow sets himself up monitoring the victim and she is soon visited by someone, who appears in her garden at night. Green Arrow shoots him with an arrow but he escapes ( which seems to happen a lot!) and finds the arrow, bent with no sign of blood. He visits the accused but it seems that he has not left his mansion home. Oliver is left to figure out who is stalking the victim again and how they are doing it. I won't give away any more of the plot, except to say that of course, Green Arrow eventually gets his man.

The second story, titled 'The Champions' sees Green Arrow working for the Russians on a mission to track down a fallen satellite containing a potentially lethal weapon before the Chinese. He travels to an island where he finds a mercenary, Fyers, hired by the Chinese also searching for the weapon. After being injured by Fyers, and stuck I a snowstorm, he finds his way to a cabin where he receives medical treatment from an archeologist working there. In her cabin, he also finds the capsule from the satellite containing the weapon. He must then try to get it off the island before Fyers finds it. They fight, and also learn they are not the only ones after the weapon. green Arrow loses but manages to destroy the capsule and later the weapon.

The final story, titled 'Gauntlet' involves street gangs moving in to Seattle, and the struggles of young men to avoid being dragged into this life style. A Gay couple who are customers at Oliver and Dinah's shop 'Sherwood Flourist', are murdered and Oliver sets out to solve this crime. The story raised a number of issues that affected young people at the time and they are issues that are still relevant in some parts today. Events in the book lead to Oliver donating some of the money he got at the end of The Longbow Hunters' to fund a youth centre and end with the CIA man who he got the money from reading the story in the newspaper and saying "I knew you'd get around to spending it sooner or later. Now your green ass can say hello to my lawn mower". A great hook to make me want to read Volume 2!

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One of the most controversial covers in DC comics history.
One of the most controversial covers in DC comics history.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow

This book was written and drawn over 40 years ago by legendary comic duo Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams. Although a couple of the stories seem a little dated now, they were relevant at the time and most still have some relevance today. The team up of Green Lantern and Green Arrow began in 'Green Lantern Comics', issue 76.

The premise of the book to begin with is that Green Lantern returns to Earth and sees a well dressed man being harassed by a young man. He steps in to protect the man, but soon finds out from Green Arrow, who was watching, that he misread the situation and in fact the man was a landlord who was exploiting the young man and the people of the area. He begins to doubt that his trust in authority is always right and that he has actually failed to help many of the people of Earth, particularly some ethnic groups. The doubt that authority is always right seems to reflect the feelings of many Americans at the time with regards to their involvement in Vietnam.

Green Arrow sets off across America with Green Lantern to help him reconnect with the country. The Guardians on OA feel this is a worthy journey for Green Lantern and one of the immortal Guardians decides to accompany them on their journey. The first few books focus on stories set around Native American reservations, and show the mistreatment and exploitation of these communities by other individuals. Of course Green Arrow and Green Lantern fight to protect the innocent and come out victorious. Eventually the premise changes, after the Guardian is summoned to trial for endangering the Earth after he chose to save Green Lantern instead of dealing with some harmful pollution. He is stripped of his powers and sent to his home planet.

There then follows a number of other interesting stories, where the pair overcome a number of challenges. The most significant storyline in the book comes in issues 85 and 86. In this story, Green Arrows ward, Speedy becomes a heroine addict. This was a controversial story at the time, particularly as the cover of the comic showed him about to inject. The pair set out to deal with the dealers and offers some comment on the danger of drugs, while also presenting a sympathetic picture of young people who get involved in drugs, observing how society does little to support them.

The book offers some really interesting tales and some excellent art work from Adams. At times the stories are a little dated, such as when Green Arrow communicates with Green Lantern by telegram, and Green Arrow is sometimes portrayed as quite a sexist figure who can be very patronising towards women. However at the same time Black Canary is depicted as a very strong and independent woman who doesn't usually need the help of the other heroes and in fact gets them out of trouble at times. It is a really interesting insight into comics from the period and into life in the 1970's.

The cover to Green Arrow: Quiver #5
The cover to Green Arrow: Quiver #5

Green Arrow: Quiver

When I first decided that I wanted to sample some Green Arrow stories, this was the book I searched for first. Unfortunately, I found it was out of print and was unable to pick up a copy at a reasonable price. I am hoping that it will be reprinted in the not too distant future, but until then I am going to have to make do with collecting and reading the original single issues.

The book is written by Kevin Smith (of Clerks and Comic Book Men fame) and drawn by Phil Hester. It marked the start of the second volume of Green Arrow books and came after the character had been killed in a previous DC comics event.

The story involves Oliver being revived by Green Lantern, however he does not have all of his memories intact. He visits a variety of old friends in a quest to rediscover himself.

This is a story I have not yet read fully, but I am very keen to do so once I have completed my collection of back issues. I usually enjoy Kevin Smith's writing style, although it is not always to everyone's taste. However this series was generally met well critically and features highly on many forum lists of essential Green Arrow books. As a result of this I felt I must include it.

The beardless Oliver Queen from the New 52 Green Arrow.
The beardless Oliver Queen from the New 52 Green Arrow.

Green Arrow: The New 52

This is a great starting point for new fans. issues from the New 52 have been collected into trade paper backs and present a modern take on the character. In the first collected edition, Green Arrow battles to balance his work with his night-time activities. The first story sees him battling a team of villains who are looking to make thousands of dollars by streaming Green Arrow's death live online. The title story involves A Toxic creature named Midas and his robotics lover Blood Rose, looking for revenge against Oliver for reasons not full explained in the book.

The Green Arrow character looks very different to the original versions, with Oliver beardless as the book begins. He has a much more high tech back up team monitoring videos for potential terrorists. He also seems to have lost some of his sexist and outspoken comments from previous books.

An alternate cover for issue one of 'Arrow'
An alternate cover for issue one of 'Arrow'

Other Green Arrow Stories

Arrow: Volume 1

Around the time of the launch of the TV series, DC released a comic book by the same name that was meant as an accompaniment to the TV show. The books include new stories that are meant to enrich the storylines. These include Diggle's tour of Afghanistan, The exhumation of the 'Queen's Gambit' and background to Helena Bertinelli becoming Huntress.

This is not my favourite Green Arrow story, and I must admit I did not pay for my copy (it was given free after spending $50 on Free Comic Book Day), but if you are a die hard fan of the TV show it is worth checking out.


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