3 Green Arrow moments you won't be seeing on Arrow

Arrow is probably the only good thing we got out of the superhero hate crime known as Smallville, other than that we’ll never have to see Tom Welling’s dead, vacant stare on TV again. Despite his rough start on what was basically just Dawson from Dawson’s Creek cosplaying as Batman, Arrow (who’s finally calling himself Green Arrow) has constructed a gritty, exciting setting for himself. That’s not to say he didn’t take some of the Smallville problems with him.

A hoodie is not a costume!

Of course, you can deck everyone out in leather jackets and sunglasses all you want, but it doesn’t change the fact that Green Arrow is a comic book character. And as such, he’s been plagued by the same goofy nonsense as the rest of his costumed buddies. Here, I’ll be taking a look at three exceptionally ridiculous moments in Green Arrow history that not even network TV can turn into something serious.

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1. The Arrow Car/Arrow Plane

It might be hard to believe, but Green Arrow used to be even more of a lazy Batman knockoff than he is now, when all one needed to literally be Batman was a costume with sleeves. Back in 1941, Green Arrow originally debuted in the anthology series More Fun Comics, alongside his sidekick Speedy/Red Arrow/Arsenal. By this time, Batman had already become one of the most popular superheroes of all time (not that that’s saying much, since superheroes were like three years old at that point, but still), and much like Superman, the race was on to get some of that sweet, sweet copyright infringement pie.

“But your honor, can anyone truly say they OWN a character? Oh, they can?”

Had Green Arrow just been a crime-fighting archer vigilante, the Batman similarities might have been a bit less obnoxious. In fact, while the Robin Hood influences are apparent, the original version of Green Arrow was probably inspired by the 1940 film serial The Green Archer. And I can accept the trick arrows, as well as the “Arrow Cave”, if he’d named it something a little less blatant. What’s less easy to forgive is his goddamn Arrow Car and Arrow Plane. And that’s all the inspiration they got from the archer concept, because the rest of the character looked like he had gotten all his gear from Batman’s yard sale.

Pretty sure Batman would at least remember to lock his car. Or get a car with doors.

Go ahead, try flying an unidentified aircraft over a US city these days and see what happens.

I mean, fine, I get it, even vigilantes have to get around somehow; running around on rooftops isn’t a very efficient mode of transportation. But seriously, there’s ripping off a popular concept, and then there’s just being vulgar. Oh, and the Arrow vehicles weren’t some afterthought they threw in just to win the infringement bingo either; they really fucking went for it. They had whole stories revolving around Green Arrow’s shitty choice in vehicles. Say what you want about Silver Age Batman, at least he never went around and sold merchandise based on his crime-fighting equipment. He left that up to the street vendors selling bootleg toys full of lead paint and Chinese anthrax.

When they inevitably hand the reins of Arrow over to Joel Schumacher.

2. Green Arrows of the World

There comes a time when copying someone else stops being about ripping them off and just starts being stalker-ish and creepy. In 1955, Batman had taken part in the “Batmen of All Nations”, a ridiculous story arc where Batman meets up with a collection of different vigilantes “inspired” by him from around the world, such as Knight from England or El Gaucho from Argentina. As you can probably guess, it was less a homage to Batman and more a collection of borderline racist stereotypes. So of course, Green Arrow had to copy this parade of nonsense almost verbatim.

The writer would go on to create every fast food mascot ever.

Ironically, this story was actually illustrated by the legendary Jack Kirby, which just makes the half-assed story even worse. Hell, Green Arrow didn’t even plagiarize the Batmen of All Nations properly; he forgot to include everyone having a creepy underage sidekick. The assembled Arrows hail from France, Mexico, Japan, and Africa. Yes, we know that Africa is a continent, just not one big country, but try telling the writer that. Oh, and the Arrow from Africa, or the “Bowman of the Bush” as he calls himself, is white, because of course he is. Though considering superhero comics’ track record with black characters, this is probably less racist than it would’ve been had he been black.

And because Africa’s not enough territory for one guy to cover, he also inexplicably patrols India, too. (But fuck the entire Middle East in between; they’re on their own.)

The story itself, other than its minstrel-show levels of ethnic caricatures, revolves around a villain infiltrating the group by kidnapping and replacing the Green Arrow of England. How does said villain end up blowing his cover, you ask? He refers to British currency as dollars instead of pounds. Yeah, not exactly Moriarty levels of competence here, but with this crowd, you can’t expect the bad guys to bring their A-game.

Yes, this villain thought the best time to strike at his rival was at a literal convention of international superheroes.

3. Green Arrow: Social Justice Warrior

Green Arrow was one of the few superheroes who survived the collapse of the original Golden Age of Comics, mainly because the editor of the Superboy comics kept using the character as a backup for Superboy stories, as any series with a giant “S” on the cover remained a big seller throughout the ’50s. As such, Arrow didn’t need to be resurrected when the Silver Age rolled around, and he became one of the first non-founding members of the Justice League. Then Dennis O’Neil decided to turn him into an angry liberal.

Nice, RIGHT to the Nazi argument.

In 1969, O’Neil teamed up with legendary Batman artist Neal Adams and reimagined Green Arrow as a champion of the underprivileged, as a kind of reflection of the social issues of the 1960s. To do this, Green Arrow ended up going broke (though somehow still managed to keep himself stocked with crime-fighting equipment) and began teaming up with Green Lantern, who was suddenly portrayed as a conservative, basically just so Green Arrow could have someone to lecture about how unfair the world was.

“Sure, I was rich until like a week ago, but I totally get everyone’s struggle now.”

Now, social commentary is all well and good, and granted this hadn’t really been done before, mainly because the Comics Code outlawed any “disrespectful” portrayal of authority figures, which is a bit of a hurdle if you want to show society’s problems, since most of the problems are their fault. Unfortunately, the commentary was done so clumsily it came off more like a parody of high-strung leftist rhetoric, especially the portrayal of Green Lantern, who had never shown any sort of political affiliation before. One of the most awkward moments was when Green Lantern got chewed out because he didn’t do enough to help disenfranchised minorities on Earth, because he spent too much time in space trying to keep alien races from being exterminated.

“Sorry, next time I’ll make sure your housing problems are solved before I go off to fight monsters the size of planets.”

While the issues brought up were certainly real, the way Green Arrow held Green Lantern up as an example of “The Man” was utterly ridiculous, since Lanterns aren’t even chosen by any Earthly authority; they’re chosen to police an entire sector of space, not just one dumb-ass planet that can barely deal with different skin colors.

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  • Yeah, Hal. You’re a test pilot with a magic ring. Why haven’t you solved structural inequality in between jobs saving Earth from being blown up?

    • Chris Hedrick

      Alas, one can’t shoot energy blasts at poverty, nor smash racism with giant boxing gloves. I know from experience. Long story.

      • I specifically remember a Justice League story where Guy Gardner in his pleasant/concussed phase helped build a house. Which promptly fell apart when his charge ran out and all the nails he’d power-ringed up disappeared.

      • PhysUnknown

        All I can think of is Captain Hammer:

        “I’m poverty’s new sheriff. And I’m bashing in the slums.
        A hero doesn’t care if you’re a bunch of scary alcoholic bums!”

        • The_Shadow_Knows

          “It’s not enough to bash in heads – you’ve got to bash in minds.”

  • “Green Lantern up as an example of “The Man” was utterly ridiculous, since Lanterns aren’t even chosen by any Earthly authority.”

    This article is on a website named for something from Star Trek and you are saying that the Guardians of Oa, a race of powerful and detatched space cops, can’t serve as a metaphorical stand in for anything earthly?

    I can’t tell if the obtuseness is the joke or if you are really saying that.

  • Deneb T. Hall

    OK, I will agree that the ‘Green Arrows of the World’ story is carrying imitation a little too far (although I don’t find either it or the Batman original as offensive as you seem to), but I have to say, I’ve actually always liked the Arrowcar. Yes, it’s obviously heavily inspired by the Batmobile, but I think there’s enough that’s distinctive about it that it does stand out, at least a bit – for instance, the ejector seat-catapults, which kind of became one of GA’s trademarks for a while. Also, while the Batmobile has always been mainly just a cool, fast car that has a few extra tricks up its sleeve, the Arrowcar was treated almost more like a ‘trick arrow’ on wheels – it had a million different gizmos that were always ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, which made it more suited to Green Arrow’s style. (And finally, I must confess – I just think it looks cool. It’s one of the more distinctive-looking superhero vehicles I’ve seen; there’s really no mistaking it for anything else.)

  • Greenhornet

    Just two things and I’ll be quiet.
    1: The comic cover seems to be touting “Crackajack BUNNIES”!
    2: How about resurrecting the vigilante group inspired by Green Arrow, the “Guardian Archers”?

    • Greenhornet

      OK, I lied (Sort of).

      Justice League Unlimited Batman gives Liberal Green Arrow one of the best come-backs in superhero history: “Those giant monsters you don’t fight, they tend to step on the little people”.