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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.