I spent some time this weekend catching up on recent Green Arrow events, after hearing all the uproar over the conclusion of Justice League: Cry for Justice.I hadn’t been buying the series, but I did pick up issue #7, to see if it was in fact the Worst Comic Ever, as I had been led to believe. After I read it, I came to the conclusion that it was merely another fairly bad comic; late, rushed, and with an editorially mandated ending. I was stunned by the death of Lian Harper, but only because I was sure that the Teen Titans misery machine had already chewed her up by now.I was amazed to see that she had been a Titans supporting character for something like a decade without being eaten by Wonder Dog or ripped apart by Trigon yet. Hell, “just” having a building dropped on her is relatively merciful, in Titans terms.
So now, Green Arrow has gone off the rails and turned killer. The Justice League: Rise and Fall Special released last week shows Black Canary, Green Lantern, and the Flash dealing with the aftermath of Green Arrow’s murder of Prometheus, and future chapters will follow suit. That’s all good and well, but that got me remembering that Green Arrow racked up quite a body count during his “Longbow Hunters” phase, and nobody seemed to mind back then.
When Mike Grell reinvented Green Arrow in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, he relocated GA and Black canary to Seattle, and shed all of the fantastic trappings of the series, recasting Green Arrow as an urban Hunter completely removed from the superhero world. For a few years, the series was designated “mature readers”, and Green Arrow eschewed his gimmick arrows for lethal force. He basically disappeared from the DC Universe during this time, and when he did interact with others, his ethics weren’t discussed. Of course, this was in the badass 90’s when every other “hero” was a killer, so perhaps Green Arrow’s extreme methods didn’t seem that out of line.
As that iteration of the series aged, however, DC saw a need to bring him back into the main universe, and when Grell left the writing duties, the next writers began steering Ollie back to superheroics. The plot saw him grow weary of killing and violence, and he sought peace at a monastery, where he met his lost son, Connor Hawke. He eventually returned to the DCU with Connor at his side, and the two worked together for a time until Ollie’s death, when he tried to infiltrate a group of eco-terrorists, was locked to a bomb, and died in the explosion.
But death is never permanent in comics, and when Kevin Smith revived Green Arrow a few years later, he contrived to have Hal Jordan revive Ollie during his time as the cosmically-powered, morally-confused Parallax, and Green Arrow was given a new lease on life. He began a new set of adventures with a new, younger body, and went on to rejoin the Justice League and marry Black Canary. Death, time, and the cosmic reset all served to muddy the waters of Green Arrow’s murderous past, and again, none of his superhero colleagues mentioned anything about his killings. You would think Batman in particular would have an issue with this, but the Dark Knight said nothing (that I know of).
Of course, “The Fall of Green Arrow” just began, so for all I know, the next chapter may deal with all of these issues in depth. It may turn out that he kept his history in Seattle a secret somehow, or had Hal mindwipe everyone, or who knows what. Finally, a bit of speculation: when Green Lantern and Flash brought Prometheus’ body back, his helmet was missing. Then in a bid for escape, Green Arrow grabbed his key and disappeared. If he does have to go on the run, it seems like Prometheus has a bigger bag of tricks to draw from than Green Arrow. Could Oliver Queen become the new Prometheus?