Green Arrow: Year One

Green Arrow: Year One

By Andy Diggle & Jock (DC Comics)
ISBN: 978-1-84576-727-3

Green Arrow is one of DC’s Golden All-Stars. He’s been a fixture of the company’s landscape – in many instances for no discernable reason – more or less continually since his debut in More Fun Comics # 73 in 1941. During those heady days origins weren’t as important as image and storytelling so creators Mort Weisinger and George Papp never bothered, leaving later workmen France Herron, Jack Kirby and his wife Roz to fill in the blanks with ‘The Green Arrow’s First Case’ at the start of the Silver Age superhero revival (Adventure Comics #256, January 1959).

This latest tweaking of his origin comes courtesy of Andy Diggle and Jock (better unknown to all as Mark Simpson) and massages the well-worn tale of a wealthy wastrel who finds purpose after being marooned on a desert island into a comfortably modern yet unsettlingly dark and violent contemporary milieu.

Adrenaline junkie/trust-fund millionaire Oliver Queen makes a fool of himself at a society bash and is compelled to join his bodyguard Hackett on a boating trip only to discover that the man he trusts his life with has stolen all his money and intends to kill him now to get away with it.

When the murder-attempt goes awry Ollie washes up on a tropical island where the early days of privation and thirst only worsen when he discovers the place is a huge drug factory complete with slave workers and a sadistic crime queen named China White.

He built a bow to catch fish: now that he has a new reason to live can he use it to stay alive?

This modern retelling is sharp and edgy as you’d expect from these extremely talented creators and in this modern spin actually benefits the character under revision. An excellent addition to the legend of one of DC’s most enduring, endearing characters.

© 2007 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

2 Replies to “Green Arrow: Year One”

  1. Actually, there was an origin tale for Green Arrow written years before the Jack Kirby version that had Oliver Queen stranded on a deserted island.

    Like Batman, Green Arrow’s story wasn’t told from the beginning. The Battling Bowmen first appeared in MORE FUN COMICS #73 (November, 1941). Their origin wasn’t told until MORE FUN COMICS #89 (March, 1943).

    The reason?

    Mort Weisinger answered, “I hadn’t thought of one, so I backtracked.”

    The origin of the Golden Age Green Arrow and Speedy first appeared in MORE FUN COMICS #89 (March, 1943) in a story entitled “Birth of the Battling Bowmen”.

    The story was written by Green Arrow co-creator, Mort Weisinger, with art by Cliff Young and Steve Brodie. George Papp was away in the army during World War II at the time.

    Their origin tale began with a plane crash on an inaccessible mesa-top. Young Roy Harper and a Native American Indian servant named Quoag survived, but Roy’s father did not. With no way off the mesa, Quoag taught Roy to use a bow and arrow in order to hunt and stay alive.

    Millionaire/Indian Folklore collector Oliver Queen had used his wealth to build a huge collection of Indian artifacts for the local museum, only to have it destroyed by a fire accidentally started by thieves who broke in. He then decided to set out on an expedition to Lost Mesa, where a gold mine was said to exist. As an expert on Indian Folklore, he was, of course, an excellent archer. However, an unscrupulous servant at his club overheard the plan and went to Lost Mesa with a gang of hoods to get the gold. They first had a run-in with Roy and Quoag. When Oliver Queen arrived, Roy mistook him for one of the hoods, but changed his mind when the real crooks showed up to capture all of them.

    As the crooks were ambushing Oliver Queen, along with a boy named Roy Harper and Roy’s Indian pal, Quoag, they turned the tables on the gangsters with their archery skills and stopped them. Oliver and Roy escaped soon after, but Quoag was fatally shot. Escaping into a cave, and armed with the bows and arrows Quoag had made, Roy and Oliver discovered the ruins of an ancient Indian civilization, including statues of solid gold.

    A battle with the crooks ended, during which one hood said, “Golly, that kid’s speedy!”. Another crook said, “Watch out for the big guy! He shoots a mean green arrow!” So the two got their new names. During their fight, Oliver made the first arrowline, with rawhide strips cut from the quivers — and the two swung to safety just as a gold statue fell and crushed the crooks.

    Returning to civilization, Oliver Queen adopted Roy Harper as his ward. They realized they had so much fun fighting crime that they opted to fight crime by donning colorful super hero costumes and calling themselves the Green Arrow and Speedy after the words spoken by the crooks in their first caper. Somewhere along the way, Oliver got rich from selling buried artifacts.

    “Speedy, I’ve learned a lesson,” Green Arrow tells his new partner. “You can’t run away from evil men! You must turn and fight them… as we have, with weapons we understand! We must always fight them!”

    Best regards,
    Scott McCullar

  2. Thanks for the heads-up, I haven’t seen that one, but it sounds great.

    One more thing to add to the Christmas list…

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