Green Arrow is a perennial second string DC Comics character that has recently become more popular again through the successful CW show Arrow, whose premiere was the highest rated CW program in three years and was recently picked up for a second season. He also will be a playable character in the upcoming fighting video game Injustice: God Among Us. Previously, he made many guest appearances in the animated shows Justice League Unlimited and Young Justice (where he was voiced by Firefly star Alan Tudyk). But before becoming famous on the silver screen, Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow began as a Batman/Robin Hood quasi-rip off in DC Comics’ More Fun Comics 73 (1941) which also marked the debut of Aquaman (who is cool now).
George Papp (More Fun Comics; Adventure Comics)
During the height of the 1940s, superheroes were omnipresent. A lot of them were riffs on popular superheroes like Will Eisner’s Wonder Man, who was sued by DC Comics in 1939 for bearing too close a resemblance to Superman. Their new hero Green Arrow bore too close a resemblance to Batman with a bit of Robin Hood by way of 1940 film serial The Green Archer. The green costume came from the serial with the hat and feather from Robin Hood. The Robin Hood inspiration was hinted at Green Arrow: Year One. Papp borrowed elements from Batman’s mythos too, like a teen sidekick (Speedy), billionaire secret identity and the obvious Arrow-Car, Arrow-Plane, Arrow-Cave, and Arrow-Signal. He also gave Green Arrow green hair to go with his aesthetic, but this was changed by Jerald Watson in 1944. Because he co-created him, Mort Weisinger made him a founding member of theSeven Soldiers of Victory, who made their first appearance in Leading Comics 1 (1941).
Jack Kirby (Adventure Comics and World’s Finest Comics in 1957)
Green Arrow survived the decline of the superheroes after WWII because his creator Mort Weisinger kept him as a backup strip to Superboy in Adventure Comics. His adventures were drawn in 1957 by up and coming artist Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America and romance comics penciller for Harvey Comics after WWII. After many of his books for Atlas Comics (later Marvel) were cancelled in 1957, Kirby rejoined DC where he had created the Boy Commandos in 1942 with Joe Simon. Kirby added sci-fi touches to Green Arrow’s mythos giving futuristic trick arrows. His versions of Green Arrow and Speedy looked like Captain America and Bucky. For examples, Oliver Queen and Steve Rogers both had blond hair. This work for DC along with Challengers of the Unknown was the transitional stage between Kirby’s Golden Age work and his Silver Age masterpieces for Marvel, such as Fantastic Four.
Neal Adams (Green Lantern/Green Arrow from 1970-72; Flash from 1972-74)
While returning Batman back to his dark crime-fighting roots and creating Ra’s al Ghul, Neal Adams also revamped Green Arrow, who had been unchanged since the Golden Age and Hal Jordan, whose sci-fi adventures paled in comparison to Marvel’s action packed, socially relevant stories. Adams gave a tougher edge to Green Arrow giving him a mustache and goatee along with an all-green costume to make him more connected to Robin Hood. Green Arrow also acted more like Robin Hood too by having him fight against society’s ills, like corrupt judges, violent cults, and racist lynch mobs, instead of supervillains. Adams also drew the famous issues where Speedy is revealed to be a heroin addict, and showed him accidentally killing a criminal for the first time before retiring to an ashram monastery. However, due to Adams’ slow work and low sales, the book was cancelled and became a Flash backup story. But Neal Adams made Green Arrow a fleshed out character with a unique social conscience and influenced the next two artists on this list.
Mike Grell (Green Lantern from 1976-78; Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters in 1987; Green Arrow: The Wonder Year in 1993; Arrow from 2012-13)
As both a writer and artist, Mike Grell revolutionized Green Arrow. At first, he closely adhered to Adams’ vision for the character, but completely changed the character in the prestige miniseries Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters. This miniseries acted as a Dark Knight Returns for Oliver Queen. He got rid of the trick arrows and tights and replaced it with a hood and beard. This look acted as the template for Queen’s look in the TV show Arrow. With the help of inker Dick Giordano, he gave Green Arrow a bolder, urban look and moved him from Star City to Seattle. He was never called Green Arrow and only wore civilian clothes. In keeping with the tone of Longbow Hunters, Grell’s Green Arrow was more violent even killing criminals. Because of this and sexual content, the new Green Arrow series with writing and covers by Grell was part of the DC’s “mature audience” imprint. Near the end of his writing run on Green Arrow, Grell wrote and pencilled Green Arrow’s new origin in Green Arrow: The Wonder Year.
Jim Aparo (Green Arrow from 1993-97)
After long runs on books starring Phantom Stranger and Spectre along with the Batman family of titles, including work on “Death in the Family” and “Knightfall”, Green Arrow was the last ongoing DC series that Jim Aparo pencilled. He gave Green Arrow a leaner figure as a character in contrast to the more muscular anti-heroes of the time and also focused on the details of the city around him. Aparo also brought Green Arrow back to the DC universe away from the “mature audience” imprint and created Oliver Queen’s son Connor Hawke, who eventually picked up his mantle as Green Arrow. Along with former Batman writer Chuck Dixon, Aparo killed off Queen when he stopped an eco-terrorist’s bomb from destroying Metropolis and died in the explosion. He remained dead for four years.
– Logan Dalton