We’ve had a lot of comic book anniversaries lately and I was pretty excited for 2021 because it’s the 80th anniversary of Green Arrow. Sure, old Battling Bowman is usually a C-List, or B-List at best, DC character – he’s certainly not as big a hero as some of his newly minted Octogenarians like Wonder Woman and Captain America. But Green Arrow and its expanded franchise are my favorite DC family, and I’ll take any excuse to babble about it.
In fact, as of this writing, DC has announced a 100-page 80th anniversary special featuring the Emerald Archer and most of his family, some of whom haven’t been seen in years, and I’m so excited. To fill the time between now and June 29th, let’s get to know the family:
Green Arrow I (Oliver Queen)
Green Arrow made its debut in More Fun Comics # 73 (November 1941) and was created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp. Its genesis has been tweaked over the decades, but the centerpiece has always remained the same: useless millionaire playboy Oliver Queen is stranded on an island, has to learn archery to survive, learns archery harder than ever and decides to become a superhero to be when he gets home. And who wouldn’t?
Green Arrow spent its first three decades as a generic mix of Batman and Robin Hood, but in the late 1960s / early 70s he lost his fortune and discovered that poverty is indeed bad. Who knew He became the downright liberal hothead of the Justice League, dissatisfied with slapping giant alien starfish in the face and doing nothing about social ills such as racism, pollution and rampant capitalism. The best Green Arrow stories of the past 50 years have preserved that core of passionate social justice.
Ollie died in the mid-1990s and was briefly replaced by his son Connor (see below) before he got better in 2001 (comics, everyone!). The 2011 restart of the New 52 sadly lost most of its history and supporting role, but much of it was thankfully resumed at the 2016 Rebirth, including its politics, longstanding romance with Black Canary, and most importantly, its stupid hipster facial hair. This year’s Infinite Frontier seems to have him at the top of the Justice League, which is a terrible idea that I’m very excited to read about.
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Speedy I / Arsenal / Red Arrow I (Roy Harper)
Sidekicks were all the rage in the early 40s, and when Green Arrow first appeared it came with a Mini-Me: Roy Harper also made his debut in More Fun Comics # 73 as Speedy. Roy’s ancestry has been ubiquitous over the decades, but he’s typically orphaned and then raised by Native Americans (eventually referred to as Navajo and then changed to Spokane upon rebirth) until Green Arrow is added.
Like Ollie, Roy was a pretty general hero until 1971, until one of the social ills Green Arrow faced was drugs: specifically, the fact that Roy, neglected by his mentor, had become addicted to heroin. Although this story is dated today (he has an addiction after a day) it was groundbreaking as it was one of the first to portray addiction in a personable light. Over the next few decades, Roy changed his code name to Arsenal (and Red Arrow for short), worked in and out for the government, and made several stints with the Teen Titans and Outsiders. Most importantly, an affair with the super villain Cheshire resulted in him becoming a full-time single parent of their daughter Lian. (Fun fact: Nobody in the Arrow family knows how to use protection. The number of illegitimate children in this franchise is downright ridiculous.)
Roy’s life collapsed after Lian’s death in the late 2000s, but the 2011 restart completely erased her existence, as well as much of Roy’s history with the Titans. Sigh. He was killed in Heroes in Crisis in 2018 but returned to Infinite Frontier # 0 in March and is expected to play a role in this summer’s Infinite Frontier miniseries. Getting back to life makes a great 80th birthday gift I think! Now give him back his daughter DC.
Roy is a proud fashion disaster.
Green Arrow II (Connor Hawke)
Oliver Queen’s biological son Connor Hawke first appeared in Green Arrow # 0 (October 1994) and was created by Kelley Puckett and Jim Aparo. His mother was Sandra “Moonday” Hawke, a woman with whom Ollie had a brief relationship during his useless Playboy days. Connor grew up knowing that his father was Green Arrow (Ollie’s secret identity is one of the weakest in the DCU) and eventually asked to be sent to a Buddhist ashram where Ollie had once spent some time during a personal crisis . There he became a skilled archer and one of the best martial artists in the world.
Since Ollie’s life is nothing more than a series of personal crises, he ended up back at the Ashram, where Connor befriended him without telling him who he was. When Ollie found out the truth, he handled it so badly that he literally died, which takes the “dead father” to a whole other level. Disappointed, but fearless, Connor accepted his coat as a new green arrow.
When Ollie came back from the dead he was working very hard to repair the damage he had done to his relationship with Connor which was very nice … until Connor was shot with an infected bullet (comics, what) he came out of coma amnesia and set out to “find yourself” only to be ripped from life again in 2011. It’s been ten years since he’s been in continuity and I’m thrilled to see him peeking out of that 80th anniversary special cover. Let him stay, DC! If Batman can have 73 robins, let Ollie have two sons!
Arrowette (Cissie King-Jones)
Back in the 50s, Bonnie King, AKA “Miss Arrowette,” was an aspiring superhero who existed largely so that Ollie could blow on his pipe and tell her that fighting crime wasn’t a job was a girl. Almost half a century later, their daughter Cissie made her debut in Impulse # 28 (August 1997) by Tom Peyer and Craig Rousseau. It seemed like Bonnie, frustrated with her unsuccessful superhero career, had become the criminal police equivalent of a stage mom and drove Cissie to be archery-themed vigilance whether Cissie actually wanted it or not.
Cissie was eventually made a community of the state because of Bonnie’s vulnerability to the child and emotional abuse. She continued working as the Arrowette for a while, joining the Young Justice superhero team, but when she nearly killed someone she found that she didn’t have the emotional control needed to tackle crime with lethal weapons. and retired. She continued archery and won an Olympic gold medal.
Cissie recently resumed her bow and mask in the 2019 Young Justice series, but with that book canceled, no one can imagine whether she will continue to appear in the new world of Infinite Frontier or disappear for another 20 years. Oh, and yes, we keep everything in the family here – even though Cissie’s birth certificate lists her mother’s late husband, Bernell Jones, as her father, Bonnie has implied that Ollie is her real father. Hmmm…
Speedy II (Mia Dearden)
Mia Dearden made her debut in Green Arrow # 2 (May 2001) by Kevin Smith and Phil Hester. She was a teenage runaway, abuse survivor, and sex worker who was saved from a violent John by a newly resurrected Green Arrow. The incident inspired her to quit the sex work and go to the Star City Youth Center for help, where she met Oliver Queen … whom she immediately recognized as Green Arrow because the man’s secret identity is again a ridiculous fiction.
Mia immediately adopted Ollie as her new father and began giving clues to becoming the new Speedy, an idea he initially resisted. However, after Mia found she was HIV positive, she was more determined than ever to make a difference. Ollie eventually gave in, and Mia became his pal and a teen titan.
Mia briefly appeared on New 52 as a sex worker who ran away from home after seeing her father murder her mother, but since she only showed up for two problems, we can safely ignore this version of the character. We keep our fingers crossed that her appearance on the special cover for the 80th anniversary means that the classic Mia will stay here.
Red Arrow II (Emiko Queen)
Emiko Queen made her debut in Green Arrow # 18 (March 2013) by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino, well into the New 52 continuity. She is the daughter of Ollie’s father, Robert Queen, and an archery-themed assassin named Shado. As a baby, she was kidnapped by another archery-related assassin, Robert’s alleged BFF Simon Lacroix, AKA Komodo, who raised her to believe she was Shado’s child and trained her to be another archery-related assassin. There was also a whole archery cult going on. There is a lot of archery.
When Robert, Shado, and Ollie told Emiko the truth about their parentage, Komodo tried to kill Emiko and Shado, and Robert sacrificed himself for them. Angry, Emiko killed Komodo in revenge. Since then she has been torn between loyalty to her mother Shado, who is an assassin and wants anything but the best for her, and her brother Ollie, who is reasonably nice and not murderous, but admittedly very annoying. (I love him so much.)
Emiko is currently codenamed Red Arrow and is a member of the Teen Titans. Late last year she had just started a romantic relationship with Kid Flash that I hope will last until Infinite Frontier because they’re adorable.
George the Arrow Dog made his debut in Green Arrow # 41 (August 2015) by Benjamin Percy and Patrick Zircher. He’s part husky, part wolf, and may or may not have magical bones for reasons. He was rescued from a dog fight ring by Green Arrow and now devotes himself intensively to Ollie and Emiko. It hasn’t been seen since the New 52 was reborn in 2016, but I’m perfectly pleased that Connor, Mia, and Lian are taking it home for Infinite Frontier. Are these references too subtle? I feel too subtle.
There’s no regular Green Arrow book for Infinite Frontier yet, but hopefully the June special is just the start of an emerald renaissance. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that DC is doing it right on Ollie for his big birthday, and I’m leaving the whole bunch of archery throws for their own title. Marvel has two Hawkeyes on TV, DC – do you really let them pass you?