Ah Green Arrow. He’s one of DC’s longest running and yet most misunderstood characters. Starting out as just another billionaire playboy philanthropist, Green Arrow hit his stride in the Silver Age, when the writers found his niche as a socio-politically minded man-of-the-people. Which was very appropriate, considering his persona draws from Robin Hood.
The Green Arrow we knew and loved was a loudmouthed, quick witted, belly-laughing hero, quick to anger but quicker to give someone the benefit of the doubt. He’s always been the conscience of the Justice League (when they let him join), unafraid to call his fellow heroes out when he felt they cared more about the power than the responsibility.
That was then. In recent years, thanks to the New 52 reboot and The CW show Arrow, Oliver Queen has lost a lot of his key characteristics. The New 52 had him as a clean shaven tech-sauvant, and , personality-wise, than he does with the Silver Age Green Arrow. , and the soft-rebooted version of Oliver Queen is nicely familiar.
Green Arrow: Social Justice Warrior
This isn’t what Oliver’s new solo series is called, but it might as well be. Leaping into the fray to save homeless people from being kidnapped and traffiked, Oliver’s narration positions him as a bleeding heart liberal. And honestly, that’s what his story has been missing for far too long.
“The playboy socialite, the CEO of Queen industries, feels more like an obnoxious stranger. I prefer the company of the streets. I prefer the job description of a Social Justice Warrior.”
It’s fantastic to see this Oliver return to DC, as his politics are what set him aside from the other rich, gadget-based heroes. Green Arrow doesn’t do fancy tech and armored suits — you’re more likely to find him with a boxing glove arrow, as he prefers to donate his money to more worthy causes than boosting his armory. In many ways he’s DC’s answer to Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, albeit predating this version of Clint Barton by decades.
Of course, with social justice sweeping the internet, and ideas of racism and prejudice becoming more and more contentious, there has never been a better time for Oliver Queen’s unabashed habit of speaking his mind. But the best thing about the Rebirth comic isn’t just that Green Arrow is a self-confessed SJW — it’s that Black Canary is only to quick to point out his hypocrisy.
Dinah Lance, who grew up bouncing between foster homes and the streets, clashes with Oliver as they team up to hunt down those who are hunting the helpless people of Seattle. This restores another element of Green Arrow’s story which has been absent for too long.
Oliver & Dinah, Two Of A Kind
Black Canary and Green Arrow weren’t always a couple — their romantic story started in the Silver Age — but the two have become inseparable in many a fan’s mind, as they have one of the longest standing relationships in the DC comics. Until the New 52 separated them, that is.
Before Rebirth, Oliver and Dinah hadn’t even met. Black Canary was also Dinah Drake, not Lance, apart from the standalone Black Canary comic in which Dinah Lance was a rock star, which seems to be the version of the character continued in the new Green Arrow comic. (Well, at least DC never said they were simple.)
In any case, Rebirth brings Dinah and Oliver back together, but their relationship is a good deal more contentious than it was before. The two spark off each other, debating and bickering before teaming up to beat down bad guys. Despite their conflicts, there’s a good deal of attraction between the two characters, and it’s delightful to see DC build up one of their greatest couples again. This time around, Dinah offers a crucial perspective to Oliver’s philanthropy, reminding him that as much as he wants to be an SJW, he’s still on the top of the social heap.
But as much as Dinah calls Oliver out on his hypocrisy, there’s annoying irony in that so much of this comic rests on Oliver’s liberal socialist politics — and yet, every character in it is white. Hmm.
Here’s hoping the comic’s creators themselves can champion a pet cause of social justice: That of representation and diversity.
Quibbles aside, so far the Green Arrow comic is a welcome return to form for Oliver Queen, not to mention a neat reinvention of the relationship between Green Arrow and Black Canary. So far, this soft reboot is shaping up to be a , and we can’t wait to see what SJW antics Oliver gets up to next.
Silver Age, New 52, CW’S Arrow or Rebirth — which is your favorite version of Green Arrow?