The Adventures of the Ace Archer

The top 10 best Green Arrow stories

By Colin Hickson, Staff Writer

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Green Arrow has come a long way since his debut in 1941. From his humble beginnings as a very obvious Batman imitator to the moralistic anti-hero fans have come to know and love, Green Arrow has become one of DC’s most iconic characters, especially since he has gotten more recognition thanks to the hit “Arrow” TV series. And to celebrate the character’s seventy-fifth anniversary, here are the ten best Green Arrow stories of all time.


10. “The Candy Kitchen Caper!” from “Action Comics” issue 424 (written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencilled by Dick Dillin): In one of the more bizarre tales to feature the Emerald Archer, after Green Arrow fails to stop a pair of jewel thieves, Oliver Queen stops by a local candy shop, and after tasting the proprietor’s fudge, decides to use his P.R. skills to get her more publicity. But unbeknownst to either Oliver or the candy maker, the latter’s two assistants are the thieves Green Arrow was after, using the fudge to hide their loot. While the story is a bit goofy, it still shows the lengths Oliver Queen will go to to help someone, plus has a pretty interesting way to hide stolen goods from the bad guys.


9. “The Outsiders War” (“Green Arrow” (volume 5) issues 25-31, written by Jeff Lemire, pencilled by Andrea Sorrentino): For a while, the current Green Arrow book struggled to find a voice for itself, until Jeff Lemire took over the scripting duties and gave the readers this story. After the events of a previous storyline, Green Arrow learns that his father was on a quest to locate an object also called “the green arrow”, which is believed to bring enlightenment to whoever finds it, as well as control of the Arrow Clan. What follows is a storyline that features some very shocking revelations about Green Arrow’s origin and surprising twists, all of which continue to help the book redefine itself.


8. “Hate Crimes” (from “Green Arrow” (volume 2) issues 125 and 126 and “Green Lantern” (volume 3) issue 92, written by Chuck Dixon and Ron Marz, pencils by Doug Braithewaite, William Rosado, and Darryl Banks): One of the lesser known legacy heroes in comics, Connor Hawke is the illegitimate son of Oliver Queen who took over the Green Arrow mantle after Oliver died in an explosion. In this crossover, Connor teams up with the then-Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner, when two politicians end up causing race riots. The two young heroes than discover that neither man exists and the real mastermind is an old enemy of Oliver’s, the first criminal he encountered. As stated in the “Top 10 Captain America Facts” article, Dixon originally planned this as a Captain America story, but retooled it into a Green Arrow story, and it works, as it feels like a problem the character would face, as well as having the spirit of the old “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” comic of the seventies.


7. “Initiation” from “Justice League Unlimited” (written by Dwayne McDuffie): One of the many similarities Green Arrow shares with Batman is that despite being a street level hero, he managed to become a member of the Justice League, standing alongside the likes of Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Flash. In the first episode of “Justice League Unlimited”, Green Arrow (voiced by Kin Shriner) is “asked” to join the expanded Justice League before being taken to the Watchtower. Despite his protests, Green Arrow still ends up helping Green Lantern (Phil LaMarr), Supergirl (Nicole Tom), and Captain Atom (George Eads) on a mission against the flaming monster Brimstone. In addition to continuing the story of the Justice League, it also introduces viewers to Green Arrow and shows them why he’s a worthwhile hero.


6. “What Can One Man Do?” from “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” issue 87 (written by Denny O’ Neil, pencilled by Neal Adams): In a back-up story from the “Green Lantern/Green Arrow” comic, Oliver is asked to run for mayor of Star City. Naturally, Oliver, who feels as if he makes little difference in the city, is conflicted with this decision, and discouragement from the other members of the Justice League only makes matters worse. But after accidentally landing the middle of a riot, and seeing a young boy who tried to stop it get killed, Green Arrow decides to take the offer, and truly make a difference. Despite only being a few pages long, this is a truly powerful story with beautiful artwork that manages to capture what Green Arrow is truly about.


5. “Quiver” (“Green Arrow” vol. 4, issues 1-10, written Kevin Smith, pencilled by Phil Hester): As mentioned before, Oliver Queen died in an explosion, but this did not stop Kevin Smith (yes, the guy behind “Clerks” and “Mallrats”) from bringing him back. Somehow back from the dead, Oliver Queen resumes his crimefighting career, but for some reason, he seems to believe that it is ten years ago, and lacks any of the wounds he gained over the years. And the answers may surprise readers.
Like “The Outsiders War”, “Quiver” has more of a fantasy twist to it, but it manages to do a great job bringing back Green Arrow and presents a strange mystery for readers to follow.


4. “Unthinkable” from “Arrow” (story by Greg Burlanti, teleplay by Mark Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg): Despite only being a few years old, “Arrow” has gone on to become one of the best superhero based TV shows in existence, and the second season finale proves it. Throughout the second half of season two, the superhuman madman Deathstroke (Manu Bennett) has plagued Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), even going so far as to kill Oliver’s mother. Now with Starling City under siege by Deathstroke’s troops, Oliver and his team must race against time to stop the villain and cure those infected with the mirakuru formula. And yet despite the odds against them, Team Arrow still manages to come out on top. “Unthinkable” is everything a season finale should be: suspenseful, thrilling, and action-packed, as despite Deathstroke’s advantages, Oliver Queen manages to beat his former friend and save the day.


3. “The Green Arrow’s First Case” from “Adventure Comics” # 256 (written by France Herron, art by Jack Kirby): Before this story, Green Arrow had a rather convoluted origin story involving Native American artifacts and whatnot. However, in 1959, DC gave fans the origin he is now known for. When the news reports a group of scientists are headed to Starfish Island, Green Arrow and Speedy head off to stop them. Green Arrow reveals to Speedy that the island is where he became the archery themed crimefighter he is today, and regales the readers with the events that lead to up that rebirth. Simply for giving readers a more believable origin story for the character is enough to make it here.

2. ”Snowbirds Don’t Fly”/”They Say It’ll Kill Me…But They Won’t Say When” (from “Green Lantern/ Green Arrow” #85 and 86, written by Denny O’ Neil, pencilled by Neal Adams): No Green Arrow fan can avoid talking about this story. Returning home to Star City, Green Arrow is attacked by muggers who are using his own arrows, and soon discovers that his attackers are junkies. Surprising both Green Arrow and Green Lantern is the fact that Roy “Speedy” Harper is among them, and they assume he is working undercover…only for the infamous last page to reveal that Roy is an addict as well. Infuriated, Green Arrow throws Roy out on the street, and the two green clad heroes take down the man behind the drugs, while Black Canary helps Roy overcome his addiction. But the story ends on a bitter note, as Roy punches Oliver, calls him out on his treatment of him, and dissolves their partnership. While this was from the seventies, the story still holds up on its’ handling of drug addiction and the consequences of Green Arrow’s actions. The story even got a letter congratulating O’ Neil and Adams for their handling of a drug addiction related story from the mayor of New York! And some people say comics are stupid!


1. “The Longbow Hunters” (pencilled and scripted by Mike Grell): Whatever Denny O’Neil did with Green Arrow in “Green Lantern/Green Arrow”, Mike Grell continues in this gritty miniseries, which led to the character’s first ongoing solo series. Moving to Seattle with Black Canary, Oliver, in a new costume and regular arrows, begins to go after a serial killer with ties to the Vietnam War, while Black Canary targets a drug ring, only to be captured and tortured. What results is arguably the definitive Green Arrow story. Gone are the trick arrows and flamboyant costume, as Grell revamps the Emerald Archer into a more violent anti-hero, and takes a more realistic look at Green Arrow, a tone which has influenced “Arrow”. But fair warning, this is not a story for kids, due to its’ content, but still worth any fan’s time.