In Part 1 we looked at Green Arrow after his solo features ended in the early 1960s and how he continued to appear as a member of the Justice League of America. In 1968, Denny O'Neil started writing JLA and made Green Arrow more argumentative.
Now we look at the most transformative year in Green Arrow's 80-year history.
This is the year he's grow his trademark van dyke (goatee and mustache), update his costume, lose his fortune, become a social crusader and start dating the Black Canary.
This is likely where the Green Arrow you know -- from later comics, cartoons and TV shows -- begins.
In addition to being a member of the Justice League of America, Green Arrow also made guest appearances in three issues of The Brave and the Bold.
The Brave and the Bold started as a historical adventure comic book – with several Robin Hood stories appearing in its early issues. Later on, the comic was used to tryout ideas – the first three Justice League appearances ran in The Brave and the Bold issues 28-30. Later still it was reformatted as a team-up book, where two heroes from separate features would share a single adventure.
The first team-up story came in issue 50 (cover date: November 1963). It featured the Green Arrow and the Manhunter from Mars (aka J’onn J’onzz aka the Martian Manhunter) -- a fellow member of the Justice League.
Green Arrow appeared again in issue 71 (May 1967). It was the final time Green Arrow was drawn by his co-creator George Papp. This time, he teamed up with Batman. Based on his popularity from the TV series starring Adam West, Batman started appearing in most issues, playing host to visiting guest heroes.
Not all fans were pleased with the Batman-centric format. Letter writers suggested alternatives. Issue 80 printed a letter from Dennis Rule of Niagara Falls, NY who suggested a Green Arrow-centric format.
The editor was polite but not especially enthusiastic about ditching the popular Batman, but he did respond that it was probably time for another team up with Green Arrow.
Other fans took up the cause for Green Arrow to make a return appearance to The Brave and the Bold. One such fan was Leo Kozar from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (my hometown – represent!) in issue 82’s letter column :
“Dennis Rule’s recommendation for the return of Green Arrow should cause a lot of us to rejoice … but caution must be exercised in references to one problem. GA all too obviously was patterned after Batman, what with his Arrow-cave, Arrow-car, and Arrow-signal. He was also a millionaire and had a ward, Roy Harper, who was Speedy when disguised.”
(Thanks for the warning, Leo, but you can be sure when we do begin to sweat out that GA opus, we’ll either make revisions or exploit the coincidences. – Ed.)
That would be editor Murray Boltinoff and he was good to his word on that one. He made such promises again in response to another pro-Green Arrow letter in #84, promising they had plans to modernize the character and he’d appear in the following issue.
The change was apparent right from the cover. Green Arrow had a new costume – and a new look, sort of. Aside from occasional variations in the colour of his hat, Green Arrow had the same costume since his 1941 debut. But that all changed with The Brave and the Bold #85 (cover date: September 1969). Here was a Green Arrow that no one had ever seen before.
Gone was the medium green tunic of old. It was replaced by a dark green jerkin with laces (what North Americans would call a vest and people in the UK might call a gilet). The section beneath his belt was slightly less medieval as it appeared more like the trunks on Superman and Batman’s traditional costumes. Underneath his jerkin was a sleeveless cowl-necked lime green shirt. Adams also extended Green Arrow’s gloves into stylized archery bracers.
It was a more modern costume, but it appeared more Robin Hood-like than ever thanks to one major detail. Green Arrow now had a blond mustache and a highly distinctive goatee. Adams was thinking of Errol Flynn’s Robin Hood when he added that detail, and fans made the Robin Hood connection too. Green Arrow’s facial expression wasn’t bland any longer either. That face had character – lots of it. Suddenly, he looked like no other character in comic books. [Read an interview with Neal Adams about his Green Arrow costume.]
The Brave and the Bold was THE comic book for modernization at the time, thanks largely to its superstar artist Neal Adams. Adams came from a background in newspaper strips and commercial illustration and made a splash at both DC and Marvel Comics in the late 1960s. Adams drew covers for several DC Comics. At the same time he was drawing The Brave and the Bold, Adams was also redefining the X-Men at Marvel Comics.
Neal Adams took over the art duties on The Brave and the Bold with issue 79 (cover date: September 1968). The issue teamed Batman with the ghostly Deadman, whose stories Adams was both writing and drawing in the Strange Adventures comic book series. Adams’ take on Batman was unlike anything readers had seen in decades. This Batman was cloaked in shadows, moody and mysterious. It’s been said that scenes that writer Bob Haney intended to be set in daytime, Adams would change to night scenes. Adams also brought a photo-realistic style and unconventional page layouts to the comic. Adams’ style evolved a bit over the next couple years (Batman’s ears would get longer) but essentially with this one issue, Adams introduced the Batman readers would know for decades to come.
The fans were ecstatic. “The best Batman story in 29 years”, “Superb!”, “Amazing!”, “Impeccable!” – the letters said. “”A totally new, different Batman; he tenses up facial muscles, makes cape serve as bat-wings.” “One of the best efforts put out by you people with the Gotham goliath portrayed as he was meant to be, a creature of darkness!”
The Brave and the Bold shook things up Editor Murray Boltinoff and writer Bob Haney didn’t work on Batman’s regular appearances in Batman and Detective Comics (which were edited by Julius Schwartz at the time) , nor were they involved in the regular comics for most of the guest heroes. Haney, Adams and Boltinoff just told the biggest, maddest stories they could. How it fit into continuity was someone else’s problem.(Fans would eventually decide that most of the Haney-Boltinoff stories took place in their own continuity, an Earth-B. (B for Bob Haney, or Boltinoff or Brave and the Bold -- depending on who you ask.)
Not for nothing would 21st century podcasters nickname the writer "Zany Haney." In issue #83, Batman teamed with the Teen Titans (including Speedy) in a tale called “Punish not my evil son!” In that story, Batman adopts Lance, a kid who starts out as a bad seed, but who ultimately sacrifices his life. Batman vows they will never forget Lance, but he was never mentioned again. In #84, Batman teams up with war comics hero Sgt. Rock – in a story that flashbacks to Batman’s days in World War II. Yes, Batman was being published during World War II, but to bring that up in 1969 made Batman appear much older than the late-20s/early-30s age that superheroes were supposed to be. These stories had scope – and so too did Green Arrow’s guest appearance in issue #85 (cover date: September 1969).
The issue opens with the victory celebrations for a newly elected senator from Gotham City, Paul Cathcart. However, amidst the ticker tape and loud speakers, we also catch glimpse of a rifle being fired. The senator collapses into the arms of his friend Bruce Wayne (Batman's secret identity) and the story title describes the events "The Senator's Been Shot."
Wayne ducks out and changes into "that dread avenger ... the Batman". However, the would-be assassin gets away. I say, "would be assassin" because the senator was shot but not killed -- instead he lies in a coma. Later in Cathcart's hospital room, Bruce Wayne comforts the senator's son, psychiatrist Edmond Cathcart.
The governor calls. The senator was working on an important anti-crime bill and had drafted an resignation letter so that it would be easy to appoint a replacement if something like this happened. Bruce Wayne thinks the replacement should be Cathcart's son Edmond, but the governor says Edmond is too busy as a psychiatrist and doesn't understand the urgency of the anti-crime bill. Because Bruce Wayne worked on the legislation too, the governor wants him to take over. The governor insists the passage of the bill is urgently needed to stop criminals such as Mr. Minotaur. But Bruce Wayne hesitates -- serving in the senator would affect his career at Batman.
But Batman isn't the only one with a career conflict in this issue. The scene shifts to the penthouse apartment of Oliver Queen aka the Green Arrow. Oliver is surveying the plans to a massive housing project -- a second Gotham City, constructed from landfill. Oliver's competitor is the Argonaut Unlimited, a company owned by Miklos Minotaur, the same man who troubles Bruce Wayne and the governor.
When Oliver's assistant leaves, Oliver dons his new Green Arrow costume for the first time, but he's in a contemplative mood.
Oliver wonders if it's time to set aside his crime fighting days as he can help humanity on a big scale as financier. Green Arrow springs into action when his office is bombed.
Fortunately, Oliver has a duplicate set of plans, but his dilemma remains -- who is more important, Green Arrow or Oliver Queen.
In just three pages, Green Arrow receives more characterization than he had in his nearly 30-year career before this. It was a sign of the great things to come.
Bruce Wayne is troubled by his career conflict, and he chooses to see psychiatric counselling from the senator's son Edmond. Bruce Wayne reveals his true identity as Batman.
Edmond promises to think on this issue, but first.he has to meet with another friend -- Oliver Queen. Oliver promptly reveals his true identity to Edmond and also asks for advice.
In the letter pages the editor had promised when they next did a Batman and Green Arrow team-up that they'd explore the similarity between the characters. In the issue they do that almost to the point of parody. However, the issue doesn't explore the more obvious similarities between two millionaire crime-fighters with young sidekicks (neither of whom are mentioned in this issue), special cars and special gimmicks. They don't compare the Batcave and the Arrow Cave, for example. Instead the issue explores the nature of heroism and public service.
Batman and Green Arrow both decide to pay a midnight visit to Edmond, only to discover that he's been kidnapped by Minotaur's men. Batman notes Green Arrow's new costume.
Oliver looks at Batman and sees someone utterly fearless without the self-doubts that he is suffering.
Green Arrow tracks the kidnapped Ed to Minotaur's Mediterranean headquarters and investigates. Batman is somewhat delayed as Bruce Wayne is busy being sworn into office as a United States senator. But eventually the two heroes meet up again and break into Minotaur's lair. Minotaur has Ed at gunpoint, but Green Arrow uses a trick arrow to save the day.
Minotaur gets away. Batman remarks that they are a long way from home -- and not on American soil. But Green Arrow has a plan to catch Minotaur.
Oliver Queen holds a party on Minotaur's island and sends the crime boss an invitation. Minotaur accepts because he thinks it is the perfect chance to eliminate his competition -- Oliver Queen. And the two men confront each other at the party, and that's when Green Arrow springs his trap. It turns out that Minotaur is now on American soil. The party is actually being held at the American Embassy, where Minotaur can be arrested and extradited back to America to stand trial.
Those who want to find parallels in the Robin Hood legend might be reminded of the time Robin Hood leads the Sheriff of Nottingham into an ambush in the early ballad Robin Hood and the Potter (and the similarly structured later ballad Robin Hood and the Butcher) or of when Little John also lures the sheriff into a similar trap in A Gest of Robyn Hode.
Meanwhile in Washington, DC, Batman catches up with another one of Minotaur's hired killers and makes it to the senate floor just in time to ensure passage of the anti-crime bill.
When Batgirl would serve as a US representative the following decade she also worked on anti-crime legislation. With the Comics Code's love of law and order, it seems like the acceptable thing for politically active superheroes to support. Green Arrow might dress like an outlaw hero, but the comics still enforced the law above all. Still you have to wonder if there were any objectionable terms for it to be such a razor-thin margin of victory.
The status quo is restored on the issue's final page. Oliver decides there is room in his life to be both Oliver Queen and Green Arrow. Senator Paul Cathcart has woken up and is recovering; so Bruce Wayne can resign his senate seat, depriving the readers of further adventures of Senator Batman. And Ed employs self-hypnosis to erase his knowledge of Batman and Green Arrow's secret identities.
There was one element that did not return to the status quo. Green Arrow's new look and the dynamism that comes with it were here to stay. But virtually everything else about Green Arrow was up for change as soon as his new costume was incorporated into Denny O'Neil's Justice League of America.
It took an extra month for Green Arrow's new costume to appear in Justice League of America, as Green Arrow and his fellow JLAers were involved in a two-part crossover with the Justice Society of America during the issues cover-dated August and September 1969. Fans of Green Arrow's television appearances on Arrow will be familiar with the annual crossovers between Arrow, The Flash and their sister shows. The JLA/JSA annual team-ups in comic books were a similar such event.
In previous sections, I mentioned how rare it was for Green Arrow to be continually published from the 1940s to the 1960s. Most superheroes from the early 1940s had died out. When heroes like the Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman were reintroduced in the Silver Age, it was as entirely new versions. In Flash #123 (cover dated September 1961) the new Flash, Barry Allen, vibrated his molecules so fast he left his Earth and arrived in another dimension (eventually called Earth-Two). Barry met Jay Garrick, the Flash from the comic books of the 1940s. All those Golden Age adventures were established to have occurred on Earth-Two. Starting in Justice League of America #21 (cover date: 1963), the heroes of Earth-One would team up with their Golden Age counterparts from Earth-Two for an annual summer event. In 1969, the crossover took on special importance -- for both the JLA and for Green Arrow in particular.
Wonder Woman had left the Justice League (she had been temporarily reinvented as a non-powered, mod-fashioned martial artist). The JLA no longer had a female member, and so editor Julius Schwartz decided to borrow one from the JSA -- the Black Canary. That choice would change the course of Green Arrow's life.
In a December 2016 Facebook Live Chat, Stephen Amell (the actor who plays Green Arrow on the TV show Arrow) said "If you're just getting into the canon of Green Arrow the comic character -- not necessarily the show but the comic book character -- the Black Canary is easily the most important feature next to the Green Arrow, period, full stop, forever." So, who is the person who could become an important part of the Emerald Archer's life?
For the answer to that, we need to leave 1969 and backtrack a few years. Quite a few, actually. All the way back to 1947.
The Black Canary was one of the last superheroes from DC's Golden Age. She was introduced as a villainess in the Johnny Thunder back-up feature in Flash Comics #86 (cover date: August 1947). Johnny Thunder was a bow tie-wearing idiot, although he had the good fortune of being able to summon a genie named Thunderbolt. In her first appearance, Black Canary wore a mask and was a crook who stole from other criminals. You might say, she's was a bit of a Robin Hood, although Batman's Catwoman was a closer parallel in her first appearance.
Very quickly, the mask was dropped and so was Black Canary's criminal career. In her second appearance, she turned her acquisitions over to the police, and subsequently became a straight-up hero and any past criminality was just an act to infiltrate the bad guys. The original Black Canary didn't have powers, but was a judo expert -- and smarter and more capable than the men around her.
Black Canary was popular -- so popular that the feature was soon retitled in Johnny Thunder and Black Canary. And with Flash Comics #92 (cover date: February 1948), Thunder was gone and the feature belonged to Black Canary alone. It was established that Black Canary's blonde hair was just a wig. Her secret identity was a dowdy, dark-haired flower shop owner named Dinah Drake. And a new idiot was brought in to replace Johnny Thunder -- smarmy private investigator Larry Lance.
The Black Canary had also taken Johnny Thunder's place on the JSA for the last few years of their Golden Age adventures.
When Black Canary was revived in the 1960s for the JSA guest appearances it was revealed she had married Larry Lance during her absence. She was now going by the name of Dinah Drake-Lance. (The exact form of Dinah's new name changed based on the whim of the writer. The hyphen would come and go, and sometimes she'd drop the Drake part of her name altogether.)
Both Dinah and Larry are drawn into the JLA/JSA crossover of 1969 when an evil living star named Aquarius attacks Earth-Two. In issue 74, the JLA crosses over to help, but sympathy and trust do not abound. Instead, Aquarius possesses heroes of Earth-Two and has them attack the JLA.
Black Canary and Larry Lance face off against Green Arrow.
During the battle Aquarius releases a flaming ball of death that heads directly toward Black Canary. Seeing his wife in danger, Larry is able to shake off Aquarius's influence and achieves the mind's true liberation. He jumps into the path of destruction, sacrificing his own life in order to save Dinah.
The shock of Larry's death frees the other JSAers from Aquarius's influence, and they hold a hasty funeral for Black Canary's husband.
The two heroic teams defeat the insane star.
The battle won, the Justice League prepare to head back to Earth-One. But Black Canary asks if she can accompany them -- the memory of Larry's death is so overwhelming that she can't remain on Earth-Two. And so, Black Canary heads off to the Justice League, and will soon find a new romance ... with Green Arrow.
At least that's how it happened in 1969. Later fans might have heard a different tale. So, I'll pause for a minute to give a quick summary of the changes. If you're not interested, feel free to skip ahead to the "Millionaire No More" section below.
The JSA were portrayed as being several years older than the heroes of the Justice League, but Dinah was the youngest of the JSA by several years. At the time, Black Canary and the Earth-One Green Arrow were depicted as being approximately the same age. However, later JSA stories would firmly root the Earth-Two heroes to the time they first appeared in comics -- 1947, in Dinah's case. Meanwhile, the heroes of Justice League were on a sliding timeline that kept them ever young. By 1983, Dinah should have been two decades older than Green Arrow -- which would have made their romance awkward.
So, the storyline was changed. It was established there were two Black Canaries. In Justice League of America issues 219 and 220, it was revealed the original Black Canary never made it to Earth-One -- she was also dying from Aquarius's radiation. Instead she had her memories and consciousness placed inside her previously unmentioned, comatose, brain-dead daughter. The daughter, also named Dinah, had her memories altered so that she thought she was the original and only Black Canary. Superman and the Justice Society had kept the secret, and the Justice Leaguers apparently didn't notice that Black Canary now looked 20 years younger. It was a clumsy continuity patch done to preserve the past stories as much as possible.
But in 1985, DC Comics rebooted their whole continuity in a 50th anniversary event called Crisis on Infinite Earths. Just like in the 2019-2020 Arrowverse TV crossover of the same name, the multiple earths were merged into a single Earth and history was selectively altered. This change made things much simpler for Black Canary. No mind-swapping stories were needed now.
They were always mother and daughter -- stories that said otherwise belonged to a discarded timeline. The mother Dinah Drake-Lance started fighting crime in 1947 and served with the JSA. It was her daughter -- Dinah Laurel Lance -- who became the second Black Canary a vague "some years ago", joined as a charter member of the Justice League (Crisis had pushed Wonder Woman's origin later and now the JLA needed a replacement from the beginning) and fell in love with Green Arrow.
In the 2011-2020 TV series Arrow we are introduced to Dinah Laurel Lance (played by Katie Cassidy), daughter of Detective Quentin Larry Lance. This Dinah goes by her middle name Laurel and eventually becomes the Black Canary. Viewers assumed that her mother was Dinah Drake, but they were wrong.
When Laurel is killed in action, Team Arrow recruits a second, unrelated, Black Canary to replace the deceased Laurel -- Dinah Drake (played by Juliana Harkavy). Later still, a morally-ambiguous version of Laurel from Earth-2 joins Team Arrow as Black Siren.
In 2011, DC Comics again rebooted their continuity so that there was once again only one Black Canary, Dinah Drake Lance (this time her ex-husband was Kurt Lance). The changes to the timeline were even more extensive than in 1985. It wasn't until the 2016 Rebirth event that the new/old Black Canary began a relationship with Green Arrow. And then DC gradually undid the 2011 continuity changes and restored the mother-daughter set up.
Now that's out of the way, let's return to 1969 where big changes were taking place for Green Arrow and Black Canary.
Issue #75 of Justice League of America (cover date: November 1969) is perhaps the most important comic in the history of Green Arrow. It is written by Denny O'Neil with art by Dick Dillin and Joe Giella.
The issue opens with Green Arrow -- now in his Neal Adams-designed costume with the mustache and goatee -- narrating directly to the reader. Green Arrow tells the readers that as Oliver Queen he runs an investment company, and that he was rich ... until a month ago. A corrupt member of his board John Deleon produced documents framing Oliver Queen, and leading to our hero's bankruptcy.
And there it is. Once Oliver Queen's fortune is stripped from him, he's no longer like Batman. He's now closer to Robin Hood. Think about the 20th century version of the Robin Hood legend as embodied by the 1955 TV series, the 1950s comic books (including some from DC) and later things such as 1991's Robin Hood -- Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood returns to England to find his lands stolen by the agents of Prince John. That's Prince John, brother of King Richard the Lionheart -- or Coeur de Lion. Green Arrow lost his fortune and company to John Deleon.
Writer Denny O'Neil's choice of name is a deliberate, if subtle, callback to the legendary figure who shares Oliver's fashion sense.
Oliver Queen wanders the streets in a funk. He finds himself in a slum and comes across a mugging in progress. Oliver quickly changes to his Green Arrow identity. The mugging victim offers sincere thanks to Green Arrow -- but they fall on deaf ears. The hero doubts his worth.
Green Arrow breaks off telling his story, and his co-narrator takes over -- Black Canary. While Green Arrow is questioning his own worth, the Justice League is questioning if Black Canary can really cut it as a Justice Leaguer. One wonders if the Justice League would put new male members through the same rigorous review. Black Canary's been fighting crime for 22 years -- including against various supervillains and alien menaces.
It's a depressing reminder of the times when these stories were written -- a time when women being able to open their own bank accounts was a relatively new thing. It would be another five years before women were allowed to have a credit card separate from their husband. Sadly, heroes reflect the prejudices of their time.
In particular Hawkman's chauvinistic disdain for her accomplishments is enough to make one scream. But when Black Canary opens her mouth, she doesn't emit a normal scream but a hypersonic blast of sound that send her new teammates flying. Somehow she's acquired a super-power.
Meanwhile, Green Arrow resumes the narrative duties. He decides to consult an expert, Dr. Oyal, noting that the psychiatrist from Brave and the Bold #85 "hadn't cleared up" his problem. Oliver explains that he doesn't know who his true self is "Oliver Queen, financier ... or Green Arrow, crime-crusader."
Dr. Oyal diagnoses that Oliver has a severe identity crisis. However, he doesn't prescribe medication or a course of talk-therapy. No, this is a science fiction comic. Oyal rolls out his own invention, the ID-Actualizer. "It will dig deeply into your subconscious and enable you see what you actually want to be."
Psychiatry was a growing part of pop culture. Even the president of the United States was consulting with mental health professionals in the 1967 film satire The President's Analyst. But comic books. the analysts own weird machines.
Naturally, it goes wrong. A pale green spectre of Green Arrow appears floating above Oliver's head. But this is now mere image, this Green Arrow punches Dr. Oyal. This creature calls himself the real Green Arrow -- the warrior lurking inside Oliver Queen. This duplicate Green Arrow heads off.
Green Arrow hands the narrative duties back to Black Canary. She was also hooked up to a weird gizmo, as the Justice League examined her to better understand the ultrasonic waves she produced. The Atom declared she was an "Instant Mutant". Batman theorized she may have been transformed by Aquarius' astral powers in the previous issue. (Actually, the creative team just decided that her judo skills might not seem impressive enough for the JLA.)
Just then, Green Arrow's duplicate bursts into the JLA's Secret Sanctuary. When the Leaguers tried to touch the duplicate Green Arrow, they were infected and duplicates emerged from the rest of the JLA, except for Superman. The Man of Steel was immune on account of being ... well, Super.
The duplicate JLA heroes gloated how they are from "the darkest corners of your spirit" and that they were "the evil that lives within you." They even had a name for themselves -- the Destructors. Superman attacks the Destructors and his fist goes right through them. Each Destructor can only be harmed by the person they were spawned from. But they feel secure because "no man can battle himself."
Superman tries to rally his teammates, but they are dispirited.
In someways, the plot resembles the classic Star Trek episode "The Enemy Within" where a transporter accident splits Captain Kirk into two -- one reasoned and compassionate and one violent and impulsive. The so-called "good Kirk" had trouble making decisions, as some of his decisiveness came from his dark side. But the issue touches on psychology and philosophical themes that would resonate in many stories written by Denny O'Neil.
A Destructor version of Superman appears and challenges the real Superman. Superman fights back and destroys his duplicate. This inspires the rest of the League to go out and fight their doppelgangers. Then the readers see that the Destructor is merely one of Superman's helper robots that he'd painted green. The fight was all for show -- just to inspire confidence in his teammates.
The Justice League decide to fight back and chase their duplicates to Star City. Batman, Hawkman and Atom defeat their duplicates relatively easily. Black Canary's new sonic powers misfire and she defeats her doppelgänger using her traditional judo skills.
But the most detailed confrontation belongs to Green Arrow.
The Emerald Archer encounters his duplicate robbing jewels from the pawn shop. The Destructor taunts Green Arrow - saying that they are the same. He accuses of Green Arrow of just fighting crime because it's fun, and that Oliver Queen was more interested in wealth than saving people.
Green Arrow doesn't deny the charge. Instead, he appears to see the truth in himself. The hero drops his bow and lets his evil duplicate leave with the stolen loot.
The elderly shop owners tell Green Arrow that because of the robbery they likely will not have enough to keep going. They say "we're poor, plain folk .. we don't count for much." But they also say that people like them need someone to care.
Their words rouse Green Arrow, and he chases after his counterpart again. He now knows "what I should be -- what I had to be." The archer tells his duplicate that yes, he does have a dark half, but he also has a better side -- "The half that controls violence -- channels it toward building a decent world!"
Green Arrow and his duplicate shoot arrows at each other. Green Arrow is wounded in the leg by his duplicate's razor-tipped arrow. But the hero's own arrow -- a blunt one -- strikes the Destructor duplicate and causes it to vanish.
All over town, the dark, destructor duplicates are reincorporated into the heroes. "Once more we were contaminated with evil! And once more, we were fully human -- neither better nor worth than the 3 billion other men or women who walk the Earth."
Green Arrow concludes his narrative by saying he's found a new sense of purpose. "I'm injured ... penniless ... and happier than ever before! Because now -- I know who I am!" Black Canary still has her doubts and insecurities, but adds "Perhaps, with some luck and some love, we can both find health again!"
The depiction of Green Arrow's faults was not in keeping with prior issues. While Oliver Queen -- like Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne -- was rich, there had never been any indication that he truly cared for wealth or that crime-fighting was more about fun than helping. Just a few months ago in The Brave and the Bold #85, Oliver Queen saw the aim of his role as a financier was "really helping humanity ... on a big scale!"
The meta-transformation in this issue was to turn Green Arrow from a generic Batman-wannabe into a fresher, more distinct character. But going from having no personality to having a personality is not a satisfying narrative arc. So, instead they depicted the transformation of a selfish man into a more moral one. In the decades to come other writers -- including O'Neil himself -- would spend far more time on this transformation.
One troubling aspect of this story is that while Green Arrow came to terms with his changed circumstances and insecurities in a single issue, Black Canary would could to show doubts and insecurities for years to come. Most comic book fans feel the addition of Black Canary greatly enriches Green Arrow. But many fans also feel the relationship diminishes Black Canary. Back in the 1940s, she was a capable, self-sufficient hero -- vastly more competent than the men in her life, Johnny Thunder and Larry Lance. But once she joined the JLA, Black Canary seemed to be leaning on men for guidance and support. It would take many years for that to change.
The issues also states that all the heroes of the Justice League, except possibly Superman, are flawed and have a potential dark side, although only Green Arrow and Black Canary's are explored in any depth. They have the advantage of not appearing in other comic books at the time. There were no other writers or editors that they needed to negotiate with in order to explore their personalities.
The fan responses to Justice League of America #75 ran in JLA #79, and they were mostly positive -- especially for the transformed Green Arrow. Letter writer M.D. Kelly of Oak Harbor, Washington brought a particularly apt comparison.
The outward manifestation of his new search from within, that is his stylish golden beard and mustache and contrasting uniform gave him a distinguished yet commonly dignified appearance. Add to this the loss of his investment company and Oliver Queen now seems more like a 20th century Robin Hood.
I wonder where he will go from here? If he remains penniless, he will surely become an unusual hero in comics, if he also somehow retains his Green Arrow identity. Perhaps he will become a loner, a wandering hero. Hopefully, interesting struggles are ahead for Green Arrow. It is quite possible that he could become one of the most exciting and individualistic heroes to roam the pages of DC.
Future comic book writers Martin Pasko and Alan Brennert had some issues with O'Neil's plots, but both supported the characterization of the new Green Arrow.
The editorial response to the letters was to promote Green Arrow's upcoming co-starring role in the Green Lantern comic. I'll say more -- much, much more -- on that run soon. But first I want to look at some of the Robin Hoody aspects of Green Arrow's character in the issues that immediately followed.
One person who had an issue with Denny O'Neil's transformation of Green Arrow was ... Denny O'Neil himself.
Oliver Queen was killed off in Green Arrow #101 (cover date: October 1995). For the next several years the role of Green Arrow was filled by Ollie's mixed-race son Connor Hawke. But flashback tales of the original Green Arrow still appeared during Oliver's temporary death. One such tale ran in Legends of the DC Universe issues 7-9 in 1998. Legends of the DC Universe was an anthology with stories set in the past often with a slightly more mature take. Denny O'Neil came in to write the previously untold first meeting of Green Lantern and Green Arrow -- his signature comic in the 1970s. The story arc was called Peacemakers, and O'Neil was joined by artists Greg Land and Dick Giordano.
In the opening chapter we find the Oliver Queen that the energy duplicate in Justice League of America #75 had described -- a man dedicated to fun and wealth, with no real care for helping others. He's so concerned with how the civil war in the fictional country of Minglia is affecting Queen Industries profits that he doesn't even registered that a woman is trying to tell him that he got her pregnant.
Once in Minglia, Oliver meets Hal Jordan, the test pilot who is secretly Green Lantern. Ollie is wounded in a skirmish between the rebels and the corrupt government. Over several months, he's healed by the local rebels -- farmers and religious people just trying to survive. Oliver's point of view changes. [Marvel fans might detect some influence from Iron Man comics here.]
Oliver is horrified when the nun who helped restore him is killed by a landmine. He's even more horrified to discover that the mine came from Queen Industries.
Green Lantern and Green Arrow become involved in the conflict. And the issue's end, Green Lantern finds Oliver Queen in a lower-rent section of Harlem. He's sold his company and given the money from the sale to the war relief effort.
Oliver gives away his millions by choice -- rather than having them stolen by a corrupt businessman.
Fans certainly noticed the changes, including that Oliver's company had shifted from an investment company to part of the military-industrial complex.
Scott McCullar, creator of the 1990s online resource The Unofficial Green Arrow Compendium (for a time part of the Green Arrow Fansite) interviewed Dennis O'Neil and asked him about this change -- or retcon (retroactive continuity) -- from O'Neil's previous explanation for Oliver's change in fortune and social outlook.
Scott: Right after that famous team up of Batman and Green Arrow in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #85, you penned Ollie's second appearance with his new look in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #75 which would become another landmark issue in the comic book life of Green Arrow. In here, you had Oliver Queen lose his investment company, The Queen Fund, and his fortune to a white collar crook named John Deleon. This business executive and crook framed Oliver Queen with forged documents that stated that Ollie Queen mishandled Star City Municipal Bonds for his own profit. Deleon did this to drive Ollie out of business so he would benefit.
Recently, towards the end of LEGENDS OF THE DC UNIVERSE #9, we learn that Oliver Queen had volunteerly [sic] given up Queen Industries because of the landmine incident during the story with Sister Angelina. The question I throw at you here then is that does this mean that ALL of the John Deleon/forged municpal bonds storyline you wrote now thrown out of continuity with the explanation of Ollie's loss of his fortune? Or did you consider that the Queen Fund (charity and philanthropic) was different than the Queen Industries (weapons manufacturing and other things) and so both parts play apart of his loss of his fortune and mansion?
Denny: Was the Deleon subplot thrown out of continuity entirely? With apologies to anyone who liked the old version, I must answer yes. Having Ollie voluntarily give up his fortune for humanitarian reasons seems much stronger dramatically, and makes Ollie a bit less of a loser besides. (The dummy lost his fortune to a sleaze and then did nothing about it...) It was, malice aforethought, a deliberate revision of continuity, and again, I apologize to anyone who was upset by it.
The idea of Oliver voluntarily giving up his millions had been with O'Neil for some time. Denny O'Neil and Mike Grell revisit the origin of Green Arrow in issue 17 of DC Super-Stars (December 1977.) Oliver has a chance to obtain documents from John Deleon's assistant which would prove Oliver Queen was framed. When the documents are knocked into the ocean, Green Arrow doesn't go after them. He finds that he's changed and embraced his new social status.
The idea of Green Arrow as a former millionaire would stick with the tales for over 30 years. The bizarre circumstances of Oliver Queen's resurrection in the early 21st century saw him gain a new fortune, and TV adaptations have also depicted Oliver as a rich man once again.
But the "social justice warrior" personality Denny O'Neil gave him back in 1969 remained.
Readers would have to wait an extra month to see what Denny O'Neil would do with his transformed Green Arrow. But in the new story in issue 77, cover date December 1969, Green Arrow's new politics are on display.
The villain in the tale is John Dough, a populist demagogue who promotes hatred against those who are special, different, beyond the average -- in this case, superheroes. It's a theme that superhero comics would visit time and again in the decades to come.
Dough recruits the JLA's non-powered teenaged mascot Snapper Carr to his cause. Snapper betrays the League, luring Batman into a trap. Batman is imprisoned a mock-up of a new satellite -- "the Trump satellite". The name gives Batman a vital clue to Dough's true identity. Meanwhile, Green Arrow gives a lecture to Snapper. Green Arrow might defend the underdog, but it does not mean he glorifies some bland, uniform concept of the average.
So, what did Batman deduce? That John Dough -- the phony populist, the man who would stir up hatred against those who are different, that uses a device marked "Trump" -- is none other than Batman's infamous arch-enemy, the Joker. A trump card is a high card, the opposite of a joker.
(A lying, populist demagogue who puts the name Trump on his structures? Surely this is merely the stuff of comic books. Although I do wonder if the Trump name could be a coy reference to a controversial New York real estate developer - a developer whose son would become famous and powerful in the decades to come.)
The person who finally stopped Dough/Joker was Black Canary --- using her new sonic powers. Earlier in the issue Green Arrow gave her a pep talk as she practiced her abilities. The Emerald Archer was putting fast moves on a woman who was just widowed a few months earlier.
Green Arrow will continue to show interest in Black Canary in the following issue when he suggests sharing the new JLA headquarter's transporter beaming technology with Black Canary. This unwanted attention comes off as creepy to modern audiences.
Green Arrow still wasn’t quite Robin Hood. The Comics Code that regulated and censored comics wouldn’t stand for an outlaw robber as a contemporary hero. But writer Denny O’Neil pushed the envelope as far as he could.
Justice League of America #78 has a cover date of February 1970 but like all comic books in this era it went on sale a few months before its official date - on December 11, 1969, Green Arrow encounters a nightwatchman fighting off some attackers. He launches a flare arrow to cut through the thick fog. But when the arrow lands in Star City's river, instead of extinguishing the blazing arrow, the river bursts into flame.
Green Arrow uses his Justice League signal device, and his teammates Superman and Green Lantern arrive to put out the fire.
After a quick tour of the Justice League's new satellite headquarters, 22,300 miles in geosynchronous orbit, Green Arrow and his teammates attend a Star City charity benefit where they formally introduce the Black Canary as their new member. She helps them ward off some attackers who are chasing the nighwatchman from earlier in the story.
The security guard explains how he was employed at a factory "with those big smoke stacks fillin' the air with soot! Got so my eyes were always waterin' and my lungs felt like Death Valley --" When the guard investigated, he discovered they were deliberately producing poison and dumping it in the river. He snatched the plans from the office, which led to the encounter with Green Arrow at the beginning of the issue.
If this seems pretty heroic for a mere watchman, that's because he's not. This guard was a figure from Green Arrow's past, more or less.
The night watchman is actually Greg Sanders, the retired superhero known as the Vigilante, the Prairie Troubadour. Back in the 1940s, Green Arrow and "Vig" were both members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory and shared adventures in the first 14 issues of Leading Comics. No mention of their shared past is made here. A few years later it would be revealed that those 1940s adventures involved the Green Arrow and the Vigilante of Earth-Two.
Looking over the papers that the Vigilante stole, they discover find that the star system Sirius is circled. The space-travelling Superman and Green Lantern plan to journey to Sirius. The rest of the JLA is going to investigate the factory. All except Green Arrow. He wants a word with the City Manager of Star City.
Instead he finds City Manager's Deputy and they argue about pollution.
Green Arrow makes an impassioned plea for the environment, but the politician isn't listening. He only cares about the dollars the factory brings in.
After a heated argument, the city manager calls for Green Arrow’s arrest. The police apologize as they seize the superhero saying “We’re only obeying orders.” “Seems I’ve heard that cop-out before,” Green Arrow replies darkly
Again, Green Arrow has Robin Hood elements. He’s defying government officials and facing arrest. And yet, not truly. Section A.3 of the Comics Code governing comics at the time states “Policemen, judges, Government officials and respected institutions shall never be presented in such a way as to create disrespect for established authority.” O’Neil tries to hedge around this restriction. Green Arrow’s adversary Jason Crass isn’t an elected official – he’s the city manager, not the mayor. And Crass isn’t even the true city manager of Star City, just filling in for the critically ill true manager.
In the following issue Justice League of America #79 O’Neil has to walk back his earlier confrontation. It turns out that the blue uniformed people holding Green Arrow aren’t cops, just attendants. And no dramatic escape from the law is required. They just let Green Arrow go as they have no authority to jail him. I strongly suspect there was some editorial tampering here to comply with the guidelines of the Comics Code.
Last issue Green Arrow vaguely implied the guards were like Nazis or the US soldiers response for the Mly Lai massacre. But now they express their support and admiration for G.A. and the superhero offers to give them some of the credit.
Green Arrow heads to the factory and frees his JLA teammates of a death-trap of "the Doomsters". They give chase for the bad guys, only to have them escape in a spaceship. Superman and Green Lantern learn that the planet Monsan suffered from industrial pollution, making the world toxic for all citizens. Some were genetically altered to survive -- even thrive -- on pollution. But the process warped these aliens' minds, leaving them with a thirst for conquest.
The alien Doomsters intend to unleash "total pollution" on Earth. In the final conflict, the Doomster leader kidnaps Black Canary. Batman and Green Arrow buy time for the Atom to rescue her by confessing their feelings for Black Canary. After the villain is defeated -- choking on fresh air -- Green Arrow admits that his declaration of love for Black Canary was genuine, not just a diversionary tactic.
While superheroes often have a tragic core, they usually carry on. But rather enriching the character, Black Canary's grief and insecurities seem to limit her. She seems almost like a lost child. While heroes like Spider-Man would mourn lost loves, it's hard to imagine them being depicted in quite the same way. O'Neil admitted in later interviews that it took him a long time to truly understand feminism.
Black Canary is still grieving her late husband, but she gives Green Arrow a bit of hope for the future. But for now, she's grateful that they saved the Earth. Green Arrow looks over at the smoke stacks and remarks "Did we? I wonder..."
The idea that the problems of the world could not be truly solved with trick arrows and super-powers would follow Green Arrow to his next home. Justice League of America #79 was published in January 1970. The following month Denny O'Neil would add Green Arrow as a co-featured character to the Green Lantern comic book.
These Green Lantern / Green Arrow stories would see writer Denny O'Neil who transformed Green Arrow's personality team up with artist Neal Adams who transformed Green Arrow's look. Togrether, they'd craft the most memorable tales in the Emerald Archer's decades-long history.