Green Arrow:
Bold Archer

When Green Arrow
Met Robin Hood
Part 4: Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow

by Allen W. Wright

Cover to Adventure Comics #258, art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye


In Part One, we looked at two 1940a comic book time travel adventures -- one where Green Arrow met Robin Hood (August 1942) and one where the two archers switched places (1949). In Part Two we looked at more Green Arrow stories from the 1940s and early 1950s that had a Robin Hood theme. In Part Three, we looked at Green Arrow / Robin Hood stories from the late 1950s.

But before we leave "the Silver Age of Comic Books", there's one more Green Arrow story with Robin Hood elements to look at. It's a flashback to Oliver Queen's childhood when he met Superboy, the hero who would grow up to be Superman.

Superboy tries to use the legend of Robin Hood to inspire a sense of heroism in the future Green Arrow.

The title panel for the Superboy story in Adventure Comics #258, art by George Papp

"Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow"

Adventure Comics #258 (March 1959)

Written by Jerry Coleman
Pencilled and Inked by George Papp

Superboy was introduced in More Fun Comics #101 [January - February 1945]. The character's arrival wasn't even announced on the cover. Back then, Green Arrow was the cover star of More Fun Comics. By More Fun Comics #104, it was now Superboy appearing on the covers, not Green Arrow. When all the superhero characters were shifted over to the more appropriately named Adventure Comics in 1946, Superboy remained the cover star. 

"The Boy of Steel", as he was nicknamed, is merely the childhood version of Superman. The original comics had depicted Clark Kent first putting on a superhero costume as an adult in the city of Metropolis. But the Superboy stories showed he was a costumed crime-fighter even as a child growing up in the small town of Smallville. Originally Superboy's foster parents "Ma and Pa" Kent, were farmers, but during the Superboy stories, they sold their farm and moved into the town to run the local general store.

Sometimes the Superboy stories would feature prequels -- where the young Clark Kent would encounter one of Superman's friends or foes. His encounter with the young Oliver Queen was one of the first of this trope.

The Peeping Tom and Smallville's New Student

The story begins with young Clark Kent and his red-headed classmate Lana Lang walking home from school. Lana asks if Clark would like to come to the library and work on the Smallville High School pageant, but Clark has other plans.

Clark aka Superboy has been tinkering in his parents' basement working on what he calls here a "time machine" and what later stories would more accurately call a "time telescope", hooping to peer into the past, observe the crimes as they happen, identify the crooks, and then catch them in the present.

After hours of work, Superboy is able to tune into archery contest on the machine's monitor screen. Then, he notices the date on a car's licence plate -- 1959. That was the current year for the adult adventures of Superman and Green Arrow, but the Superboy stories were set many years in the past. So, from Superboy's perspective, he's peering into the future.

The star of the 1959 "archery contest" is Green Arrow, who shows off his trick arrow and demonstrates various methods of catching crooks. This story is drawn by George Papp, Green Arrow's co-creator and the primary artist until he promoted to the Superboy feature in 1958. Superboy is impressed by what he sees.

Superboy was Green Arrow / Oliver Queen in his future, art by George Papp

Suoerboy watches Green Arrow change into his secret identity, and then follows him soon to a house labelled Oliver Queen. The butler answers the door, greets "Mr. Queen" and announces dinner is ready. Curiously, we never see this butler in Green Arrow stories. And there's no sign of Speedy.

The Boy of Steel makes note of his real name, and he wonders if they'll meet when he grows up to be Superman. (They would first meet as adults in Adventure Comics #266, November 1959 -- some months after this issue.)

Days later, Clark Kent’s teacher introduces a new student to the class – Oliver Queen. (Oddly, Oliver is depicted with red hair for a few pages before it switches to the more accurate blond. I wonder if the colourist was thinking of Speedy.) 

Clark Kent's teacher introduces Oliver Queen, art by George Papp

Clark is amazed by the coincidence, and he arrogantly wonders if it’s his destiny to set Oliver Queen on his path to becoming a superhero.

As Superboy flies over Smallville carrying a promotional banner for the history pageant, he thinks about how when he talked to Oliver, the teen showed no interest in archery. Superboy decides he’ll try to get Oliver to attend the pageant as Robin Hood. 

Superboy makes the logical deduction that a hero who practices archery, dresses in a green semi-medieval costume with a bycocket (Robin Hood hat) is probably inspired by Robin Hood. It's logical, but incorrect. Robin Hood isn't mentioned in either Green Arrow's 1943 original or the revised one from just two issues ago (Adventure Comics #256, January 1959).

Oliver says he was planning as going to the pageant as Wyatt Earp, the historical western figure who like Robin Hood was the lead character in a popular 1950s TV show. (One of Earp's historic roles was deputy sheriff. So, there's the irony of a Robin Hood-like hero wanting to dress as a sheriff, albeit a different kind.)

Superboy convinces Oliver Queen to dress as Robin Hood, art by George Papp

Clark lies and tells Oliver that he himself hoped to go as Earp. Clark says he has a Robin Hood costume from an old masquerade party and suggests that Oliver go as the heroic archer. Oliver seems content with this alternative suggestion. He says he’s always admired Robin Hood – “even though I’ve never been much interested in archery!”

After many years, here is confirmation of what should have been obvious from the start – Green Arrow is a Robin Hood fan.

Clark Kent and Oliver Queen at the Smallville History Pageant

History Comes Alive

 Clark is delighted that the first stage of his plan appears to have succeeded, but as the pageant gets under way, Clark is less delighted by his own Earp costume. Superboy believes in law and order, and so maybe he’s troubled by the toy gun he’s twirling around his finger. Clark muses on how he can get Oliver to discover his amazing hidden talents. 

Once again, coincidence takes hold. Most of the pageant attendees are high school students, but Clark spots a horse-riding adult in a cowboy costume. This intruder claims to be the real Jesse James who has stepped out of the past to challenge Wyatt Earp. James shoots real bullets – although he appears to be a poor shot as they zoom far away from Oliver’s head.

Clark decides to not take direct action as Superboy, but to let Oliver save the day. Clark sees a classmate dressed as prize-fighter John L. Sullivan, which gives him an idea. He takes one of Sullivan’s gloves and sticks it on the end of one of Oliver’s arrows – making a non-lethal arrow that Oliver can use to knock out Jesse James.

Clark doesn’t know it, but he’s just invented the Boxing Glove Arrow – the future Green Arrow’s most infamous trick arrow.

Young Oliver Queen shoots his first Boxing Glove Arrow, art by George Papp

Unfortunately, Oliver Queen is a poor shot – especially when trying to shoot an arrow weighed down by a full-size boxing glove. The arrow misses Jesse James, and instead it hits the caravan of some pageant goers dressed as miner-49s. The missed arrow causes the cart’s horse to rear violently.

Clark slips away, changes into his Superboy identity and burrows underground to stop the out of the control animal. When Superboy returns to take care of Jesse James, he finds that Oliver has already used his bow to subdue James … but not through archery. Instead Oliver just dropped the bow over the crook’s head – trapping him being the bow and the bowstring. 

Superboy flies the crook to jail. When he returns dressed again as Clark / Wyatt Earp, he finds another villain from the past is wreaking havoc – this time it’s Sir Modred – who fatally wounded King Arthur and is now chasing a boy dressed as King Arthur to relieve his evil victory. Clark borrows a rope from a kid dressed as Harry Houdini, and devises another trick arrow to stop the foe from the past. 

Clark hands Oliver a makeshift rope-arrow and suggests that the future Green Arrow shoot the rope into a nearby tree. The plan is that Sir Modred’s horse will run into the rope line and throw its rider. It’s a good plan, but it fails because young Oliver Queen isn’t an archer. The rope arrow misses a tree and hits a passing milk truck instead.

Once again Clark changes into Superboy. He plugs the hole in the milk truck. The driver Jim Brand of Brand B Ranch expresses his gratitude.

When Superboy returns to stop Modred, he finds Oliver has the matter under control. He’s removed the bowstring from his Robin Hood bow and created a slingshot. 

Young Oliver defeats Mordred with a slingshot, art by George Papp

Young Oliver may be a lousy archer, but he skilled with the sling and lands a stone on Modred’s head.

Oliver’s a hero yet again, but he’s now completely discouraged by his failures at archery. Superboy has to revive Oliver’s interest. He spots a student dressed as Ben Franklin chasing after his kite that got stuck in some telephone wires. Superboy asks Oliver to watch how he can help the boy using just ordinary archery. Superboy shoots a series of arrows into the telephone pole, creating an arrow-ladder that the student can climb up and retrieve his kite. 

Oliver is impressed, and Superboy says “Why don’t you practice archery, Oliver?” As Superboy flies Modred off to jail, Oliver thinks how he’d love to shoot like that, but it would be impossible. 

Oliver Queen fights a man dressed as the Sheriff of Nottingham, art by George Papp

Oliver Queen Fights the Sheriff of Nottingham

Another crook dressed as a historical villain appears – the Sheriff of Nottingham, “Robin Hood’s lifelong enemy.” The Sheriff is dressed in orange with a feathered beret -- it almost resembles the off-brand look for Robin Hood in some Green Arrow stories.

This supposed Sheriff speaks in Ye Olde English, and refers to Oliver as "thou green clad outlaw!" 

Oliver borrows some more rope to make another rope arrow. He then make a shot that “doesn’t require any skill”, shooting the rope arrow so it just loops over an apple tree branch and falls on the other side. Oliver then swings on the rope, causing many apples to fall out of the tree and onto the sheriff’s head

Oliver Queen brings apples down upon the sheriff's head, art by George Papp

Superboy returns and is impressed by Oliver’s quick thinking, but finally decides that whatever will eventually make Oliver Queen into the world’s greatest archer, it’s not going to happen today. 

Oliver Queen catches the Sheriff of Nottingham but not by archery, art by George Papp

Perhaps it's more than a little naive of Superboy to think that he could turn someone with no interest in archery into a superb archer in one day. And certainly he's seen more than enough evidence of the hero-to-be in Oliver. He's brave, civic-minded and very resourceful. 

And the future Green Arrow still has one more chance to prove himself.

A young Oliver Queen covers arrows with gunpowder, art by George Papp

Case Solved

A crook dressed as a Cherokee chief chases after a kid dressed as Daniel Boone. Superboy suggests that Oliver should stop the crook with an arrow. Oliver’s still too unsure of himself as an archer to handle it the traditional way. Instead Oliver borrows some gunpowder from Daniel Boone’s hunting horn, strews arrows on the ground and pours the gunpowder on the arrowheads. Oliver reasons that when the iron horseshoes strike the flint arrowheads, it will create a spark that will ignite the gunpowder and scare the horse.

But Oliver’s idea fails. The horse trots over the arrows with no effect. Superboy punches out the final historical thief. 

At police headquarters, Superboy learns that the historical crooks were cowhands from the Brand B Ranch. The ranch owner, the one whose milk truck Superboy had helped earlier, is distressed. The horses his cowhands used were prized thoroughbreds that Jim Brand was planning to sell overseas. But the ship that was supposed to be carrying the horses had already left the docks. Brand asks Superboy if he could fly the horses to the ship. The Boy of Steel agrees. 

On board the ship, Brand’s men are delighted as they remove the horseshoes from the thoroughbreds. Shoes made of gold. They were smuggling gold from that unsolved theft of a quarter million in gold two months ago. The golden horseshoes would never have made it past a customs inspection. 

Superboy realizes Oliver Queen's arrow has solved the case, art by George Papp

Meanwhile, back in Superboy’s trophy room, the Boy of Steel uses his special vision powers to examine one of the arrows that Oliver had handled gunpowder. Superboy thinks that Oliver doesn’t know it, but he has used an arrow to catch a big criminal.

Later Superboy pushes the ship back to harbour, bringing the gold-thieves to justice. At the police station, Superboy explains that when the horseshoes didn’t create a spark, he suspected they were made of a softer metal – gold. He examined the arrowheads with his microscopic vision and detected gold flecks on the arrowheads.

That evening, Superboy discovers his time machine is no longer working. He’ll get it working again a year later in Adventure Comics #275, just in time to mentor another new Smallville High student … some kid named Bruce Wayne.

Meanwhile Oliver tells Clark that he’s a failure as Robin Hood, and must be the worst archer. Clark winks to the reader, knowing that will change in time.

Oliver Queen thinks he was a failure as Robin Hood, art by George Papp

I'd disagree with Oliver Queen's assessment. He wasn't a disgrace as Robin Hood, nor likely the world's worst archer. I can't imagine anyone mastering the bow in a single day. Especially when you're asked to shoot arrows with boxing gloves on the end of them in a high-pressure situation.

And as for Robin Hood, are skills with the bow and a green costume the only things that define that character? He successfully defeated the Sheriff of Nottingham, or someone pretending to be him. But in other respects, he wasn't trying to be "Robin Hood" as either a social bandit or a freedom fighter.

It would be another decade before Green Arrow truly adopted some Robin Hood elements into his persona.


In the Green Arrow story in this issue, the adult Oliver Queen teaches archery skills to an army unit. He thinks back to his days in Smallville. That would be one of the only times that anyone remembered this encounter with Superboy. And yet, this comic book would have many influences on the future of Green Arrow, and on the future of Superboy.

In the letter column of issue 260, Timothy Roberts of Los Angeles, California wrote in wondering how this tale of young Oliver Queen fit with the origin in #256 that showed “Oliver Queen, as an adult, on an island, making his first decision to become a masked archer”. Roberts asks which of these two origins is the true one. 

Letter in Adventure Comics #260

The editor (who was Green Arrow’s co-creator Mort Weisinger) responds that “Both versions are correct. When young Oliver met SUPERBOY, Oliver was practicing to be Robin Hood – not a future Green Arrow.” The editor goes on to explain that as an adult the shipwrecked Oliver Queen finally discovered the potential that Superboy had seen in him.

This part of young Oliver’s life is usually forgotten. But the idea that Oliver Queen was fan of the Robin Hood legend was long-overdue and would factor into many subsequent versions of Green Arrow’s origins, most notably beginning in 1987's Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell.

Oliver Queen reflects on his childhood love for Robin Hood and archer Howard Hill, by Mike Grell

In Mike Grell's retelling, Oliver Queen was inspired to practice archery, not by the Boy of Steel but by real-life, renowned archer Howard Hill. 

But Superboy would continue to inspire other younger versions of heroes, such as in Adventure Comics #275 by the same creative team as this issue - Jerry Coleman and George Papp.

Superboy reveals the future to a young Bruce Wayne, art by George Papp

Oliver Queen would return to Smallville decades later -- but this time on television. Justin Hartley joined the TV series Smallville (about a pre-Superman Clark Kent) in the show's sixth season beginning in the fall of 2006.

He would even wear a Robin Hood Halloween costume in one of his early appearances. (A Robin Hood costume that would resemble the comic book costume of Green Arrow from 1969 onwards.)

Erica Durance as Lois Lane and Justin Hartley as Oliver Queen, dressed as Marian and Robin Hood in Smallville

"Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow" also marked Green Arrow's first real interaction with the broader comic book universe since his time with the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the 1940s. 

Later in 1959, Green Arrow would briefly meet Aquaman and Superman, and get a fan letter from Batman. 

Superman visits Green Arrow and Speedy, art by Lee Elias

Superman meets Green Arrow
Adventure Comics #266, 1959
Art by Lee Elias

Aquaman shakes Green Arrow's hand, art by Lee Elias

Aquaman Meets Green Arrow
Adventure Comics #267, 1959
Art by Lee Elias

This would lead to further superhero team-ups in the 1960s, and Green Arrow joining the Justice League of America in 1961. It was these appearances with other heroes that kept Green Arrow in print after his own features had ended. In 1969, the character of Green Arrow would be radically transformed in the Batman team-up comic The Brave and the Bold and in the Justice League of America

The next segment on Robin Hood-related Green Arrow adventures in the 1970s (or Bronze Age) will feature additional superheroes in both stories.

Sources and Where to Find These Comics

You can find "Superboy Meets the Young Green Arrow" in:

SHOWCASE PRESENTS: GREEN ARROW Vol.1 This collection features over 500 pages of solo and team-up Green Arrow adventures from 1958 to 1969, including his encounter with Superboy, Green Arrow's revised 1959 origin, his first adventure with the Justice League of America, team-ups with Batman, and another encounter with Robin Hood. It concludes with the introduction of Green Arrow's new costume. All the stories are reprinted in black-and-white.
Buy Showcase Presents: Green Arrow, Vol. 1 on
Buy Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol 1 on
Buy Showcase Presents Green Arrow Vol. 1 on

SUPERBOY: THE GREATEST TEAM-UPS EVER TOLDThis collection features full-colour reprints of the Boy of Steel's early encounters with Lois Lane, Lori Lemaris, Oliver Queen, Aquaboy, Bruce Wayne, Robin the Boy Wonder, Supergirl, Lex Luthor and more. Perfect if time-travel teen team-ups are your thing.
Buy Superboy: The Greatest Team-Ups Ever Told on
Buy Superboy The Greatest Team Ups Ever Told on
Buy Superboy: The Greatest Team-Ups Ever Told on

I began writing these Green Arrow pages back in 2013. In the time since then, a book length study of Green Arrow was published which covers much of the same territory..

MOVING TARGET: THE HISTORY AND EVOLUTION OF GREEN ARROW by Richard Gray. Sequart Organization, 2017. A 75th anniversary look at Green Arrow in all his incarnations, including several interviews. Gray provides good coverage of Green Arrow's Robin Hood connections.
Buy Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow on
Buy Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow on
Buy Moving Target: The History and Evolution of Green Arrow on

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