If you picked up a copy of last week’s The Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular, that last story called “Tap, Tap, Tap,” referred to keyboards used by Dennis O’Neil in a tale written by his son, and it has been something a lot of the Internet is buzzing about!
WHAT TOOK PLACE?
It cost $9.99, but it was worth it! We haven’t seen a Green Arrow book come out from DC in a very long time, but this anniversary special had a lot of great stories in it. I particularly enjoyed seeing Mike Grell return to the character after his successful “Longbow Hunter” run. Superb!
But what has gotten a LOT of attention was the short story written by O’Neil’s son Larry and drawn by Jorge Fornes. It retraced Denny’s life wordlessly, instead using word balloons that were often shaped like the subject inside it. For instance, an illustration of a cowboy riding a horse was located inside a word balloon shaped by a cowboy’s hat. A Superman story was found inside a word balloon in the form of Superman’s emblem. A question mark held the image of The Question. You get the picture.
We progress through O’Neil’s life and reach the writer’s final days. What really made me tear up were the final panels in which many of the characters Denny wrote about (as well as very likely Larry himself) said goodbye to him, using the words, “Goodnight, Pops.”
Even the Joker, who was standing for once with Batman and other DC heroes at O’Neil’s deathbed, couldn’t crack a smile.
Just prior to this story was an article by Dave Wielgosz about O’Neil describing him as “The Voice of the People.” He notes that Denny “turned Oliver Queen from a DC regular into an icon.” He “imbued Green Arrow with his own voice.”
Many people have said that O’Neil made sure Green Arrow came through decades of comic-book storytelling while others like him have faded into obscurity.
All I can say is, I came through this special issue wanting more Green Arrow stories! Could DC give the Emerald Archer the attention he deserves? I hope so!
O’NEIL THE PERSON
It’s also been said that Denny O’Neil turned iconic heroes into human beings. Before this writer took on the character, Green Arrow was pretty much a Batman clone. He had an Arrowmobile, an Arrowcave, a sidekick, and an Arrowplane (get it?), and really didn’t have many members in his enemy gallery. In fact, I can’t think of a true “bad guy” that GA fought. Yes, he ran across multi-layered friends and foes, but no “opposite number” like the Joker is to Batman.
That homage story shows O’Neil dealing with alcoholism, fatherhood, getting married, getting recognized for his work, and facing more lonely times as his life was winding to a close.
Interestingly, we only see a young boy going to the movies with Denny—at least, I assume that’s Larry, anyway!
What O’Neil did was make even the Joker more human in his scripts. This took place during a time when Marvel was much better known for more “realistic” heroes than DC. He helped pull the folks saving Gotham and Metropolis from just being costumes and powers to people we as readers could feel we better resembled.
NOW WHAT FOR GREEN ARROW?
I particularly glommed onto GA when Neal Adams upgraded his “Robin Hood” costume for a more realistic set of duds and arrows. Then O’Neil teamed up Ollie with Hal. Although I understand that those groundbreaking stories actually didn’t sell very well, they remain cemented in fans’ memories and likely will stay there for decades to come.
The bad news for Green Arrow is that he’s almost done everything from being a rich dude to serving as mayor of Star City to hunting human prey in the big city.
I must admit that I enjoyed the “Longbow Hunters” tales the most when it comes to this hero. The art and the stories were pretty engaging, with Ollie taking on bad guys both big and small. He even got the girl, if you know what I mean!
I hear that GA is going to be involved with heroes trying to take down Leviathan, that long-tentacled group of villains who are a powerful force for ill in the DCU. We’ll see how all that turns out.
Of course, it’s likely that GA and the Black Canary will continue to work together. There’s something about that pairing that always seems to work.
Again, that comparison to Batman haunts Ollie. In the Justice League Unlimited animated series, GA was the League’s conscience, helping the team pick themselves up again after being betrayed and being dragged through the mud (metaphorically speaking) by Luthor and Brainiac. He has always spoken the truth even though he and Hawkman haven’t always gotten along eye to eye.
I don’t think the answer is to give Ollie powers. Nahhhh, too easy! But when Batman’s “family” is struggling to sell comics as non-powered superheroes don’t sell like they used to, what’s the green guy going to do to carve out his own niche?
I hope DC has something in mind for the guy! I’d love to buy his books once again! I’m sure Mr. O’Neil would be someplace smiling if Ollie could just attract more fans and even get a new title!
I still regret that we do these recognitions AFTER the person has passed. How much greater it would be if we could do them while the people were still with us so they could receive these accolades in person! I wish we’d more seriously consider that!
What do you think? Are you an Ollie/Green Arrow fan? Do you have an idea that could reset the Emerald Archers heroic role? What would you LIKE to see Green Arrow do? Whatever your opinions, be sure to share your thoughts in the space below!