Comic Books Posts

From Marvel to Marbles to Mar-Vell to Ms.: The Crazy History of Captain Marvel

Captian Marvel

captain marvel

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The early audience reviews for the new Captain Marvel film were not very good. In fact, they pretty much trashed the movie. The problem was, those reviews came out before the film was even released. It was a case of trolling fueled by… who even knows anymore? Something to do with the character suddenly being a woman, right? We live in weird times.

Once the movie finally hit theaters, critics and fans agreed it actually was pretty darn good and lots of fun. The retro ‘90s theme was a hit with audiences (just wait til Wonder Woman’s 1984 era movie comes out!), and Brie Larson nails the performance. So in the end, she triumphed.

captain marvelBut, come to think of it, when did Captain Marvel become a woman? Wasn’t she a guy in a live action TV show back in the ‘70s? He drove around the country in a Winnebago with a kid and guy who looked like a cross between Pat Morita and Stan Lee, right? Turns out this superhero has a way more convoluted backstory than you may have remembered.

captain marvelOf course it makes sense that Captain Marvel would have been created in 1967 by Stan Lee of…. wait for it… MARVEL Comics. Except, the character was actually named “Captain Mar-Vell” because the “Captain Marvel” name was already taken by another comic book publisher. A publisher that had been defunct for a decade and a half. Oh, and Captain Marvel was a man back then, so your memory is correct. Partly anyway.

See, there was an earlier character named “Captain Marvel” who appeared in various titles from Fawcett Comics from 1940 to 1953. That early date puts him right on par with the first superheroes, such as Batman, Superman, and Captain America, who debuted in the late 1930s and early ’40s. And that was the start of his problems.

captain marvel

Nothing at all similar between these two comics, right?

Fawcett unfortunately went out of business in 1953 after a copyright infringement suit involving the character. Not from Marvel, but from National Comics. Apparently they felt this caped, flying strongman was a little too similar to their character Superman. Wait, what? Yep, DC Comics was actually known as National Comics back then and sued over a character named after another comic book company that actually had yet to be named similarly to that character, but who subsequently named their new character after themselves. Did I mention this stuff is convoluted?

captain marvel hoppyBefore the lawsuit was settled, Fawcett really hunkered down on the character, creating Captain Marvel Jr., Mary Marvel, Uncle Marvel, Grandpa Marvel, and Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. (One of those characters I just made up. If you guessed Grandpa Marvel, you are correct. Yep, Hoppy actually existed. And I thought we were living in weird times today…)

Meanwhile, in 1953, issue #4 of MAD ran the story of Superduperman, featuring a nod to his lawsuit against Captain Marbles. MAD would of course eventually become part of the DC empire. (I am not making any of this up so far, aside from Grandpa Marvel. Seriously.)

captain marvelSpeaking of DC, they eventually acquired the rights to Fawcett’s Captain Marvel character and decided he had a lot of potential to expand the brand. Of course, with that name, he would be likely expanding the brand of their biggest competitor, so they gave him a new backstory and a catchy new title (but not a new name). The first issue of Shazam! was released by DC in 1973, complete with the subtitle, “The Original Captain Marvel.” So, naturally, there was another lawsuit. The producers of Gomer Pyle USMC sued over the “Shazam” catchphrase (okay, I made that up too, but honestly, at this point, it sounded believable, right?). No, of course it was Marvel Comics who sued DC over the name and the character. So the tagline was changed to “The World’s Mightiest Mortal.” And by the time it hit TV, people just kind of assumed that “Shazam” was the character’s name.

Got all that? Okay, back to Captain Marvel. The one from Marvel. The one named “Mar-Vell.” The one from the new movie. Yeah, her. Him. Let’s go back in time a bit… Captain Mar-Vell, a flying alien superhero from another planet (man, that sounds familiar), took off on his own in the late ’60s. Turns out he shared molecules with a kid named Rick Jones, and only one could exist in the world at a time, so they flip-flopped between the two identities. If that sounds familiar (it probably doesn’t but…) that was almost word for word the origin story of the original Fawcett character.

captain marvel

Ironically, while DC’s Shazam! was becoming popular with comic fans and TV viewers, readers didn’t really dig Marvel’s Marvel, so the character was killed off in the 1970s. And then revived several times since, as various male and female characters, most with the last name “Vell.” At one point he was resurrected long enough to die again in an explosion where his DNA was mixed with his cohort, USAF Officer Carol Danvers. So Danvers acquired super powers and of course became… Ms. Marvel. And then she eventually just took on the Captain Marvel name. At various times over the last couple of decades Ms./Captain Marvel has starred in her own standalone comics, made guest appearances in other stories, and has been part of the Avengers. So if you’ve been paying attention and weren’t confused by everything that happened before, all of this should make sense.

captain marvel

So yeah, now there’s a Captain Marvel movie, and the character is female, and it’s a pretty dang good movie, and you should see it despite what the trolls tried to tell you. And you’re going to love her cat Goose.

captain marvel

By the way, DC is releasing a Shazam! movie later this summer. It looks like a fun, goofy, good time at the cinema. No word on whether he’s called “Captain Marvel” anytime in the flick. Let’s hope not. That could get confusing.

Hey, That’s Not Santa! Collectibles in Claus Costumes

santa claus lead

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

One of the greatest, most mysterious super-spies in history is hitting his busy season. He’s been surveying you and everyone in the world ’round the clock, ’round the calendar. He’s been compiling notes on everyone’s behavior in order to exact his own special brand of justice. But on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus rolls up his sleeves and really gets down to business.

As Christmas approaches, he has a network of “helpers,” doppelgangers who pop up at malls and shopping centers and street corners all over the world in December to give the illusion that he’s close by. Of course, some of those Alt-Santas have other motives, many of them quite naughty indeed. Here at hobbyDB, we decided to compile a list of Santa’s subterfugers (is that a word?) from the benign to the sinister to the positively evil. And of course, we have our own intel on each one.

yoda darth vader santaHarmless Imitators

There is a long history of fictional characters donning the red suit mostly for good natured hijinks, or simply to sit in the chair at the mall. Generally affable characters such as Yoda, Mickey Mouse, and Freddy Funko have all gone red for non-canonical merchandising reasons. Which really fits the spirit of Christmas if you think about it. Heck, even Darth Vader can be found in Santa garb, but since it’s not in any of the movies, we have to assume he was just goofing around, right?

gizmo gremlinCuddly But Creepy

Anyone who doesn’t think of “Gremlins” as a Christmas movie really needs to have their spirit checked. The Gremlins start out cuddly, but (Spoiler alert for a 35 year old movie) if they get wet, or are fed after midnight, they turn into horrifying little monsters. So it’s tough to say which side of the fence Gizmo, seen here, falls on. Also, is he really impersonating Santa, or just wearing a hat to be festive? Intentions and consequences unclear.

jakc skellington droppoGood Intentions, Bad Ideas

Jack Skellington has to go here, right? Sure, he plotted to take over Christmas, and sure, he usurped the good name and costume of St. Nick, and sure, he actually hijacked the sled (Spoiler Alert for a 25 year old cartoon) and attempted to deliver the goods on his own… but he swears it was all in good fun. Okay, and a bit of jealousy. However you want to judge his intentions, he probably could have done some jail time for his malfeasance if he ever went to court.

funko psycho santaAlso in this category, we have Droppo, the lovable goofball from Santa Claus Conquers the Martians, possibly one of the worst holiday movies ever. In any event, Droppo dons the suit to cover for Santa while he… look, I don’t want to spoil this one for you. You really should watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version of it, though.

“Looks Kind of Scary, but Who Knows?

Psycho Santa’s main motive is… well, that’s hard to say. He’s a crazy goblin-looking creature, with wily eyes, a mischievous grin, and a creepy tongue dangling out of his gap toothed mouth. The Psycho Goblin character is an original Funko creation, so he’s still building his back story.

santa grinch

Your heart’s an empty hole, Your brain is full of spiders, You’ve got garlic in your soul

And of course, Santa’s most sinister imposter has to be the Grinch, right? His elaborate scheme to steal the spirit of Christmas by stealing the materialism of the holiday was diabolical. He didn’t just wear the suit, he mimicked the sled, the reindeer, the mannerisms. And of course, (Spoiler alert for a 50-year old cartoon) his diabolical plot could only be derailed by… his own heart. Now for a real mystery… in Who-ville, does the real Santa look human, or Who-man?

robot santaWhat if Santa is some kind of Robot?

Oh, wait, you thought the Grinch was the best of the worst? In the year 3000, Santa’s duties are relegated to a harmless four-ton robot from Neptune. Well, Futurama’s Robot Santa Claus would be harmless, except he was erroneously programmed to judge the naughty from the nice with extreme prejudice. (Spoiler Alert for a 20 year old cartoon) He deems just about everyone naughty and worthy of a death sentence. 

Speaking of robotic Santas, over the years, “Doctor Who” has ended many of their seasons with a Christmas special, some of them featuring Santa.  It makes sense: He doesn’t hop across dimensions, and he doesn’t travel in time, but Santa does manage to cover a heck of a lot of square miles in an absurdly short amount of time. So it figures he would know Doctor Who to some degree. But he’s the good guy. In most of those specials, anyway. One year did feature a super creepy Santa Robot, the kind who occupied the uncanny valley, so he was the stuff of nightmares.

eric cartman santa suitThe True Meaning of Christmas is Ham… no, Presents!

The very first five-minute South Park cartoon features Santa Claus battling Jesus to settle the true meaning of Christmas. As bad as that Santa might sound, (and in subsequent appearances he’s not the nicest guy) he’s not an imposter, so he doesn’t really count for this list. On the other hand, Eric Cartman has been spotted in a full Santa suit several times over the years. Whatever his specific motive might be at any time, we can assume that Cartman Claus must be the most truly evil imposter of all.

Regardless of intent, it’s clear that the spirit of Christmas lives inside all of us. So merry Christmas to all and to all… make sure you look closely at who actually slides down your chimney this year.

Do you have a favorite undercover Santa Costumed character? Let us know in the comments below!

Cartoonist, Writer, Collaborator: What I Learned From Stan Lee

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

The world of comics and pop culture in general lost a titan this week when Stan Lee, the biggest driving force behind Marvel Comics, died at the age of 95. His impact on comic book fans can’t be measured. Neither can his impact on comics creators.

Lee started with a company called Timely Comics in 1939, working mostly with largely forgotten kids fare. The publisher struck gold with their Captain America stories but didn’t do much to expand the concept. By the early 1960s, however, Timely rebranded as Marvel Comics and Lee was tapped to begin crafting a new world of allies for Cap, as well as competitors for DC’s superheroes who had been off and running (and flying and teleporting) for a couple of decades.

stan lee spideyHis first creation was The Fantastic Four, which was an immediate hit with readers. Within a few years, Hulk, Iron Man, and of course, his biggest success, Spider-Man were spinning tales of adventure of their own.

As a cartoonist myself, (insert shameless plug here), Stan Lee surprisingly wasn’t an early influence on me. See, my Grandmother worked for Western Publishing, whose Gold Key comic books included titles from Disney, Looney Tunes, DePatie-Freleng, and Walter Lantz. So that’s what I grew up on. They weren’t Marvel or DC comics, and aside from Super Goof, they didn’t include any superheroes. So I started drawing in the vein of those Gold Key titles. All by myself.

And there was Charles Schulz, whose “Peanuts” comic strip was in its creative heyday. Schulz famously said “If I were a better artist, I’d be a painter, and if I were a better writer, I’d write books — but I’m not, so I draw cartoons!” Made total sense to me. If I were ever going to make it in this business, I would probably have to go it alone. I gravitated towards becoming a newspaper comic strip artist, writing and drawing short, snappy jokes, often in the framework of a longer tale. But still a solo venture.

As I got a bit older and MAD magazine seemed less inappropriate (is MAD ever really appropriate at any age?), the idea of separate writers and artists began to appeal to me. But could someone really be a “cartoonist” if they only did one part of that equation? Did it matter if the end result was enjoyable to the reader?

stan lee marvel coversSo in a similar vein, I finally started to appreciate Stan Lee a bit later, in college, as I began collaborating with other creative types on class projects. Lee was primarily the writer of the ideas but was still considered still a “cartoonist” in the fullest sense. Would Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko have ever drawn those dynamic action panels of The Thing if Lee didn’t feed them the idea, the character, the inspiration? Would those ideas sear such vivid memories without their action-packed art?

stan lee hulk thingSuddenly, for me, the Charles Schulz approach had some competition as a way to do comics. If a solo cartoonist could crank out 7 pages a week, a writer and artist could crank out 14 together. Same amount of work for each, just divvied up differently. And a lot less lonely.

Stan Lee was supposed to be the keynote guest at the 2013 Denver Comic-Con but had to withdraw at the last minute. Fans were disappointed, and for many, this felt kind of urgent. It seemed like he was getting up there in years and might not be able to make it to a future Con, due to the inevitability of declining health or worse. We all wondered if we would ever get the chance to meet him.

But he came to Denver in 2016, and all was right with the world of superhero fandom.

I was at that Con, but didn’t get to meet him. As a cartoonist with a table full of books to sell, I couldn’t afford to step away for a few hours to stand in line for a photo, an autograph, and a brief word. As a cartoonist who was inspired by Lee, I regret missing the opportunity.

stan lee dccThese days, it almost feels like actual comic books are a by-product of the Marvel Entertainment machine. And yet comic book stores are full of fans and readers hotly debating the latest developments in new artists or writers being assigned to a particular title and whether a certain pairing worked well. Stan Lee probably would enjoy being there, watching comics being discussed as such important fare.

“Marvelocity” Covers The Marvel-ous Career of Alex Ross

alex ross marvelocity

Ron Ruelle

Ron Ruelle hobbyDB

It’s been 15 years since the the publication of “Mythology: The DC Comics Art of Alex Ross,” a hefty collection of his fine art approach to superhero storytelling. But in the last decade, it would seem that Marvel has overtaken DC, certainly in the cinematic world, so it’s a good time his work for Marvel to get the same treatment. “Marvelocity: The Marvel Comics Art of Alex Ross” is the latest pean to his high art. (In between, there have been several other collections of Ross’ work as well as a 2018 art exhibit of his art inspired by ideas from Stan Lee, the Marvel legend who died this week at the age of 95.)

alex ross marvelocityFirst of all, this book is huge and heavy. Even the dust jacket contributes to the heft; once you open it, the cover unfolds again and again into a long gatefold tapestry of alternate covers of super portraits. It’s like a pre-credit honor roll before you even get into the actual book. There’s even a large poster of an alternate cover concept with Spider-Man as the focus instead of Captain America.

Instead of black lines filled with garish colors, Alex Ross’ work is more of a realist painting. While the traditional comics style is full of wonder and fantasy, his more photographic approach actually makes the characters seem more human and possibly vulnerable and relatable. The heroic nature of his style might play more effectively with heroes instead of villains. In fact, the vast majority of the book is devoted to the good guys.

alex ross marvelocityComics critics have always struggled to classify Ross’ art style. To say he’s a cartoonist seems to sell him a bit short, as he’s almost a portrait artist who happens to work with incredibly dynamic subjects. On the other hand saying he’s NOT a cartoonist is kind of an insult to him (and everyone else in the industry as well.) Let’s just say Ross is a fine portrait artist working in a different medium. For several years, his illustrations have been used only on the covers, although the almost photographic quality ensures that the drawings inside will be consistently designed and composed. Beyond the covers, he’s always been heavily involved in the development of the look and the storylines of his comics.

alex ross marvelocityNowhere is his talent better illustrated (literally) than a spread which shows the iconic cover of “Captain America” issue 1, where Cap punches Hitler while Nazis futilely fire back. Next to the original is Ross’ recreation of this cover for “Captain America: Sam Wilson” number 7 in 2016. The overall composition is the same, right down to the vintage look of his costume and the inset of “Captain America’s Young Ally BUCKY.” Except the distorted artistic license of comic characters gives way to a more physically real arrangement. And instead of speed lines and crosshatching and bursts, the rendering looks more like a photo of that historic moment.

alex ross marvelocityThere are several other side by side comparisons that also serve as appreciation for how Jack Kirby and countless other artists had to work with older printing technology that made all those black lines and bright colors necessary. Ross was particularly busy with this sort of homage around Marvel’s 75th Anniversary.

alex ross marvelocityThere are a lot of sketches included, which really helps you appreciate Ross’ talent as a panel composer. The dynamic poses that Kirby pioneered come to life bit by bit, side by side. It’s not just pretty pictures, of course. Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear spells the story behind the art with the knowledge that only comics insiders like them can tell. Add in some outsider perspective with an introduction by J. J. Abrams, as well as reflections by other comics dignitaries, and there’s a pretty broad base of tribute and expertise.

alex ross marvelocityRoss has always been deeply involved in the overall creation and writing of his comics characters and stories. And his talent for composing a panel has been put to good use not only in comics, but also in storyboards for some of Marvel’s movies. Anyone with an appreciation of the Marvel universe in any form – comics, action figures, movies – should appreciate this book.

A Beginner’s Guide to the Green Arrow

A Guest Blog Post by 
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

As the Arrow TV series has been back on our screens for a while now and I am a big fan of the hooded vigilante I thought it would be appropriate to write a beginner’s guide to the Green Arrow. 

More Fun Comics Vol 1Green Arrow is older than he looks! He was created by writer Mort Weisinger and artist George Papp and first appeared, with his partner Speedy, in More Fun Comics #73 (Nov 1941 VF/NM $24,000). Readers were introduced to wealthy Oliver Queen and his teen buddy Roy Harper, who lived with him and was later revealed to be Oliver’s ward. It was said Weisinger was inspired by a series of movies called the Green Archer which, in turn, were adapted from a series of books by Edgar Wallace. Taking his inspiration from the movies and the books, Weisinger created a new hero whilst also borrowing a lot of ideas from another DC character, Batman. There are a lot of early similarities between the two characters. Green Arrow had the Arrow Car and the Arrow Plane which were kept in the Arrow cave, Batman had the Batmobile and the Bat Plane which he kept in the Bat cave. Green Arrow had an Arrow Signal to call him and Batman had the Bat signal. Both were billionaire playboys and had teenage sidekicks. Weisinger even created a Joker-like arch villain for Green Arrow called Bull’s Eye.

It is interesting to note that in their debut appearance in More Fun Comics #73 Green Arrow and Speedy had been operating as costumed heroes for some time as Speedy mentions a previous adventure they had together, “The Case of the Golden Mummy”.

After only three appearances in More Fun Comics, Green Arrow and Speedy start appearing in Leading Comics #1 (Winter 1941 VF/NM $4,200) where they join the Crimson Avenger, Shining Knight, Star-Spangled Kid, Stripesy and the Vigilante to form The Seven Soldiers of Victory. Such is the pair’s growing popularity, they also begin appearing as a back-up strip in World’s Finest Comics #7 (Fall 1942 VF/NM $2,100), along with Batman, Superman and a number of other Golden Age DC characters. Long after all but Batman and Superman have left the title, Green Arrow and Speedy remain until #140 (Mar 1964 VF/NM $100) – a full 22 year run!

In More Fun Comics #89 (Mar 1943 VF/NM $1,200) and “The Birth of the Battling Bowmen” the readers are told, via flashback, the origin of Green Arrow and Speedy. This would prove to be the first of a number of origin stories over the years.

Our heroes’ run in More Fun Comics comes to an end with #107 (Jan/Feb 1946 VF/NM $900). Their loyal readership were not to be disappointed, however, as they were given a slot in Adventure Comics beginning with #103 (Apr 1946 VF/NM $3,400) starting another long run, similar to their stint in World’s Finest Comics, that lasted until Adventure Comics #269 (Feb 1960 VF/NM $320). So, very much due to Mort Weisinger’s strong editorial influence, when all other super-heroes were falling by the way-side Green Arrow was one of the few DC characters, along with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and, surprisingly, Aquaman, to keep going after the Golden Age of Comics came to a sad end. Most of the Green Arrow stories during this period were written by France E. Herron who was the character’s main scripter between 1947-1963 and really these stories hold nothing more than a quaint, nostalgic curiosity value for a more innocent and naive form of comic story-telling and art that has long since disappeared. Well worth trying to track down, though, is a small run of Green Arrow stories illustrated by the great Jack Kirby from the 1958/1959 period – Adventure Comics #250-256 and World’s Finest Comics #96-99 (VF/NM $340). The stories are nothing special but the artwork is Jack Kirby at his best and would make a collectable little run.

Interestingly, Adventure Comics #256 (Jan 1959 VF/NM $850) re-tells Green Arrows origin in the story “The Green Arrows First Case”. Green Arrow learns of a scientific expedition heading for Starfish Island which gives him cause for concern because Starfish Island is where Oliver Queen first became Green Arrow. In the Arrow Plane, on their way to stop the expedition, Green Arrow tells Speedy the story of how he became the Emerald Archer in a flashback sequence – all courtesy of Jack Kirby.

With the coming of the 60s, Green Arrow and Speedy moved from their mainly back-up story role to becoming more of a main feature and grew into very much a fan favorite. In Justice League of America #4 (Apr/May 1961 VF/NM $1,200) Green Arrow becomes an official member of the Justice League of America. When Brave and the Bold #50 (Oct/Nov 1963 VF/NM $250) introduced the idea that would see out the remainder of the run – team-ups – it was Green Arrow, along with the Martian Manhunter that DC chose to star in the first team-up. What a great cover to that issue – well worth checking out!

Big changes for Green Arrow took place towards the end of the 60s when writer Bob Haney teamed Green Arrow with Batman in Brave and the Bold #85’s “The Senator’s Been Shot” (Aug/Sep 1969 VF/NM $150) and artist Neal Adams introduced not only a new costume but also a goatee beard and mustache which ever since has been known by many fans as the definitive look for the Emerald Archer.

No Evil Shall Escape My Sight!Writer Denny O’Neil followed up on Green Arrow’s new appearance by completely remaking the character’s attitude in the pages of Justice League of America #75 (Nov 1969 VF/NM $110) giving his personality a rougher edge. This complete revision was explained by Oliver Queen being stripped of his fortune through forged documents of him engaging in corruption. He then became an outspoken supporter of the underprivileged and displayed strong liberal views. O’Neil saw this new Green Arrow as the perfect counter-balance to Green Lantern’s “Mr Establishment” character. Under the editorship of the legendary Julius Schwartz, Green Arrow and Green Lantern were given equal billing in Green Lantern’s own series that was re-titled “Green Lantern co-starring Green Arrow” from #76 (Apr 1970 NM/M 9.8 sold for $31,811 in Aug 2014) – an issue that is one of the most sought after and key Bronze Age comics. In a ground-breaking run of 14 issues Green Arrow and Green Lantern tackled a number of relevant social and political topics and it was in #85-85 (VF/NM $160) that one of the most controversial story-lines in comics took place. It was revealed that Speedy was addicted to heroin and the cover of #85 (Aug/Sep 1971) actually shows Speedy in the process of having injected – a ground-breaking move by DC.

Despite the strong, relevant story-lines and dynamic artwork by Neal Adams, the title was cancelled with #89 (Apr/May 1972 VF/NM $110) leaving Green Arrow to take up the all-too familiar back-up story role – this time in Action Comics starting with #421 (Feb 1973 VF/NM $15) – as well as continuing his appearances in Justice League of America where he had started a relationship with Black Canary. The Green Lantern/Green Arrow title was re-launched with #90 (Aug/Sep 1976 VF/NM $26) and Green Arrow remained there until Green Lantern went solo with #123 (Dec 1979 VF/NM $12). A quick switch to World’s Finest sees Green Arrow appear in #259-284 but he has to leave when the title becomes a Batman/Superman team-up title. Further appearances in Detective Comics and Justice League of America for six months finally lead to Green Arrow getting his first solo series, albeit a four issue Mini-Series in May 1983, by writer Mike Barr and artist Trevor Eden.

Green Arrow: The Longbow HuntersThe series did not really fire the public’s imagination and Green Arrow meandered along for another four years until he appeared in another Mini-Series, the hard hitting three-issue prestige format “Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters” (May 1987 VF/NM $10). Writer/artist Mike Grell did not pull his punches. This was not the Green Arrow of old. He crosses paths for the first time with Shado, a female Yakuza assassin but more importantly after Black Canary is captured and badly abused, he is pushed past his breaking point and kills her assailant. As a result, Green Arrow begins a new stage in his comic career – one that now sees him as a main player in the DC Universe with his own ongoing series. For anyone interested in the Green Arrow character, The Longbow Hunters, is an important read.

The ongoing series begins where The Longbow Hunters ended with Mike Grell continuing the development of Oliver Queen’s character. What is of note was that the series was for mature readers allowing writer Mike Grell to continue his adult and more violent treatment of the Green Arrow character. After Grell left the title with #80 (Nov 1983 VF/NM $4) the storylines started to drift away from their mature reader themes and Green Arrow became more focused in the main-stream DC Universe. Issue #0 (Oct 1994 VF/NM $3) introduces the character of Connor Hawke, who is later revealed to be Oliver’s son by Sandra Hawke, an old college sweetheart.

Before Grell left the main series he still had time to write “Green Arrow: The Wonder Year”, a four-issue Mini-Series that, amongst other topics, expands on the re-telling of Green Arrow’s origin begun by Grell in The Longbow Hunters. Two years after “The Wonder Year,” DC published yet another origin story in “Green Arrow Annual” #7 (Sep 1995 VF/NM $4) in which both Ollie and Connor were deemed ‘metahuman’ with the potential for super-powers.

At the same time as the Annual, in Green Arrow #100–101, (Sep-Oct 1995 VF/NM $10/$30) Green Arrow is killed while trying to prevent the detonation of a bomb by a group of eco terrorist. Connor adopts his father’s role and becomes a second Green Arrow and he remains the central character of the series, now written by Chuck Dixon, until it is cancelled with #137 (Oct 1998 VF/NM $15).

Green Arrow QuiverConnor Hawke had his own fan following but most readers wanted Oliver Queen back and it was left to writer Kevin Smith to pull off the impossible and bring back Green Arrow from the dead. This he duly did in “Quiver” a ten issue storyline in a new ongoing Green Arrow series that debuted with #1 in April 2001 (VF/NM $16). It turns out that Hal Jordan returned Oliver to life – but without a soul. The soul is eventually returned and Green Arrow is alive and whole again. The Quiver story arc is well worth a read! As well as bringing Green Arrow back to life, #2 (May 2001 VF/NM $7) introduces the character of Mia Dearden, a former prostitute on the streets of Star City. Mia eventually took the name Speedy and became Green Arrow’s new side-kick. What she is best known for though is being one of the few super-heroes with HIV due to her early days in prostitution.

The series continues until #75 (Aug 2007 VF/NM $4) during which time, Green Arrow plays a key role in DC’s “Identity Crisis” (2004) storyline, helping to investigate the murder of Sue Dibny, the wife of Ralph Dibny the Elongated Man. The month after the series is cancelled, writer Andy Diggle provides yet another version of Green Arrow’s origin in the six issue Mini-Series “Green Arrow: Year One” – as if we had not had enough “origin” stories already!

In spite of all this frenzied activity Green Arrow somehow manages to find time to marry Black Canary in the “Green Arrow and Black Canary Wedding Special” #1 (Nov 2007 VF/NM $5). But there had to be a twist! Black canary kills Green Arrow on their honeymoon as he attacks her. This shock ending leads into a “Green Arrow/Black Canary” ongoing series where it is revealed that Black Canary killed an impostor and the real Green Arrow had been kidnapped by Amazons. It could only happen in comics or EastEnders!

As if Green Arrow had not been through enough in his checkered comic career he is turned into a Black Lantern during DC’s huge cross-over event of 2009, “Blackest Night and, surviving that, he then finds himself putting an arrow through the head of the Justice League villain, Prometheus after he destroyed Star City, in the “Justice League: Cry for Justice” Mini-Series. He is tried for the murder, found not guilty and exiled from what remains of Star City.

Green Arrow Brightest DayBeing a Green Arrow fan – which you might have guessed from this article – I am pleased to say that Green Arrow was one of the chosen 52 titles. He is based in Seattle, has fallen out with Roy Harper and his relationship with Black Canary and his friendship with Hal Jordan have not happened – nor has he ever fathered any sons. He is also one of the main characters in The New 52! Justice League of America series that began in 2013.

What the future holds for Green Arrow, who knows? One thing is for certain, whatever the script writers have in mind the Emerald Archer will continue to play a central role in the DC Universe. The days of him being a character relegated to back-up features apprehending rather tame – and lame – villains are long gone. But even those early adventures with the Arrow car, the Arrow Plane, the Arrow Signal, the boxing glove arrows, are all part of the rich comic tradition of one of DC’s longest and most enduring super-heroes. I hope you can find time to read and enjoy – as I am doing – some of that rich history surrounding Green Arrow. You will not be disappointed.