Sunday, October 04, 2009

Hero of the Week #18: Green Arrow

Real Name: Oliver Queen
First Appearance: More Fun Comics #73 (November, 1941)
Group Affiliation: Justice League
Gaming Credentials: Justice League Task Force (1995); Justice League Heroes (2006); DC Universe Online (TBR)
Infinite Wars Cumulative Ranking: #24

A guy in Robin Hood cosplay might not immediately sound like an impressive superhero specimen, but not too long ago, Green Arrow was one of the hottest properties selling comics. Since, the character has made the transition to animation in Justice League Unlimited, and live-action with a stylized interpretation in Smallville. He's been floating around movie developmental hell, as part of a DC Universe prison-movie called Supermax, and has also just been announced as the latest confirmed character for the action MMO, DC Universe Online!

Still not convinced? Once upon a time the character was compared negatively with Batman due to the derivative nature of his vigilante persona, but I think since Green Arrow developed a strong brand of his own, that's a great way to sell the character. I mean, it's not that you're going to get GA gliding around the city fighting clown-chic terrorists, but if you've been a fan of the tool-wielding escapades of the Dark Knight [ie; Arkham Asylum], you can at least understand the language that lies beneath the green jersey and uber-Errol Flynn goatee.

It hasn't necessarily been anything inherent to the concept of a bow-and-arrow superhero that's driven Green Arrow into the upper echelon of superhero comics. Like Batman, it's the gritty urban crime drama that's unfolded around his saga, with occasional splashes of superhero epics like dealing with his return from the dead, that have made this such an intriguing character. Not that being a modern-day Robin Hood hasn't presented an interesting layer to the character, communicated through his strong liberal leanings.
This side of the character brought him to be briefly serve as Mayor of Star City in the mid-2000's, and has created the beloved dynamic of tension between he and Hawkman, who represents a more extreme dynamic of justice than the romantic Green Arrow's. Not that GA isn't prone to cutting corners and confronting the shades of grey that make up superhero justice. GA has famously delt with drug addiction and HIV through his sidekicks, and alongside buddy partner Green Lantern, race relations, in seminal stories from the '70s that remain a pre-Watchmen benchmark in the constructive clash of reality and fiction that has come to define modern comics.

Green Arrow is a politicized urban vigilante that represents the type of diversity in characters you'll (theoretically) encounter throughout the course of your playtime in DC Universe Online. He's also a prime example of how DCUO will be able seperate itself from a homogenized medium that has typically imitated, and subsequently been crushed by, World of Warcraft.

While the ability to create and develop superhero avatars will be common to other MMO games, it's the opportunity to interact with a world vividly established over seventy years of comics, film, and television, that will make this a whole new experience. DC has the benefit of drawing upon a long list of iconic fictional environments like Metropolis, Gotham City, and Green Arrow's Star City, that will encourage gamers to seek out the equally famous characters that reside within. With any luck, quest-like storylines running through the game will also be able to capitalize on the strong characterization of heroes like Green Arrow, replicating not only the good-vs-evil struggle of their regular adventures, but also more complex reactions, like the Ultimate Alliance-esque riff that formed in DC's 2004 series Identity Crisis, over similar themes of invasive law enforcement.

You can currently find Green Arrow appearing in both the Green Arrow/Black Canary on-going series shared with on-again-off-again flame, Black Canary [Duh!], and in the mini-series building toward a new JLA team, Justice League: Cry for Justice. Check out for more info, and keep an eye on DC Universe Online (also on MySpace) for more character announcements, like the one that made GA this week's HOTW!

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