The death of Green Arrow

While going through all the Connor Hawke kung fu stories last week, I mentioned several times that poor Oliver Queen — which Hawke had inherited the Green Arrow title from — sadly exploded a few months/years beforehand.  But why not just show it to you?

Back in the mid-1990s, after Superman rose from the dead as our lord and savior — now sporting a delightful mullet — it became game on.  The rules shattered and anyone who died no longer had to do that whole stay dead thing that plagues so many of us today.  And despite a good six years before Queen reclaimed his old job from his son, his demise remains just as dramatic as any superhero’s should be.  Today, let’s enjoy Green Arrow #99-101, written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Jim Aparo & Rodolfo Damaggio.

Our story begins innocently enough.  Green Arrow goes undercover to take out an eco-terrorist group. Seducing the attractive boss just happens to be a perk of having a mustache/goatee combo.

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To save myself four or five pages, her evil plan works like this (once she stops making out with Queen): the Russians developed a bomb that releases a bacteria that feeds entirely on plastic. Doesn’t sound so dangerous until the woman (called Hyrax) explains that basically any building containing plaster, etc. also contains tons of plastic.  One detonation of this bomb and an entire city collapses on itself, killing millions.  Which city you ask?

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His girlfriend, who’s certifiably crazy, loads up the bomb along with a few required henchmen.  But Green Arrow slowly realizes that maybe she’s not marriage material.  Definitely not a long term thing.

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Part of what makes Queen so important in the DC universe lies in his anti-authority, far leftist views on practically everything.  He gets to be the character to defy Batman, fight corporate America, and shoot arrows at anyone trying to bring down the little guy.  Eco-terrorism doesn’t seem too far away from his personality if you get rid of the whole terrorism part.  He even has “green” in his name. Though because he ends up exploded at the end of this issue, everything goes bad.  Super bad.

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This device activates as follows: two people stick their hands in, and upon release the bomb explodes. I have read this scene nine or ten times.  I have searched the previous issues for clues.  I have asked my friends for an explanation.  I have googled this issue looking for answers.  But for the life of me, I can’t figure out why Green Arrow shoves his hand in the detonator.  He knows it’s what Hyrax wants — she screams it over the gunfire.  Yet he announces his victory upon doing exactly what she says. Someone please explain to me his actions.  Am I missing something important?  Does he accidentally set his arm inside the machine in his moment of victory (after being shot)?

Oh, and now that Green Arrow totally screwed himself, our lord and savior can finally arrive.

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Superman, take the wheel.

We know Superman isn’t the genius his buddy Batman demonstrates everytime Riddler breaks out of Arkham.  While Superman possesses the power to twirl planets on his finger like a basketball, he holds a surprisingly average intelligence.  Luckily, his vast experience still allows him to show off his problem-solving skills — like figuring out how to simultaneously save Metropolis and Queen.  Also, did you know Superman’s fluent in Russian?

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I understand what Queen does next.  I really do.  For a man with no superpowers like Green Arrow, the loss of his arm would bring about only pity and angst as he sits on the Justice League sidelines. Though to be fair, Aquaman gets his hand chopped off every four or five issues and he receives cool replacements.  Remember that hook hand?  The hand made out of magic water?  Regardless of possible alternatives — like Superman using his heat vision to cauterize Green Arrow’s bleeding wound — it makes no difference why something happens or doesn’t.  If we accept without a second thought that an alien can shoot lasers out of his eyes, we must also accept the choices Green Arrow makes.  That’s the deal we sign when we agree to read superhero comics.

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I’m sad too.  The rest of the issue gets filled with eulogies and the embracing of Connor Hawke as the replacement Green Arrow.  Still, it wouldn’t hurt to know that your fellow superheroes share the pain you’re currently experiencing.

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Basically, he was sort of a great person and sort of not, but he died a hero.  And if you need closure, there’s no greater door closing than the acknowledgement from the batcomputer.  Batman mourns in his own technological way.

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More Green Arrow stuff on Wednesday and Friday.  I’m slowly falling in love with him.

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One Comment on “The death of Green Arrow”

  1. furyoffirestorm78 says:

    I think that Ollie shoved his arm in there because he thought that would keep anyone else from detonating the bomb, not knowing that it was a deadman switch, instead of a regular “press the button and everything go BOOM” kind of switch.

    PS – I’ve been in love with Ollie for years. Black Canary is a very lucky gal.


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