Green Arrow has a long history as a DC Comics Superhero. The character of Oliver Queen dates all the way back to his November, 1941 debut in More Fun Comics #73. Unlike some of the more popular characters, though, he has very very origin stories available.
If you know anything about Green Arrow, you know that his story starts by being stranded on a deserted island. He learns the skills necessary to survive and returns to his home in Star City with the hopes of creating a better city. He is no longer content with just being a billionaire playboy.
Green Arrow: Year One takes a deeper looking at the early days of Green Arrow. Why does he use a bow and arrow and what makes him fight crime? How was he able to survive on a deserted island without losing his mind?
While it may never be considered the classic comic book story that Batman: Year One has become, this book is worthy of its subtitle. Andy Diggle’s writing gives a fresh take on a character that had grown stale for many people. The book was so impactful that it served as major inspiration for the hit TV series Arrow.
Comic Books Collected: Green Arrow: Year One Issues #1-6
Written by: Andy Diggle
Where to buy: Trade Paperback
Where to buy: Digital Comic (Kindle/Comixology)
Key Characters and Organizations:
- Oliver Queen / Green Arrow
- China White
The official synopsis, from DC Comics:
Discover Oliver Queen’s journey from reckless playboy to humble hero in this definitive Green Arrow origin tale.
Oliver Queen is a frivolous playboy with little care for anyone or anything–apparently even himself. But when he’s double-crossed and marooned on a jungle island, he finds that he does care about something: justice! Armed with nothing more than a makeshift bow and arrows, Queen struggles to survive in his new, unforgiving environment—all while battling the violent drug runners who are responsible for his abandonment.
GREEN ARROW: YEAR ONE is the definitive origin of the Emerald Archer, brought to you by the award-winning team behind THE LOSERS—writer Andy Diggle (BATMAN) and artist Jock (SWAMP THING, HELLBLAZER).
The story of Oliver Queen being stranded on an island only to return as a costumed superhero is well-known. It is even more well-known now thanks to the success of the TV series. However, the story of Oliver on the island has often been brushed over or approached in a less than exciting way.
In Green Arrow: Year One, Diggle adds heaps of depth to Oliver’s origin. Being stranded on an island for years could be a boring story, but Diggle makes it compelling. We are given time to see how he is able to survive despite being left for dead.
Part of what makes the story so compelling is that, obviously, other characters appear on the island. I won’t go heavy into the details, but you can assume that not everyone on the island has the best of intentions. Oliver is given plenty of time to develop his skills and become the hero we know him to be.
If you are expecting to see a fully suited up Green Arrow, this might not be the story for you. Most of the action takes place on the island. This means that Oliver doesn’t get much time as the fully suited up hero, although you can see him with a green hood to go with his bow and arrow.
This story proves how interesting Oliver Queen can be when given the right material. Within the first issue, he is stranded on the island and he often is left to himself. It is easy to understand the struggles that he is facing and the problems he has to overcome. The most interesting parts of the story are seeing one man struggle, which leads to him changing into a better person.
Oliver Queen is obviously the star of the show and the most compelling character throughout. Other characters server their roles well, but nobody really stands out. China White serves as a very capable villain. She is a lethal assassin who was created just for this series by Diggle and Jock. Her appearance was strong enough that she has been adapted to TV for Arrow. Another character created just for the series, Hackett, is also a worthy addition to the lore.
Jock’s art is consistent throughout and helps to supplement the great story that is being told. The art helps to convey the feeling of loneliness that Oliver must be feeling. You get a strong glimpse of what being on a deserted island would look like.
The prototype Green Arrow costume looks good and works well within the tone of the story. It also clearly helped to inspire the costume for the Arrow TV series. In many ways, it looks like a straight adaptation from the comic book series.
The TV series
You can’t bring up Green Arrow: Year One without mentioning the TV series that it inspired. The CW’s Arrow, developed for television by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg, clearly borrows heavily from this story.
The first 2 seasons of the show are at times nearly a straight adaptation of the book. Several major characters from the book show up on the series. Many plot points are directly used and even the costume is clearly rooted in this comic series. Some of the show’s strongest storylines are adapted from the comic.
This book’s influence on the television series goes beyond plot points, tone, and themes. A new character from the series, John Diggle, was created as an homage to the writer Andy Diggle. In later years, John Diggle’s brother Andy makes several appearances.
Green Arrow’s popularity as a a character has gone up and down over recent decades. He is usually on the edge of being an A-list DC Comics character. The character’s might currently be at an all-time high. Major roles in both Smallville and Arrow are the main reasons for growth, this comic is often cited as one of the best Green Arrow series of all-time.