Green Arrow: Where Do I Start?

What can one man do with a just a bow and some arrows? A lot, if he’s got ingenuity to go with it. DC’s Green Arrow has long been more than a stereotypical super-hero archer and become a a streetwise vagabond that can hold his own even in a world full of meta-humans and masterminds. Originally created in 1941 as an archery-themed analogue to Batman, later creators such as Denny O’Neil, Mike Grell, Kevin Smith and others have turned Oliver Queen into a socially-conscious crusader who will stand up to anything — including death — for what he thinks is right.

2011 marks the 70th anniversary for Oliver Queen, but even with the Vandyke goatee he sometimes sports he doesn’t look a day over 40. To help understand and appreciate Green Arrow, we’ve picked a quiver (a quiver, get it?) of collections that can help you hit the mark on all things Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow: Year One: In general, DC’s Year One titles are a good starting point for your favorite heroes, but this one goes over the top thanks to long-time collaborators Andy Diggle and Jock. Unlike other heroes whose origin is visited and revisited countless times, Green Arrow’s was largely skipped over in the characters tenure up until this six issue seires. In it, it shows how a wealthy businessman like Oliver Queen can be remade as a bow-wielding warrior on a tropical island with only his wits — and a bow and arrow — to guide him.

Green Arrow: Quiver: In the late 90s DC killed off Oliver Queen and had his son, Connor, take his place. In this epic revitalization, we show Queen coming back six years after his death and dealing with the fact that the world’s gone on without him. Although Kevin Smith’s comic work has garnered some derision in later years, this Green Arrow arc remains a go-to story for the Emerald Archer and making readers care about not just the hero, but the man inside the mask.

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters: Some would say this story-arc defined Oliver Queen for the first time, and they wouldn’t be far off. Writer/artist Mike Grell really sought out to set Oliver Queen apart from other heroes, and it does it in spades as it rids the character of its fanciful Robin Hood-esque elements in favor of a gripping crime drama that many have described as the character’s analogue to Batman’s The Dark Knight Returns. Take note that this one’s been out of print for a couple years and might be harder to track down that the others, but it’s worth the effort to get this seminal story.

Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest: Set several months after Quiver, this story-arc by novelist Brad Meltzer sees Green Arrow on a morbid sort of bucket list trying to set his affairs in order were he to die once again. Illustrated by Quiver artist Phil Hester, the story revisits some of Ollie’s biggest moments and really shows the long-lasting effects of a hero coming back from the dead and dealing with the consequences.


  1. GA: Year One is a damn good read, and Archer’s Quest is everything you need to know about Ollie in one amazing story.

  2. I picked up the issues for Longbow Hunters this year at NYCC and absolutely loved it. I’m now on a quest to get the issues that Grell wrote after this series. Shame that it’s not in a collected form, but that’s not going to deter me from finding and enjoying these issues.

  3. I’ve read all of these, and they cemented Green Arrow into being one of my favorite characters. Great stuff.

  4. I cried like a little girl at the end of Archer’s Quest for some reason =)

  5. Longbow Hunters is available on Comixology for those interested. Grell’s art and layouts are gorgeous. Definitely the best GA story I’ve ever read.

  6. GA:YO is fantastic. Diggle and Jock are such a great combination.

  7. I have not had the pleasure of reading The Longbow Hunters yet, but if I can find it I will (ooh, it’s on Comixology!). As for the others, these are fantastic stories that make Ollie an A-level character. They really drive home how poor the post-relaunch book is by comparison. My son has a friend who is a huge GA fan, so I need to tell him about these!

    • I’ve got a friend that swears the relaunch book is great. I should loan him Longbow Hunters and Year One.

    • The relaunch book IS great. I’m sure Longbow Hunters is good too, but I don’t want to revisit that in a new series. I love the new direction, though it saddens me that few other comic fans agree.

  8. Archer’s Quest is probably my favourite GA story, although I must admit that I’ve not read much pre-Kevin Smith GA with the exception of Long Bow Hunters. I really liked Judd Winnick writing Ollie too, it seemed like a good fit.

    Man, I really miss Ollie having a personality, GA’s the 2nd biggest let down of the New52 for me (the lack of Secret Six being the biggest).

  9. I read Quivers and have to say it didn’t do it for me. The Longbow Hunters on the other hand, was and is the best Green Arrow story I’ve read. Yes, its coming from a place of depicting a more “realistic” GA, but has little to do with Batman as Mike Grell strips Ollie down almost bare as a hero and a person, of ideals and approach. I have the “prestige format” issues of Longbow Hunters and brake them out once in a while to read. Beautiful art, great characterization of Queen and his relationship with Dinah a.k.a. the Black Canary. I can go on for days about this…

  10. Ollie, you are missed. Rest in peace.

  11. ….making readers care about not just the hero, but the man inside the mask.

    And I’m still waiting for The Man to show himself in the New 52. I’ve been an Ollie/Green Arrow fan for DECADES (started reading back in 1966 or thereabouts.) and I honestly think this New 52 version totally misses the mark on what makes Green Arrow the hero he is. Here’s hoping that Ann Noccenti manages to find the spark that’s missing.

    That being said… Mike Grell and The Longbow Hunters rocks SO HARD and is honestly the best bit of GA ever written in my humble opinion.

  12. I’ve read all of those apart from Longbow Hunters, it’s a complete bitch to find a hard copy for a reasonable price.