It's a good time to be Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow. Not only has his CW show returned for a third season, but he's also Comic Vine's latest Character of the Month. We've praised some of his best covers and now it's time to recommend some of his best stories! If you're interested in the Emerald Archer but haven't read that much with him, we hope this list will motivate you to pick up one of the following stories and turn you into a Green Arrow fan.
There's obviously a lot of great issues and story arcs, so to keep things simple, we're going to recommend collections that should be pretty easy to obtain. If your favorite collection isn't below, go ahead and give it some praise in the comments section. Your love for the arc just may convince a fellow reader to pick it up.
Green Arrow first appeared in MORE FUN COMICS #73 and his origin was later revealed in 1989's SECRET ORIGINS #38, but in 2007, GREEN: YEAR ONE updated the archer's story in an exciting way. Writer Andy Diggle, artist Jock, and colorist David Baron's limited series is packed with gorgeous visuals, a gripping story, and plenty of thrilling action as Oliver slowly transforms into a whole new man during his time on the island. We're placing this first on the list because it really is mandatory reading and a terrific starting point if you want to learn more about the character.
THE LONGBOW HUNTERS
Some people view Oliver as a more cheerful and wisecracking kind of character, but Mike Grell's time with the accurate hero was dark, compelling and completely immersive. This doesn't feel like a superhero comic or like Oliver's part of an over-the-top and surreal world. It was far more grounded, embracing a grittier world and the obstacles that come with it. This isn't Ollie dealing with aliens and monsters or helping against global threats. This story -- which introduced Shado -- has such a powerful atmosphere and forces the marksman to make a difficult decision; one which takes a huge emotional toll on him. The story alone is engaging and memorable, but Grell's artwork turns it into what is easily one of the top Green Arrow stories you'll ever read.
Green Arrow is dead, long live Green Arrow. Wait, what?! Kevin Smith handles the hero's return from the dead with a story that's full of cameos, humanizing conversations, and just a wee bit of entertaining action. If you're unfamiliar with the DC universe, it may be a tad confusing as the story delves deep into its big cast of characters and events, but Smith provides an adequate amount of exposition and it's such a character-driven journey. This one really is about who these characters, not how they can save the day. Phil Hester, Guy Major and Ande Parks' pages bring Smith's script to life with a more animated style. From the lighthearted moments (boxing glove arrow!) to the slightly darker content, their work is solid and consistently fun. Also, this includes the introduction of Mia Dearden!
GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW
A street level archer and an immensely powerful space cop. That's not a team-up many would expect, is it? Sure, they both have "green" in their names, but aside from that, they operate in totally different worlds. Well, that's exactly what makes this team-up so special. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams' time with the duo focuses on their personalities and forces them into the harsh reality that many ordinary people have to face on a daily basis. Hal Jordan's pulled away from his usual business and sees what regular humans are forced to face. Naturally, their personalities clash along the way. The story didn't shy away from difficult subjects such as racism and drugs, either. The dialogue may be a little dated at times, but it's still a great insight into these two heroes and Adam's character work is always impressive.
SOUNDS OF VIOLENCE
Now that Kevin Smith has brought Green Arrow back into the world, it's time to have him ease back into his role as a hero and start a new life with his supporting cast. But a masked gunman -- one who only says sound effects and kills with no remorse -- is taking out human heroes. This killer's next target: Ollie's son, Connor Hawke. The villain, Onomatopoeia, might be considered silly to some, but others think he's a haunting character. He's someone who has no trouble pulling the trigger and there's just no reasoning with him. The last thing you'll see is a gun in your face and the last thing you'll hear -- before the sound of the gun firing, that is -- is the villain saying "blam." The confrontation between the villain and Ollie is absolutely brutal and, just like in Quiver, the series' art team makes it all look so energetic and even a little cartoon-ish.
THE ARCHER'S QUEST
The excellent visual team that worked with Kevin Smith remains on the title as writer Brad Meltzer brings Oliver on a new adventure. Literally picking up pieces after his death, this storyline has a heavy emphasis on character as Ollie and Roy collect artifacts from the archer's former life. The narrative really aims to give us a superb insight into Ollie and it's more than likely to keep a grip on your interest during the entire ride. A hugely entertaining and unforgettable fight with Solomon Grundy is just an added bonus.
ONE YEAR LATER
Oliver Queen has become the mayor of Star City. Unfortunately for him, Deathstroke, DC's most badass mercenary, has been hired to assassinate him. Judd Winick's story is action-packed as it shows off the archer's abilities as a tactician (don't worry, Deathstroke isn't sold short) and Winnick brings back Brick for even more action against zombie-ish people who are seemingly immune to pain. The story's enjoyable and builds interest in what comes next, but it's Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, and Guy Major's lively and fun artwork that really makes an impact. If you do wind up liking this, we recommend reading the next trade, Road to Jericho. It just isn't a complete story without it, after all. And, if you want to learn more about Brick or Constantine Drakon, we suggest reading Winick's earlier issues. You can visit their Comic Vine pages (click the names above!) to see the exact issues.
THE KILL MACHINE
For many Green Arrow fans, Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo's GREEN ARROW run is one of the best things to come out of The New 52. Lemire's story does a ton of worldbuilding as it not only expands Oliver's supporting cast and villains, but also shines a spotlight on his origin story. The story will have you intrigued and emotionally invested, but it's Sorrentino and Maiolo's brilliant and creative visuals that'll have you hooked. Issue after issue, those two find new ways to drop your jaw. If The Kill Machine does win you over, you'll want to pick up The Outsiders War. The collected edition for their final story, Broken, is scheduled to go on sale next May.
What Green Arrow stories do you recommend? Don't be shy, share them with the world in the comments section below.