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CSBG Archive

The Greatest Green Arrow Stories Ever Told!

Every day in May we will reveal the greatest stories ever told starring a particular character or written/drawn by a particular creator (and throughout the month, you’ll get daily chances to vote for NEXT week’s lists). These lists are voted on by YOU, the reader!

Here is the list of characters/creators featured so far (along with the rules on how to vote).

Today’s list is the Greatest Green Arrow Stories Ever Told!


10. The Brave and the Bold #85 “The Senator’s Been Shot!”

This Bob Haney/Neal Adams story is the debut of the “new look” Green Arrow that became so famous during Hard Traveling Heroes.

9. Green Arrow (Vol. 2 – the 80s mini-series counts as Vol. 1, right?) #21-24 “Blood of the Dragon”

Mike Grell would often have major storylines wrap around Oliver Queen’s birthdays, and in this sequel to the previous year’s storyline involving the mysterious Japanese archer, Shado, she returns for Ollie’s help with rescuing her infant son who has been kidnapped by her former bosses in the Yakuza, in an attempt to force her into assassinating someone. Dan Jurgens did the art.

8. Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #16-21 “Archer’s Quest”

Brad Meltzer made his comic book debut with this tale of Ollie, now returned from the dead, traveling to collect all the items across the country that might give away his secret identity (and that of his family) in case he were to die once again. Phil Hester handled the artwork.

7. Green Arrow (Vol. 2) #9-12 “Here There Be Dragons”

In this first of an annual tradition of Shado stories by Mike Grell, Shado, the Yakuza archer introduced in the Longbow Hunters, now wants out of the Yakuza, and she enlists Green Arrow (who is celebrating his birthday) in getting herself out. Ed Hannigan did the artwork.

6. Green Arrow Year One

Andy Diggle and Jock combined to tell a thrilling re-imagining of Oliver Queen’s beginnings as Green Arrow. They managed to keep the essence of the original origin but update it in a very strong fashion. It doesn’t hurt that Jock’s artwork is amazing.

5. JLA #8-9 “Imaginary Stories”

The only Connor Hawke story on the countdown, this two-parter shows Oliver Queen’s son joining the Justice League as the new Green Arrow. He must fight the Key, who has captured the Justice League within their own fantasies. Oscar Jimenez drew this Grant Morrison story that has perhaps the best use of a boxing glove arrow ever.

4. Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76-82 “Hard Traveling Heroes Vol. 1″

Handling the Hard Traveling Heroes stories was hard. I should have said from the get-go, either pick Vol. 1 or Vol. 2. But anyways, #76 is specifically the vote here, but since adding in the other early issues would not change the rankings (as not many of them received votes), I figured I would just count the whole first volume here.

Anyhow, this is the beginning of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ acclaimed team-up series between Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen as they take to the backroads of America to find themselves.

3. Green Arrow (Vol. 3) #1-10 “Quiver”

Kevin Smith and Phil Hester combined to tell us the story of Oliver Queen’s return to the land of the living, in this launch of the third volume of Green Arrow. We’re now on the second volume SINCE this one. Weird, huh?

2. Green Lantern/Green Arrow #83-87, 89 “Hard Traveling Heroes Vol. 2″

Again, Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85-86 is the specific vote here, but even adding in the votes for the other stories wouldn’t move this beyond #2 on the list (and none of the other stories would have made the list on their own), so I figured I’d put them all together. This section of stories by O’Neil and Adams (plus Elliot S! Maggin) includes the famous storyline where Green Arrow’s sidekick, Speedy, becomes addicted to heroin.

1. Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters

This mini-series (which involves Oliver Queen’s birthday, which as I noted above, became a tradition in Grell’s comics) by writer/artist Mike Grell established Green Arrow as more of a vigilante than a superhero. It also involved some pretty rough violence, including Black Canary getting tortured so badly that she lost her superpowers (again, Grell wanted to downplay the superhero aspect a lot). The story also introduces erstwhile government agent Eddie Fyers and the mysterious Yakuza archer, Shado. This acclaimed mini-series set the stage for Green Arrow’s first solo ongoing series ever, which Grell would write for 80 issues!!

That’s the list! I’m sure there is a lot of agreement and disagreement with the list out there! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section!

And please vote for the lists that are still up for grabs here!


It says a LOT that Longbow Hunters is # 1.

Excellent List.


Luis Jaime

I voted for one Silver Age JLA story, the Connor-Key story, and eight Grell arcs (including, obviously, Longbow Hunters for #1). I knew Hard-Traveling Heroes would show up, but held out hope that Quiver and Archer’s Quest wouldn’t…

@ Jacob, I didn’t mind “Quiver” (I voted for it actually), but man I hate “Archer’s Quest”. Meltzer undid so much and really began running roughshod on DC continuity which would continue into Identity Crisis, all in service of what wasn’t a very good story to begin with.

Not too bad of a list, though I’d probably quibble with the order. I might’ve included the future Conor bit from “Rock of Ages” (“He’s in your head, you big ugly moron”), though that’s more of a cool Green Arrow moment than a great Green Arrow story, I guess.

Here’s a question I’ve been curious about, since I never actually read them:

Was Chuck Dixon’s pre-Connor Hawke GA run any good? Worth tracking down? In theory, I like Dixon, I like the more serious Ollie Queen, and even the Hawke-adopted costume is a pretty solid design (especially considering it was a 90’s product).

Also, while we’re at it: How is it that most of Grell’s widely acclaimed and at-its-time definitive run has mostly gone uncollected?

Was Chuck Dixon’s pre-Connor Hawke GA run any good? Worth tracking down? In theory, I like Dixon, I like the more serious Ollie Queen, and even the Hawke-adopted costume is a pretty solid design (especially considering it was a 90’s product).

His pre-Connor Hawke run was pretty much just 8 issues, with the last five being the storyline that killed off Ollie. Plus, Connor was heavily featured in all of those 8 issues.

Also, while we’re at it: How is it that most of Grell’s widely acclaimed and at-its-time definitive run has mostly gone uncollected?

Most likely it is that DC’s old reprint royalty rates make reprinting 80s/early-90s comics cost-prohibitive unless they’re no-brainers (Dark Knight Returns, Batman Year One, Judas Contract, etc.) or based on restructured rates (Showcase: Booster Gold).

Nice list. In retrospect my list was probably lacking Mike Grell’s Green Arrow (besides Long Bows) but that’s probably for a best since I haven’t read them in years and don’t own them (slaps those bad boys in a trade DC!). However, I feel Judd Winick should have gotten at least one story on the list. I found his run on Green Arrow to be rather fun. He didn’t try to wallow in the past or write stories filled with nostagia. He tried to bring in new and fresh stuff for the characters as well as promote a newer, fresher (and more bad ass?) Green Arrow.
Not always good, but almost always fresh.

Mike Loughlin

May 26, 2010 at 9:33 am

My list was 7 Grell stories, the von Eeden-illustrated mini, & 2 Connor Hawke stories (the JLA story & Brotherhood of the Fist).

Mike Grell made Green Arrow one of my favorite characters. He gave Ollie a good sense of humor, and appropriate sense of outrage over evil. The “ripped from the headlines” nature of the stories (Grell said he got many of the violent parts of his plots from the news) was unprecedented at the time. More than that, however, Grell put Ollie through the wringer, and wrote tense, lean action stories improved by a stellar aupporting cast. It’s a shame the series remains uncollected.

I didn’t expect the results of the poll to match my list (I figured the O’Neil/ Adams issues would get there on their own), and I knew “Quiver” would make it (wouldn’t place it in my top 15, maybe even top 20), so I’m glad a few other people remembered how great those Shado stories were. They featured real character development, even at great cost to the main characters. Grell & co. didn’t reinvent the medium or anything, but their work on Green Arrow makes it one of my favorite runs.

Strong list overall. I’m pleasantly surprised to see a Connor Hawke story on here.

Tom Fitzpatrick

May 26, 2010 at 10:35 am

Bet Mr. Grell’s pleased as punch!

All in all, a strong list. My only quibbles lie with the HARD TRAVELING HEROES selections. They have not aged well. Frankly, were it not for the great art from Neal Adams, this run would probably be languishing in well-deserved obscurity.


May 26, 2010 at 10:41 am

Longbow Hunters should really be reprinted….

Surprised to see a Conner story on there at all, but that one is excellent.

“Just! One! Pointed! Arrow! Dad!”

I wanted to see “Night Olympics” (the Alan Moore story) represented, but I guess that’s what you get when you don’t vote! :-/

I voted for “Night Olympics” and quite few other of those Detective back-ups. They were great.

@Brian Cronin: Thank you, that actually clears up a lot.

“All in all, a strong list. My only quibbles lie with the HARD TRAVELING HEROES selections. They have not aged well. Frankly, were it not for the great art from Neal Adams, this run would probably be languishing in well-deserved obscurity”

you’re wrong

I liked the second arc of Kevin Smith’s run better than Quiver, but I’m glad that made it so high up on the list regardless. Good list overall, though I didn’t think Year One was so great.

Keil: “you’re wrong.” How am I wrong?


A. Social relevance: Let’s see, I am a poorly paid script writer working in a medium that receives no respect at all from society at large. I know, I’ll have my heroes shift from fighting supervillians to combatting social ills! Now my comics will be relevant! Maybe I will even get written up in the mainstream media (Hack-article #237a: COMIC BOOKS NOT FOR KIDS ANY LONGER: SUPERHEROES NOW TACKLE ADULT ISSUES).When an artist pleads for the merits of his artistic medium on the basis of its willingness to address social ills, you know that the person making the plea is aesthetically bankrupt.

B. Period piece: Every issue of the HARD TRAVELING HEROES run is so up to the minute that it became dated the moment that it hit the newsstands: Heroes traveling across America in search of meaning (Cf. EASY RIDER); heroes travel to Maltus (Gosh, I wonder if that is supposed to remind me of Malthus?), a massively overpopulated planet (Cf. Paul Ehrlich’s THE POPULATION BOMB); Speedy gets hooked on heroine (Cf. practically every op-ed from the 60s); Green Lantern gets asked why he does not help Black people (Cf. Martin Luther King, march on Selma, civil rights bills of 64 and 65, etc.). A useful comparison can be drawn with Stan Lee’s similar attempt to be relevant with the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Read today, Spider-Man’s relevant phase ( Harry’s pill-popping in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 96-98, Spidey’s advocacy of prison reform in 99) makes painful reading, and no one would claim that those issues are aesthetic highpoints in Lee’s run. Instead, what has endured is the non-obviously relevant stuff.

2.Strong points:

A. Art: Neal Adams was at the height of his powers during this run, and it shows. Every issue a visual delight.

I decided not vote, although I love the character. I couldn’t really think of even 5 great stories that focus on Green Arrow; most of what I enjoy about him are his appearances in ensemble comics (in big events and, specifically of course, in various iterations of “JLA”). One story I first thought I would’ve voted for, until I thought about it again and realized Ollie just provided the emotional hook — it wasn’t about him at all — was the hidden origin of the Justice League of America (an Englehart/Dillin production; #144, I think).

I also love the Connor-joins-the-JLA two-parter, and would’ve voted for that. Ditto Diggle & Jock’s “Year One.” Meltzer’s “GA” arc is the only thing he’s done for comics that I’ve liked. On the other hand: “Quiver” loses points in my book for Smith’s insistence on needlessly retconning kid-friendly characters into brutal, grim-n-gritty ones. Similarly, I hated what Grell did to Black Canary in “Longbow Hunters” — it took the character years to recover from that (thanks to Chuck Dixon and, mostly, Gail Simone) — so that falls off my list too. And I agree that “Hard-Travelin’ Heroes” is worth notice for its historical importance, so I would’ve voted for it, although I agree with Trajan23’s first post: The writing in those tales hasn’t aged well.

“When an artist pleads for the merits of his artistic medium on the basis of its willingness to address social ills, you know that the person making the plea is aesthetically bankrupt.”

No you don’t. I don’t. I don’t know any reasonable person who would.

i’ve read everything on the list except for the brave and the bold issue, and i really do think quiver is hands down the best, but i know there’s been a huge backlash against kevin smith and “dc continuity porn” over the last few years, so i’m not surprised it wasn’t the top choice. but quiver was fun, intelligent, snappy, had gorgeous art, and took better advantage of a setting in a “shared universe” than maybe any other comic i’ve ever read. i also appreciated that kevin smith figured out a way to bring a major character back from the dead without using ANY sort of retcon. geoff johns should learn that trick one of these days…

Brian, would you consider running “The Greatest . . . ” beyond May? Or maybe during another month? I got into this late, and I’d like to cast ballot on stuff with Gail Simone, Judd Winick, Barbara Gordon (hopefully, The Killing Joke wouldn’t be #1), Priest, Adam Warren, Bart Allen . . . and that’s off the top of my head.

On-topic: I would’ve bet good money that either “Hard Traveling Heroes” collections would have been in the top position. I guess I’m not THE Green Arrow fan this was made for.

Brian, would you consider running “The Greatest . . . ” beyond May?


Or maybe during another month?

Much more likely. :)

Trajan –

While I don’t believe social relevance automatically equals good stories in the superhero genre, I don’t think it automatically equals bad either. I don’t want any forbidden territories in any genre. A healthy genre should have maximum diversity. Science fiction literature has a huge subgenre of social satire, I don’t see why superheroes can’t have it too.

Yep, HARD TRAVELING HEROES is dated. Okay. Not everything can (or should) be timeless. But I think the stories were very innovative in the context of the superhero genre at the time. Yes, they’re derivative of movies and social trends of the time, but so were many other (more innocent) stories that came before, it’s only that O’Neil drank from different sources.

The one thing I agree is that the stories seem very, very preachy, particularly when you look at them with the eyes of today. They reflect the times they were written, and giving equal time to a more conservative viewpoint to balance things out simply wasn’t in the spirit of the times.

Mike Loughlin

May 26, 2010 at 5:15 pm

“Quiver” had its good points. The art & covers were good. I liked how Ollie took down the Demon, the reunion with Connor, and the JLA’s reaction to his return. I even liked Mia. What killed the story for me were:

– extreme contrivance: they didn’t want Ollie to go into shock (or something), so they bought old computers and other things to mask the fact that it was no longer X years ago? Huh?

– the villain/ victim (trying not to soil the story’s major plot points). Unnecessary retcon, and a plot not at all about Green Arrow. Ollie’s new status quo at the story’s conclusion bugged me, too.

– the way Ollie was returned, and how & why he remembered things the way he did. It didn’t work for me, but that may be my Grell-era fandom coming out.

I didn’t ate the story, but the above elements dragged “Quiver” down. I thought “Archer’s Quest” was okay, but nothing special, and a bit repetitive. Everything after that was fair to poor (the Ollie/ Kyle crossover sucked), and I dropped the series around issue 50.

Looks like yet another good list!

The Connor story was great. Thought the issue where he and Atom took out Darkseid might get a run. Other top GA stories not shown here include The Arrow and the Bat from Legends of the DC Universe (I think), and that satellite era JLA one where Hawkman leaves. And a terrific one by William Messner-Loebs where he fights Solomon Grundy while protecting the latter’s grand-daughter(!)

The Hard Travelling Heroes definitely deserve their places!

“Dated” is a meaningless criticism for fiction. Works set contemporaneous with their publication merely seem to morph into historical fiction at various speeds as the readership progresses into the future. Are the works of Dickens “dated”? Hammett? Twain?

You could take a good percentage of thrillers or films noir from the 1950s and earlier and many of the problems presented within them would be trivial to solve if the characters had access to today’s mobile phones. So what? ****They’re not stories set today, and perceiving that in itself as a flaw is nothing but baseless chronocentrism.**** (It’s a very natural mental illusion to fall for, that there’s something special or significant or better about “these days” because we happen to be living in them, but that doesn’t make it true.)

The imputation that Dennis O’Neil cynically crafted these stories to garner outside media attention is baseless at best. What evidence is there that it wasn’t just him telling stories about things in which he was (and/or thought readers would be) interested? That they subsequently gained external attention doesn’t prove they were written with that aim any more than that they appear on this list proves they were written with the aim of appearing on this list.(!)

“giving equal time to a more conservative viewpoint to balance things out simply wasn’t in the spirit of the times”

Well, one must remember that at that time the more conservative viewpoints had had the overwhelming percentage of space given over to them in the majority of mainstream comics for decades. In other words, the balance across all superhero comics was overwhelmingly skewed to presenting the conservative viewpoint when these came out. Which was one reason these stood out as a breath of fresh air, and they are remembered fondly today, while dozens of “evil hippies are the bad guys ruining our way of life” stories were never reprinted and have been almost completely forgotten.

In general, as the original contextual background of revolutionary art falls away from the ever-youthening collective consciousness, and subsequent works inspired by the revolutionary breakthroughs become the norm, the originals, removed from the now-forgotten background against which they once stood out from so brightly, become perceived as less skillful, lustrous and significant than they are. The pre-Beatles pop music of the 60s is relatively unknown today, and there are plenty of kids who just don’t understand why the The Beatles are so well-regarded, for instance.

PS Rene I agree with almost everything you said, just quoted a snippet I had a quibble over to respond to.

That is okay, Bill.

And you’re right too.

I think Marvel Comics was reasonably progressive in the issue of civil rights in the 1960s. I have a hard time classifying Lee and Kirby as conservative (even though they were very anti-communist), but yeah, comics in general were skewed to the right, and HARD TRAVELING HEROES deserved to be celebrated.

“While I don’t believe social relevance automatically equals good stories in the superhero genre, I don’t think it automatically equals bad either.” I don’t think that “social relevance” is automatically bad either. I merely feel that too many people equate social relevance with aesthetic merit.

“But I think the stories were very innovative in the context of the superhero genre at the time”: As I think that blatent sermonizing is a grievous artistic sin, I am afraid that I see nothing to praise in this particular “innovation.”

Bill K: “Dated is a meaningless criticism for fiction.” Is it? I rather thought that it goes to the heart of the matter. A dated work, or period piece (to use my prefered term) is a work which remains bound to the purely evanescent concerns which birthed it. Notable literary examples of the period piece are: Upton Sinclair’s LANNY BUDD novels (in which the hero, the eponymous Budd, meets everyone worth knowing in the period from before WW1 to shortly after WW2) , Charles Reade’s IT IS NEVER TO LATE TO MEND (Prison reform), and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s UNCLE TOM’S CABIN (Slavery is bad but evangelical Christianity is good). Compare these works to genuine masterpieces from their respective periods: William Faulkner’s ABSOLOM, ABSOLOM; George Eliot’s MIDDLEMARCH; Herman Melville’s MOBY-DICK. These works transcend their times in ways that the period pieces do not.

‘Meltzer undid so much and really began running roughshod on DC continuity which would continue into Identity Crisis, all in service of what wasn’t a very good story to begin with.’
Can we please stop moaning at writers? Thanks.

Sorry,that should be IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND.Damn typos.


Many people use “dated” in the loose sense “I can tell when in the past this work was created” or at least “I can tell it wasn’t created today”. Black and white movies, to these people, are “dated” because they’re not in colour; silent movies are “dated” purely because they have no synchronised sound; 1970s movies set in the 1970s are “dated” by the fashions and hairstyles. And “dated” for these people is a perjorative. The problem with this position is that everything will inevitably become “dated”, so it becomes a meaningless distinction in time. Considering a work “dated” in this sense says more about when the judgement was made than it does about the work.

“Remains bound to the purely evanescent concerns which birthed it” is a nice, specific definition. (I don’t know that overpopulation, pollution, corporate greed, racial discrimination, poverty, environmental damage etc etc etc are “purely evanescent” concerns, though. They all seem capable of being abstracted to wider areas of applicability than late 60s USA, in the way the concerns of Moby Dick are abstractable beyond the oceans of the 19th century)

But these bonds, and the degree to which they may or may not remain, are in the eye of the beholder…

All artistic works are products of, and reflect to greater or lesser degrees, the times in which they were created. If the world of Western politico-cultural society in the 1960s is close enough to our memories that we can spot how HARD TRAVELLING HEROES reflects and comments on that, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t similarly space-time-specific links to the world of 19th century whaling in MOBY DICK; it could be just that that world is now so far away from us that we no longer know enough about it to spot the links to its various issues in MOBY DICK.

(Yes, we can tell there’s a lot of detailed whaling information, but are we aware, now, of the great debates in the world of whaling then, and which sides various characters, the narrator and the author seem to be taking on these questions, or what real life incidents were used for inspiration in the story? Almost none of us have the context to even notice, let alone care about, these matters today. Yet to readers in the first decades after it was published it may have been different, and it may have seen more “dated” then than it does now. It’s a fact that it was not Melville’s most popular work during his lifetime; that was shared by OMOO and TYPEE)

THE TEMPEST was inspired by a now forgotten exceedingly-famous-at-the-time shipwreck. Ten years after it debuted would it be considered dated? And is it not so considered now because the sparking incident is forgotten?

Is Captain America dated because his origin is linked to World War II?

That HARD TRAVELLING HEROES continues to be included in lists like this today suggests to me that it DOES indeed transcend the time in which it was created. That’s exactly what it’s doing, for to place as highly as it did, it must have scored many votes from readers, with wildly varying degrees of detailed knowledge of the issues of the times, who weren’t even alive when it was published.

Sorry all for the length; I wish I was as on target with my words as Oliver Queen is with his arrows :)

@Trajan: But O’Neil wasn’t try to say “hey, comics aren’t for kids”. He was just writing what he wanted to write. Yes, it was all about tackling social ills. But he actually did it will, and not in a pretentious way like you interpret it.

Didn’t vote here because I just have not read enough Green Arrow, especially the highly-acclaimed work by Grell. My favorite GA stories were some of those shorts from the World’s Finest dollar comics of the late 70s (those were written by Maggin, right?) plus that mini-series penciled by von Eeden.
I also wanted to strongly disagree with trajan23, but Rene and Bill K. (and also Dalarsco) all beat me to it & expressed any points I wanted to make on the topic so much better than I would, so I just have to commend all of you on a really interesting, and civil, discussion.

2.Strong points:

A. Art: Neal Adams was at the height of his powers during this run, and it shows. Every issue a visual delight.

Actually this is the bit I think you’re wrong about. Neil Adams’ work here is a pale shadow of his Batman work.

And yes the story is quite dated. And not just dated meaning “old”. It really doesn’t for the most part read that well these days.

All that said, this run is still quite enjoyable and is very historically significant. I’d still say it deserves its place on the list.

Am I the only one who much prefers Grell’s “Wonder Year” to Diggle’s “Year One”

trajan – you can write a 100 page dissertation on why it sucked if you want. You’re still wrong

I can’t think of any comic that tackled topical issues better than O’Neil and Adams’ Green Lantern. I’m not talking about comics that reflected topical issues, or have things in them that were symbolic of topical issues – I’m talking about comics that specifically and directly take on a topical issues (like the Spider-Man issues you referred to)

DanCJ: “Actually this is the bit I think you’re wrong about. Neil Adams’ work here is a pale shadow of his Batman work.”

you’re wrong also

I fell the need to weigh in on Trajan’s side here, just to balance things. I don’t think the Hard Traveling Heroes arc was or is bad as such, and I can understand why people still rate it, but when I read it I found much of it a bit of a struggle, and it was far from brilliant.

I think the ‘dated’ question is interesting. On the one hand, some of the issues covered in the stories are still relevant today, and the very idea of superheroes trying to tackle social ills is a great concept, and one too often ignored or else too quickly gets into the realm of ‘how much power and influence should superheroes exert (cf The Authority / Civil War). On the other hand, the way in which O’Neill and Adams present those issues, and some of the ways they respond to them, is just plain old fashioned. One can respect it and find this part of the story interesting as a period peice (in Trajan’s terms), but I don’t identify with them as a modern day reader.

I also agree with Kiel’s statement above – sadly, there aren’t many comics that have tackled topical issues at all, let alone done it better than O’Neil and Adams did. (Peter David touches on issues every now and then. I think he’s pretty good at it, mostly because he avoids preaching. I have a lot of respect for O’Neil for daring to come down on one side of the argument, though).

Honestly, it’s as if people write and read comics to escape from the real world…

“Dated” – Huggy Bear is dated. Hawaii 5-0 is dated. When Superman starts singing “Walk the Dinosaur” – dated!
I consider “Dated” comics ones that continually try to be “hip” with what’s going on in the culture, not necessarily the society. (I mean, the one where Starman – Jack Knight – references Chris Issak – well, it’s dated. Not much. But in ten years, people will be “Who?”)
Oh. On the subject. Grell Rocks. Sable, Ollie and Morgan – who more do you need?


naw, Grell is dated man

(kidding of course)

Bill K:

1. Dated elements in Classic works: You rightfully point out that even the most seemingly historically transcendent works can be bound to their periods of origin. This is, of course, quite true. Volumes of academic scholarship have been filled with papers that seek to prove that, say, Hawthorne was influenced by a Jacobean murder. Indeed, I have done my fair share of this kind of work (Somewhere in the lower-Cambrian stratum of my files a paper on the Lollard tradition’s influence on Shakespeare’s use of the parable of Dives and Lazaraus lies mouldering). However, the difference between a period piece and a masterpiece (Sorry, the rhyme was unintentional) lies in how this material is used. THE TEMPEST, to use your example, is more than a riff on the shipwreck of some Englishmen on Bermuda. Shakespeare uses the epherma of the moment to craft an enduring work of art. In contrast, Charles Reade’s IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO MEND is entirely bound up with the world of Victorian prison reform. In seeking to be completely relevant to his time, Reade remains bound to his time.

2. Captain america as a dated hero: Actually, your example of Cap is spot on, as Stan Lee feared that CA was too closely bound up with the frenzied patriotism of WW2 to work in the 1960s. Cap’s failed 1950s revival was evidence that such fears were well founded. Lee’s ingenious solution was to exploit this seeming weakness by making Cap’s dated qualities an explicit theme in the character’s revival.

3. Period elements in HARD TRAVELING HEROES evident to us because we are temporally close to them: This is quite true. Readers in 2010 are more aware of the 1960s zeitgeist than they are of that of the 1920s.One might note that the 1980s period specific elements in WATCHMEN are even more evident to the casual reader. Indeed, for reasons best known to himself, Zach Snyder chose to highlight the more dated elements (E.g., the 1980s fear of an imminent nuclear war) in his truly lousy film adaptation. WATCHMEN itself, however, is not bound to the ephemera of its era.

4. Eye of the Beholder: Obviously, I disagree. I feel that there are standards of taste, and I have a distinguished list of critical antecedents who feel the same way (E.g., Aristotle, Longinus, David Hume, Edmund Wilson, etc.)

5. TYPEE and OMOO more popular than MOBY-DICK during Melville’s lifetime: Doesn’t this prove my point? MOBY-DICK, the genuine masterpiece, survives, while the lesser works fade away.

6. Why did HARD TRAVELING HEROES make the list, if it is not a masterpiece?: I feel that two factors account for this:

A. As I noted in previous posts, people have a tendency to overrate that which seems obviously topical and relevant. Please bear in mind that Cary Grant never won an Oscar either. His work just seemed too “light.”

B. Neil Adams art is heartbreakingly good. I tend to think that the series would not be so often reprinted if the art had been provided by Don Heck.

Who would have guessed that Green Arrow’s list, of all of them, would spawn the comments thread most concerned with literature?

It’s a pity Rise of Arsenal #3 arrived too late to be eligible for this…

Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Bill K: “Who would have guessed that Green Arrow’s list, of all of them, would spawn the comments thread most concerned with literature”: Yeah, a bit surprising, isn’t it? Incidentally, I just wanted to thank you for maintaining a civil discouse in this thread. Too many people allow their disputes online to descend into juvenile namecalling.

I actually have all those stories. I’m surprised.

Quiver?!?! Doesn’t even make the list. The Archer’s Quest is by far the best Green Arrow story ever told. Big mistake on your part.

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Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

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