Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Green Arrow

Let's take a little break from group politics and think about a guy. This guy lives in the Northwest in a city bisected by water. Though he is wealthy, he is extremely liberal and cares deeply about many social causes. He dresses in a deliberately anachronistic manner and most of his favored possessions are bespoke or invoke days long gone by. He has an ongoing on-and-off again with a woman who has a history of depression and a penchant for fishnets. Some of his other friends struggle with drug addiction.

So are we talking about Green Arrow fighting crime in Star City or your average twenty-something resident of Portland, OR, tooling around on his penny-farthing?

Well, in the Drewniverse, we're talking about both.

Oliver Queen, such wasted potential! While his father was alive, the boy was everything a Fortune 500 dad could ask for. Smart, handsome, outgoing, and fiercely competitive. But when the senior Queen's private plane crashed on the way to the Summer Olympics, Oliver's life fell apart. He dropped out of the competition, even though he was a shoo-in for archery gold, and started to reassess his life. His father's fortune was his, Queen Industries there for the taking, but is that what young Oliver really wanted? He could spend his life increasing his fortune, but for what end? All it takes is a freak wind and all your work is for nothing, your 'friends' lining up to pick over your corpse and claim your accomplishments.

Oliver's mother is no help. Accustomed to living a certain way, she really ratchets up the pressure on her son to step into his father's shoes. Unable to take it anymore, Oliver sets up a trust for his mom, abandons his responsibility to his father's company, and heads for the coast. He is 21, rich, and free. He takes his time getting to Star City, having plenty of Route 66 style adventures on the long dusty roads that crisscross America. It's on these adventures that he gets a sense of how the other half, the underprivileged, live. At first he tries throwing money at the problems he encounters, but that just seems to make things worse. Dumping money on a broken system has about as much chance of fixing it as pouring gasoline of a campfire will put it out.

So by the time Ollie (Oliver no more!) gets to Star City, he's ready for the next stage of his life. First things first, however. If he's going to help the average working class American, he needs to live like one. Get a job, a crappy apartment, try to ween himself from over-reliance on his personal fortune. He succeeds at the first two pretty easily, getting a job at and a room above a flower shop. Cutting himself off from the money, though, proves to be pretty hard. Star City is a mecca for artists and artisans, most of whom are scrambling to get by working as barristas or barstaff or other low paying jobs in order to fund their art. Before long, Ollie finds himself become a quiet patron of the arts. Having trouble making rent this month? Well, I would love a pair of your custom made shoes fashioned from reclaimed tires. Here, let me pay you now, just get'm to me whenever.

While the artsy types are usually too self absorbed to put two and two together that some dude that works at a flower shop is able to afford bouquets of iron roses or hand woven capes, Ollie's boss at the flower shop is much more keen. Then again, if you were a retired covert operative like Dinah Drake, you'd tend to notice things too. She figures out who Ollie is and talks to him about it, telling him that just because you are becoming a new person doesn't mean you have to abandon everything about who you were. This inspires Ollie enough to pick up a used bow from the Amsterdam Street Swap Meet with the intent on getting back into archery.

His call to action comes that night when a gang of men attempt to break into the florist shop. Not knowing about Dinah's past, Ollie assumes they are simple thieves and ends up fighting them off with use of his bow. He doesn't have any arrows, so is forced to make do with things laying around the store - gardening stakes, a tamping trowels, and even a small sapling stuck in a flower pot. Dinah assists and in the ensuing fight reveals that she is quite a bit more capable at hand to hand combat than Ollie would have thought. After the fight, the truth comes out about her past. Ollie, feeling a sense of purpose for the first time in awhile, asks that she train him.

And so Green Arrow's career begins. Our Issue #1 (19/52) will be the start of his Year One adventures. Using his money to buy 'art' from the maker community, he assembles the tools of his trade. Anything requiring more complex parts than a boxing glove arrow can be sourced from his mentor Dinah's contacts. He starts his crimefighting career simply - going after gangs, slumlords, sweatshop owners, and the like, slowly building a local reputation. He might even develop a rival or two ("Poser! I was running around shooting arrows first!"). Additionally, there's always the threat of shadowy figures from Dinah's past weighing in, wanting some bit of information that they think she has.

Of course, it's not the arrival of superspies or mercenaries from Dinah's past that will have the most impact on Ollie - it's the arrival of her daughter that will really change his life.

But that's a story for a future issue.

And for going this entire entry without using the term "The Green Hipster," I deserve a Coke!

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