Our “Where to Start” articles act as a guide, giving you our best suggestions on where to start on a certain character or creators work. Every article lists several books, each in the character’s or creator’s chronological order despite it’s publication date (so the first choice is at the beginning of a characters career, the last is the furthest along). While in order each book was specifically picked as a good individual starting point; so feel free to start at the beginning, in the middle, or towards the end if you want to get caught up quickly. And if you have any more suggestions or questions just leave a comment.
Where To Start Reading: Green Arrow
Year One 2007
In 2007, acclaimed writer Andy Diggle was given the task to present a definitive origin of the Green Arrow. While widely known as an island incident, the details had always been shifted from writer to writer, but this was to end all of that. Taking queues from other “Year One” titles, Diggle took the established origin of the character, and fleshed it out across a 6 issue series, emphasizing the heroic take down of a drug trading operation, while still providing a great character piece unlike any presentation of the origin story before it. Green Arrow: Year One is easily the best place to start reading the adventures of the Emerald Archer.
What to read next | Any one of the following.
Hard Traveling Heroes 1970-1972
Hard Traveling Heroes is the title that was given to Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adam’s run on Green Lantern vol. 2, which co-starred Green Arrow starting with issue #76. Their story together began as one of the Guardians of the Universe takes note of Hal Jordan’s lack of knowledge for the goings on that preoccupy his home planet when the down to Earth Oliver Queen points out his ignorance to the situations of the poor. From there we are taken on a journey of realization and discovery for both characters as their conservative and liberal mindsets are allowed to clash. The series is probably most well known for its ground breaking storyline that tackled drug abuse. The abuser? None other than Green Arrow’s own sidekick, Speedy. The series was the center of much controversy and praise, both of which were very much deserved.
What to read next | Green Lantern: Emerald Allies
The Longbow Hunters 1987
In the late 1980’s, comic books were growing up. Seeing the success of darker turns with heroes such as Batman, DC Comics decided to take a chance on a concept brought to the table by writer Mike Grell. The result was one of the darkest comic book stories to that date, and arguably one of the darkest stories to ever take place within the main DC Universe. While on the trail of a serial killer, Green Arrow is pulled into a battle for vengeance whilst his girlfriend, Black Canary, investigates another crime circle on her own. The investigations cross paths however, and in one of the most dire moments of Oliver Queen’s life, he makes a split moment decision that would forever change the character. The Longbow Hunters is widely considered by fans of the Emerald Archer as the most important storyline ever written, and its no surprise that it was this limited series that spurred the first ever ongoing solo title for the character.
What to read next | Mike Grell’s 80 issue run on Green Arrow vol. 2.
Where Angels Fear to Tread 1995
The only storyline on the list that was never collected into trade, Where Angels Fear to Tread is a 5 issue arc that was published in Green Arrow vol. 2 issues #96-100, with issue #101 serving as an epilogue. After Grell’s run with the character, Ollie’s life has been on a downward spiral and it all comes down to this fateful story about a terrorist organization that plans to mutate the entire population of Metropolis. Ollie’s son, Connor Hawke, plays a central roll as the story very much acts as a passing of the torch, and as such, it should come as little surprise where this story ends up. Its a roller coaster of a story that results in one of the most unnecessary, yet emotionally charged, character deaths in comic book history, as Oliver Queen takes what would seem to be for years to come… his final bow.
What to read next | Quiver
Nearly six years after the character’s death, writer/director Kevin Smith was hired on to bring back to the DC Universe its original Green Arrow. While not ousting his replacement, Oliver Queen was brought back through a series of meticulously well played, continuity driven story points. Going back to The Final Night in the first issue, Smith gave us essentially a series of deleted scenes from that epic crossover that had claimed the life of, then anti-hero, Hal Jordan, and showed us a small, yet important, event that had been “left out” of that story… the resurrection of Oliver Queen, gifted by the hand of Parallax. Thrust into a world unrecognizable to him, our returned Green Arrow must face the fact that he has died, and that time has moved on without him. But there are darker forces at play as he comes to the realization that he has no soul… something that Hal Jordan had selfishly ignored… and something that will need to be remedied if the balance of the world is to be maintained. Quiver is arguably one of the best written stories in DC Comics history, and managed to propel Green Arrow to the number one selling title for the company at the time.
What to read next | The Sounds of Violence
The Archer’s Quest 2002
Having been back on Earth for sometime, it all finally begins to sink in for Oliver, and he decides to seek out his personal belongings which were left behind after his death. From the Arrowcave, to the Flash Museum, to the JLA Watchtower, and even the remnants of Ferris Aircraft, Green Arrow sets out on a quest to reclaim his past. But he’s not alone. Accompanying him on his journey is his once sidekick, Roy Harper. But while on the journey, it becomes apparent that Ollie’s purpose is not just to reclaim what once belonged to him, but is something far more personal. The Archer’s Quest is a very character driven story by renowned writer Brad Meltzer, and is so rooted in the history of the character, that its a must read for anyone looking to start reading Green Arrow comics.
What to read next | Straight Shooter
City Walls 2004
While Green Arrow is preoccupied with the Riddler’s attacks on Star City, an evil occult ritual is taking place, that upon its completion sets up a barrier around the entirety of the city, and summons a heavy handed demonic force that preaches “Peace or perish,” slaughtering any individuals who commit even the slightest of crimes. It falls upon the Emerald Archer and his family to get everyone in the city, police and criminals alike, to band together and find a legal way to eliminate the threat. City Walls is an essential story due to its importance in the relationship between Ollie and his then future sidekick, Mia Dearden, as this is the first story in which he lets her work with him.
What to read next | Moving Targets
Heading Into the Light 2006
Following the long drawn story of Doctor Light that was introduced in Identity Crisis, and sequelized in Mia’s short run in Teen Titans (which co-starred Green Arrow), the events of the fallout come to a head as Doctor Light comes to Star City, hell bent on blaming Ollie for what was done to him, and set to take his vengeance on the Emerald Archer, his family, and the city he protects. But he isn’t alone. With the aid of Merlyn, the dark archer, Doctor Light sets his plans in motion, and he refuses to fail. Heading Into the Light is a thrilling action ride that tells a compelling story of the Green Arrow failing to protect his home, his family, and even himself. The story’s conclusion will leave you breathless and ready for more. And don’t be worried about its heavy connections to two previous stories, all the exposition is provided to understand exactly what is happening and why.
What to read next | Crawling from the Wreckage
Road to Jericho 2007
The Red Hood, Jason Todd, has come to town, and Batman isn’t far behind. With the Dark Knight’s former sidekick taking aim at Star City and the Emerald Archer’s own partner, Speedy, the situation becomes one that will take the team of DC Comic’s most recognizable vigilantes to handle. But with the likes of Brick, Merlyn, Constatine Drakon, and Deathstroke joining the fray in the aftermath, Green Arrow may have his work cut out for him. But all this action aside, the most important thing in this story is Ollie’s relationships, most notably the one with long time lover, Dinah Lance. And in the end, this is where the biggest question in Green Arrow’s history was finally asked… “will you marry me?”
What to read next | Road to the Altar; The Wedding Album
Cry for Justice and the Fall of Green Arrow 2009-2010
A fraction of the Justice League, lead by Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen, decide enough is enough, and take the battle against the villains to the next level. No longer waiting for them to make their moves, they go out looking for them. But not all the villains are what they seem, and one in particular hatches a plan that will shatter the lives of Team Arrow forever. Unleashing an attack on Star City that claims the life of Green Arrow’s adoptive granddaughter, and invading the JLA Watchtower, resulting in the maiming of his adoptive son, Roy Harper, Prometheus garners the wrath of the Emerald Archer, and in one of the most powerful non-fight sequences in comics history… Ollie crosses the line… again. But it doesn’t end there, propelling forward from Cry for Justice, The Fall of Green Arrow follows Ollie as he hunts down Prometheus’ trigger man, the Electrocutioner, whilst being hunted, himself, by the JLA, who have discovered what he did to Prometheus. The conclusion of the story shatters the status quo for Team Arrow, and propels the character forward into Green Arrow vol. 5. The Fall of Green Arrow was collected apart from Cry for Justice alongside The Rise of Arsenal, a parallel story following the reactions of Roy Harper to the events presented, which is also a very integral part of the story, and even includes Green Arrow, though is not an essential read for the Green Arrow side of things. That said, Cry for Justice and The Rise and Fall, make up a hugely important storyline for all Arrow fans.
What to read next | Into the Woods
If you have any questions or suggestions leave a comment and we’ll try to help you out. Until then, happy reading!