When you think of the Green Arrow, a number of different incarnations come to mind. Perhaps you’re a fan of the classic Mike Grell “Longbow Hunters” run. Maybe you’re more fond of the Neal Adams goatee and the hard-traveling hero politics of Denny O’Neil. Perhaps your favorite GA is of the TV variety, from “Justice League Unlimited” to Stephen Amell. They’re all good, but like “Batman ’66,” there are some things about Green Arrow you can’t take with a straight face.
Relegated to the back pages of “Adventure Comics” and “World’s Finest,” the clean-shaven Oliver Queen of the Silver Age had an absurd need to put every possible object on the end of arrows. Don’t believe us? We’ll give you the where, when and how of these oddly-specific arrows. As for the why? Well, you’re on your own.
17. FAKE URANIUM ARROW
An excuse to explain the origin of Green Arrow and show the genesis of Oliver’s multi-purpose arrows such as the rope arrow or the drill arrow, “Adventure Comics” #256 revolves around a team of explorers closing in on the star-shaped island where Oliver was originally stranded. If they find the cave where Queen had kept a diary of his training written on the walls, his secret identity will be revealed to the world.
So, how do he and Speedy scare these intrepid explorers away from the cave? Why, with their fake uranium arrow, of course. Once Speedy spies the team using geiger counters, the archers whip out the arrow they seemingly always carry to give off the false impression of uranium radiation and frighten off the explorers. Once the cave is secure, the duo set about cleaning Queen’s diary from the walls to ensure no one ever again comes close to uncovering his secret. If GA is so “ready for anything” as to have a radiation-faking arrow, did he never previously eliminate this glaring liability to his secret identity? Could you imagine if “Arrow” Season 6 revolves around Oliver forgetting he left a detailed journal somewhere?
16. ANTLER ARROWS
If you ever wondered how Speedy turned to smack in the Adams/O’Neil years, it’s worth noting the amount of subconscious emotional abuse Oliver put him through in the seemingly innocent Silver Age. In “Adventure Comics “#260, Speedy is distressed to discover that while his guardian Oliver claims to be going out on the town, he’s really having covert liaisons with one of Roy’s classmates, training him to become a new Speedy.
Hurt and furious, Speedy repeatedly tracks the new duo as Oliver trains the new accomplice with various trick arrows. This culminates in the rescue of a baby from a moose enclosure by using the ever-helpful antler arrow to lock horns with the moose and thereby sedate it. While ultimately it is explained that the new young ward is just a temporary visitor — the child of an Alaskan police chief with whom GA was friends, and Oliver offered to train the boy in Alaskan themed trick arrows so that he could help his father on the job — what’s never explained is just how an arrow with two large, protruding antlers is meant to fit into a quiver.
15. CHIMNEY SWEEP ARROW
In “Adventure Comics” #263, Speedy wants to buy a sailboat, but Oliver won’t up his allowance. Speedy, it seems, needs to learn the meaning of the words hard work, according to the billionaire who needs to learn the meaning of words like “reckless endangerment” and “child labor.” So, Speedy sets about, in costume, to solicit odd jobs under a banner “Have Arrow, Will Travel,” but with the caveat that all potential jobs “must involve archery skill.” And while none of the odd jobs actually require archery skills, whether its rescuing a monkey or sweeping a chimney, Speedy comes equipped with the right monkey-sized-parachute arrow or chimney sweep arrow for the job.
Of course, after being fooled by gangsters posing as “a target manufacturing company that somehow had never before been heard of by the world’s most famous archers,” Speedy loses all of his archery-earned pay. Lucky for him, though, he saves the life of a man who “manufactures sports boats” and offers Speedy anything he’d like as a thank you. So, the moral of the story is “hard work” doesn’t matter nearly as much as a really niche skill and luck. Honestly, that’s a pretty apt moral for today’s job market.
14. TUMBLEWEED ARROW
Green Arrow actually appears twice in “Adventure Comics” #258. His first appearance is the cover story, in which the young wealthy child Oliver Queen inexplicably gets enrolled in a rural Kansas elementary school just in time for Smallville’s history pageant. A young Superboy tries to teach Oliver, now dressed as Robin Hood, to be the world class archer he’ll one day become, but to no avail.
However, adult Oliver remembers this experience when he’s forced to help a platoon of Eisenhower-era soldiers learn archery in order to stop bandits in a Wild West town that happens to still exist in the middle of a desert. After arming the platoon with “basic” trick arrows like the boomerang and rope arrows, Oliver saves his best, most specific shaft for himself. In order to stop the bandits from getting away, Oliver whips out his ever-handy tumbleweed arrow and stops them dead in their tracks, because if there’s one thing old west bandits aren’t equipped to handle, its tumbleweeds. This arrow would, like most, never appear again, except in “Arrow”/“Westworld” crossover fan-fiction.
13. COCOON ARROW
In a back-to-back of bizarre arrows, “Adventure Comics” #252 kicks off a two part story about Oliver and Roy’s adventures in Dimension Zero. You see, the city is being terrorized by giant arrows soaring through the sky, and since the only way to defeat a giant arrow is with other arrows, apparently, Speedy and Ollie are on the case, ensnaring the destructive projectiles in “cocoon arrows.” Afterwards, they trace the giant arrows back to Dimension Zero and hitch a ride on one to investigate further.
So, what’s so odd about the cocoon arrow? Clearly it does a great job, has a real purpose, is practical. We won’t argue with that, it does a great job. It also does the same job as the frequently used net arrow, or the vine arrow, or the mummy arrow. What’s bizarre is just how many arrows Oliver makes that do pretty much the same thing, only slightly differently, for no clear reason at all.
12. BALLOON ARROW
Aboard the aforementioned giant arrow, GA and Speedy arrive in Dimension Zero to find those giant arrows were merely children’s playthings in this giant dimension. Here, everything towers over them, including Dimension Zero’s own Emerald Archer, the Xeen Arrow. Set upon by fierce criminals, Oliver and Roy stow away in Xeen Arrow’s quiver in the hopes of being able to assist in the fight. Of course, at their size, any arrows they fire would be the equivalent of a regular sized human lobbing toothpicks at his opponent, so what help could they be?
But what if those toothpicks didn’t hit your opponent, but instead stopped in midair and turned into tiny balloons? Why, that would totally turn the tables, wouldn’t it? No? It actually wouldn’t? Well, it did here, as Oliver’s balloon arrows proved to be just the thing to distract Xeen Arrow’s opponent and give Xeen the upper hand. Afterwards, GA and Speedy return home from discovering a new Dimension wherein they have a colossal alien ally, never to even acknowledge it again.
11. TWO-STAGE ROCKET ARROW
If by now you’re thinking “Golly, Ollie sure carries a lot of oddly specific arrows that are always right for the job. What would happen if he had a quiver full of oddly specific arrows that weren’t helpful?” then you’re in luck. If you can get past the inexplicable anachronisms and remarkable racism, “Adventure Comics” #254 tackles that very question. Oliver laments that ammunition like a Two-Stage Rocket Arrow, a Balloon Arrow, Firecracker Arrow or Dry Ice Arrow are all useless when it comes to protecting a group of adventurers from… oh boy… “savage Indians.”
When Oliver and co. are set upon by the tribe, a Sioux Tribe supposedly lost in the 1880s has resurfaced in 1958. Their nefarious medicine man Big Turtle hatches a plan to halt a return to the outside world. He’ll concoct a legend to stop the… sigh… paleface archer by saying he could shoot the moon and make it rain. Of course, Oliver has just the specific combo of arrows to fake a full moon (two stage rocket arrow combined with balloon arrow) and make it thunder and rain (dry ice and firecracker arrows), essentially pulling a C-3PO in “Return of the Jedi”.
10. HANDCUFF ARROW
So, here we get our first example of another kind of oddly specific arrow Oliver carries: objects that are genuinely useful, but have no business being on arrows. Oh, and if you like overly-convoluted plots where Oliver is blatantly bad at his job, this one’s for you. After producing a series of trading cards showing his greatest exploits in “Adventure Comics” #227, Green Arrow is distressed to discover an artificial shortage has occurred for three of the cards, and they can’t produce more. Naturally, the safest solution Oliver can think of is recreating these crimes just to stop them again and photograph them for cards. Yep, he lets a wild ape loose and allows a priceless diamond to get stolen for the sake of trading cards.
This shortage of cards was created by a criminal who knew Oliver would recreate the missing cards so that he could be on hand to steal the priceless jewel being used for the recreation, but Oliver gets wise to the ruse he could have easily avoided and slaps the cuffs on the criminal. Actually, he shoots the cuffs onto the criminal from a distance, which is impractical because, well, nothing technically stops the crook from still running away.
9. ARROWS OF THE FUTURE
No matter how grounded the hero, Jack Kirby could find a way to make it sci-fi, such as in this GA story from “Adventure Comics” #251. Handling both writing and art duties for this story, Kirby envisions a year 3000, where Ollie and Speedy are revered, so aliens decide to add to their oddly specific arsenal with seemingly singular use shafts like a cloud-seeding arrow, a super-sensitive sonar arrow and a vacuum tube arrow.
However, while remembering the Green Arrow’s archery acumen, the people of the future seem to forget this era’s Arrow lacked a bit of critical thinking, as evidenced by his staring directly into the spiral of a hypnosis arrow he misfired. The gangsters they’ve been chasing get away with the future arrows until he and Speedy catch up with them and show that these highly advanced future arrows have one weakness: the fragility of regular arrows, as Oliver splits them down the center Robin Hood-style. You’d think by 3000 A.D. they’d stop making them out of wood, right? Not in King Kirby’s estimate.
8. JUJITSU ARROW
In this new age of recasting and diversity, it can be fun to wonder what it would be like if a once-homogenous stable of characters came from different ethic backgrounds. You wanna see what, say, the Green Arrow would look like if he was of Asian or Latino descent. You know what you don’t wanna see, though? What 1958 comic book writers thought the Green Arrow would look like if he was Asian or Latino.
Yet the “Green Arrows of the World” story in “Adventure Comics” #250 gives us just that, with caricatures that range from Mexican Green Arrow being a white dude in a sombrero and mustache to the Japanese GA, who looks like Mickey Rooney in “Breakfast At Tiffany’s” driving a rickshaw dressed as Robin Hood. Each arrow seemingly only fires arrows based on stereotypes of their nationality, such as the Bowmen of Britain having a Big Ben Arrow and Japan’s having a Jujitsu arrow, which is really just an arrow with arms on it. One wonders, though, why the American GA is the only one whose arsenal lacks arrows stereotypical of its nation. A cheeseburger arrow, perhaps? A ten gallon hat arrow? On second thought, let’s not give them any more ideas.
7. FOUNTAIN PEN ARROW
Now, you may be saying to yourself ,“Well, an arrow that shoots ink, that’s pretty practical.” And you’d be right. No one here is gonna knock the projectile ink arrows employed by Oliver Queen, which incidentally made their debut in the following issue, “World’s Finest Comics” #99. However, “World’s Finest Comics” #98 showcases Oliver employing ink in his arrow in a much more bizarrely specific manner: a fountain pen.
Yes, while GA almost definitely has a handful of “tracking device” arrows he’s employed over his career, his strategy to track the fleeing bad guys is to fire his fountain pen arrow, a device seemingly designed solely to hook onto the backs of cars and produce an ink trail on the street that can be followed. Now, if you’re thinking “Why shape it exactly like a pen if its not doing anything really pen-like?” or “If it’s got a very awkward shape, how is it remotely aerodynamic?” or perhaps “Ink and asphalt are the same color, so you wouldn’t be able to even see the trail it left behind” it’s important to remember that this was the third story in a 10 cent book sold to children.
6. BABY RATTLE ARROW/DEAD DUCK ARROW
Did you know the Green Arrow ran a day camp for young boys? Did you know that, despite GA being all about Robin Hood and archery, that day camp is somehow entirely cowboy themed? Or that Speedy seems to distinctly hate all of the kids at said camp? Well, you can learn all about it in “Adventure Comics” #265, and then never hear about the camp or any of its campers ever again.
The campers, grateful for their hero, each design a special niche arrow like a Baby Rattle Arrow and a Duck Call/Dead Duck Arrow, each with a specific purpose explained by the child. Even so, GA and particularly Speedy are dismissive of such “useless” and “odd” arrows, because apparently guys who have antler arrows are in a position to be judgmental. In any event, as you’d expect, when Wild West bandits attack, the baby rattle arrow is used to trick one criminal into thinking a rattlesnake is about to attack, whilst the Dead Duck arrow summons a flock of wild ducks.
5. BAD LUCK ARROWS
A millionaire obsessed with superstition dies and offers to leave $5 million to charity if Green Arrow fights a full day’s worth of crime using only 13 bad luck themed arrows including a ladder arrow, a black cat arrow and a salt shaker arrow. GA readily agrees without raising any crucial questions like “So, what if there are 14 crimes that day?” or “Am I supposed to ignore crimes that can’t be stopped with bad luck arrows, then?” or even “I’m a millionaire. Surely I could just give that same amount myself and not endanger people’s lives.”
Instead, Oliver conveniently finds ways to use things like a black cat arrow to trip a criminal or a salt shaker arrow to melt ice. More troubling, though, is his application of a number 13 arrow in order to get the cops to track down criminals who were getting away by adding a “13” to their license plate so that it matches the number of a car reported stolen, thereby allowing the actual thief of the actual stolen car to get away. And the less said about the panel where the ladder arrow appears to snap a crook’s neck, the better.
4. THE AQUA-ARROWS
When a gang of underwater criminals called the Human Sharks start terrorizing Star City in “World’s Finest Comics” #130, what does Green Arrow do? Call on Aquaman? Aqualad? Topo the Octopus? Of course not, Green Arrow and Speedy can handle this task themselves with their specifically fish-themed arrows. Now, we can giggle at the specificity of arrows that do special tricks underwater, but that’s not the concerning part. Actually, things like an an electric eel arrow that shoots electricity, an octopus arrow that shoots ink, or a glowfish arrow that glows are all actually pretty useful tools for Ollie’s arsenal.
What’s concerning is that, while those previous arrows make sense, he also has a jellyfish arrow that… shoots jelly. Now, we can argue about the usefulness of coating your enemy in jelly whilst they’re submerged in water, which can easily wash it off, but let’s instead turn our attention to the matter at hand: jellyfish don’t shoot jelly, nor are they made of jelly, or have anything to do with jelly. Now, we’re not expecting Ollie to be an expert on marine life, but after years stranded on an island, he should know better.
3. MISS ARROWETTE
Some may think of the Kevin Smith created Maya Dearden as the first female sidekick for Green Arrow. “Young Justice” fans may think it was Artemis Crock or Cissie King-Jones. Yet, well before that, Bonnie King, Cissie’s mother, took on the self-invented mantle of Miss Arrowette and tried desperately to join Green Arrow and Speedy’s team.
Like GA, Miss Arrowette is armed with an arsenal of unique, oddly specific arrows, but because she’s a girl, by 1960’s logic, of course they’re all super-feminine. No rope arrow or boxing glove arrow for her, oh no. Miss Arrowette fights crime with a hairpin arrow, a powderpuff arrow, a mascara arrow and even a slippery lotion arrow, the last of which backfires and puts GA and Speedy in peril. For all her inventive (if pretty damn sexist) arrows, Oliver wouldn’t let her join the team, as their missions were far too dangerous for a “little girl.” Of course, Bonnie wasn’t too “little” for Ollie to take her on a date less than a year later in “Justice League of America” #7. Yeah, there’s a lot to judge Silver Age Ollie for.
2. AQUA-LUNG ARROW
What should be a straightforward, unremarkable Green Arrow story in “World’s Finest Comics” #97 throws you for a real loop in its second to last page, and not just because of a glaring typo. A group of criminals have been using a large mechanical octopus to terrorize ships and steal their cargo, and Green Arrow and Speedy take the case, using their classic and multi-use arrows such as the fireworks arrow, the acetylene arrow and the short circuit arrow. After being captured and thrown into the brig, Ollie and Roy need to make an escape, and that’s when GA whips out easily the dumbest arrow to ever enter his quiver, made all the more confusing by a speech bubble typo that reads “Now we’ll use the Arrow! Aqua-Lung fit the tip on your face…”.
Yes, Green Arrow couldn’t just settle for a normal aqua-lung. Oh no! For absolutely no reason, even his underwater breathing apparatus, despite never touching a bow, must have an arrow shaft and fletching. No explanation is given, and even in the panel itself Speedy seems to stare at Oliver with a gaze of “Dude, what’s with you and these arrows?”
1. GUN ARROW
Well, we’ve peaked on “unnecessary arrows,” and congrats to GA, this one isn’t one of his. It is his fault that it exists, but as you learn reading Silver Age Green Arrow, he tends to create a lot of his own problems. Indeed, for the second time in this article, Oliver stumbles into peril because someone offers to give money to charity. That someone wants to be trained in the ways of archery and learn to be just like the Green Arrow, something Oliver seems to see absolutely no issue with whatsoever.
As you likely saw coming, this gentleman intends to use the skills he learned for evil, believing he can beat the Green Arrow by taking what he does a step further; killing when GA himself refuses to. Of course, that’s not the only way in which this man trumps the Emerald Archer. Whatever you make think of Oliver Queen in his Silver Age incarnation, at least he knew an arrow was, in itself, a projectile. His protege, however, utilizes a “gun arrow.” That’s an arrow… that shoots bullets. For whatever reason, this criminal mastermind decided guns themselves were too efficient a bullet delivery system, and they could really use an archaic weapon to work as a middle-man.
What are the most ridiculous arrows you can remember Green Arrow using? Let us know in the comments!