WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for Green Arrow #38
The standard-setting Green Arrow Rebirth has ended in the best way possible… while taking some subtle shots at past writers. The idea of one comic writer throwing shade at a predecessor may surprise casual fans, but one can’t ignore that without key aspects of the characters being subverted, ignored, or destroyed, neither Green Arrow nor Black Canary would have needed a ‘rebirth’ in the first place. Fans of Oliver Queen can look towards a brighter future, while still lamenting Green Arrow‘s darkest days – summed up in the sudden return of the assassin named Constantine Drakkon.
A villain created by writer Judd Winick as part of his opening arc on the Green Arrow comic in 2003, Constantine Drakkon was a self-taught Greek assassin who started killing people at the age of ten just to see how it felt (turned out he was good at it). Despite being repeatedly stated to not be a metahuman, Drakkon was somehow fast enough to catch arrows being shot by multiple archers simultaneously.
Where the best villains are more than just hard to kill, Drakkon easily defeated Oliver Queen every time they faced off. The only reason he didn’t bother to kill the famous vigilante was his claim that he ‘wasn’t being paid enough’ to kill costumed heroes by his current employers.
This cartoonish stretching of believability was par for the course during Winick’s tenure on Green Arrow, with Oliver and company routinely outclassed by villains who were always three steps ahead of them. What few victories Team Arrow won were all part of the villain’s larger plans, further heightening the absurdity of the story. (Oliver Queen once beat Deathstroke, only for it to be revealed that he’d thrown the fight so that he could be sent to a particular prison to gain intel.)
Winick’s run was also notorious for changing or ignoring aspects of a character’s history that were valued by fans if it conflicted with the stories he wanted to tell. The most infamous example being Oliver’s transformation into “a horndog who chases skirts and can’t stay faithful.” That makes even Bruce Wayne’s playboy ways sound respectful.
This characterization dismissed earlier writers who showed Oliver to be overprotective to the point of possessiveness when it came to “his Pretty Bird.” That classic characterization lent an aura of complexity to Oliver Queen’s character, as he tried to balance his feminist politics with his chivalric impulses towards his own girlfriend. A woman who was more than capable of fighting her own battles, as a better fighter than Oliver on any day!
This bad characterization ultimately led to Oliver suddenly sleeping with Joanna Pierce – the newly created niece of Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning. This, in turn, led to a feud between Winick and Black Lighting creator Tony Isabella, who had famously established Black Lightning as an only child with no family apart from his widowed mother. It also perplexed Green Arrow and Black Canary fans when Dinah later dumped Oliver over “the affair”, since the two heroes had never been formally established as a committed couple by earlier Green Arrow writers.
DC Comics later forced a reconciliation of the two lovers with a Green Arrow/Black Canary Wedding Special, but Winick’s displeasure at being overruled was evident. Their once playful flirtations became a “relationship” defined by alternating bouts of physical combat and physical intimacy.
Insults were thrown along with punches, and would likely have rivaled Joker and Harley Quinn for DC’s most mutually abusive relationship were it not also presented in the same over-the-top fashion as the un-kill-able Constantine Drakkon.
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