Core Concept: Green Arrow is not an overly original character. Created all the way back in 1941, this hero is essentially an amalgamation of Batman and Robin Hood. It took a long time for his writers to come up with an idea that moved beyond those two core influences. It took until the 70’s in his joint adventures with Green Lantern for the hero to develop an identity all his own. Oliver Queen is at his best when he is seeking out social justice in addition to that of the vigilante kind. His political life, his commitment to the little guy, his anti-fascist stances, and leftist/populist leanings set him apart from other superheroes. The tone of his adventures may run the gambit from happy swashbuckler to dark and gritty, but the real core of any good Green Arrow story lies in exploring the relevant social issues of the day and the events that helped shape Oliver Queen’s progressive worldview.
Essential Moments: Perhaps the most important moment in the long history of the character came when he lost his fortune and joined Hal Jordan on a road trip across America. More than being stranded on an island honing his archery skills, that is the true origin of the Green Arrow who has become a fan favorite today. That moment led to so many other character’s histories. From his long running friendship with Hal Jordan to his eventual tenure as mayor of Star City. It also led to one of the most controversial and defining story arcs in comics history, his discovery of his sidekick Speedy’s heroin addiction. Also, though it may seem small in the scheme of things, shoving an arrow through Deathstroke’s eye during the Identity Crisis crossover event has turned out to be a pivotal moment for Ollie. A moment that still influences the franchise to this day.
Rouges Gallery: Unlike many of his cohorts in the Justice League, Green Arrow’s rouges gallery is a little on the light side. There’s Merlyn, the requisite Dark Archer to serve as a foil to Green Arrows heroic archer persona, an Count Vertigo, whose (you guessed it) vertigo powers are able to counteract Oliver Queen’s training and marksmanship. Green Arrow often runs into elements of the criminal underground such as Brick and China White, but these villains are nothing more than jumped up gangsters with powers. But no one on this list rises to the level of a Joker or a Lex Luthor. At least not until Deathstroke. After the events of Identity Crisis I mentioned above, Deathstroke has taken up a fanatical interest in making Oliver’s life as miserable as he possibly can. A remorseless killer and master tactician. He finally gives the Green Arrow a villain worthy of the title arch-nemesis.
Best Stories: I’ve mentioned it twice already, which should tell you just how essential theses stories were to establishing the modern Green Arrow Mythos, the O’neil/Adams run on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comic from the early 70’s is one of the best comic book runs ever. It can occasionally be a little ham-fisted by contemporary standards but at the time it was revolutionary and did more than any other book to define Green Arrow for the modern era. The Longbow Hunters is another quintessential Oliver Queen story that falls neatly in line with that gritty late 80’s DC style, showing an older more reflective Oliver get back to basics by ditching the trick arrows and returning to the streets. And while the Green Arrow’s origin has been retconned a few times there is no better version that Green Arrow: Year One. On television Season 2 of Arrow is far and away the best, showcasing a different but just as compelling rivalry between Oliver and Slade Wilson than in the comics. And in the animation department the DC Showcase: Green Arrow short is an awesome encapsulation of everything that makes this character so cool.
NEVER DO IT THIS WAY AGAIN: Arrow Season Three is basically just what if Batman Begins was about Green Arrow instead and took place over fifteen hours instead of two. Oh and was also way worse. Just ….no. As for the comics avoid returning to anything pre-1968 and anything post new-52. Basically if you hit an issue where Oliver Queen is not in love with Black Canary its probably a bust.