Green Arrow’s Modern Origin Story

Getting to know The Green Arrow

Fans of CW’s Arrow have seen Ollie stranded on an uncharted island before.  Though this take on Green Arrow’s origin is familiar to fans of the TV series, there are some notable differences in Year One as well.

Green Arrow: Year One - Cover art by Jock
Green Arrow: Year One – Cover art by Jock


First, Arrow fans may have already taken note of the author’s last name Diggle.  The answer is yes, the character name John Diggle (Oliver’s bodyguard and Green Arrow’s sidekick) from the show is a nod to author Andy Diggle.

In Year One, Oliver Queen is joined by a different bodyguard, Hackett.  Unlike John Diggle, Hackett is no sidekick.

When we meet this version of Oliver Queen, his parents are already dead.  The details of their deaths are never discussed in this book, but if you know how comics deal with parents then you know they didn’t go peacefully.  Oliver himself is a thrill seeking adrenaline junkie.  During a charity function Ollie gets drunk and makes a fool of himself after throwing his wealth around.  Oliver is portrayed as genuinely unlikable in these first pages.

An embarrassed Oliver decides to go on a business trip with Hackett.  Of course the trip doesn’t go as planned.  It wouldn’t be much of a story if it did now would it?  Oliver ends up alone on a mysterious island.  He must quickly adapt or die, especially when he discovers he’s not so alone.

Similar to Arrow’s version of the island, Year One’s island was occupied by the Japanese during WWII.   However, in Year One there is no Yao Fei or Slade Wilson to mold Oliver into a hero.  Left to his own devices, Oliver garbs himself in green (for protection from the sun of course) and builds a makeshift bow (for fishing).  It doesn’t take long before Oliver is using his archery skills against something other than fish.

The main antagonist in Year One is a drug lord named China White.  She doesn’t appear in volume, but her presence is menacing enough to leave an impression.  China White appeared in Arrow season 1.

By the end of the story Oliver has gone from a brash, arrogant jerk to a clever, witty, and likeable hero.

The tone of Year One is reminiscent of Arrow season 1 and 2.  Its conflict is serious and the villain is sadistic, but this balances out with enough of Oliver’s one-liners and swashbuckling to make Jack Sparrow jealous.  Oliver even uses a couple of trick-arrows to pay homage to the golden age version of Green Arrow.

Final Thoughts

If you need more Green Arrow than you’re getting on TV, and you want an origin story that is a breeze to read, consider Green Arrow: Year One.  The collected book retails at $15, but if you like to read your comics digitally, Comixology’s version is around $9.  For 160 pages of a fun story with beautiful line work and color, this book is well worth it.


Diggle, Andy. Green Arrow: Year One. Burbank: DC Comics, 2007. Comic Book.



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