When it comes to superheroes, there’s certainly no shortage of dark and brooding avengers, using high-tech gadgets and sophisticated abilities to fight crime and protect the common man. But despite superficial similarities between hooded hunters and cloaked crusaders like Green Arrow and Batman, there are fundamental differences between these two heroes. In Green Arrow #29 (directed by Benjamin Percy, Juan Ferreyra and Nate Piekos), while Oliver Queen is on the trail of the Ninth Circle, a malicious banking organization that funds much of the world’s super crime, he finds himself in Gotham after being struck by the Zirkel is in league with the city’s elite.
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Following the thread underground, Oliver finds himself on a Court of Owl-sponsored homeless manhunt through the city’s sewers. Green Arrow turns the tables and goes in pursuit of the Hunters, but it doesn’t take long before he comes into contact with Batman, Gotham’s own shadowy protector. Despite a rocky start, the two put their differences aside and work together for the best of the city. But the adventure makes Green Arrow think about what makes the two so fundamentally different.
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Green Arrow’s past shapes its exploits
When Oliver arrives in Gotham, he has no problem infiltrating and pushing back the city’s elite upper class. He assumes that Bruce, despite his famed skills as a detective, is not able to really understand this world. “Bruce pretends to be a rich, boring playboy,” says Oliver, “but I really was,” he adds. This really illustrates the fundamental difference between the two heroes, as on the surface they are both vigilantes born from the gilded ashes of their respective tragedies. But Green Arrow grew out of Oliver Queen while Bruce Wayne grew into Batman.
Given that this formative foundation had such a profound impact on Oliver, his continued isolation from his contemporaries makes far more sense, as it stems from his past personality deficits. His previous exploits can then be considered hollow in this context. While his actions served a lofty purpose, he himself explains in Green Arrow #27 (by Benjamin Percy, Jamal Campbell, and Nate Piekos) that the Green Arrow he was before was “more of a rich boy’s fantasy.”
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Green Arrow’s greatest strength is its ability to reinvent itself
That means Bruce Wayne became Batman in some form the day his parents were murdered. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen didn’t become Green Arrow until he was an adult. Oliver’s experiences on the island only initiated the change rather than catalyzing the end result. He had experienced the adversity needed to point him in a new direction, but it was not until he experienced the sacrifice that the true hero in him was revealed. While the two vigilantes have been active for a similar length of time, Green Arrow is still a newcomer in many ways.
Green Arrow has certainly come a long way since its time on the island. His strength and skills have grown by leaps and bounds, but it’s clear the hero in him is still fresh and young. He still finds his place in the world alongside fully formed heroes like Batman. Although this difference can be interpreted as a weakness, it is actually a strength. It allows Green Arrow to reinvent himself, giving him a level of adaptability that other more confident heroes like Batman might struggle to match.