DC Database

In the first version during the Golden Age, Oliver Queen was a famous archaeologist specializing in native American culture. Roy Harper was a young boy whose parents had been killed in a plane crash that stranded him on the isolated [[Lost

Green Arrow has had his origin story retold differently several times over his many years of publication, with significant variations in continuity.


Golden Age

In the first version during the Golden Age, Oliver Queen was a famous archaeologist specializing in native American culture. Roy Harper was a young boy whose parents had been killed in a plane crash that stranded him on the isolated Lost Mesa; he had learned to hunt to survive. Queen's museum was burned down by criminals he had been fighting during an attempted robbery, and he ventured to the Mesa as a means of finding a new lease on life.

Green Arrow Origins 001

Starfish Island

Criminals followed him in search of rumored treasure and shot Harper's only friend Quoag, forcing the man and boy to work together. They took their code-names Green Arrow and Speedy from off-handed remarks the thugs had made, and defeated them using bows and arrows. Discovery of the treasure made them very wealthy, and they used that money to fund their crime-fighting careers. This story would be drastically altered in future revisions.[1]

Silver Age

The story was completely changed during the Silver Age by writer/artist Jack Kirby, who established that prior to his vigilante career Oliver Queen had been a wealthy playboy. After accidentally falling off of his cruise ship he had been stranded on Starfish Island, where he learned to survive by any means necessary using a make-shift bow and arrows. He developed primitive Trick Arrows as advanced methods of hunting and foraging for food, then assembled a green suit for camouflage. Eventually a commercial freighter stopped by the island, and he swam out thinking they might rescue him. They were in the middle of a mutiny and he had to liberate the crew from dangerous pirates. Making a small mask to hide his face from sight, he took them all down using the skills he had developed. Now calling himself Green Arrow, he realized that he could use his abilities to serve society for the greater good and fight crime.[2]

Roy Harper was established as having grown up on an Indian reservation after his parents died in an explosion. His mentor Chief Thunderhead trained and raised him to be an incredible archer in hunting and competition, then sent him out into the world to seek his destiny.[3] This was later rewritten in a contradictory story that maintained many of the new elements. He was raised by a great archer named Brave Bow who owed his dead father a great debt. Brave Bow was in failing health and decided the perfect new guardian for young Harper would be the Green Arrow. Roy auditioned several times to become his assistant and proved his skill and mettle, receiving the name Speedy because of how fast he was.[4]


The Crisis on Infinite Earths ended the Multiverse and streamlined the entire DC Universe into a new continuity.[5] Oliver Queen was still a wealthy playboy, but also the hard-working corporate executive of Queen Industries. After drunkenly falling off of his boat and washing up on an island, he became a hunter to survive. He was finally able to escape when he caught a group of drug dealers using the location for an illegal marijuana farm and turned them into the authorities. Queen is also very aware of the irony in being a millionaire industrialist considered an anti-establishment Robin Hood-like figure.[6] The revisionary story Green Arrow: Year One changes some of this and expands on his island adventures. Prior to the incident he is shown to be a rich playboy and an adventurous thrill-seeking alcoholic with no real sense of direction or responsibility, struggling to find meaning in a hollow existence of luxury. His best friend Hackett betrayed him to embezzle money and shot him off of a boat in the middle of the ocean. Oliver landed on an island controlled by China White, ruthless leader of a massive drug cartel, and mastered his bow to shut down her heroin operation before coming home. This experience inspired him to fight crime regularly.[7] The first criminal he took down as a vigilante was a masked gun-wielding gangster named The Gooch.[6]

Related Articles

Although it is not an origin story for GA, JLA: Year One (Volume 1) includes some early adventures of Ollie with the JLA and reveals that he bankrolled the early League. This retcon changes early GA and JLA history and features an early team up with Black Canary.

See Also