Up next in my stack of trades that I need to read is Green Arrow: The Archer’s Quest. This story takes place in Green Arrow #16-21 (way back in 2002), written by Brad Meltzer and drawn by Phil Hester. Normally, I’m not someone that buys Green Arrow books (despite my love of Robin Hood), but there were a couple things working in this trade’s favor. First, I do like Brad Meltzer’s writing. Identity Crisis, along with Green Lantern: Rebirth, was the first thing I bought when I got into collecting. Second, I already had the Green Arrow issues directly before this. I had bought the two trades before The Archer’s Quest, Quiver and Sounds of Violence, because they were written by Kevin Smith. So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to get The Archer’s Quest.
Before getting into this story, let’s go over some background. Oliver Queen had died in an explosion, but was halfway resurrected at the end of the previous Green Arrow run. I say halfway, because this Oliver Queen was without a soul, because Oliver was happy in heaven. During Quiver, Heaven Oliver is forced to return to life in order to not allow the shell of him on Earth to be inhabited by someone else.
Oliver is visiting his grave, when Clark Kent shows him some pictures of the people that attended Oliver’s funeral. He recognizes everyone, except one man. Oracle later tells Oliver that this person is Thomas Blake, aka Catman (who is nothing like what he is in Secret Six). Worried what a villain was doing at his funeral, Green Arrow and Roy Harper confront him. Green Arrow finds the instructions for Blake to be at his funeral, and Shade shows up.
Green Arrow had instructed Shade, upon his death, to round up any artifacts of his that could reveal his identity, and destroy them. Shade had sent Blake to the funeral to be certain that Oliver was dead. Shade tells Green Arrow that he found most of his things, but there were a few that were still floating around that he either couldn’t find, or just wouldn’t mess with. Oliver and Roy go on a road trip to round up these items. The first stop is the Arrowcave, where they run into Solomon Grundy. Eventually, Green Arrow is able to defeat Grundy. Green Arrow then finds the item they came searching for, a framed certificate from when he was officially inducted into the Justice League of America.
Next, Green Arrow takes a trip to the JLA Watchtower, where he runs into Kyle Rayner. Things are a bit awkward between the two. You know how it is when talking to your dead, best friend’s replacement. But the conversation ends on a slightly friendly note. Green Arrow says he’s going to go talk to Martian Manhunter. Green Arrow comes back out, say bye to Kyle, and teleports out of there. Martian Manhunter comes out, and after Kyle asks, says he did not talk to Green Arrow. However, he did notice that Green Arrow’s trick arrows were missing from the trophy room. Green Arrow returns to Roy, and tells he went up there to get his diamond-tipped arrow. Next, they visit Barry Allen’s museum, but Green Arrow is confronted by Wally West. Wally blocks his path for a while, having heard from Kyle about what went on in the Watchtower. Eventually, Green Arrow leaves. Roy meets back up with him, having gotten the Flash ring he was after. This ring was a gift from Barry to Oliver, and contains a Green Arrow suit.
Lastly, they take a trip to an old Ferris hangar. Here, Green Arrow is looking for a truck that was his and Hal’s. However, the truck isn’t the important thing. What is important is the thing hiding in the truck, a Green Lantern ring giving to Green Arrow by Hal Jordan. (This ring will make an appearance in Green Lantern: Rebirth.) Back home, Green Arrow take Black Canary out for dinner, where he intends to propose to her. But something Canary says about not making rash decisions so soon after returning. So, he never shows her the ring, and instead they just eat dinner. Later on, Oliver finds Conn0r Hawke reading old newspaper clippings about Green Arrow and Speedy. (Connor is Oliver’s son that showed up as an adult.) They have a brief conversation, and Connor says that he knows it’s weird for Oliver to suddenly find out he has an adult son, but he’s glad he found him. Oliver leaves, and goes to a private area. He peels the back off of just JLA admittance certificate, and pulls out a picture showing him holding Connor right after he was born, showing to the reader that Oliver knew he had a son.
In the end, what we get from this story is mostly a buddy comedy, with a very serious twist at the end. Like Turner & Hooch. For the first five issues, things are pretty light. Even the fight with Grundy isn’t that dramatic. Sure, it is a lot of action, but nothing too serious happens. Beyond that, it’s Oliver and Roy doing hijinks. Oliver tricks Kyle. They both trick Wally. They’re on a road trip. Fun times. But then, it gets really serious with Oliver examining what his relationship should be with Canary. And then the realization that Oliver knew he had a son this entire time, and abandoned him. But now he feels terrible about it, and wants to change.
Meltzer’s dialogue is what makes this story stand out. Without good dialogue, this story would have been terrible. And while that does apply to many things, there are some stories that can survive on plot points. You know the ones. They trudge along for 20 pages without much interesting happen, and then present a massive cliffhanger in the last 2 pages to entice you to want to buy the next issue. This isn’t that type of story. This is a pretty basic journey story that goes from point A to point B to point C, and so on. You can’t really surprise people to give them a reason to come back. You have to make the journey worth coming back for more. And I believe Meltzer does that with the interplay between Oliver and Roy.
I highly recommend that you read this story. Even if you’ve never read any other Green Arrow stories. You don’t have to have a wealth of Green Arrow knowledge to enjoy this. I didn’t.