Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Jack Kirby On Green Arrow Island

Jack Kirby had a brief return to DC Comics in the 1950s, working as an artist on the Green Arrow series in World's Finest Comics (from issues #96 to #99), and Adventure Comics (including issues #250 to #256) with writers Bill Finger, Dave Wood, Robert Bernstein and France Herron (and these stories were reprinted in Green Arrow by Jack Kirby in November, 2001).

One of these stories would have an effect on the Emerald Archer for decades after it was written....

The Origin

That story was "The Green Arrow's First Case" from Adventure Comics #256 (January, 1959) by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby (though it would be hard to tell under the Superboy cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.....Superboy dominated the Adventure Comics covers at the time, though did share it with Oliver Queen once....).

This story changed the origin of Green Arrow, having him be millionaire Oliver Queen who became Green Arrow after falling off of a yacht, ending up on Starfish Island, which he was unable to escape, so he had to learn archery, make "trick arrows" and a green outfit, then faced off against pirates on a ship to be found by authorities to get off the island. 

This ended up being Green Arrow's Earth-1/Silver Age origin, different from his Earth-2/Golden Age one, which he shared with Speedy/Roy Harper, who both also joined the Seven Soldiers of Victory, and didn't involve an island....

The Island

This island was called Starfish Island, and was very threatening (even more so as in the modern part of the above story, Green Arrow and Speedy had to use a "fake uranium" arrow to scare away explorers who would have found Oliver's on island log of his time there, and figure out Queen was Arrow).  Oliver and Roy enjoyed a mini-vacation on the island after (missing an early meeting of the heroes who would form the JLA).  This origin was expanded upon in Green Arrow Annual #7 (1995) by Chuck Dixon, Rick Burchett, Chris Renauld, Eduardo Barreto and Gary Fernandez, adding a serial killer, Nicholas Kotero, to the mix....

In the Silver Age, Oliver really didn't return to the island, but decades later, Ollie did return to the island to center himself in Green Arrow #66/#67 of 2006 by Judd Winick, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens, and Ollie's origin was expanded again (adding China White to the mix on the island with Green Arrow: Year One, a six issue mini-series in 2007 by Andy Diggle and Mark Simpson).

The island gained new life, being almost a supporting character during the first five years of CW's Arrow program, gaining a name (Lian Yu in Mandarin, which translates to Purgatory, where Oliver Queen learned the skills he needed to become Green Arrow, as well as gaining enemies like Deathstroke/Slade Wilson, encountering magical forces, and eventually using it as a prison for criminals, as well as being the home of a final explosive confrontation between Green Arrow and Prometheus.

But, it all began in the 1950s with that Adventure comic by Herron and the Kirby's....

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