Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Face-Off: To Trick Arrow, or Not to Trick Arrow?

Doug: Welcome back to another two-sided coin where we ask you to chime in with your preferences and/or opinions. Today we look at two of our favorite heroes -- stalwarts on the Avengers and the JLA, respectively -- Hawkeye and Green Arrow. And today we'd like to examine whether you prefer your archer with trick arrows or just plain old hunting projectiles.

Doug: I found the image at right on several websites. Some sites had listed a previous site as the origination point, but I didn't see any credits as to who actually spent the time to make all of these cool arrows. But at any rate, this picture is worth a thousand words toward summarizing what Green Arrow and Hawkeye were all about in the Bronze Age. Blast arrows, grappling arrows, auger arrows, acid arrows, handcuff arrows, bola arrows, and of course everyone's favorite -- the boxing glove arrow! It seemed that whenever one of these guys needed a certain weapon, he had only to reach into his quiver and viola -- there it was.
Just check out the image of Hawkeye's quiver below, from the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe. Was there anything these guys couldn't do?

Doug: But, if you recall the Mike Grell prestige format series Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, GA went back to using regular hunting arrows. No gimmicks, not a single one in the quiver. Instead, he would be a hunter of criminals. But I think this raised an issue -- there's really only one thing you can do with an arrow like that, and it's shoot it directly at your prey/target. It's not like a blast arrow that could be fired to miss wide, but intentionally detonating so as to knock a perp off balance. As was quite typical of the 1980's (and I'm one who will argue that whenever the Bronze Age ended, very shortly thereafter began what I'd call the Dark Age of Comics), violence ruled and many who had been heroes were now crossing the line and becoming anti-heroes.
Rules were broken, morals were blurred, and comics took a turn back to the Golden Age roots of the Batman -- when the Dark Knight carried a gun and was known to toss criminals off roofs. Not hold them out, as Michael Keaton did ("I want you to tell all your friends..."), but out and over = splat!

Doug: I think the trick arrows also injected a bit of humor into the magazines. Let's face it (no pun intended here) -- a guy getting whacked across the chops by a boxing glove arrow is akin to watching a Three Stooges short. And I guess I'd also posit that all of the gimmick arrows, while one could argue that a quiver is just a big bag of deus ex machina, made the stories fun.
It's that suspension of disbelief, the idea that "there's no way I could do that", that transports us to the world of four-color fun.

Doug: One other point of consideration: Has Clint Barton ever been revealed to be a scientific/physics/mechanics genius? Because to have devised all of those arrows and not only get them fly correctly but to do all their magic at just the appropriate time seems a definite improbability given his personality. Anyone have information here?


Anonymous said...

Hi Doug,
Certainly true that Hawkeye always seemed to have whatever arrow he needed, including one that expanded into a net to catch people. The only time his bottomless quiver ever seemed to have any credibility to me was in the ‘kooky quartet’ days, when you’d see Cap training them over & over again IN ADVANCE , and then when they got into a scrape, he’d shout ‘manoeuvre 217b (subsection 12)’ and everyone would know what to do, usually involving Hawkeye producing an arrow that could suspend gravity or turn back time.

I never quite got how the net arrow worked. Must have had some perfectly devised explosive mechanism to make the net not only open on impact, but open and perfectly envelope his foe.

Didn’t he also have one that burst into a bunch of flowers? I think most men could have used that arrow at one time or another.

Regarding his technical expertise, yes, that’s a mystery. We know he was small time crook and then a carnival performer. Likewise the Swordsman, but if I remember rightly, Swordy’s gimmicks were created for him by the Mandarin, where no such mystery benefactor existed for Hawkeye (unless the Black Widow pimped his quiver) (nudge nudge, wink wink). It always seemed mad to me, back in Hawkeye’s supervillain days, that Tony Stark was supposed to be greatest inventor in the world, and yet his greatest invention, the Iron Man armour, could be immobilised by some random guy firing an arrow at him.


david_b said...

Ah, Doug, great topic (as usual..):

Ol' Clint and Swordsman were my two favs when I started collecting in '73 (next to Cap and Falc, of course..). Clint just brought the obligatory 'wise-crackin' guy into the team mix for Triple Action's Kooky Quartet reprints at the time. Ollie was alright, but I didn't see much of him outside of JLA at the time.

As for the arrows, you get the impression that Clint had someone back then, much like Bruce Wayne had that tech expert in the 80s or something.., perhaps Tony Stark (when they were both heroes).

It's a bit of a stretch to juxtapose Clint's supposed brilliance as a technician/ bowsman, yet he settles for security jobs at major industrial plants.

I did think GAs 'Long Bow' title was a nice progressive move, getting back to basics to relaunch GA as an interesting character, but with a bland story and Grell's art (polished as it was..), it just left me.. empty. Other than 'Crisis', some of Byrne's work on Superman, and the new Titans, I didn't get much out of DC in the '80s.

Inkstained Wretch said...

I was never a huge fan of archer characters. There is something inherently ridiculous about a guy carrying a bow while standing next to a dude like Superman or Thor. Talk about feeling inadequate ...

BUT if you are going to have one you have got to go the "trick arrow" route. It is the only way the characrters become useful and in the hands of the right creators they can be a lot of fun. And yes, I loved boxing glove arrows. (Another reason to thank Roy Thomas for All-Star Squadron!)

Whiler I think Mike Grell is a great artist, he isn't nearly as good of a writer and his "grim n' gritty" reboot of Green Arrow really left me cold. It wasn't just the violence, although that was bad enough, but that version actually served to make the character less realistic. I mean, there is a guy dressed as Robin Hood running around the city shooting people with a hunting bow and people are really okay with that? In the real world, he would considered a mad serial killer.

At least a "trick arrow" archer character is operating in a superhero world where such fantasy characters are the norm.

Like Dacvid B., I was always under the assumption that Tony Stark or somebody like that (Nick Fury at SHEILD maybe?) was providing the arrows to Hawkeye, though I never really thought about it much.

Fred W. Hill said...

I enjoyed O'Neil/Adams run of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, which I read in reprints in the '80s, along with a few issues of Mike Grell's Green Arrow series, but otherwise I haven't read much with ol' Ollie. On the other hand, Clint's like an old friend -- back in the early '70s, I caught the reprints of his joining the Avengers and his gradual shift from a bigheaded thorn in Cap's side to a more mature teamplayer. Then there were his modern tales, when he quit the Avengers in a lovesick tantrum, then joined up with the Defenders and finally back with the Avengers just in time to watch his old mentor/nemesis the Swordsman bite the dust. Through it all, I just went along with the silliness of his deux-ex-arrows because even despite being a jerk sometimes, he was a fun character. Anyhow, maybe Clint was actually a genius at coming up with gimicky arrows and just pretended to be a thick regular guy. Might've been nice if Stan or Roy had explored that possibility, although I suppose someone might eventually come up with an "untold" story to that effect (if it hasn't been done already). Anyhow, I'd never seen that diorama of his arrows before. Anyone think that either Stan or whoever wrote most of the Green Arrow stories kept a list of all the trick arrows Ollie & Clint had at their disposal or did they just make them up as they went along? I wouldn't be traumatized to learn it was the latter!

Anonymous said...

One thing I always wondered - since all the arrows were sitting in the quiver feathered end-up, how did either of them know which arrow they were actually pulling out?

B Smith

Ram said...

I think Hawkeye has on of the coolest costumes in comics, next to Swordman.
Green Arrow, for me, had a great character development in the O'neil/Adams run, which I really enjoyed (plus awesome art).

david_b said...

Yep, Ram, cool point on costuming. Early 70s, I loved Hawkeyes and Swordsmans the best.

Those shades of purple rocked and complemented the other primary colors nicely.

Except for a variation here or there throughout the years, Clint always had the coolest outfit around.

The BIG exception being his short-stinted Avengers headband outfit around ish 100. Yuuuck..

IADW said...

I never really thought about this till I read this post! I at first think Hawkeye fits better with no trick arrows where Green Arrow fits better without them. There was just something fun on a Looney Tunes scale whenever Ollie pulled out the boxing glove arrow...

Fred W. Hill said...

Responding to B Smith's query, I always wondered about that myself while reading those stories but figured they had to have some sort markings on the end of each shaft which Ollie & Clint could feel through their gloved fingers. There must have also been some sort of magnetism to keep all those arrows from falling out of the quivers while those costumed archers were jumping around or falling about while battling it out with the bad guys.
On a similar note, exactly how was the Green Goblin able to fit so many trick pumpkins and other weapons in what looked like a fairly small bag? He had his magic bag, Ollie & Clint had magic quivers!

Anonymous said...

In Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes by Joe Casey, Hawkeye has an argument with Jarvis over buying his trick arrows from the Tinkerer. As this took place before Clint joined the Avengers, it is unlikely he still uses the Tinkerer to supply him with arrows.

However, in New Avengers: The Reunion, he mentions to Mockingbird that he made his own arrows from the very start (he says this as he concocts a chemical mixture to simultaneously detonate and flash-freeze a dirty bomb).

I've got no idea which one is correct, so go figure.

Anonymous said...

DC's Answer Man column in the late 1970's explained that GA's arrows were positioned in his quiver so he knew where each one was, e.g., tear gas arrow on the left, boxing glove arrow on the right, and so on.

blktucker said...

hawkeye had notches on the top of the arrows indicating the arrow type and green arrown just remembered where he put his. tony stark and reed richards helped hawkeye create hi tech arrows in there pimped out labs. geeze i need a life..lol

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