This Magazine Kills Fascists: Social Justice Archery In DC Rebirth’s ‘Green Arrow’
This Magazine Kills Fascists looks at times that comic books and superheroes have dealt with tyrannical, corrupt and outright fascist world leaders — not because we think we can find a solution, but because art can provide inspiration in the face of oppression.
So far, this feature has focused on big villains, big world-altering plans, and how they reflect what's going on in the world today, but this week we're going to talk about a superhero comic being published right now that takes a stand against all that from a ground level. The current Green Arrow series, relaunched as part of DC Rebirth, is a rare superhero comic that challenges authority and addresses real world concerns of corruption, violence, and the exploitation of citizens by the moneyed elite.
The series, written by Benjamin Percy with art by Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra and Stephen Byrne (and edited, we should acknowledge, by former ComicsAlliance editor Andy Khouri), has taken Oliver Queen back to his roots in a number of ways --- including the reintroduction of Black Canary as a supporting character and love interest --- but the fundamental change that drives every decision the character makes is that Green Arrow is once again an avowed and dedicated champion for social justice.
Green Arrow tackles the topic on a number of fronts, and the first arc alone features the forgotten poor of Seattle, corrupt CEOs, and a nefarious bank, but it's still presented in an over-the-top superhero manner, where the CEO is a supervillain and the bank is a floating volcano island called The Inferno, staffed by melted monster men.
The series isn't without its flaws, and some of them are unavoidably rooted in the franchise and its protagonist. Oliver Queen is still a rich, straight, white, blond-haired, blue-eyed, cisgender man, and sometimes it can seem a bit insulting to see him presented as the leading champion, but unlike a supposed bastion for "good" like Captain America, Green Arrow is allowed to mess up, figure stuff out, and try again.
The evolution of Oliver himself over the course of fourteen issues is very noticeable, and he's gone from a character that had it all figured out to one that's constantly looking around and seeing more ways that his city is failing its people. The most recent storyline, "Emerald Outlaw," spotlights the violence committed by police officers against citizens, and even though Superman was doing it last year, it still feels revolutionary and inspiring to see a superhero straight cold-clock a corrupt cop that deserves it.
Occasionally, it can feel a bit tiresome to hear Green Arrow lecture about topics we already know are problems, but it's important to remember that there aren't really any other superhero comic books taking similar stands. The same week that Captain America: Sam Wilson saw a trio of villains spouting social justice buzzwords about privilege and allyship while they threw grenades, Green Arrow was telling a story in which its hero stood up to the forces of an international corporate conglomerate that had just assassinated a pro football player who had the gall to have an opinion.
While there are all too many superhero comics that feature over-the-top megalomaniacal world leaders, there are too few that star characters who you could describe as genuinely being here to help. Green Arrow is trying its best, and when it comes to activism, a lot of the times that's all you can ask for.
There are a number of worthy causes that all need help, support and donations now more than ever. If you can, please consider donating to any of the following institutions:
This week, considering Green Arrow takes place in Seattle and spotlight's the city's homeless population, I'd like to highlight Mary's Place, a shelter that helps homeless women, children and families in emergency situations. On a national scale, the National Alliance To End Homelessness is also a great starting point.
Lastly, the homeless population of my own hometown of Manchester, England, has been going through a years-long struggle with the local council, and Streets Kitchen accepts donations and provides information on other initiatives that help the homeless in a number of different ways.
For post-election resources, Holy F— The Election is a great starting point. The website uses some strong language!