Hawkeye Stories Are Good But Green Arrow’s Are Better

Green Arrow is the resident archer of the DC Universe, wielding a bow and arrow ever since the Golden Age of Comics. His Marvel Comics counterpart is Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, who’s arguably had the biggest splash in culture thanks to his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Despite this seemingly greater prominence, Hawkeye is dramatically lacking when it comes to great comics, especially compared to Green Arrow.

Oliver Queen has several great comic book runs in his quiver, whereas Hawkeye really only has one. On top of that, Barton lacks much of the defined personality that Oliver Queen has, perhaps contributing to this dearth of good stories. The result is that Green Arrow is much more of an actual property, whereas Hawkeye feels more like an addendum to the greater world of the Avengers.

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Green Arrow’s Comics Helped Define the Industry

For much of his first few decades, Green Arrow was a poor man’s Batman, simply swapping out flying rats with archery-themed gimmicks. This included an Arrowcave and an Arrowcar, though neither of these did much to make the character very popular. Oliver Queen’s fortunes would improve, however, when writer Denny O’Neil made the millionaire playboy lose said money. From there, he would be re-imagined as a liberal voice of the streets, dealing with topics and themes relating to the real world that other comics shy away from. This included a pivotal storyline in the book Green Lantern / Green Arrow where Oliver’s ward and sidekick Speedy / Roy Harper was revealed to be a drug addict. This story was monumental in the development of comic books, showing how much could be done with the medium, especially with more grounded and relatable characters like Green Arrow.

This would continue throughout the decades, with Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, the ensuing ongoing series taking O’Neil’s earlier ideas to an even darker and more realistic destination. This acclaimed run was just one of many incredible Green Arrow titles, both its strength and that of the character were showcased in Grell essentially divorcing Green Arrow from the wider DC Universe. Thus, he wasn’t simply the bow and arrow guy from the Justice League anymore, but a fully fleshed out character with one of the best DC titles under his belt. Other great runs on Green Arrow came from writers like Judd Winnick, Andy Diggle, JT Krul and Jeff Lemire, with many of their stories drawing from both O’Neil and Grell. Sadly, this level of success can not really be found in Hawkeye, who’s Green Arrow’s closest Marvel Comics equivalent.

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Hawkeye Lacks the Success or Personality of Green Arrow

Hawkeye debuted in the 1960s, but for a good 90% of that existence, he was not really a solo character. Instead, he would show up in ensemble teams, such as the Avengers and he was never exactly a stand-out character. To this day, his only real success story as a solo hero was the Matt Fraction Hawkeye run. Making him more down-to-Earth and grounded. Fraction’s run could essentially be a much more lighthearted version of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow. It also inspired the recent Hawkeye TV series on Disney +, which makes sense, given that it’s the only stand out part of Hawkeye’s publication history. It’s likely because of his former ensemble-only status that Hawkeye has never attracted the interest of too many big-time creative teams. Likewise, this has been a self-fulfilling prophecy, keeping Hawkeye in the background when he could have had more time in the spotlight.

It’s also worth noting that Hawkeye lacks the well-defined personality that Green Arrow has had for decades. Though Clint Barton is somewhat known for having a mouth on him, he’s definitely not the politically progressive firebrand or pompous hypocrite that Oliver Queen is. This is why fans complained about the CW show Arrow changing so much of his personality, whereas no one really seemed to care when the Marvel Cinematic Universe took more from his “Ultimate Universe” counterpart than the bland classic incarnation. This is also why Clint was so easily replaced by Kate Bishop, whereas Oliver’s son Connor Hawke was much less popular during his run as Green Arrow. The politics surrounding Green Arrow make it more natural to put him in grounded settings with more street-level villains and enemies, while Hawkeye usually lacks that sort of “current events” hook. Mike Grell also gave Green Arrow his first truly cool costume back in the ’80s, while it would take much longer for Hawkeye to ditch his ugly circus get-up.

Now, almost 60 years since Hawkeye and over 80 since Green Arrow, it’s clear which one has been developed more successfully throughout the decades. Hawkeye may one day obtain a series of all-star creative teams and runs on a solo book, but for right now, the big-time movie star is still stuck in the shadow of a much more verdant vigilante over at the distinguished competition.

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