The Arrow family is reuniting in an all-new Green Arrow series. This new 12-issue miniseries focuses on one of DC’s lesser-known hero families. If you enjoy found families like the Bat-family, then you’ll enjoy these characters too.
Oliver Queen, aka the Green Arrow, and his closest allies make up the Arrow Family. However, the events of Dark Crisis separated Oliver Queen from his family. Now, author Joshua Williamson is not just reuniting Oliver with his family. He is bringing back characters from the previous continuity.
As Williamson wrote in an interview for DC Nation:
I had a story I wanted to tell with Oliver Queen. I’d try to get him into books I was writing and it would never work out, but after Dark Crisis the timing finally came together. I can tell the story and finally give the Green Arrow the family reunion it deserves.
In honor of the Arrow family reunion, let’s talk about the characters who make up this family from both before and after the reboot.
Meet the Arrow Family: Oliver QueenGreen Arrow began as a millionaire who moonlighted as a superhero. However, in the 1970s, author Denny O’Neil reimagined Oliver as a socially conscious superhero. Hence, in storylines like Hard Travelin’ Heroes, Oliver teams up with the galactic hero Green Lantern. Together they tour America, becoming heroes for working-class people.
I been readin’ about you… How you work for the blue skins… and how on a planet someplace you helped out the orange skins… and you done considerable for the purple skins! Only there’s skins you never bothered with the black skins! I want to know… how come? Answer me, that, Mr. Green Lantern.
From then on Green Arrow comics adopted a more mature, urban-flavored tone. Oliver himself became similarly a grittier character: his struggles revolve around his personal flaws.
Oliver often hurts people due to his selfishness. For example, he abandons his adopted son when he became a drug addict. Also, he walks out on his biological son’s life. Not exactly Dad of the Year.
Oliver begins as a vain socialite who reinvents himself after washing up on a deserted island. Since then, he struggles to grow into a more selfless, socially-conscious person.
The Arrow Family is much like Oliver. They are a group of flawed people, living in a flawed world, trying to do better.
Meet the Arrow Family: Dinah Laurel LanceDinah is the second Black Canary. She inherits her mantle from her mother, Dinah Drake Lance, but her mother doesn’t want her to be a hero. Against her mother’s wishes, Dinah strikes out on her own.
Dinah and Ollie often work as partners, but Dinah’s character revolves around her own independence. For example, she is a member of the Birds of Prey with Oracle, a disabled superhero who acts as Dinah’s eyes and ears. The BOP is an all-female superhero team uplifting other female heroes.
Dinah is strong, but also a complex victim of trauma. She suffers through torture and develops post-traumatic stress disorder in Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters.
I loved being a part of a tradition, part of an elite, and it was my obligation to protect those who were less able. Then when that man… cut me. I coudln’t even scream. I was so helpless. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I was supposed to be stronger.
As a female character, she is allowed to show strength and vulnerability. This is what makes her such an effective character for female empowerment.
Meet the Arrow Family: Roy HarperRoy Harper is Oliver’s troubled teenage sidekick. He faces many difficulties early on in life. For example, in the Snowbirds Don’t Fly storyline, he develops a heroin addiction.
Unlike too many portrayals in media, Roy’s addiction is portrayed with a sympathetic light. Roy’s struggle shows that even superheroes can become addicts. Therefore, it reinforces that addicts are not “bad people.” They are just people.
Plus, Roy’s addiction is not the end of his life. In fact, it’s the beginning of his healing.
The fears I saw you face, and name, and take on, even in your weakest, darkest hour… somehow I knew right then that in the world of heroes where everyone’s perfect – I’d met the bravest person I’d ever meet. The one who was flawed.
After his recovery, he works as a hero fighting the drug trade. During this job, his life changes for the better. He meets and falls in love with the villain Cheshire, and becomes father to her child. Afterwards, Roy graduates from sidekick to single father.
From that point on, Roy pieces his life together for the sake of his daughter. Roy’s journey from a teen addict who grows up into a good father and a good man is powerful.
Meet the Arrow Family: Lian “Shoes” HarperLian is a child of two worlds: a hero father and a villain mother. While the circumstances of her birth are unique, Lian grows up loved. However, the Cry for Justice event storyline kills off five-year-old Lian. Afterwards, her death remained canon… until Infinite Frontier undid it.
Her appearance in recent Catwoman comics suggests Lian lived on the streets between then and now. In Lian’s own words, she does not remember anything about the past or her parents.
I have no memories of a childhood. No visions of an early birthday, candles or cake. No idea what the world looks like from up on my father’s shoulders. No memories of paper lanterns or of lions dancing to the rhythm of fireworks. All I have is a recurring dream. And a mask.
Lian lost both her father and her home. Her situation resembles real-life cases of homeless children learning to fend for themselves. Lian is, like many members of the Arrow Family, a survivor of trauma. Hopefully, the new series will allow her to reunite again with her father and heal from her broken childhood.
Meet the Arrow Family: Connor HawkeConnor’s family history is complicated. His grandfather, a Black man, married a Korean woman. His mother faced difficulty because of her mixed-race heritage. Connor’s own father is Green Arrow.
Not ready to be a father, Oliver disappeared from Connor’s life. His mother left him in a monastery when he was thirteen. As a result, Connor’s life is influenced by that monastery’s teachings.
Connor is one of DC’s strongest martial artists, and also a pacifist. Balancing his heroics with his pacifism is a core part of his character.
Some things are only solved by violence. Ther’s a middle path between her way and Eddie’s way. And it comes down to choices. You can choose to fight. You can choose to not fight. But who’s going to step up for those who can’t fight? That’s the path I’ve chosen.
Connor focuses on forgiveness and non-violence, which is a breath of fresh air among more vengeance-based superheroes. This is also why he allows Oliver a second chance to be in his life. With the Arrow Family, Connor is allowed to make up for many aspects of childhood he missed out on.
Meet the Arrow Family: Mia DeardenMia’s introduction is about her escaping from her pimp boyfriend and starting a new life with Oliver. Needless to say, she lived a hard life before that.
Mia is a survivor of childhood sexual assault. As mentioned above her boyfriend sold her body for money. She is unabashedly open about what she experienced growing up.
Meeting Oliver is her first step in a long road to recovery. Before she even becomes Speedy, Oliver gives her a normal home and school life.
Mia becomes a sidekick shortly after receiving her HIV Diagnosis. She does this because she wants to make the most out of her life. This makes her one of the few HIV-positive superheroes.
The story is sympathetic to Mia and does not blame her for contracting the disease. In addition, testing positive is not the end of her life.
I’m not dying. I’m living with H.I.V. Living. I’m not someone you should be scared of. You should be very frightened of AIDS, not of people with AIDS. I’m still me.
Mia even announces her HIV-positive status to her school to spread awareness. It’s joining the Arrow Family that allows her to recover and move on with her life.
Meet the Arrow Family: Emiko QueenRed Arrow is Oliver Queen’s half-sister, born from an affair between his father and the mysterious Shado.
Emiko’s life greatly resembles her mother’s. The Yakuza raised Shado as an assassin to kill the Americans who dishonored them. A man then took Emiko away from her mother at a young age; he raised her as a living weapon to fight her mother.
Unlike Shado, Emiko breaks free from her abusers. In meeting Oliver she is able to choose what she wants out of life. Emiko chooses Oliver because he is the first person to tell her the truth.
Emiko I can’t force you to leave these maniacs. You’ve been lied to as well. Even more than me. The outsiders have ruined your life. But no matter what you’re my sister. I’ll take you away from all this.
From that moment Emiko and Oliver build a relationship as each other’s chosen family. Emiko repeats the Arrow Family theme of choosing family and choosing recovery.
New to the Family: Cissie King-JonesCissie King-Jones is the second Arrowette.
Her mother was the first. She showed up in golden age Green Arrow comics, before settling down as Bonnie King-Jones. Bonnie pressures her daughter into becoming a hero. She is basically a show mom trying to live vicariously through her daughter.
However, Cissie does not want to be a hero, but caves to her mother’s demands. She later stays a hero because she is part of the team Young Justice. However, when someone important in her life is murdered she does not react like a hero.
Cissie tracks down the killers for vengeance. A friend needed to intervene and stop her from killing a man. The incident horrifies her so much she permanently retires as a superhero.
Don’t you see? I tried to kill someone. I let the arrow go. A hero doesn’t try to kill an unarmed man begging for his life. A villain does that. I’m a villain.
This character is a commentary on the cycle of violence. Even a superhero can perpetuate that cycle. Cissie could only break free when she put the weapon down. While she is not a main member of the family, the new series is teasing potential future interactions between her and the Arrow Family.
New to the Family: SiennaRed Canary debuted in the Dark Crisis: The Dark Army. She is a fairly new character.
From what we know of her, she seems to be an ordinary college student. Her narration talks about fighting an army of villains one day, and arguing with her RA the next. She’s not part of a heroic legacy like, say, Dinah. Apparently, she picked up a pair of Escrima sticks, put on a costume, and decided to be a hero.
I was buying a fender strat at the music store and this guy came in with a gun. I knocked him out with a guitar, and it felt right. After that, I learned how to play. And I had to be a hero.
There is still room for a lot of interaction between her and Dinah in the new Green Arrow series. This makes her a promising character.
The Family ReunionThe Arrow Family consists of troubled people trying to do better. Oliver is a flawed hero attempting to be a good father. Roy’s a recovered addict who grew up fast when he became a parent. Even Dinah, strong as she is, is a victim of complex trauma.
It is also a family of second chances. Connor gives Oliver a second chance to be a father. Mia recovers from a rough start in life. Emiko chooses a better life than her mothers before her.
What makes the Arrow Family unique is they’re not just heroes, they’re flawed human beings. While Sienna and Cissie are not officially members, they are still very down-to-earth and frankly interesting characters. I
f you are interested in these characters, then you’re in luck. The first issue of the new Green Arrow series debuted on April 24th. They already extended from 2 to 12 issues due to fan demand. If you want to meet the Arrow Family, then pick up a comic and check out this new series!