Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Take the world to a better place, Given them all just a little hope...

There is a lot of confusion about Connor Hawke. If you’re only a casual fan of the Green Arrow Mythos, then there’s a fair chance that almost everything you know about Connor is wrong; his past, his parentage and his sexuality. So let’s get a few things clear right now at the start.

He is not the son of the assassin Shado. His mother is an ex-Hippie named Sandra or – as Ollie knew her – Moonday.

His parentage is a mixture of African (on his grandfather’s side), Korean (on his grandmother’s side) and Anglo/Saxon mutt on his father’s side. He is not Black/White.

Ollie didn’t cheat on Black Canary with Connor’s mother. Pre-New Earth and Post-New Earth, the relationship was over long before Ollie became Green Arrow, much less met Black Canary.

He is not gay. We’ve seen him kiss too many women passionately (even ignoring Shado, and Gawd knows we’re trying) for that dog to hunt. Asexual and a little naive would be far more accurate as he has said that he doesn’t consider sexual pleasure to be the ultimate end of any relationship. He might be Bi-Curious if you want to read a LOT of subtext into some stories but he’s only ever been seen kissing girls and being attracted to women.

Okay. So that covers what he isn’t. So what is he? And how did he come to be?

It all began about twenty years ago. Oliver Queen was still a shallow limousine liberal, more Bruce Wayne than Bruce Wayne ever pretended to be. Still, Ollie did make the rounds at the local rallies – partly for appearances sake and good publicity for Queen Enterprises, partly because it did allow him to do some good in the world… but mostly because you met some very free-spirited and open-minded women at these events.

That was how Ollie met Moonday Hawke; an idealistic young woman with a wild streak like equal to his own. They attended a few rallies and “partied” a few times. But that was the end of it for a few months… until Ollie found out from one of her girlfriends that she was pregnant with his son.

He rushed to the hospital, ready to propose right there. But Moonday would have none of it. The anti-traditionalist in her didn’t want something so shackling in her life as a marriage. And the romantic in her didn’t want to be tied down to a man who didn’t love her and was only proposing so he could “do the right thing” and ease his own guilt. Ollie had a fleeting few minutes with his son and had one photo taken before Moonday asked him to forget about them.

Ollie did try. But the finest booze in the world and as many wanton women as he could cope with couldn’t help ease the pain of what he thought would be his chance to get back the family he’d lost. Even after Ollie cleaned up and found new purpose with his life, the thought of the son he’d lost and the family he might have had kept him trying – in subtle ways – to reclaim the family he’d lost as a boy.

(I am ret-conning this history slightly from the way the scene played out in Green Arrow/Black Canary – mostly because it makes no sense in terms of the current for Connor’s birth to have played out immediately after Green Arrow: Year One .)

It would be years later before Connor would come back into Oliver’s life after a chance encounter as Ollie returned to the Buddhist ashram he stayed at briefly after and Oliver would find himself liking the young monk. The young man reminded Ollie – fresh off his break-up with Dinah and the torment of seemingly killed his power-mad best friend Hal – of better days and his own nearly dead idealism.

Connor told Ollie of his past. How he had been a big fan of the Green Arrow growing up and how he had come to the ashram shortly after being expelled from public school. Being a mixed kid with a single mom and a vicious temper, Connor got into a LOT of fights. Connor talked his mom into agreeing to the ashram school pointing out that they taught a lot of that meditation and calming techniques he was supposed to learn but his interest lay more in the archery program as well as the fact the ashram was, to a Green Arrow fan, the equivalent of Graceland to an Elvis fan.

Connor told Ollie all about this… but not that Connor had been told, shortly after finding a scrapbook of Green Arrow stories in his mother’s closet, that Green Arrow was his father.

The two had a falling-out before Ollie’s death – with Ollie having learned the truth of who Connor was from a not-dead-yet Hal Jordan. Angered that the young man he had come to like so much has been hiding something from him and fearing why Connor had kept his silence about who he was for so long (Blackmail? Seeking violent revenge? Brainwashed into seeking him out to kill him? Roy had turned on him not too long before, so it wasn’t much of a stretch…), Ollie took off on the quest that would eventually lead to his death.

Filled with sorrow at Ollie’s death and blaming himself somewhat for the circumstances, Connor made a faithful decision to follow in Ollie’s footsteps and keep the legend of Green Arrow alive. He delivered the news of Ollie’s death to Dinah Lance, who gave him Ollie’s favorite bow, which he had left behind at their home together in Seattle.

Despite a brief tenure in the Justice League, following an adventure where he single-handedly saved the Justice League from the machinations of The Key, Connor was never a big-name superhero. His name and identity were big enough that he was unable to find insurance during his brief tenure as a landlord running one of the apartment buildings his mother owned but he never achieved wide notoriety outside of the circles of professional martial artists, where Lady Shiva sought out a duel with the young hero… and would have won had it not been for Robin calling in the debt Shiva owed him for saving her life.

Still, Connor did build up something of a reputation but was all too happy to retire from heroics after winning the Ashram back from the corrupt developers who bought it. He got back into the business of heroics shortly after his father’s return from the dead and has – barring one or two brief adventures of his own – remained by his father’s side ever since.

Connor’s role in the family is – not surprisingly given his monk’s training – the voice of reason. When tempers flare and passions burn, it is usually Connor who attempts to play the peacemaker between whoever is fighting this time.

In the team dynamic, both on Team Arrow and the Birds of Prey, Connor is ‘the tank’. His newfound powers have made him a much more durable melee combatant and his own natural talents and training as a martial artist trained in defensive, incapacitating techniques makes him a natural to lead the charge, distract the enemy and allow the more aggressive fighters a chance to choose targets best suiting their talents.

Connor is – despite having taken his father’s name and role as a hero following Oliver Queen’s death – a better martial artist than he is an archer. This is a part of why he has taken the Black Hawk identity in the wake of the ban that keeps him from wielding a bow effectively.

Connor has “the Queen charm” and attracts women like moths to a flame. But as much as he respects his father as a hero and tries to follow his example, Connor has gone out of his way to avoid aping his father’s behavior as a Casanova when he was the same age Connor is now. And having spent most of his life in a Buddhist ashram, Connor has learned how to repress his physical urges as befitting the monk he was.

He is – like his father – a devout liberal. In fact, with his devotion to an “alternative” religion and his strict vegetarian diet, you might say he’s an even more stereotypical modern liberal than Ollie. Where they differ is that Connor is nowhere near as outspoken as Ollie about his beliefs. He will go to a rally for a cause to be a face in the crowd but he won’t shout at the news camera or wave a sign.

Connor also has Ollie’s temper but he has become much better about controlling it thanks to his time in the Ashram. It still slips out when Connor is confronted with mass stupidity in the name of greed or mass destruction and senseless violence. He’ll let his fists settle things and then shout to the heavens asking why people can’t be better than they are when it would be so much easier in the long run. Any doubt that Oliver Queen is his father is removed in those moments, for Connor share’s his father’s eloquence during those few occasions when he gets a good rant going.

Connor and Ollie: If Roy Harper can be said to respect Ollie as a mentor, Connor outright worships his father. Things have become strained in recent years as Ollie’s actions have sometimes brought tension between father and son – but Connor has never wavered in his commitment to upholding his father’s example even as he moves away from upholding his legacy.

Connor and Dinah: They grew closer without intending it, bonding at first as they coped with the loss of Ollie... then as fellow warriors… and finally, as the upholders of their respective parent’s identities. Apart from their interests in martial arts, their dry humor and sensible personalities meshed as well. Dinah was astonished when Connor announced he was changing his name in honor of her but not at all displeased.

Roy and Connor: See entry #13

Connor and Mia: They grew into being brother and sister easily enough, with their respective personalities clashing and complementing each other perfectly. He’s purity incarnate. She’s a dirty-minded child of the streets. He’s a trained martial artist. She’s a dirty fighter who gets by on sheer chaputz. They grew even closer following Mia’s being diagnosed with HIV… closer than anyone, even Ollie and Dinah, seem to suspect..


  1. It sucks how much Connor's history has been muddled and confused. He hasn't even been around that long! I think he's actually one of the most misused and forgotten B-List (which is about where I place him since he had his own title for a while) characters. I guess we're just lucky he hasn't been killed off yet.

  2. Believe me, I imagine Winick would have done it if he could have. It seems to be his response to any character he can't make into a token homosexual.