Sunday, April 27, 2003

Looking To The Stars: Your Cheating Heart...

Oliver Queen. The Green Arrow. Father. Hero. Lover. And looser than Rodney Dangerfield’s tie at the end of his set.

For a long while, it has been conventional wisdom among some of the more vocal members of the fanboy set that good ol’ Ollie has the same ability for strict monogamy as your average tomcat. That is to say none at all.

But are things really that cut and dry? It is true that Ollie has always been one of the more overtly sexual characters in comicdom, at least in terms of charisma and personality. But has he ever, as Kyle Rayner accused him of doing in a recent issue of Green Lantern “cheated on his woman”?


The Young Oliver Queen Chronicles

Not many stories have made specific reference to Oliver Queen’s life before becoming Green Arrow. Those that do were written after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and added on a great deal to his past life.

One such story was “Peacemakers” (Legends of the DC Universe 7-9) by Denny O’Neil. An untold tale of how the Oliver Queen and Green Lantern Hal Jordan truly first met before the formation of the Justice League, the story showed Queen as a spoiled playboy whose main motivation for heroism was wooing women. The story also showed a clueless Queen talking about the joys of heroism to an unidentified blonde woman, who was trying to get him to listen to some news about her visit to a doctor.

Chuck Dixon also portrayed Oliver as a womanizer, in various flashback scenes of Oliver and Connor speaking together during their time at the Ashram. Oliver told Connor about how he had been with a lot of women in his past as a playboy and the early days of heroism, but how he gladly would have risked his life for any of them.

Mike Grell, while not having written much about Oliver’s pre-heroism days, also made reference to Oliver having been quite the ladies man among the other hippies while he was in college in The Wonder Year miniseries.

Clearly Oliver has an eye for the ladies and is a man of the world in that regard. Still, the question remains: did he ever cheat on Black Canary once the two met and began dating?


The Early Years of Heroism: Hard-Traveling Heroes

Back in the ol’ Hard Traveling Hero days, as written by Denny O’Neil in his now legendary run, Oliver Queen was always depicted as steadfastly devout to his “Pretty Bird”. In fact, Dinah complained that he was too possessive. An example of this occurs in Green Arrow #85, where she cuts a date short after Oliver dumps his chili a man who was looking at her.

Even in the more recent “retro” JLA stories, (JLA: Year One) Oliver has always been shown as being faithful, if not down right territorial, towards the love of his life. So where did the ideal of his unfaithfulness come in?


Enter Shado

Shado, a Yakuza trained archer assassin, first entered Oliver’s life at a time of great change. (See the excellent Longbow Hunters TP for this story) Newly moved to Seattle with Dinah, the two vigilantes hadn’t even been given time to settle in before being drawn into a plot involving a serial killer stalking prostitutes, drugs and a fortune in stolen money.

Ollie would cross paths with Shado again in GA #10-12. Blackmailed into tracking down Shado by a corrupt CIA agent, Oliver was shot through the heart when he surprised Shado in the middle of her practicing. She would nurse him back to health over the next few weeks, the two parting ways after dealing with the agent. There was a suggestion of a strong attraction between the two archers, including one scene of the two together where it appears that at least Shado and possibly Oliver are both skinny-dipping.

Still, this doesn’t necessarily mean that anything happened. At the very least, nothing that Oliver was consciously aware of.


The Rising Son

Shado and Oliver would meet again over a year later (in DCU time and real life time) in GA #21-24. This time, Shado was trying to save her newborn son from the Yakuza, whom she had fled rather than serve further. Oliver helped her to rescue the boy and, as the two part ways again, asks about the boy’s father. Shado cryptically says that the father was unaware he had a son that his life was complicated enough without him knowing. Oliver comments that whoever he was, he was lucky to have known her that briefly and that he is a good-looking boy. Shado thanks him and says “He has his father’s eyes.” As Oliver leaves, we close in on the boy… and see that he has bright green eyes, the same shade as Oliver’s.

Rather damning evidence, except for the fact that Oliver does not ask specifically whether or not he is the father. This suggests that he does not believe it is possible that he is the baby’s father, further suggesting that he never had willing relations with Shado the second time they met. The key word here is “willing”.


About Last Year…

The next revelation in the Shado/Ollie/Dinah love triangle would come a year later, again. In GA #34, Oliver would be framed for treason and was forced to go into hiding after being freed enroute to prison by the same man who framed him: Eddie Fyers. Dinah, having the means to contact Shado somehow, called her and said Oliver needed her help. The two met for the first time in GA #36-37and Dinah quickly figured out who the father of the child by Shado’s side was. Shado confirmed what had only been suggested: that Oliver was the father of her baby. However, she would go on to explain two things…

1. That Oliver was totally unaware that the child was his.

2. That the child was conceived while Oliver was delirious with a fever while recovering from the shot to the heart.

Shado also notes that she did what she did out of a need to have a part of Oliver, knowing she could never steal him away from Dinah. Her reasoning behind this was that she saw Oliver become a killer for Dinah and that for him to change himself that much, he had to have a love for Dinah that could not be broken. Since she could not share his life, she decided to give him a legacy since at that point Oliver wanted to have children but Dinah refused on the grounds that with their lives as heroes they shouldn’t risk leaving behind orphans. Shado also notes that he was speaking Dinah’s name throughout his delirium, including the time she spent “lying with him”.

Dinah says nothing about what she finds out to Oliver. Of course, she sees little of him over the next year as he goes on a quest to find himself. But during his time in hiding, Oliver befriended another woman who would later have an effect on his relationship with Dinah; a homeless young woman named Marianne, who we will discuss in a moment.


On The Road Again

Oliver does get a chance to “let his shaft loose” while on his journey around the world. He is seduced from a distance by Laurel Jones (GA #44-45), but he turns her down. And while Oliver does flirt with Angela, part of a team of poacher hunters he joins in Africa (GA #46-48), he does nothing more than that. And it says something that he drops the entire journey when he finds that Dinah has been taken hostage in Seattle and rushes back to save her. (GA #50)


Marianne

Before leaving on his journey, Oliver instructed Marianne (who gave him quite a bit of help during his time underground) to go and see Dinah about a place to stay and a job. Dinah does take Marianne on as a roommate and employee and she continues to live there, even after Oliver does return. It is immediately made obvious that Marianne has a major crush on Oliver and would love to drive Dinah and him apart. When a police officer starts calling on Dinah during the year Oliver is away, Marriane encourages Dinah to agree to go out with him.

Later, she not so subtly starts tries to seduce Oliver (undressing with the door open) and the tries to spend more time with him, becoming his link into the world of Seattle’s homeless population when Oliver needs a lead concerning a crime.

Still, Oliver does nothing to encourage her attraction other than being a good-looking, charming and heroic figure to a college-girl looking for Prince Charming. And so in GA #74, at a New Years costume part, she confesses her love to Oliver. He tires to talk with her about it, saying he has never done anything to lead her on. She agrees that he hasn’t, but that she has still fallen for him.

The artwork is unclear on the next page, but Marianne is definitely pressing her lips against Oliver’s as Dinah enters the room. What is unclear however is if she started the kiss or if he did…. Or to what degree Oliver is kissing back. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Dinah says she is unwilling to share Oliver and kicks him out at the end of GA #75.

Harsh? Perhaps, but from Dinah’s viewpoint, it is understandable.

1. She had to have known about his past as a ladies man and, like most people in love, been a little afraid of him finding someone else.

2. She knew that Oliver had a child with another woman but had only the word of “the other woman” that he was not aware of the child or that he was unaware that the two of them had ever “made babies” together.

3. Oliver disappeared for a year, during which time he never wrote or called Dinah.

4. Oliver let into their house a woman who was the spitting image of Dinah when they first met. (Dinah Lance was 19 at the time she joined the JLA and Marriane was about that age during the time she lived with Oliver and Dinah, since references were made to her taking college classes)

5. Said woman is very flirtatious toward Oliver and had, when he was gone, tried to get you to see other men.

Add all this up, and Dinah has more than enough reason to be suspicious about “just one kiss”.


On The Road Again

Oliver went back on the road in GA #81, his departure mirroring that of Grell from the regular Green Arrow title. Still, before he left Seattle forever Oliver did sleep with Marianne in the rooms they hid in several years before (GA #76). However, since Dinah at this point had already dumped him, this doesn’t technically count as cheating.

Any attempt that Oliver might have made at reconciliation was shot (no pun intended) in GA #81 when, while trying to stop a fight between superhero Nuklon and supervillain Shrapnel, he was grabbed and hugged by an affectionate passerby who wanted to “thank” him for saving her. Of course Dinah was in the crowd of passersby watching the fight and got enough of a look to be disgusted, never mind Oliver’s trying to push the woman off of him.

Oliver had two more “affairs” of note before his death in Green Arrow #101: a one-night stand with a nameless redhead who he hitchhiked with and, in one of the more controversial stories of the run, Catwoman in GA #86. Many Green Arrow fans can’t believe that Oliver, even if unattached, would ever sleep with a known thief like Catwoman. Of course there are many Catwoman fans that believe that Selina is too independent to ever have a one night stand with any man. Regardless, the story took place just before Zero Hour and is considered non-cannon by most fans of both characters.


Conclusion

So was Oliver Queen a flirt? Yes. Did Oliver Queen sleep around? Yes. Did he have children out of wedlock? Yes. Did he do some incredibly stupid things regarding his love life? Hell yes.

But as far as I can determine, when he was with Dinah Lance and they were “going steady” as it were, there was nothing short of blood-loss induced delirium that could get him to turn away from her. Still, with the possible exception of Matt Murdock, it can’t be denied that Oliver Queen has had the most turbulent romantic life of any man in the comic universe.

Tune in next week. Same Matt Time. Same Matt Website.

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