DC Comics Relationship Roundup: Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen
By Meg Downey
Relationship Roundup is a new monthly column written by Meg Downey that focuses on the many iconic relationships within the DC Universe. Each month, look for a different “ship,” romantic, platonic or a little of both, to take center stage.
Hey guys! Welcome to round two of “Relationship Roundup,” where we’re suddenly seeing green. This month, in honor of both the upcoming GREEN LANTERN: EARTH ONE and the end of Ben Percy’s spectacular run on GREEN ARROW, we’re taking a jaunt over to the more platonic side of the DC Universe’s tangled relationship web with the Hard Traveling Heroes themselves: Oliver Queen and Hal Jordan.
Now, if you’re a recent convert to either Green Arrow or Green Lantern fandom, there might be a chance that you’ve never really had a chance to see Hal and Ollie in action together. This is a friendship with some real history to it, and one that had its heyday all the way back in the early ’70s. So if that was a bit before your comics reading time, consider this your crash course in one of the most interesting, enduring bromances in comics.
Where Did This Relationship Start?
To really understand why Hal and Ollie even became best friends/partners-in-crimefighting, you’ve gotta look back to the rise and evolution of what we call the Bronze Age in comics. Roughly, that’s the period following the Silver Age, from about 1970 to the mid-1980s. While the Silver Age was all about pulp fiction and far flung sci-fi (this is the era when characters like Barry Allen began sprouting scientific “Flash Facts” and Superman stories got very weird) the Bronze Age was all about pulling things a little bit closer to Earth. Famously, this was the time period when comics really started to address social issues in an upfront and earnest way.
There are a lot of reasons for the Bronze Age shift, but the most important of them was a change in the way the Comics Code was implemented. Things that had been altogether banned from superhero stories for the ’50s and ’60s were slowly allowed to start gaining some ground again and real-world problems like drugs, gun violence and the political climate of the ’70s and early ’80s were finally fair game for the cape and cowl crowd.
This is where Hal and Ollie come in. The dawn of the Bronze Age presented an opportunity for creators to start trying new things with characters who were struggling to find a niche in the final days of the Silver Age. For Green Arrow and Green Lantern, that update came in the form of a brand new partnership. There was a golden opportunity here for iconic creators like Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams, who were on the bleeding edge of the Bronze Age’s incoming wave.
Hal Jordan was a straight-laced, by-the-book space cop who believed that the system would always be there to back up anyone in the right while Ollie Queen was a rebellious, radical vigilante who believed that sticking it to the man was the most important thing a superhero could do.
It was the Odd Couple, painted green and wearing spandex.
Why Was This Important?
Hal and Ollie’s partnership took them all across the country as they piled into a beat-up pickup truck and kicked off what was known as their Hard Traveling Heroes days—a story which officially spanned a seven issue GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW series.
Looking back and reading these stories through modern eyes is inevitably going to make you cringe a few times. These were majorly formative moments for both Hal and Ollie and with that came some visible growing pains. Ollie’s over-the-top arrogance about his own methodology and Hal’s stooge-like confidence that the rules were always made to be followed would definitely make either of them feel like they were being shown embarrassing pictures by today’s standards. But still, the importance of this team-up can’t be overlooked.
Not only did it start to plant the seeds of the characters we now know and love today, but it formed a bond between the two of them that still has yet to fall apart. They’re very different people—and they remain very different people even now—but that’s kind of the point. Even though their respective methods may frustrate the absolute daylights out of each other, they’re still able to put everything aside and save the day when they need to…even if saving the day sometimes means they have to confront the hard truths about who and what they are.
At the end of the day, their friendship helped make Hal and Ollie better heroes and better people.
Where Can You Find Them Now?
You can see echoes of this pivotal partnership through all kinds of major Green Lantern and Green Arrow stories, especially following both Hal and Ollie’s respective resurrections in GREEN LANTERN: REBIRTH and GREEN ARROW: QUIVER. Quiver’s follow up ARCHER’S QUEST (which I wrote about earlier this month) even has a cameo of the old, beat-up Hard Traveling pickup truck.
If you’re looking for something even more recent, you can catch the Rebirth homage to Hal and Ollie’s road tripping days in the appropriately named “Hard Traveling Hero” arc which stretches from issues #26 to #31, and will soon be collected in a trade edition. Even if you don’t have any ’70s nostalgia sleeping inside you, it’s definitely going to tug at your heartstrings.
They may not spend a ton of time together these days (it’s kind of challenging to make schedules work when one of you is patrolling space and the other is landlocked, after all), but if one thing’s for sure: Hal Jordan and Ollie Queen are one of DC’s other dynamic duos…and not one you should forget any time soon.