Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club: CW takes aim with 'Arrow'
The CW television network is hoping to strike gold a second time by turning a comic book hero into a TV star.
"Arrow" premieres on the CW Wednesday at 8 p.m. and stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, also known as the Green Arrow in DC Comics.
The CW (which formed from a merger between WB Network and UPN in 2006) had a long-running hit in "Smallville," which told the story of teenaged Clark Kent (Superman) growing up in rural Kansas and learning about his powers.
"Smallville" ran for 10 seasons and included Green Arrow in it (played by Justin Hartley) but this is a new take on the character and starts from scratch with a more grounded and realistic setting.
"I think the big difference between 'Arrow' and our take on the Green Arrow character and 'Smallville's' take on him is that ours is much grittier and much more grounded in the real world," executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told British magazine SciFi Now. "There are no superpowers and no aliens."
While not one of the better known comic book heroes outside of comic fan circles, Green Arrow does has a long history and some iconic stories in his resume.
Green Arrow debuted in More Fun Comics issue No. 73 in 1941. Originally not much more than Batman with a bow and arrow, Green Arrow came into his own in the 1970s under the care of writer Denny O'Neil and legendary artist Neal Adams.
Under that creative team, Green Arrow would develop the liberal attitudes that mark the character today as well as breaking new ground as far as topics handled in comic books.
Among his most famous tales is the two-part story from Green Lantern (where Arrow, who did not have his own book at the time, was a frequent guest star) issues 85-86 where it was revealed that Green Arrow's ward Speedy (think Robin to Batman) was a heroin addict.
In 1987, Green Arrow embarked on a new, darker direction under writer and artist Mike Grell. "The Longbow Hunters" was a three-issue limited series that met with critical acclaim and featured Green Arrow tracking a serial killer.
Grell would go on to take the regular Green Arrow series into more realistic territory, keeping superpowered characters and costumes to the background and focusing on street level and other more realistic criminals, which looks to be the direction the new TV series is heading.
The TV show also will not alter Green Arrow's origin as a billionaire stranded on a desert island who must mold himself into something different in order to survive his exile.
When Queen returns to Star City (renamed Starling City in the TV show) he takes to the street as the vigilante Green Arrow (shortened to Arrow in the show).
The TV series makes some other, more significant changes, such as having Queen's mother family still in the picture. But overall, the heart of the character appears to be intact.
Green Arrow has always been one of my favorite characters and the show has real promise.
I enjoyed "Smallville" (though I did feel it went on too long) so I am looking forward to tuning in Wednesday and checking out the Emerald Archer on the small screen.
If the show is a hit and if DC Comics can get its movie ducks in a row toward building a Justice League movie, we just might get to see Green Arrow on the big screen alongside Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in a few years.
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Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Check out his podcast "Nerdherders" on iTunes. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.