One of the coolest DC Comics storylines mostly comes from the Elseworlds continuity, specifically the stories that do not necessarily follow the mythos of certain characters but put them in realities and situations that probably wouldn’t ever happen in the main DC Universe. The ongoing ‘Dark Knights of Steel’ comic book story by Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri sets our favorite DC superheroes in medieval times, meaning that Kryptonians arrive on Earth hundreds of years earlier than in the main continuity of DC Comics. There are kingdoms, fear of magic, aliens, and, most importantly, characters with certain motivations. Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ story also features a heavily injured Green Arrow. This article will focus on Green Arrow, how he lost his arm, and what happened to him in both Elseworlds stories.
There are two instances of Green Arrow losing his arm in DC Comics – in Frank Miller’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ comic book story, government-controlled Superman destroys Green Arrow’s arm in combat, which enrages Batman and motivates him to attack the Kryptonian. In the ongoing ‘Dark Knights of Steel’ comic book, Green Arrow is hired by King Jefferson (Black Lightning) of the Kingdom of Storms to assassinate the King of El lands, Jor-El, to ensure that the aliens don’t suddenly go insane and destroy every kingdom in the vicinity. Green Arrow kills Jor-El but enraged Bat-Prince (Batman) severs the young archer’s arm to punish him for the deed and imprison him in the Castle of El’s dungeons.
Of course, ‘Dark Knights of Steel’ references the famous comic book by Frank Miller, ‘The Dark Knight Returns,’ where Superman severs Green Arrow’s arm and consequently becomes even more of a threat to the “free world.” We will discuss both instances where Green Arrow lost his arm and his time after the physical trauma.
How Green Arrow lost his arm in ‘The Dark Knight Returns’?
This famous story first came out in 1986, and since then has been regarded as one of the best comic books of all time. The premise behind it is truly interesting and is set in the Elseworlds continuity, meaning that ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ is a story set in the alternate universe of DC Comics, specifically, on Earth-31.
Bruce Wayne retires as Batman after the death of his second Robin, Jason Todd. However, during his ten years of absence, the crime in Gotham City is worse than ever, led by the violent gang called “The Mutants.”
Of course, Batman returns and fights the Mutant gang in the alley his parents died and meets a new Robin, Carrie Kelley. This leads to Batman realizing that the government is financially backing the gangs for control across the United States, and he decides to stop it. However, the newly awakened Joker wreaks havoc across the city, killing numerous people and leading the new congresswoman to suicide.
After the chase, Joker kills himself in front of Batman, ironically, in the tunnel of love, and with that, he frames Batman for his murder. The rebellion is on the way, and the so-called “Sons of Batman” become vigilantes, inspired by the Caped Crusader, and decide to rebel against the tyrannical government.
However, Superman is on the way, and his story is depressing – he is acting as the agent of the U.S. government who uses the alien for their dirty business and to establish full control of the cities. Superman feels that is the only way to “clean” cities of crime and reluctantly becomes the government’s “pet,” which pits him against Batman.
Green Arrow comes into the fray when Batman and Superman have a final showdown – years ago, when Bruce Wayne was still mourning Jason Todd, Superman severed Green Arrow’s arm in their fight, which the Star City archer held against the Man of Tomorrow. This is the main incentive for Oliver Queen to help Batman and Sons of Batman group to stop the alien and the U.S. government.
During the final battle between Batman and Superman, Green Arrow helps Caped Crusader by shooting an arrow laced with synthetic kryptonite. Batman seemingly loses against Superman, but in the end, it is confirmed that the Caped Crusader actually won by faking his death and making Superman realize that what he’s doing is objectively wrong. Despite being handicapped, Oliver Queen helps Batman tremendously and continues his mission of rebelling against the U.S. government.
How Green Arrow lost his arm in ‘Dark Knights of Steel’?
This leads us to the ongoing comic book story by Tom Taylor and Yasmine Putri, also set in Elseworlds, specifically Earth-118. This comic book is set in medieval times, where Kal-El arrives on Earth during the 12th or 13th century. There is a whole twist – Jor-El and Lara arrive on Earth with their son Kal-El and save the Wayne Kingdom from the natural disaster.
Waynes immediately befriend and accept the alien family from Krypton. However, tragedy strikes when Waynes die after the attack of Green Man (this universe’s evil version of Green Lantern) and El’s take over the Kingdom to rule the Wayne lands. El family gets another child, Zala (this universes Supergirl), who eventually gets romantically involved with Princess Diana of Amazon Island.
Of course, the whole conflict of the story starts from the moment when El’s arrive on Earth because King Jefferson, the ruler of the Kingdom of Storms, learns from a young peasant John Constantine that aliens will arrive on Earth and destroy it. He falsely interprets the prophecy and “zeroes” on El’s as the main threat to their lands.
Ironically, King Jefferson’s magical powers don’t bother him, and he finds a perfect moment to kill King Jor-El. However, El’s aren’t innocent either, and they hunt for the metahumans across the lands and imprison them for “protection.”
The whole story is interesting since it calls out everyone involved and their hypocrisy that leads to ultimate tragedy. King Jefferson orders his advisor Constantine to order an assassination of Jor-El. Constantine finds Green Man, who uses Green Arrow for his deed – Green Man is actually Lex Luthor, who goes insane and finds Green Power Ring.
Green Man bestows Green Arrow with a synthetic Kryptonite arrow, which Oliver shoots and hits Jor-El in the head, ultimately killing him. Batman is present and, led by his grief, hunts the archer and severs his arm.
I don’t want to spoil the whole story regarding Batman, but Green Arrow is then imprisoned with the rest of the “magical beings” that medieval Caped Crusader hunted over the years.
Oliver then meets a mysterious woman called Dinah, who Batman imprisoned with the suspicions of being a banshee (Black Canary). After the conflict steamrolls to all-out war, Dinah and Oliver escape the El prison and join the battle, with the archer still left with one hand – because of his handicap, Dinah suggests Oliver use a crossbow.
The story didn’t end yet, and we are waiting for the 12th and last issue to be released in a few months. ‘Dark Knights of Steel’ prove that DC characters can be put in any universe, and it would work exceptionally well, especially when the writer is solid. Of course, this moment for Oliver Queen heavily references ‘The Dark Knights Returns’ story; frankly, it’s really cool.
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