Continued from The Shining Knight: Times Past, 1948: Winged Vanguard
When Prince John’s oppressions,
His sins and transgressions,
Did hold sway o’er the land;
There rose to confound him,
Perplex and astound him,
Robin Hood and his Merrie Band!
Good men and true were they,
Strong of sinew were they,
Robin’s most loyal men!
Their names and their deeds
And the legends they feed
Were sung of from forest to glen!
Little John and Friar Tuck,
Will Scarlet (such pluck!)
And the balladeer Alan A’Dale;
All are names known to thee,
But fair listener, prithee
Hear a new name that enters the tale!
When his bowstring he drew
His arrows, they flew
Unerringly straight and keen!
So listen, dear sir,
And hear of Oliver,
The one known as Arrow the Green!
“Ohh, my aching head!” Green Arrow muttered, holding his right palm against his temple as he shakily rose to his feet. “It feels like Stripesy’s been using it to hammer dents out of the Star-Rocket Racer!” The archer blinked, the bright light hurting his eyes. As his vision cleared, he looked around himself and grew puzzled.
“Where in the world am I?” Green Arrow asked himself. He was in some kind of countryside. Everywhere he looked he saw rolling green hills, unspoiled by any manmade structure. Behind him rose a huge, wooded forest. To one side was a dirt path barely wide enough to be called a road; unmarred by paving stones of any kind, it was little more than a strip of land where the grass had been worn away by much travel.
“Just how far did the explosion of the Nebula-Man throw me, anyway?” Green Arrow wondered. “I don’t know any place in the state that looks like this. Could I have landed as far away as that? And — where are the others?”
With no other option open, Green Arrow started walking down the road, calling out loudly for his friends.
“Speedy! Hello? Can you hear me? Speedy? Vig? Sir Justin? Anybody?”
The archer’s calls received no answer. After about ten minutes of walking, he heard a noise; a sound unfamiliar to him, something he had never heard before. It sounded like horses, but with other sounds mixed in as well. He peered down the road and saw a speck in the distance, growing larger as it approached. His eyes grew larger, too, as he made out what it was and gaped in surprise. It was a coach drawn by a team of white horses, a luxurious coach, with much ornamentation on it, as well as some kind of family crest. Green Arrow stared in amazement as the carriage approached.
“Either somebody’s making a movie of some kind,” Green Arrow told himself, “or I’m in big trouble.”
As the coach passed under the low-hanging limbs of a tree, another wondrous sight met Green Arrow’s eyes. A bearded man dressed all in green leapt out of the tree and landed on the driver’s seat next to the coachman. Before the startled coachman could react, the man in green delivered a right cross to his jaw that rendered him unconscious. The intruder then seized the reins of the horses and brought them to a halt. When the coach had stopped, he leapt down from the driver’s seat, drew an arrow from his quiver, notched it to his bow, and aimed it at the coach door.
“What ho, my friends!” the man called to the passengers within the coach. “Welcome to Sherwood Forest! Open your doors, my friends, and greet your host. Robin of Locksley is my name, perhaps better known to you as Robin of the Hood, Outlaw of Sherwood!”
“Yep,” Green Arrow said to himself. “I’m in big trouble.”
Green Arrow stared in confusion;
Could this be illusion?
A dream brought on by injury?
Yon man strong and good,
The far-famed Robin Hood!
Zounds! Could this truly be he?
“P-please, Sir Robin,” came a meek voice as the coach door slowly opened. “Do not hurt me! I-I am only following orders!”
“Indeed, good sir?” Robin Hood laughed, not moving his bowpoint from the fearful man’s breast. “And what orders would these be?”
“I-I was sent here by the Sheriff,” the timid man said. “H-he ordered me to — to bring you a message.”
“Ha!” Robin Hood threw back his head and laughed. “My old friend the Sheriff would send me a message, would he? ‘Tis fain kind! His best wishes for the Easter holiday, no doubt?”
“Th-the Sheriff issues you a challenge,” the timid man continued. “T-to meet his champion, alone and unaided, in single armed combat. Today, in the town square, at sunset.”
Robin Hood laughed robustly and put aside his bow. “Ha-ha-ha! By all my arrows, the Sheriff will never learn! I have bested every champion he has sent against me, sent them all running back to Nottingham crying for their mothers! What incentive does the Sheriff offer me to meet his champion, fellow? Surely he knows that I will not answer his challenge simply to preserve my honor; that is secured by my deeds.”
“H-he promises a thousand gold crowns, if you defeat his champion,” the timid man stammered.
“Indeed?” Robin Hood asked. “Well, t’would save me the trouble of taking it by force. Would provide merry sport, as well. Very well, my timid friend. Tell thy master that his challenge is accepted. Robin Hood will be there at sundown to embarrass his latest champion. And tell the champion that after Robin Hood hath unseated him, he shall drink with the Merry Men in Sherwood Forest.”
The merry outlaw allowed the coach to go on its way then. Green Arrow only stared in mute amazement. It was true. He had been thrown back in time to the days of Robin Hood — again. (*) What was he going to do now? How would he ever get back?
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Robin Hood’s Revenge,” More Fun Comics #82 (August, 1942) and “A Day in the Life of Robin Hood,” World’s Finest Comics #40 (May-June, 1949).]
The world Green Arrow knew,
The friends brave and true,
May be lost to him evermore!
Stranded far in his past,
At each new sight, aghast,
What now did he have to live for?
Green Arrow watched the man who could only be Robin Hood walk back toward the forest, humming a song to himself. A great despair suddenly came over the twentieth-century archer as he realized that he may never get back home. He could be stuck here for the rest of his life.
A sudden scream interrupted Green Arrow’s melancholy. It came from up the road around a bend that the hawk-eyed archer couldn’t see from where he was. Robin Hood could not see the source of the scream, either, but instantly he ran in the direction from which it came. Green Arrow followed, gaining ground behind the famous outlaw. As they rounded the bend, the two archers saw another coach not unlike the first one. Four masked bandits had attacked it and were hauling the terrified driver down from his seat. The screams, decidedly feminine, came from within.
“Hold, varlets!” Robin Hood’s commanding voice boomed out. “None may plunder in these woods but Robin Hood and his band!”
The masked faces turned to the voice of their accuser. “Blind me!” one of them cried. “It’s him! We’re for it, lads!”
“There be one ‘o him an’ four of us, pillock!” growled another, presumably the leader. “Set about him!” The leader set an example by leaping at Robin Hood, knife drawn. The outlaw chief drew, notched, and fired an arrow, with no less speed than Green Arrow himself could have managed, and knocked the knife from the villain’s hand. Green Arrow grinned at his prowess; the legends had not been mistaken.
Loss of his weapon only deterred the bandit momentarily. He lunged at Robin Hood, arms wide. The merry outlaw of Sherwood Forest never fired his arrows to kill, so he dropped his bow and engaged the thief in hand-to-hand combat. Green Arrow marveled as Robin deftly dodged the larger man’s blows and returned them with mighty ones of his own.
The time-lost archer watched as the other robbers circled around the combatants, trying to come up behind Robin Hood with knives drawn.
“That’s a no-no, boys,” Green Arrow called, firing an arrow of his own. Two of the bandits gasped as a net burst from the arrow and ensnared them. Robin Hood and the thief he was fighting momentarily stopped their struggle to marvel as well.
“What sorcery is this?” Robin Hood gasped. “A net that springs full-grown from an arrow?”
The bandit took advantage of Robin’s wonder to drive home a powerful right cross to the outlaw’s jaw. Robin staggered under the blow. Before he could press his advantage, however, the bandit was struck by a boxing-glove arrow to his temple, which felled him like an oak.
Though hurled through time’s gate
Far from Nineteen Forty-Eight,
A hero’s a hero, tis true!
When met with the sight
Of good Robin Hood’s plight,
’Twas but one thing Green Arrow could do!
“By my bow,” Robin Hood muttered, shaking off the effects of the blow. “It seems I have gained a wizard for an ally! My thanks, wizard, whoe’er ye be!”
Green Arrow grinned and offered his hand to Robin Hood, who evidently didn’t remember their earlier meeting. Even Green Arrow had forgotten that it had really happened until Speedy told him about it and showed him the casebook they had recorded. Memory loss was a typical effect of time travel. “No wizard, Sir Robin, just an archer like yourself.”
“An archer, aye, as good as any that bend their bows in Sherwood, and better than most!” Robin Hood agreed, shaking Green Arrow’s hand. “But like myself? Thy wizardly shafts belie that statement! What name is yours, my new friend, and from where do you hail?”
“My name is — Oliver,” Green Arrow said, hesitating just a moment before giving his true name. What matter could it make in the twelfth century? “I come from a faraway land. I am but newly arrived in Nottinghamshire, and I am new to its ways and customs.”
“Indeed? Well, thy skill with a bow seems equal only to thy courage, leaping to mine defense against such pressing odds! Come with me to my home in the forest glen. My Merry Men will welcome you!”
Green Arrow beamed. To be one of Robin Hood’s Merry Men — to fight alongside the legendary outlaw against the oppressions of the Sheriff of Nottingham and Prince John. He would trade it gladly to be able to return to 1948, to see Roy and his friends again; but if he had to be stuck in a time that was not his own, he would make the best of it.
“I would be honored, Sir Robin,” Green Arrow said humbly.
“Well spoken, friend Oliver!” Robin Hood laughed. As they spoke, the coach hurriedly drove off. “Such little gratitude, from the good nobility of Nottinghamshire,” Robin Hood sniffed. “I shall mark well the crest on the coach, and be sure to strip it down to its floorboards when next it traverses these roads!”
Green Arrow chuckled. “What about these three?” he asked, indicating the unconscious bandit and the two struggling in the net. In his own time he would turn them over to local law enforcement, but that was hardly an option, as a member of Robin Hood’s outlaw band.
“Three?” Robin Hood said, a quizzical look on his face. “Prithee, good Oliver… were there not four?”
“Four?” Green Arrow asked, suddenly alert. There had been four. What had happened to the other one?
A scream rent the calm forest air as the fourth bandit parroted Robin Hood’s trick and dropped from a low-hanging branch. Screaming as he leapt, the cowardly bandit drove his knife deep into Robin Hood’s left shoulder.
“Robin!” Green Arrow cried.
O cowardly cur!
To strike from behind like a thief!
Green Arrow must act,
For he knows for a fact,
Robin’s death would bring unending grief!
Without another word, Green Arrow leapt at the attacker. The cowardly bandit scrambled to flee, but Green Arrow grabbed the back of his tunic with his left hand, hauled the bandit hard toward him, and drove home a smashing right cross that met the thief’s jaw halfway. The murderous coward crumpled to the ground, unconscious.
“Robin, how bad is it?” Green Arrow cried, racing to the outlaw’s side. The bearded man grimaced with pain, trying to reach the knife stuck in his shoulder.
“I — will be fine, friend Oliver,” Robin Hood grunted. “Just get — yon knife — out mine shoulder!”
“Wait a minute!” Green Arrow snapped, grasping Robin Hood’s hand. “It could be dangerous to remove the knife! Let me have a look.”
“Dangerous?” Robin repeated. “Oliver, the knife is causing me injury! How can removing it be wrong?”
“If the knife has ruptured a muscle or an artery,” Green Arrow explained, “the knife itself could be all that’s holding your blood inside your body right now! Let me examine it.” Green Arrow peered at the wound; he gingerly moved the knife slightly, and Robin inhaled sharply. “No, it seems to have missed everything major,” Green Arrow pronounced. “Wait just a moment.” The time-lost archer slipped off his quiver and opened the false bottom, where he kept a small first-aid kit. He pulled out a sterile cloth bandage and a small brown bottle of liquid. He poured some of the liquid onto the cloth, then held the cloth in the palm of his left hand while he wrapped the fingers of his right hand around the hilt of the knife.
“Are you ready, Robin?” Green Arrow asked.
Robin Hood paused, then nodded. “I be ready,” he said.
“OK, then!” Green Arrow cried. With one swift motion, he pulled the knife free and slapped the damp cloth onto the wound. He pressed down, holding the cloth there. Robin Hood screamed in agony.
“Oliver, what dost thou?” he roared. “Something burns my shoulder like fire!”
“It’s a medicine,” Green Arrow explained. “It will keep the wound from getting worse.”
“Aye, by burning off my arm!” Robin complained. Then he added in a softer tone, “Your ways are indeed strange to me, friend Oliver. But I have seen the wizardry of thy arrows; clearly thou art wise beyond our knowledge here in Nottingham. I will trust thee.”
Green Arrow grinned as he bound the bandage to Robin Hood’s shoulder with tape. “Thank you, Robin. Your trust means a lot to me.”
“Verily,” Robin said with wonder. “The fire doth pass from the wound. And I have been wounded before, yet none of the usual pain doth accompany this one! Thou art truly a wizard, to heal with a touch!”
“The wound isn’t healed yet,” Green Arrow explained. “It’s the medicine keeping the pain down. I’m afraid your arm won’t be much use to you for about a week.”
“Tis a shame,” Robin Hood said, shaking his bearded head. “For I shalt need its service when I face the Sheriff’s champion today!”