Green Arrow: 1972: The Final Bullseye, Chapter 2: From the Ashes

by Libbylawrence

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The second Green Arrow, alias Oliver Morgan, raced through the streets of Star City toward the museum. His father, the late Professor Lamont Morgan had been curator there for decades, and while growing up, the museum had been a second home to Morgan.

“It was when thugs burned the Queen Wing for American Indian Studies that Oliver was first inspired to become G.A. indirectly,” he mused as the yellow-hued Arrowcar rocketed through the streets. “That’s where the note wants me to be. Million must know Oliver’s secret. That makes him more deadly then ever. Back when I fought him, he was still posing as an eccentric mathematics professor at James College who had begun committing supposedly harmless crimes to raise funds for various charitable causes, such as building a mathematics hall for his college. (*) Little did we know back then how deadly George Million really was, and that his outward façade of a harmless college professor was just a cover for a criminal mastermind who for decades had specialized in committing nearly perfect crimes that couldn’t be traced back to him.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “The Mystery of the Mathematical Master,” More Fun Comics #88 (February, 1943).]

Green Arrow parked and entered the deserted museum. It was dark, but his eyes were keen and used to the hunt. Hearing a slight whirl, he dropped to roll across the room as pellets slammed into the spot on which he had first stood. Slingshots! Million has expanded his allies! he thought.

Rolling across the room, he expertly fired a shaft toward the direction from which the pellets were being launched. A voice cried out as his blunt shaft connected with a pair of hands.

“Slingshot! Give it up!” he said. “I don’t want to break all your fingers!”

The raven-haired Sheridan Mackenzie cursed and dived for cover. “You broke one finger, and I’ll gladly offer you another!” she sneered.

As Green Arrow swung up on a line and dropped down to block her path, she laughed and said, “I just lured you out!” And a whizzing sound announced the arrival of multiple shafts. One pierced his leg, and he gasped as a bright light exploded to blind him. The stench of a gas quickly filled the room. Green Arrow struggled to slip on his oxygen mask, but the sonic burst of another trick arrow stunned him. He fell to the ground as the assembled band of killers approached his fallen form.

“Now we’ll have some real fun!” sneered the Archer.

***

The second Green Arrow awakened to find himself on the old estate outside of Star City, where Professor Million had established a base. Raising his head to look, he saw felonious faces all around him. Red Dart, Slingshot, the Archer, the Rocket Raider, the Rainbow Archer, and even the Scarlet Bowman laughed as he struggled to find a bow.

“We removed your weapons for now,” said the Rainbow Archer. “You’ll get them back soon enough — not that a thousand bows will do you any good.”

“You fiends! You killed those innocent men just to lure me here,” said Oliver Morgan.

Professor Million rolled into the room in a wheelchair. “But of course we did,” said the very old man. “All for a class reunion of sorts. You know these men and women were my pupils… in spirit, if not in fact. I have brought them here to slay you, because I am dying. For years I’ve supplied your enemies with deadly trick arrows superior even to your own, even when you thought me a harmless old man.

“But fate has played a cruel joke on this old man,” continued the professor. “For, you see, the toxic chemicals I used in preparing these trick arrows have given me a fatal disease. Still, before I die, I shall enjoy seeing you suffer!”

“Scarlet Bowman — Pieter! How could you turn against me this way?” asked Green Arrow.

“My twin brother died,” said the man from Belgravia. “That made me realize just how stupid it was to risk life and limb for a concept like patriotism or justice. Since then, I’ve served only myself and worked only for hire.”

Professor Million coughed and said, “You see before you seven targets. Hit all seven bull’s-eyes, and you will not be put to death as yet!”

The criminal mastermind had Slingshot wheel him out, and his gang of criminal archers followed. A bow and a quiver dropped down a slot to land at Green Arrow’s feet.

This is too easy, he mused. Million knows I could make these shots blindfolded.

“Fire! I demand it!” shouted Professor Million from above as he peered down through a glass-like window.

Green Arrow glanced at the targets. What did he have to lose?

Drawing back his bow, Green Arrow released the arrows, not at the targets, but directly at the ground. “I refuse to play your twisted games, Professor,” he said calmly, having secretly palmed one of the arrowheads, which he hid in his closed fist.

Professor Million scowled. “Curse you! If you refuse to participate, then we’ll slay you now!”

Green Arrow nodded. “Better me than the seven innocent people concealed behind those targets. What did you expect me to do — blindly fire my shafts and slay your prisoners? You’d love to make a killer out of Green Arrow, wouldn’t you, you grinning devil?”

“OK, so he’s wise to you,” said the Red Dart. “Let’s just kill him. He’s wounded and unarmed.”

“Not before I tell him what my esteemed colleague, the Rocket Raider, contributed to our little get together!” wheezed Million.

The blue-clad Rocket Raider said, “The Prof gave me the means to whip up a real rocket. It’s set to carry a deadly payload of the same toxins that poisoned him. They’ll be released at its apex over Star City!”

Professor Million laughed. “That’s right, bowman! You’ll die, and the city you love will follow you to the grave!”

Green Arrow whirled as his attackers rushed inside. He now had only one priority — to stop the rocket. Nothing else mattered anymore.

Spotting Rainbow Archer aiming a shaft, he hurled his own arrowhead with amazing accuracy. The head struck Rainbow Archer in the face, and as the criminal archer dropped his bow, Green Arrow rushed forward and grabbed it, even as a red dart sped toward him and struck his chest, and everything began to move in slow motion.

Green Arrow kicked the Rainbow Archer in front of him and allowed his body to take the next shaft fired by the Scarlet Bowman. He aimed and fired one arrow after another, even as he expertly danced backward and dodged the seemingly slow-moving projectiles moving toward him. An arrow sliced across the European’s arm, and he cursed.

“Your brother would be sickened by your current company!” cried Green Arrow, punching the Scarlet Bowman in the mouth before rolling aside just as a pellet crashed from Slingshot’s direction. He gasped as it impacted in his ribs.

The heroic archer fired three more arrows, and the dark-haired beauty screamed as all of them struck her with stunning impact. He had snapped off the pointed arrowheads before firing.

Kicking the Scarlet Bowman backward, Green Arrow vaulted over his form to tackle the Rainbow Archer, who bled from the cut on his face. “You’ve never won a single fight, Albrecht,” he taunted. “Not once. Heck, even Little Boy Blue beat you that one time!”

Nearby, the Red Dart was facing a struggle of his own. John “Midas” Mallory confronted the grinning old schemer in the wheelchair. “Prof, you never told me about your plans for the city,” he said. “I got a family in Star City! You can’t do it!”

The evil old man said, “You’ll be paid extra for your troubles.”

“I don’t care about my cut,” said Mallory. “Keep it. I want my wife and daughter to be safe. Now stop this countdown nonsense.”

“Too late,” said Professor Million. “I’d just accept the fact that, with what I pay you, you can buy a dozen spouses!”

The Red Dart cursed. “This is crazy!” he cried. “Stop this — now!” He whirled to fire three darts into the Rocket Raider. “You can stop this! Do it, or I’ll send the next one through you!” he demanded.

“Only the old man has the code,” said the Rocket Raider as he sank to his knees. “I just did the work!”

Green Arrow felt his side ache, and his leg was stiff, but he fought on. A perfect shot deflected the Archer’s lethal arrows, and he drew closer to Superman’s old foe. “You can’t win. You may think you can, but I can’t afford to quit!” he said with a cough.

The blows to the hero’s ribs were beginning to tell as he struggled to wrestle the Archer to the ground. He tripped as the beaten Slingshot grabbed for his foot. Kicking out, he flipped the Archer into the rising Scarlet Bowman. They fell, and he fired two swift shots.

“Forgive me!” he cried as both arrows thudded into the torsos of each villain.

Seeing the Red Dart struggling with Professor Million, Green Arrow hurried forward.

A sudden thunder shook the room as a rocket erupted from the building’s massive hangar.

The elderly Professor Million choked as the Red Dart shook him. “You die now!” The old man pushed a button, and his special wheelchair flared up in fiery splendor. He died at once, along with the shocked John Mallory.

Green Arrow rushed forward to fire a line to the rocket. It tore him skyward, and he climbed up toward the set of directional controls.

“Rob, you fought as bravely and loyally as any son could fight,” he muttered to himself as he flipped open a panel and gazed at the intricate controls. “I’ll never forget you. We did a pretty good job for second-class heroes! Oliver, you inspired the legend. Keep it alive!” With brute strength and a pilot’s skill, he altered the course of the missile.

But even as Oliver Morgan piloted the deadly rocket away from Star City, he knew his time was up. “This is like a giant arrow! It’s my final shot!”

The loss of blood was beginning to take its toil. He thought of his life and hoped that it had counted for something in the big picture. He smiled as the rocket cleared the city he loved and dropped into Star City Harbor. It had never reached an altitude of enough height to release its deadly payload. He took this knowledge with him to the grave.

***

Oliver Queen had tracked his friend first to the museum and then to the old house. Riding a motorcycle, he reached the house in time to see the rocket take off. He gasped as he saw the rocket explode into the harbor, and he prayed that his protégé had not been caught in the wake.

Rushing into the flaming ruins, he led the seven captives to freedom. Then he plunged back inside the inferno and carried the fallen villains to safety. The Rainbow Archer, the Scarlet Bowman, Slingshot, and the Rocket Raider, he mused.

Two charred bodies remained near a twisted metal frame. “Is that Red Dart? I see a fallen dart next to him,” he said, coughing as he made his way across the lawn. “The other can only be Professor Million.”

Looking at the smoke trail left in the wake of the rocket, he said to himself, “Maybe Superman can stop that rocket!” A moment later, he made a desperate call from the cycle to the Daily Star in Metropolis and explained the situation, recalling Superman’s friendships with the staff of that newspaper.

Green Arrow never expected that his gamble would work; after all, there was no hotline to contact Superman that he knew of. But within minutes, Superman himself carried the wreckage from the Star City Harbor and placed it at his feet, explaining that the payload was intact, and that he’d hurled it far into space.

“I found a body, too,” said Superman. “Your… replacement.”

“Poor Rob,” Oliver Queen said sadly.

Remembering the bitterness and hurt he had felt years before when the evil of men had driven him toward Lost Mesa and a heroic career, Oliver shook his head and wondered if any of it had been worth the loss of one more brave man.

***

Days later, a memorial service was held for Oliver Morgan. Oliver Queen, the Harper brothers, and Maxwell Lord were the only people in attendance. A simple headstone marked the man’s passing. Nearby was the resting place of his father, and Queen’s mentor, Professor Lamont Morgan and the professor’s wife, Isabelle. Thus few people ever realized that the second Green Arrow, a legendary hero, had died saving his city.

Oliver Queen stood silently before the grave until Roy Harper led him away.

***

Days later, a memorial service was held for John “Midas” Mallory, alias the Red Dart. His wife and daughter Goldie attended along with a dark-suited man named Mort Quigley, alias the Archer, who stood with a crutch by a handsome younger man as he expressed his sorrow to the Red Dart’s widow.

“My son Connor and I want you to know we’ll be glad to help you two in any way,” he said.

Connor Hawke smiled at Goldie Mallory and thought, Cute kid. Should grow up to be a looker!

Goldie accepted his hand and his offer to teach her a few tricks. Years later, the two would marry, and thus a criminal legacy would continue from the ashes of a heroic one in the form of the new Archer and the Dart.

The End

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