Secret Origins: Green Arrow and Speedy: Targets, Chapter 2: Allies and Enemies

by Libbylawrence

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Roy Harper was five years old when he and his father made the fateful trip to Lost Mesa in 1932. The plane crashed and ended the life of his father. He was left stranded on Lost Mesa with his loyal family servant, Quoag. The Indian man raised poor Roy with all the love and wisdom any child could want. He taught him woodlore and archery and made this blond boy the living embodiment of the skills I had read about for so long.

Thus, when I arrived there, Roy was already fourteen years old. He and I fought at first sight. He thought I was there to rob the place of the legendary lost gold, while I was innocent, except for the fact that my conversation with Professor Morgan had accidentally tipped off the crooked waiter at my club about the wealth that awaited me at Lost Mesa. Morgan had spoken figuratively, but the greedy man had taken him at face value and had gathered a gang to get to Lost Mesa first and rob me or the land of the imagined gold.

It was Roy who got me to use grass to stain my white shirt and tan pants with the color green, so I could blend into the foliage. Roy and I teamed up to fight the killers, for they soon killed poor, heroic Quoag, who had given his life to help Roy and me escape. During that first thrilling fight, when we used the skills and experienced the same kind of swashbuckling peril we would come to know so well as crime-fighters, two things happened: A team was born, and two names were coined.

I became the Green Arrow, while the agile Roy was called Speedy.

The thugs died when a huge golden statue fell upon them during their chase after the two of us. Yes, there was gold hidden at Lost Mesa. Roy and I took it and used it to replace the damage done to the museum, then bought the equipment and supplies we would need for our new crusade.

We buried noble Quoag and returned to my home in New York City. After Roy learned that his mother had died at some point after he and his father crashed on Lost Mesa, he became my ward. He taught me much about life, and I tried to be a father to him, too. I was a skilled archer, but I lacked his years of daily experience in the use of the bow and tracking techniques. I knew science and machinery and taught these skills to the lad.

And although I didn’t think of it at the time, I unconsciously began to pattern our heroic identities after the heroes of neighboring Gotham City — Batman and Robin. While Batman had his Batmobile, we had our cleverly named Arrowplane, which we later called the Arrowcar to avoid confusion when we built an actual flying Arrowplane. Batman had his Batcave, and we had our Arrowcave. Batman had his amazing utility belt, and we had quills full of our trick arrows.

We became defenders of America and fought Axis agents, crooks, and monsters, both alone and with the heroes of the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the larger All-Star Squadron.

While I was born and raised in New York City, and I maintained a Park Avenue apartment there for years, I decided to buy land to build a mansion with a private museum of my own in Star City when Roy and I returned from Lost Mesa. Star City in the World War II era was as strange a place as any, full of strange underworld characters, but there were no mystery-men there before we arrived. And while we split our time between New York City and Star City during the war years, it was Star City that became our true home. It also became our only home after the war. But strangely enough, the reason for the move ultimately had nothing to do with Green Arrow and Speedy.

Maxwell Lord, a young Star City executive with a head for business, managed to convince me to invest my fortune in Star City, which was really reaching out for investors during that booming war-era economy. I agreed to do so, but only on one condition: that Max himself take up the position of CEO at Queen Enterprises. I had done little except try to maintain the family fortune, most of which I spent on my passions, both private and public, so Queen Enterprises was nothing more than a holding company. It was Max who singlehandedly transformed it into a real, booming business.

As Green Arrow and Speedy, we fought many crooks over the years, most of them typical lawbreakers, as most of the criminals we battled in New York tended to be. But the ones who gave us the most trouble were a few bizarrely costumed villains or eccentric mad scientists and schemers with descriptive names, and for the most part they were all crooks from Star City. They included Professor Merlin, the Boomerang, the Blaze, Mister Mephisto, the Cat, Skylark, the Storm King, the Turtle, the Flag, the Robot Master, the Sea Scourge, and the Wind. (*) But of all our enemies, the most persistent of them all has been Bull’s-Eye, alias Leapo the circus clown, whom we last fought as recently as earlier this day. (*) Unfortunately, while he was our closest counterpart to the Joker, Batman’s arch-enemy, Bull’s-Eye certainly wasn’t the most dangerous. That honor has to go to the man who became our arch-enemy: Professor Million.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Silent City,” More Fun Comics #75 (December, 1941), “The Boomerang,” More Fun Comics #79 (May, 1942), “Wings of Flame,” World’s Finest Comics #7 (Fall, 1942), “The Man Who Purchased Lives,” More Fun Comics #86 (December, 1942), “The Cat and the Mouse,” Adventure Comics #104 (May, 1946), “The Strange Saga of S.K. Lark,” Adventure Comics #114 (March, 1947), “The Weather Wizard,” Adventure Comics #118 (July, 1947), “King of Danger Channel,” Adventure Comics #122 (November, 1947), “The Man of a Thousand Flags,” Adventure Comics #128 (May, 1948), “The Robot-Master Crimes,” World’s Finest Comics #34 (May-June, 1948), “The Banner of the Skull and Bones,” Adventure Comics #134 (November, 1948), “The Unfinished Crimes,” World’s Finest Comics #38 (January-February, 1949), “The Arrow Meets Bull’s-Eye,” World’s Finest Comics #24 (September-October, 1946), and “Unhappy Birthday to You,” Adventure Comics #127 (February, 1949).]

Among our enemies, we also encountered an eerie number of skilled criminal archers. And they all traced back in one way or another to a brilliant old mathematician named Professor George Million.

Speedy and I first encountered Professor Million back in 1942, when he was just a mathematics professor at James College who had evidently turned to crime to raise funds to build a mathematics hall at the college. Rather than let himself be traced back to the sleepy college town he lived in, he operated solely in Star City, where he hired all his men and had them commit all his crimes there. Eventually we caught up with him, after his henchmen turned on him. But when he explained in very convincing terms what had caused him to go into crime, we ended up letting him go, thinking we were saving a man from a life of crime. (*) We were, as it turned out, quite naive.

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

If we had recalled our Sherlock Holmes stories, we should have realized that old mathematics Professor George Million shared a lot in common with the infamous Professor James Moriarty, who was also a mathematics professor. We had thought after his return that Million might have developed a taste for crime from his first outing, but it turned out that, in all our early encounters with him, he had us all fooled. The reality was that, for decades, this old man had continued his daytime role as James College’s mathematics professor, even as he secretly used his brilliant mind for committing perfect crimes that were never traced back to him until he met us. We’ve never discovered exactly what motivates him, for we’ve learned that he is independently wealthy, as befits his name, and we’ve learned that he is very different from the person we once thought he was. We also know that George Million is an alias he has used for most of his life, having carefully erased the details of his early years; his true surname might even be Moriarty, for all we know.

We originally only encountered Professor Million while he was committing crimes ostensibly for noble causes, such as raising money for his little college. The time he helped us stop an innocent man from being executed for a murder he didn’t commit made us think he might even be a potential ally of ours. (*) But the truth was far more insidious. Professor Million was either the greatest liar we had ever met, or he somehow hypnotized himself into believing his own lies about his motivations, for he was — and is — one of the great unknown criminal masterminds of our time, and also one of the most ruthless men alive, if the situation calls for it. If only we had realized this sooner, we could have prevented the creation of a dozen of our worst foes. Unfortunately, from all outward appearances, he seemed to be little more than a well-meaning academic.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Million + Murder = Zero,” More Fun Comics #107 (January-February, 1946).]

In early 1943, while under the impression that I was helping to train a group of archery enthusiasts calling themselves the Green Arrow Archery Club, it turned out that I had been tricked into training a few criminal archers who’d all received some prior training from the notorious Morton Quigley, alias the Archer, who once fought Superman. (*) They’d been brought together by Professor Million for another fundraising scheme, this time so George Million would have enough money for several mathematics scholarships for his most promising students. Although Speedy and I captured those archers, Professor Million himself escaped. (*) And those criminal archers would plague us for years, using such names as the Black Arrow, John Centaur, the Rainbow Archer, the Red Dart, and the Rocket Raiders, as well as others with no colorful name, including two men who each impersonated the same heroic archer from overseas. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See 2nd story, Superman #13 (November-December, 1941), “When Archers Meet,” More Fun Comics #97 (May-June, 1944), “The Arrow Raiders Strike,” Adventure Comics #143 (August, 1949), and “The Archer from the Zodiac,” Adventure Comics #120 (September, 1947); the Earth-One versions of the following stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are called “The Rainbow Archer,” Adventure Comics #246 (March, 1958), “Green Arrow Versus Red Dart,” World’s Finest Comics #95 (July-August, 1958), and “The Rocket Raiders,” World’s Finest Comics #94 (May-June, 1958).]

We met good archers, too, like the lovely Queen Arrow and Miss Arrowette, Bernell “Bowstring” Jones, and others. (*) We’d also heard legends of other mystery-men archers like the one called the Spider, who came before us and left our world to join the Freedom Fighters of Earth-X, and the Golden Arrow, who was a pulp fiction hero here but was said to have existed on another world.

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One versions of the following stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are called “The Queen Arrow,” Adventure Comics #241 (October, 1957) and “The Amazing Miss Arrowette,” World’s Finest Comics #113 (November, 1960).]

Just after the war, I met and helped train Tom Archer, a brave British archer who originally called himself the Bow Master, until a criminal archer impersonated him. Tom renamed himself the Bowman, only to be impersonated by yet another criminal archer more recently. (*) I also helped train the Scarlet Bowmen, heroes of the small European country of Belgravia. (*) These were among the first of the international archers who call themselves the Green Arrows of the World. Roy and I are deeply honored that they’ve taken inspiration from our exploits, and we recently held an international delegation of masked archers here in Star City. (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: The Earth-One versions of the following stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are called “Archer from Across the Sea,” World’s Finest Comics #79 (November-December, 1955), “The Scarlet Bowmen,” Adventure Comics #226 (July, 1956), and “The Green Arrows of the World,” Adventure Comics #250 (July, 1958).]

During our cases both solo and alongside the Seven Soldiers of Victory, we also traveled through time, encountering some of the greatest archers of them all, such as Robin Hood in the twelfth century A.D. and Diana the Huntress in ancient Greece. (*) Recently, we even encountered a weird alien being from another dimension called Xeen Arrow, believe it or not! (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Robin Hood’s Revenge,” More Fun Comics #82 (August, 1942) and “Date with Diana,” Adventure Comics #111 (December, 1946); the Earth-One versions of the following stories, upon which the Earth-Two versions are based, are called “The Mystery of the Giant Arrows,” Adventure Comics #252 (September, 1958) and “Prisoners of Dimension Zero,” Adventure Comics #253 (October, 1958).]

Although we may not be the most original of heroes, Roy and I often marvel that we’ve lived more lives in just a few years than most people live in one. That’s why I’ve decided to begin this journal, based on our old casebook and clippings, to recount some of our most interesting adventures.

Next year will be my fortieth birthday, and I’ve decided that, at the end of 1948, I will retire while I’m still at the top of my game. Roy will also be turning twenty-one years old next year, just reaching the prime of his life, and I hope that he will continue our crime-fighting legacy in one way or another. Who knows? Perhaps we will even see a new Green Arrow and Speedy team led by Roy. I can only hope that the cases in this journal will inspire further generations of heroic archers after I am gone.

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