Comic Book Spotlight of the Day: Green Lantern Green Arrow Issue #5 – February 1984 (DC Comics)

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TITLE: Green Lantern Green Arrow Issue #5

YEAR: February 1984


Written by Denny O’Neil

Artists: Neal Adams

Editor: Julius Schwartz

In 1971, Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams and DC Comics shocked the country for issue #85 of “Green Arrow Green Lantern” (of “Green Lantern” vol. 2 but started to incorporate Green Arrow starting with issue #76 and thus the title change).

The comic showcased Speedy, Green Arrow’s ward admitting that he was addicted to heroin.  As Denny O’Neil did in the early ’80s by giving us an alcoholic Tony Stark for “The Invincible Iron Man”, the impact of having a comic book hero shooting up heroin was something unseen and it was DC Comics taking on the scourge of narcotics infesting the streets of America.

While I never owned issues #85-#86 (but owned issues in the #90s) of “Green Lantern Green Arrow”, in 1983, DC Comics released a reprint in prestige format of “Green Lantern Green Arrow” featuring two issues and featuring new covers and coloring by Neal Adams.

Only seven issues were released in 1983-1984 but it gave comic fans a chance to experience the popular team-up from the ’70s more than a decade later.

“Green Lantern Green Arrow” issue #5 features issues #84-85.

With issue #84, Hal Jordan is in love with Carol Ferris and she has a doctor’s appointment at Piper’s Dell that relates to her paralysis that she suffered.  While Hal goes to Olly’s place to hang out, he hears on the radio that the sea wall around Piper’s Dell has fractured and flooding was imminent.  This leads Hal to quickly fly to Piper’s Dell and because he hasn’t recharged his ring, he uses up his power to destroy bombs around the sea wall and to prevent any flooding.  But who is responsible?   And what happens when Hal runs out of power in his ring?

And now the issue I wanted to discuss and that is issue #85.  This deals with the controversial topic of Speedy on heroin.

The issue begins with Olly walking home and is about to be mugged by delinquents.  Olly kicks their butt but one of them grabs a crossbow and shoots Olly in the shoulder.

Down in the ground and desperately trying to get help, everyone avoids them including the police who think he’s some kind of drunken man.  Olly manages to walk to a hospital and collapses.

When he wakes up after surgery, Olly asks to see his arrow and is shocked because it’s an arrow that is used by his ward, Roy Harper a.k.a Speedy.

Olly has his friend Hal Jordan come by and they talk about how these thugs had his weapons and they wonder if Speedy has been kidnapped.

Unfortunately, as Olly can only use one arm, with Green Lantern’s assistance they go to find the thugs and find one of them nearby.  The young man is going through withdrawals and begging for narcotics from drug pusher, Bowden.

As Green Arrow and Green Lantern head to Bowden’s apartment, Bowden hits Green Arrow in the wounded arm and putting him through intense pain while Green Lantern stops Bowden, taking the man to jail and the thug experiencing withdrawal symptoms to the hospital.

Meanwhile, the other two thugs are hanging out at China Town and Green Lantern and Green Arrow show up.  They are shocked to see Speedy there but they think he’s doing undercover work to bust a drug ring.

As Green Lantern and Green Arrow along with Speedy and the two thugs go to the area of the drug pushers, as the heroes try to have a discussion with the drug pushers, one of the thugs knock Hal Jordan out with a wrench and Green Arrow, who can’t fight well with one arm, is beaten and both heroes are knocked unconscious.

The drug pushers then take a needle and inject drugs into their veins.  As the drug pushers call the police to get the two heroes arrested for drugs, Speedy fortunately helps Hal fight his drug induced demon and gets them to escape.

While Green Arrow and Green Lantern along with Speedy talk, they don’t understand why anyone would want to take drugs and Speedy tries to explain to them how a guy can (using himself as an example, but both heroes are not understanding that Speedy is talking about himself).

As Green Lantern and Green Arrow step out and Green Lantern leaves, when Green Arrow walks back inside his pad, he sees Speedy about to inject heroin into his arm.

And that is how the story ends.

It’s a bit of a shocker because for those who grew up reading Speedy, how he was a member of the Teen Titans and Green Arrow’s ward, you never realized he was going through some major crap in his life.

And to see him about to shoot up in Green Arrow’s home was a bit of a shocker.

It was rather interesting to see drug users beat Green Arrow and Green Lantern.  Granted, they weren’t expecting the thug kid to knock Hal Jordan behind the head.  Nor did they expect drug users to inject them with drugs into their system.

But that is probably one of the first that I have seen two major superheroes captured and injected with heroin in a comic book series.

Awesome story by Denny O’Neil and artwork by Neal Adams.  And the story is still not done as it will continue into issue #86!  And I’ll do a post for that in the near future.


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