Compassion vs. Selfishness in Green Arrow Annual 1

by Spencer Irwin

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Spencer: Early in Green Arrow Annual 1, Oliver says that “on Christmas everything turns out exactly as it should.” It’s a nice sentiment, but that’s exactly what it is — sentiment. The world doesn’t magically change just because it’s a holiday, and holidays can, in fact, be very depressing times for many people. If Christmas is a special time, it’s because people make it that way, and the desire to do so is the clear line that divides Green Arrow and Count Vertigo.

Benjamin Percy and Eleonora Carlini spend the first half of Green Arrow Annual 1 deep in their characters’ heads, exploring flashback/dream/nightmare worlds created by Count Vertigo, who has put the entire city under a trance. The attack serves a dual purpose — it’s revenge against Green Arrow and everyone he loves, but it’s also an opportunity to ransack Seattle in order to bankroll the Count’s return to his home country. He refers to it as a “Christmas gift to myself.”

Oliver’s attitude provides a clear contrast. One of the most telling moments of the issue is a quick panel in the flashback that reveals that, even as a young child, even before the island, Oliver spent Christmas distributing presents to the less fortunate.

Oliver is compassionate and giving where Vertigo is selfish and vindictive, and that doesn’t change in the present day, despite Ollie having lost his fortune much in the same way Vertigo has. The difference between them is best illustrated by their different uses of Vertigo’s mind-scrambling technology. Vertigo traps Seattle’s citizens in cruel nightmares as he ransacks their homes, despite the fact that any scenario would have made a sufficient distraction. Oliver, on the other hand, takes down Vertigo by trapping him in his fondest dream. He says it’s “because on Christmas, even the bad guys deserve a happy ending,” but knowing Ollie, he would likely have provided this mercy any day of the year. Christmas didn’t magically make Ollie merciful — he’s always this compassionate, and that’s what allows him to make the holidays a better time for himself and everyone around him.

The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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