Oliver Queen is one of those rare heroes who is forever taking aim at real social issues and trying to figure out what he can do to address them. He has funded groundbreaking technologies, run for political office, and helped nonprofits all as part of his work to make a better world. However, his preferred method of helping out is to dress up as the costumed vigilante Green Arrow and try to stop crime with a longbow.
Part of this schtick is to use trick arrows. This makes sense, since it is hard to imagine that the Justice League would look kindly on him shooting his enemies with barbed arrowheads. But not all of his arrows are equal. These are five trick arrows that actually make sense, as well as five that really don’t.
10 Make Sense: Explosive Arrow
The art of shooting an arrow out of a bow has been in an established practice for about ten thousand years at this point. By the time of the Roman Empire, they had already been surpassed by more impressive ranged weapons. Given that Green Arrow is taking on people using guns, it is important for him to find a way of competing with them.
There are a few different varieties of Explosive Arrows, but a particularly dramatic one has a countdown before it detonates, allowing Ollie to scare his targets with a warning and enough time to run.
9 Really Don’t: Diamond Arrow
Diamonds are known to be among the toughest naturally occurring substances in the world. They are also ridiculously expensive due to their price being artificially increased because of some very unethical practices perpetrated by those who distribute them. As such, it seems like an unnecessary expense just to use as an arrowhead.
Despite this, the investment proves to have been worthwhile. Years after initially making the Diamond Arrow, Oliver uses it to propose to his long-time lover Dinah Lance, better known as Black Canary.
8 Make Sense: Foam Arrow
There have been a few versions of this arrow over the years. The Foam Arrow is also known as the Anti-Riot Arrow or the Calcifying Foam Arrow, while one variant of it (which is less useful than the others due to its specificity) is the Fire Extinguisher Arrow.
Upon impact, this arrow releases an rapidly-expanding foam which quickly begins to harden into a gelatinous semi-solid texture. The foam makes it difficult for people caught in it to move, and absorbs the impact of force so it can double as a trampoline when someone falls from a great height.
7 Really Don’t: Phantom Zone Arrow
The Phantom Zone is an alternate dimension where Kryptonians would banish their worst criminals. Since the destruction of Krypton, Superman is one of only a handful of individuals who can send people to the Phantom Zone, using a special Phantom Zone Projector.
The Phantom Zone Arrow sends someone hit with it to the prison dimension. In theory, this could be practical and could work on almost any opponent. However, it is so unnecessarily over-the-top and nigh-impossible to reverse that it just does not seem worthwhile to use.
6 Make Sense: Mapping Arrow
This is another arrow from Lemire and Sorrentino’s Green Arrow run. The arrow is meant to be shot at a building. When it hits, it sends out tracers (presumably in the form of a radar pulse), then sends a 3D map of the building back to Oliver Queen so he can see every layer of the building, inside and out.
He used this when infiltrating a castle in Vlatava. With the aid of the Mapping Arrow, he quickly navigated the building and was able to rescue Shado from captivity.
5 Really Don’t: Fake-Uranium Arrow
Yes, this is just as ridiculous as it sounds. The Fake-Uranium Arrow releases waves meant to simulate the radiation of actual uranium and is capable of fooling a Geiger counter.
While there are reasons why one might want to fool arms dealers or other nefarious types by making them think they were obtaining uranium, there is no reason whatsoever that an arrow would be the most effective tool for such situations.
4 Make Sense: Grappling Arrow
For one reason or another, Green Arrow frequently finds himself jumping or falling from great heights. That is why the Grappling Arrow is a literal life saver.
While he is falling through the air, he can unsling his bow, fit it with the Grappling Arrow, and loose the shaft, which has a grappling hook and a line he can cling to as he saves himself from the fall.
3 Don’t: Tumbleweed Arrow
When the Tumbleweed Arrow is loosed from a bow, it does not hit a target, but rather curls up into a circle and rolls in a dirt like a tumbleweed. This kicks up dirt and is a general nuisance. It is also not how physics, aerodynamics, archery, or tumbleweeds work.
The most practical function of this arrow seems to be its ability to kick up dust. But a Smoke Arrow can do the same thing and also does not require one to be outside on dry, dusty earth to work.
2 Make Sense: Flare Arrow
The Flare Arrow has two uses. As the name indicates, it can work as a flare, helping to draw attention to a location in the dark. But it also has some really great offensive capabilities, especially for defeating opponents wearing body armor that is resistant to blades and bullets, but not heat.
This one was designed by Oliver Queen’s assistant Henry Fyff, who made a number of impressive trick arrows for the costumed hero. Still, while Oliver liked it, he was more impressed with the Mapping Arrow, which was made by his other assistant, Naomi Singh.
1 Don’t: Boxing Glove Arrow
The final entry on this list, the Boxing Glove Arrow, sadly is a lot cooler as a concept than it is a practical reality. There is just no way that an arrow can maintain a reliable flight trajectory with a giant boxing glove where the tip should be.
There have been a number of attempts to make the Boxing Glove Arrow work, such as the decision to make a compressed glove that is stuffed inside a smaller head and the infamous Bleach Bottle Arrow that the hero made during one of the times he was homeless. Regardless of whether it makes sense, this is still an all-time classic.
Oliver Queen relies on a variety of trick arrows in his exploits as Green Arrow. Here are 5 that are really clever, and 5 that make no sense.