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Connor Hawke, the second Green Arrow, is one of the more interesting legacy characters in DC’s pre-reboot cast, as well as one of my very favorite characters. As the illegitimate son of the first Green Arrow, Oliver Queen, and a multiracial (¼ Korean, ¼ Black and half white) Buddhist former monk, Connor breaks the mold of a lot of heroes, demonstrating a combination of naievete, superior martial arts ability, and, ironically, lackluster archery talent that makes him both endearing and amusing.
Sadly, however, trades of Connor can be difficult to find, making it difficult for those looking into the character to see much of his history. Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood would seem to be the solution to that problem. Written by Chuck Dixon, the author responsible for the entirety of Connor’s solo run as Green Arrow (though not his initial creation), Dragon’s Blood promises one of the few standalone Connor stories collected in trade form and superb art in which Connor’s features and skin tone (usually) reflect his ethnic background, something sadly rare in his more recent appearances, which frequently depict him as very white despite both his original appearances and all genetic sense.
Unfortunately, it’s not actually that good.
In general, the storyline is shoddy and all the romantic interactions are forced and creepy. It has some redeeming moments, including some fascinating examinations of Connor’s insecurities and relation to his father and archery, but most of the characters’ decisions seem to be based largely on glaring logical flaws and assorted plotholes.
Set sometime between the end of Connor’s solo Green Arrow run and the end of Green Arrow: Quiver, Connor Hawke: Dragon’s Blood is more or less the story of Connor getting invited to an archery contest and killing a dragon. The main plot begins when one Edison Hoon shows up to explain that his employer, the wealthy Mr. Zhao, is holding an archery contest to commemorate the defeat of a dragon in pre-dynasty China, and he’s inviting all the world’s best archers to come. Oh, and Connor, too.
And this is where the book’s timeframe comes in. This is set somewhere around the beginning of Green Arrow: Quiver, a story about Oliver Queen being resurrected. Here, Connor is apparently aware that his late father has been returned to the land of the living, but instead of, you know, driving up to Star City to poke around when he started hearing news of the first Green Arrow roaming about, he’d apparently rather fly all the way to Shanghai on a bet that someone’s tracked down his father and invited him, too.
So Connor drags out his old Green Arrow suit (despite having been invited as Connor Hawke) and hops a plane to Shanghai, followed by Eddie Fyers, the trigger-happy ex-CIA agent and old friend of Ollie’s who’d accompanied Connor on most of his adventures throughout his Green Arrow run.
The other contestants include a few rather boring new characters, such as two big game hunters and some archery stuntsman or whatever, and two characters from previous Green Arrow continuity, those being the Bamboo Monkey, member of a dangerous martial arts cult that attacked Connor during his Green Arrow run, and Shado, ex-Yakuza member, expert archer, and the mother of Connor’s half-brother.
At various points throughout the contest, Connor is inexplicably attacked by archers, only for his attacker to be killed by some old nemesis- first Shado, and then the Bamboo Monkey- in ways that lead him to think that they were in fact the ones who fired shots at him. Despite believing that they’ve attempted to kill him, at no point does Connor go knock on their doors and demand answers, or report repeated attempts on his life to the contestant’s administrators, or basically bring them up again in any way until other contestants start dying, something that you might reasonably expect of a superhero who finds out people are trying to kill him in what’s supposed to be some mundane archery contest.
Oh, but Connor does confront Eddie about why he didn’t tell Connor that Shado was here, leaving the reader wondering how Connor, one of the actual contestants, didn’t realize she was standing a few yards away from him, while Eddie, Connor’s tagalong, did.
That plot hole aside, Connor does have legitimate reasons to be angry about Shado’s presence. The exact context of this is somewhat lost on those who aren’t familiar with her history, but in a nutshell, in Shado’s first arc, she helped Connor’s father Oliver Queen kill a man who had captured and tortured Oliver’s then-girlfriend Dinah Lance (the superhero Black Canary), which zen Buddhist Connor viewed as her corrupting him and turning him “from a hero to an assassin.”
When Connor finally confronts her, Shado dramatically informs him that this is more than an archery contest and Connor is in grave danger before she gets shot in the leg, with the assailant this time being killed by the Bamboo Monkey, in a fakeout that’s gotten rather old by this point. Connor decides to drag Shado off for medical attention and then not at all follow up a second attempt on his life.
Continuing the string of baffling decisions, when Connor goes to see Shado in the hospital, she informs him that her and Oliver’s son and Connor’s half-brother Robert is in danger, and that she came to the competition in hopes of finding Oliver, because apparently no one can turn on the news from Star City to see that he’s still freaking there.
On that melodramatic note, we discover that more and more archery contestants are being killed off, and that apparently none of the other contestants have taken that as a reason to bug out, or even somehow noticed that other participants are dying, presumably believing that the others have just been disqualified or something. One of the contestants, meanwhile, flirts awkwardly with the oblivious Connor, who, after someone finally tells him that she’s flirting with him, asks her out to dinner. After a dinner scene containing precisely zero chemistry, Buddhist monk and self-proclaimed believer in romance Connor Hawke inexplicably invites her up to his room.
When he arrives, however, he finds Shado waiting for him. She further explains the danger that Robert, her son and Connor’s half-brother, is in, before-
This is far from the first time that Connor has had some incredibly awkward and forced romantic interactions under Dixon’s pen. Many times during Connor’s solo run, Connor found himself being kissed by a woman and just kind of passively lying there in a completely chemistry-devoid interaction. Indeed, earlier in this book, Dixon made sure to inform us in the most hamfisted way possible that not only did Connor make out with a ghost woman in China he’d just met during his run as Green Arrow, he totally had sex with her.
But Connor making out with a woman he hates who not only mothered his half-brother but who (potentially unbeknownst to Connor, admittedly) drugged him and raped him in order for that half-brother to be conceived in the first place. This is easily the creepiest and most baffling of every single awkward makeout Dixon has written for Connor, and has left more or less every Connor fan who read it with their mouths hanging open from sheer bewilderment. How could this get any worse?
Oh, I guess the woman Connor had been awkwardly flirting with and whom he invited back to his room could show up.
And then die.
Despite apparently not paying much attention to any of the contestants around him, Connor is able to identify the arrow that killed her as belonging to another contestant, but Shado interrupts him as he goes to confront her purported killer, informing Connor that someone has been stealing arrows and shooting other contestants with them to attempt to make them turn on each other.
From this, Connor concludes that the true culprit is the Bamboo Monkey, and so he and Shado go to confront him, only to find that his room is empty. Conveniently, however, he is lurking just outside the window of the room we’ve just discovered he’s never slept in, and Connor shoots him in the shoulder and accuses him of murder.
In yet another shocking twist, though, the Bamboo Monkey informs Connor that he had nothing to do with it, and indeed saved Connor’s life from his would-be assassin the previous night, before he is shot by mysterious assassins on the roof. There’s a long and somewhat confusing action sequence involving our heroes fighting an army of ninja bowman, when Mr. Hoon finally interrupts it to announce that Connor has won the competition and is now the champion archer, despite, once again, him really not being that great of a shot. In one of his few sensical decisions of the story, Connor tells him he’s done playing along with this, but Hoon reveals that it was, in fact, his men who abducted Shado’s son, and they are now holding him hostage to ensure not only Shado’s cooperation but also Connor’s.
Connor is brought to Zhao’s central tower place and given the arrow that slayed the mystical dragon all those years ago. He’s then made to shoot a variety of increasingly difficult targets he has never actually had the skill to make but somehow makes regardless, before his final target is revealed:
You didn’t really expect this not to end with him fighting an oddly European dragon, did you?
But there’s a twist: this dragon is not, in fact, the dragon of old, but a new one entirely, absent the gap in its scales that the archer of old had shot through. Fortunately, when it comes to chipping off scales, a rocket launcher is apparently more than adequate for the task.
Thanks to Eddie and Shado, Connor makes the shot, and all is good.
Oh, except for Zhao and Hoon planning to bathe in the dragon’s blood and ascend to godhood. Oops.
When Connor goes to stop Zhao, he finds that Hoon has killed him and started bathing in the blood himself. This somehow gives Hoon abilities like the slain dragon, granting him increased strength, speed, etc., which is a problem for our very mortal protagonist. Fortunately for Connor, however, he’s also been soaking in the dragon’s blood, leveling the playing field somewhat.
Still, the fight is not going well for him, and drastic action is required. And so, with absolutely no foreshadowing or angst from our Buddhist semi-pacifistic “no killing” monk…
… he kills Hoon.
This is rather a dramatic moment for Connor, who has broken his rule against killing in order to take out a threat to humanity who could be stopped no other way. Clearly, this requires extensive reflection and meditation from him-
Or, you know, he could just snark with a dragonfire-burned Eddie in the hospital and ignore it entirely.
I suppose that only makes sense, since that’s exactly what every other writer on Connor did with this arc.
Which is, frankly, this book’s biggest problem: despite its fantastic art and some genuinely great moments, its plot is so convoluted and full of holes that huge character moments are overshadowed by an utterly forgettable story.
If you’re already a Connor Hawke or Green Arrow ensemble cast fan, check this out- the story isn’t spectacular, but it’s not awful, and the art is excellent. If you’re looking for an introduction to the character, though, or just for an entertaining story, you could do better. 3.5 out of 5.
Hardly. Despite containing what should rightfully have been a major moment for the main character, this plotline is basically never brought up again.
While this story is reasonably stand-alone, it is easier to follow if you’ve read Connor Hawke’s solo Green Arrow run. Sadly, however, that was never collected in TPB form, and is not currently available for digital purchase.