Warning: This article contains spoilers for Stargirl: The Lost Children #2!When readers hear the name Green Arrow, what are the first features that come to mind? The all-green Robin Hood costume, his bow and quiver, and most important of all, his impressive goatee. However, this was not always the case. In the Golden Age, Oliver Queen was just as clean-shaven as any other respectable hero.
Over the years, comic book artists have created several visual cues to help readers distinguish between hero and villain on their pages. Whether it’s the rich bald guy with a god complex or the blue-eyed, square-jawed all-American hero. Yes, we know exactly which characters you thought of. Several classic binaries include dark vs light, ugly vs beautiful, and even tall vs short. While some of these stereotypes have become outdated, many of these colors and symbols are still prevalent in superhero comics today.
DC Confirms Only Villains Have Facial Hair (At Least In the ’40s).
In Stargirl: The Lost Children #2, by Geoff Johns, Todd Nuack and Matt Herms, Stargirl and Red Arrow—Oliver’s sister, Emiko—trek down into the Arrow Cave to gather resources for their mission to save DC’s forgotten sidekicks. The Arrow Cave is full of superhero memorabilia from fancy bows and arrows to life-size models of the Seven Soldiers of Victory and Ollie’s various rogues. Aloud, Courtney ponders why Green Arrow shaved his goatee back in the day. “Oliver says only the bad guys had facial hair back in the ’40s,” Emiko explains, listing off examples such as The Wizard and Red Lantern.
While in-universe, the facial hair dichotomy between heroes and villains may seem like a coincidence, it’s evident that this was a deliberate choice. Heroes, like those in the Justice Society of America, were all made with the same mold, one which was idolized by readers despite—or perhaps because of—its exclusivity. Considering that the Golden Age occurred during the Second World War, it was important that heroes represented “the golden standard” of Americans. Likewise, villains tended to fall into the “other” category—basically anything that diverged from the norms of 1940s America. Now, DC’s classic heroes and villains are more diverse and nuanced than ever, depicting the wide range of people who populate the world.
It’s easy to look at the past with rose-colored glasses and compare the good ol’ days to the depressing present. However, as shown in Stargirl: The Lost Children, while the Golden Age may have set the precedent for heroes, it wasn’t without its flaws. As DC enters its new Golden Age, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on and appreciate the evolution of our favorite characters. Thanks goodness Green Arrow gets to keep his goatee now.
Stargirl: The Lost Children #2 is now available from DC Comics.