Green Arrow leads checkmate and the Justice League

Green Arrow recently took the reins of leadership for two very powerful DC teams with very different goals and moral obligations.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Justice League # 65, on sale now at DC Comics.

Green Arrow has always struggled to strike a balance between pursuing moral beliefs and accepting the consequences of one’s actions. As he stands up for the underdog in his superhero career, in his civilian life as billionaire Oliver Queen, he’s been guilty of many of the crimes he mobilizes against. His stance on the Justice League now raises particularly interesting ethical questions.

In many ways, Green Arrow is the moral compass of the team. He’s always trying to think of new ways to improve the Justice League. He even funds the team using his own personal finances. However, this created a conflict of interest as he also funds another team, Checkmate, and hides the details from his fellow Leaguers.

Green Arrow has recently exerted more influence on the Justice League, both sponsoring it and advocating that the group attract new members with different perspectives. However, the actions of the Emerald Archer had unintended consequences that appeared in Justice League # 65 by Brian Michael Bendis, Steve Pugh, Romulo Fajadro, Jr. and Josh Reed. His longtime romantic partner, Black Canary, has just learned that he is funding Checkmate, a group with a long and complicated history regarding the superhero community.

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Checkmate was once a government organization that monitored and controlled superhuman activities. After their leader, Maxwell Lord, used mind control to turn Superman into a weapon, the organization was absorbed into the UN to be held accountable. Despite this, it was ultimately dissolved. More recently, a secret group called Leviathan has absorbed all the secret agencies on the planet interested in spying on superhumans. Green Arrow reformed Checkmate specifically to fight Leviathan.

However, he is now in a morally compromised position. He and Superman have each been a different facet of Justice League consciousness. While Superman represents an inherent sense of good, Green Arrow challenges old ways of thinking and uplifts marginalized people who are often overlooked by other heroes. After Green Arrow pleaded for the arrival of new members with different perspectives, Superman contacted Black Adam, the despotic ruler of the Kahndaq nation. So far, Black Adam has proven he’s trying to redeem himself, but this is an example of how Emerald Archer’s plans don’t always go as planned.

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Green Arrow pays out of pocket to fund the League, whose expenses include refueling jets capable of interstellar travel and powering the Flash’s cosmic conveyor belt. Now he has a second major expense. If he is not careful, he could run out of funds and bankrupt one or both groups. But it’s also worrying that he’s simultaneously funding the world’s main superhero team and a group that was created to keep heroes in check. This is an obvious conflict of interest.

As the man who funds Checkmate, he should be concerned with setting limits on the Justice League, while his job with the League is to do whatever he can to help others. Superman is also unlikely to approve of Green Arrow’s ties to Checkmate, given what the organization has done to him in the past. There are also three heads of state on the Justice League now: Aquaman, Black Adam, and Queen Hippolyta. Green Arrow’s link to a former secret government organization could potentially cause a diplomatic incident.

The only consequence that has already materialized is that Black Canary became enraged when she found out he was sponsoring Checkmate. It will certainly not be the last time he will be questioned for this conflict of interest.

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