Bonnie King was a gifted archer gifted enough to win an Olympic bronze medal. But her controlling mother expected her to win the gold, and the ensuing fight caused Bonnie to cut ties with her mother.
Inspired by Green Arrow, Bonnie decided to use her archery to fight crime alongside them, creating an arsenal of ‘girly’ arrows, including powder puff arrows and mascara arrows. Hey, it was the early 60s. Ollie was not at all pleased by his new would-be sidekick, and did his best to talk her out of superheroics (though he wasn’t above dating her in his civilian identity, because that’s just how Ollie rolls). Undaunted, Bonnie kept fighting crime as Miss Arrowette. She even got a sidekick of sorts: her biggest fan, journalist Bernell ‘Bowstring’ Jones.
When her job as a secretary gave her carpal tunnel syndrome, Bonnie was forced to give up archery. She talked Bowstring into marrying her and they had a daughter, Cissie (though Bonnie has implied that she’s actually Ollie’s). Bowstring died a few years later from food poisoning, and Bonnie used the insurance money to turn Cissie into the superhero she’d always wanted to be. She drove Cissie so hard that soon after Cissie’s debut as Arrowette, Child Welfare Services intervened and Bonnie lost custody of her daughter.
Cissie retired from superheroics after nearly losing control and killing a criminal, and she and Bonnie attempted a tentative reconciliation. In fact, with Bonnie’s encouragement, Cissie entered the ‘Summer Games’ (read: Olympics) and won the gold thanks, in part, to Bonnie foiling attempts at sabotage from the other competitors.
So What’s So Great About Her?
Just like Bianca Reyes is a believably good mother, Bonnie King is a believably bad mother. She has no plans for world domination. She didn’t train Cissie to be an assassin or sacrifice her to a cult. She’s just the world’s most overbearing stage mother, where the ‘stage’ is ‘shooting potentially-lethal projectiles at super-powered criminals while wearing a tiara.’ Like you do.
And there’s no question about Bonnie being a bad mother. She subjects her daughter to years of emotional and verbal abuse along with reckless endangerment. Even when she loses custody of Cissie, she’s still trying to market her daughter as the star of Young Justice, still laughing off Cissie’s serious injuries and trying to convince herself this is the life Cissie wants. It takes Cissie nearly committing murder to make Bonnie finally acknowledge that her daughter is angry and unhappy and that Bonnie made her that way.
But there’s also no question that Bonnie loves her daughter. Cissie is Bonnie’s entire world to an unhealthy degree, certainly, but the love is there. And once Cissie retires from superheroics, Bonnie’s obsessive focus turns into a protective Mama Bear instinct that winds up working for for Cissie; at the Summer Games, Bonnie spots the Golden Age villain Huntress training a disguised weapon on Cissie, and takes Huntress out with a well-thrown lighter.
Most importantly, though, Bonnie does genuinely try to improve. Once it’s made clear to her that the vigilante lifestyle is not a good fit for Cissie, she tries to find other ways of connecting with her daughter, without pressuring her. She tries to show Cissie that her talent for archery is innate, not just something forced on her by Bonnie, and that Cissie can still enjoy archery, competition, and even the spotlight when she guest-stars in an episode of Wendy the Werewolf Stalker without dredging up all the negative memories from her time as a superhero. Rather than shape Cissie into a better version of herself, she presents Cissie with opportunities and lets Cissie choose whether or not to take them.
Bonnie isn’t going to win Mother of the Year any time soon, except maybe on a very special episode of Toddlers and Tiaras. But she’s a fascinating character who feels very real in her failings, and who’s trying to do better. And at the end of the day, she does love her daughter. That’s got to count for something, right?
…or, you know, all her appearances. Same diff.
World’s Finest Comics #113, 118, 134
Justice League of America v1 #7
Young Justice #7, 16, 18, 20-21, 24-25, 29-30, 33-34, 49-53, 55
Young Justice 80-Page Giant