Great, now I'm mixing and bastardizing Shakespeare.
With the first Nocenti/Tolibao arc on Green Arrow in the books, there were a couple of things I wanted to look back and comment on. I figured I'd start with Leer, and discuss biology as it relates to his plans first, then hopefully I'll crystallize my thoughts on Oliver in the next couple of days.
Leer's a bit of a series of contradictions. He claims to be creating new breeds of animals that will be able to survive in the world people are making, but he's also the one using cyanide for gold mining and letting it leach into the local water supply. Which is bad for people to be sure, but not exactly great for the critters and plants, which also require nontoxic water. It appears the gold is used to fund the research (though he lives more than comfortably), so I'm not sure whether this is a case of someone being forced to compromise their ideals to further their work, or if all of Leer's talk is a bunch of hot air. That he creates these mutations because it amuses him and that he's more concerned with ruling the world than improving it.
If we take Leer's goals at face value, then he's the sort who believes that compassion, trust, love, any of those kinder emotions are dangerous, likely to only get someone hurt. We see it in the wolves, who he designed with steel wool for fur, so that the sort of displays of affection common in a pack, or between a breeding pair, will cause physical pain. And we see it with his daughters, the Skylarks. He's somehow engineered them to be reliant on each other for survival. They have to maintain proximity to at least one of their sisters or they get weak and sick. At the same time, he pits them against each other, promising that the one who 'loves him best will inherit his kingdom'. When one of the girls falls for Green Arrow, Leer sends another to betray Ollie while posing as her sister, to turn him against the Good Skylark (it's worth noting that while Leer, the ostensible villain of the story doesn't bother to distinguish between his daughters, neither does Oliver, which I'll return to in a later post). Even though her leaving with Oliver would essentially remove her from the struggle between the sisters, Leer insists she be brought back into the fold.
Presumably, this competition, like the wolves' new fur, will make the Skylarks stronger and better able to survive in the harsh world coming, but it seems more likely to get them killed. As Ollie notes, what keeps them alive now, will kill them later. If it becomes too painful for wolves to stay in a pack, can they survive alone? If they do, are they even wolves any longer? And with the Skylarks, making them dependent on each other, while placing them against each other, can only end badly. Eventually, one of them is likely to decide the best way to "win" is to eliminate the competition. Except doing so will ultimately kill the one left over as well.
You see it sometimes in nature, where a species (group of species) has evolved in a way that works well, but has also left them boxed in developmentally. Turtles, for example. They have this strategy of protective armor they can pull themselves into, and it generally works. But the physiological adaptations it took to get there are likely going to prevent turtles from branching out and filling a vast number of ecological niches, if for some reason, a number of them become available (say, a mass extinction event that mostly misses turtles). It's not a bad strategy, it's simply a bit limiting in the long-term.
I found the fate of the bear to be the most interesting turn, though. Leer has designed this bear, like the wolves, to survive in the harsh world that's already here. The bear escapes, Oliver and the Good Skylark pursue. Normally, introducing a new organism into an ecosystem ends disastrously. It usually has no predators to worry about, so it's population grows largely unchecked (see European Starlings and gypsy moths here, rabbits in Australia), and none of the things it would prey on are prepared to evade it/defend themselves (see decimation of native bird species at the hands of introduced tree snakes on Guam).
So a new bear, bigger, stronger, more resilient and resistant to hostile conditions? Sounds like bad news. Yet they find the bear at the local bar, chained up as an attraction. People pay money to get the bear drunk. Truly fearsome, but it illustrates a couple of points.
First, these days, a lot species' best chance for survival is to be able to live around humans. We're constantly expanding into the last few corners of the earth, one way or the other, and the species that have the most success are the ones that use that to their advantage. The ones that make it to places where they can operate unchecked by traditional predators, or simply the ones that know how to take advantage of the situations we create. Like coyotes, who seem to thrive on our attempts to kill them, and absolutely love what we've done with the place, wherever "the place" might be. The bear, rather than running amok killing people or livestock, is living amongst them as a sideshow attraction. Sure ursine alcoholism can be an ugly thing, but presumably its body can filter out the toxins in beer as readily as in anything else.
The other point is that for all our attempts to alter the course of nature, to produce results we consider favorable, we can't always predict what will happen. We try to improve a habitat for a particular species, it doesn't take because there's a variable we missed. We try to remove an invasive species, but find we can't do it without also endangering the the native ones. It makes me wonder if Leer isn't going to find his manipulations of his daughters backfiring one day. They may decide it's simpler to kill him, then decide how to divide his stuff between themselves, then let him string them along indefinitely. He thinks he's made them too dependent on each other for them to turn against each other, while keeping them too divided to work against him, but there's every chance this will work out differently than he expects, just like the bear did.