Upon launching DC Comics’ new “Green Arrow” ongoing series in late 2010, writer JT Krul notched his creative bow with arrows of non-stop action and began unloading them month in and month out into each and every single issue of the Emerald Archer’s title. As the new year begins, the writer keeps the barrage of adrenaline-fueled storytelling going with January’s issue #8, which ties directly into the long-anticipated finale of the bi-weekly series “Brightest Day.”
The latest volume of “Green Arrow” began as a fallout to both the game-changing miniseries “Cry for Justice” and the DC Comics mega-event “Blackest Night.” The former instigated a string of events that ultimately led to Oliver Queen’s arrest and subsequent exile from Star City while the latter spawned a mysterious White Lantern-related forest in the middle of Star City from which the archer now operates. Krul and artist Diogenes Neves further changed the marksman’s status quo by introducing a brand-new antagonist known as the Queen, who took over Ollie’s company Queen Industries and who has a more-than-friends connection with his father.
With the final “Green Arrow” issue of the year now on shelves, CBR News tapped Krul for the latest edition of DAYBREAK, our ongoing column shining the spotlight on everything “Brightest Day.” From allies and enemies to the past and future, Krul gives readers a look at how he plans on continuing to hit the bullseye with “Green Arrow” in the coming year.
CBR News: Lets start with something from the most recent issue which solicits mentioned as involving the “Lady of the Forest.” This turned out not to be a new character, but actually something that ties into what you’ve been doing.
JT Krul: It’s not a new character. I guess we’ll do a Spoiler Alert for it: issue seven isn’t officially an epilogue to the first arc, but it kind of ties in and carries some things over. It has to do with Ollie coming in contact with the ghost of his mother in the forest. We explore the beginnings of Ollie and the fate of his parents, what happened to his mother and his father while they were on safari in Africa. The mysteries of the forest continue to affect him and the latest is that while going into the forest, he actually comes across and meets the ghost of his mother.
This continues a theme you’ve been building on since the beginning, which is the influence of Ollie’s parents on his life. Did you always have this idea to explore his youth and his parents and how that all affected who he is now?
In a way. This goes all the way back to the “Black Lantern/Green Arrow” special we did that tied into “Blackest Night,” where Ollie was possessed, became a Black Lantern and saw all those close to him. This carried on into the “Fall of Green Arrow” and the new series. The whole arc is this sense of breaking Ollie down as a person and as a hero. What you saw in “Fall of Green Arrow” was him being stripped away of everyone close to him — from Dinah to Roy to Connor to Mia to even the JLA, to a certain extent. It really isolated him and he beat himself down in his view of himself as a hero. By the end of all that, he really doesn’t seem himself in a positive light. He’s always been very hard on himself anyway, but this is a very low point. What we now have going in the launch of “Green Arrow” and this new arc is this kind of — not a rebirth in the sense of what Geoff [Johns] did with Green Lantern, but rebuilding Ollie back up. What we saw in the first six issues was initially him grappling with the failures of himself as a hero and his failures as a person — whether it be his relationship with Dinah or being a father figure to Roy and Connor and Mia or with failure with the city. Bringing the parents in is compounding that.
Ollie has beat himself up a lot over what he has done. To highlight what was going on with his father and what his father was like, and having Ollie remember that and reflect on that, it puts things into perspective. For instance, if you were an alcoholic and your life was in shambles because of it, you have that guilt and struggle in trying to cope with that. But in addition to that, if you learned or explored the notion of your father was an alcoholic and your grandfather and you get into the biological aspect of it — not that adultery and that kind of attitude is biological — that notion of reflecting on your parents traits and what we pick up from our parents. So, it’s one of those things where he still loves his father, even though his father had these traits. Ollie’s biggest problem hasn’t been about forgiving others. It’s been about forgiving himself. So with this whole arc and what carries on through to the end of “Brightest Day” is this notion of Ollie’s view of himself and whether or not he views himself as a hero and whether or not he can be a hero again. Obviously, he is a hero in many people’s eyes, and I think he’s a hero, but in his own mind, he’s got a damaged self image. This whole arc with the forest and what the forest is forcing him face and confronting him with is the giving him the opportunity to recover and regain a positive self image.
Regarding Ollie’s image of himself as a hero, there’s always been a debate over whether or not heroes should kill. In the case of Ollie, after what Prometheus did, the act of killing him actually makes him a hero in many people’s eyes. What are you thoughts on that dynamic and this almost subjective view of heroism?
The thing you have to look at is the hero’s standpoint and whether they think they can kill and still be a hero. There are many heroes that do kill and still consider themselves a hero. A lot of it has to do with that particular hero’s moral compass. To another extent, especially with regard to Prometheus, it wasn’t a matter of killing him in the thick of battle. Wonder Woman killed Max Lord because otherwise, everything was lost. The only way to stop the OMACs and stop Superman was to kill Max Lord. She was kind of forced to make that decision. With Green Arrow, he specifically found out where Prometheus was, didn’t alert the JLA, hunted him down and killed him in cold blood. There’s the difference. Killing a villain to stop him from killing others as opposed to killing a villain out of revenge. That’s where the line is.
But it’s funny — in another book I’m working on, there’s this notion that as soon as you put a costume on, you’re blurring the line between right and wrong. For better or worse, whenever a hero puts on a costume, they’re breaking the law. They’re a vigilante. I think there’s a constant decision and question in their lives about how far they can go. All heroes have had that moment of being pushed to do things they didn’t want to do. They’ve been pushed through challenges, through dangers, through grief, to see how far they’d go to stop the villain and to save the day. That is something that interests me. I think that with humans — not metas, not Superman or Wonder Woman — there’s that easier notion for them to walk away. They choose to keep doing it. It’d be hard for Superman to be normal in this world. He’s Superman. He can’t just be Clark Kent and not do anything. For him, putting on a costume and fighting crime and saving the day is who he is, that whole [idea of], Superman is the real person, Clark Kent is the alter ego. With Batman and Green Arrow, there is that possibility of having a normal life.
I wanted to talk about the character of the Queen. She seems to be the main antagonist in your story, and through flashbacks, we know she shares a connection to Ollie. What can you say about this character and what do you like about her and her role in “Green Arrow?”
I really like Ollie having a strong female antagonist. He doesn’t have a really rich gallery of rogues. I like someone opposing him that’s a female and I like someone opposing him that’s a strong female. Not necessarily strong physically. Nix is strong physically. But it’s like Nix and Queen are opposite and in tandem. If you look at the challenges Ollie faces from them, Nix challenges Ollie physically and the Queen challenges him in every other way. The bigger part of it, too, is the connection to his father and the relationship she had with his father. I also like that she’s in control of the company that he lost. You have the Queen come to town, and she does the exact opposite of what Ollie would have done with the company. That’s something that’s going to play itself out and continue to evolve as the story continues on.
She’s actually not a factor in the second arc that carries us through “Brightest Day.” Most of what goes on through issue #11 is strictly in the forest. The “Brightest Day” element is really ramping up, so you won’t see the Queen a lot [for now], but she’s definitely going to be a fixture in Green Arrow’s world.
That transitions into what I wanted to talk about next: “Brightest Day.” From what it sounds like, the book is going to focus more on its ties to “Brightest Day” in this upcoming arc than previously.
For the first arc, you can see that there was this duality of the book. Part of the book was focused on the “Brightest Day” element. You have Ollie out in the forest and you had Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter coming by. At the same time, you had the Star City aspects of it with the Queen and Nix. We had a little back and forth thing going within the issues. Moving forward, we really wanted to focus more on the “Brightest Day” angle in order to make sure we don’t short shift either that or the Star City angle. The “Brightest Day” element and the forest element is really going to come to the forefront of the book in the next few issues.
Of course, now comes the tricky part. Obviously, you must have known where Ollie fitted into the grander scheme of “Brightest Day” from the get go. But I can’t exactly ask, “So what can you tell us about what’s happening in ‘Brightest Day?'” I’m sure it’s nothing.
[Laughs] Pretty much nothing. There’s not a lot I can reveal. But “Green Arrow’s” connection to “Brightest Day” revolves more around the forest than it does to Green Arrow. Although he was one of those characters that was resurrected, the focus of the “Brightest Day” story is around those that were resurrected at the end of “Blackest Night.” So, in that aspect, Green Arrow is not in that crew, if you will. But the forest is a lightning rod for stuff that’s going to be happening. That’s really going to amp up in the issues coming up. Etrigan the Demon is actually going to be coming by, and he brings a big presence to it.
As you said, the upcoming arc focuses on “Brightest Day” and the end of that particular story. But then what? I guess once it’s over, it kind of gives you a chance to focus your book solely on Star City?
Yeah. Once “Brightest Day” wraps up, there is a conclusion to [“Green Arrow’s” involvement with it]. You’re going to see less of a focus on the forest, but it will remain a part of Star City. That was one of the cool things about having that. The forest really gave Star City a unique identity as opposed to just “Green Arrow’s city.” It gave it it’s own identifying mark and it also plays up that notion of Ollie being a Robin Hood type of character. He can still hide out there, but going forward, I’m going to get back to the city and the Queen will reappear. [A new villain named] Black Arrow is going to appear. There’s actually a couple of returning villains that you’ll be seeing and some new villains, too, as well.
That’s actually something I wanted to close out on. You’ve said that you really wanted to give Ollie a good rogues gallery as he never really had much of one. Can you give us some hints as to any other new villains we’ll be seeing?
I can’t tease too much. Establishing the Queen was very important to me. That’s an antagonist for the long haul, with Nix and Black Arrow in there. The other one that will be coming up won’t actually think of themselves as a villain, but will think of themselves as a hero and see Green Arrow as a villainous threat that needs to be taken care of. That’s going to be an interesting dynamic because they’ll both be in the right when they initially butt heads.