Over these past few months, fate has riddled Oliver Queen’s life with arrows of pain, suffering and loss. In the “Justice League: Cry for Justice” miniseries alone, Green Arrow saw his beloved Star City literally crumble to the ground right before his eyes, witnessed not only the disfigurement of his prodigy Roy Harper but also the death of Roy’s daughter Lian and crossed a dangerous line when he murdered the villain Prometheus in retribution. But beginning Wednesday, June 23, writer JT Krul and artist Diogenes Neves aim to mend the broken Arrow with DC Comics’ all-new “Green Arrow” ongoing series.
This is not the first exposure Krul has had to the Emerald Archer, having penned the fallout to the events of “Cry for Justice” in the two-issue “Fall of Green Arrow” arc that concluded the previous Green Arrow series. Krul is also the writer of “The Rise of Arsenal” Green Arrow’s one-time protege after the loss of his arm and daughter. Both titles saw the decent of Green Arrow from world-renowned super hero to criminal outlaw. Although Green Arrow originally fought against his friends in the Justice League as he pursued Prometheus’ associates on a quest of murderous vengeance, the archer eventually turned himself over to the police – who publicly unmasked the hero and placed him under arrest. While a jury found Ollie not guilty of his crimes, the ordeal left him banished from Star City and cost him both his marriage and a number of friends.
The new series picks up directly from these events, and Krul spoke with CBR News about Green Arrow’s new status quo, establishing some new villainous targets for the Archer to take aim at and why he loves the DCU’s sharpshooting super heroes.
At the start of the new ongoing, readers will quickly get a feel for Green Arrow’s new status as a vigilante hero headquartered in the recently re-grown forest at the center of Star City. However, according to Krul, this actually returns the character to some of his original roots. “I think the outlaw status is something that’s always been part of Oliver Queen, that outsider role in terms of playing up that Robin Hood motif,” Krul told CBR News. “It’s not like he’s Batman where Bruce eventually works with Commissioner Gordon and he’s got a good working relationship with the city and they all get advice from him. Ollie’s role is a little different from that. When we launch the new title, he is kind of a man without a country, so to speak, hiding away in the forest, but still protecting the people of Star City.”
And if the whole “living in a forest while protecting the poor from the rich and corrupt” sounds familiar, well, it should. The writer readily admitted the similarities between Green Arrow’s current condition and that of another famous emerald-clad archer. “I mean, if you put a guy in green who is an archer in a forest, that’s pretty much Robin Hood,” laughed Krul. “It was definitely an overtly conscious decision to make. We knew that, at his heart, that was a big component of Ollie’s character and Ollie’s story, so we thought, why not just amp that up and play on that directly as opposed to have this veiled reference.”
Probably the biggest change in Green Arrow’s life, however, comes from the outing of his civilian identity. Krul explained that with Green Arrow’s identity publicly known, it forces the archer to choose whether or not he wants to live the rest of his life in peace or as a vigilante out to help the helpless. A choice that, in essence, defines what it means to be a hero. “If his identity wasn’t known, even if Green Arrow was banished from Star City, he could still live as Oliver Queen and put on the costume. It wouldn’t change anything except that the powers that be would be more motivated to bring Green Arrow down, but Oliver Queen could still live his life,” explained the writer. “By exposing his identity, it forces Ollie to make that decision that, if he’s going to be Green Arrow and protect Star City, he is going to be an outlaw and wanted by the police. While at the same time, going with the Robin Hood motif, he’s standing as a beacon for the people against corruption, power and tyranny in the city.”
The writer told CBR that he likens Oliver Queen’s current journey to a “Green Arrow: Rebirth” style story, one that redefines and re-establishes the hero’s place in the greater DC Universe. “In a way, unofficially, for me, if you took the events of the storyline in ‘Black Lantern Green Arrow’ #30, the story in ‘Fall of Green Arrow’ and the first arc of the new title, I would almost say you could catalogue that as a rebirth of Green Arrow,” said Krul. “Not like the herculean task of bringing Hal Jordan back to life, but in terms of resetting where he is and who he is and clarify the role he is going to play in the DC Universe and in Star City.”
To accomplish this goal, the new title will mainly focus on Green Arrow. Although Krul admitted to being a fan of the entire archer family – from Arsenal to Speedy to Connor Hawke – and Black Canary, the writer said that one of the points of the title is re-focusing the spotlight back onto Oliver Queen, and that meant stripping away many of his friends and family. However, despite the dark times for Green Arrow, there are some bright days ahead as well.
“There’s a Brightest Day element, especially with the forest and it’s connection to ‘Brightest Day.’ There will be characters from ‘Brightest Day’ that come into the fold. For instance, Green Lantern is in issue #2 and Martian Manhunter comes into the story with issue #4,” revealed Krul. “A part of the story is feeding off the Brightest Day element in the mystery of the forest and exploring that, and the other part of the story is establishing Green Arrow in his place in Star City and also establishing people in Star City for him to interact with. I don’t know how many people would read Oliver Queen just brooding in a tree and that’s all he’s doing. It’s not like he just hides out in the forest and that’s all he does. He definitely interacts with Star City and goes out. It’s just a matter of his home base being in the forest because that’s where he can hide.”
The writer already introduced one of the title’s new characters, the Star City police commissioner, in the “Fall of Green Arrow” two-parter. The next antagonistic newcomer debuts in the first issue of the new series: the mysteriously named Queen who takes over as owner of Queen Industries.”Even thought the forest grew back, there is still a lot of devastation and a lot of fallout from the destruction caused by Prometheus’ weapon,” Krul explained. “So, there is this a little bit 9/11/Katrina type environment that’s going on. There’s still people living in tents and still people living on the streets and these destroyed sections of town where people live because there is nowhere else to do it. Queen Industries is a powerful company within the city and around the world. [Queen] comes in to take the reins.
“She’s not for the people’s best interest. She’s a business woman and she is driven by power and success just like any successful businessperson probably is. Her motivations are not as altruistic as you might think,” he added. “One of the other factors of doing this book is to build up that rogues gallery for the Green Arrow. The Queen is pretty much one of the first key people we are introducing to fill those slots of villainy, so to speak. Throughout the first arc, you’ll see a couple other faces come into the fold. By the end of the first year, there will be this complete dynamic within Star City, in terms of establishing Ollie and his rogues.”
Getting the opportunity to shape the future of one of his favorite comic characters proved quite the honor for the writer. For Krul, part of the appeal of the entire archer family stems from their courage to stand side by side with some of heaviest hitters in the DCU despite their complete lack of super powers. “Ollie and Roy and Mia and Conner, they’re just normal people. It just blows my mind to think that you’re a normal human being and you’re going to stand side by side with Wonder Woman and Superman and Green Lantern and fight evil. It’s an amazing thing,” he said. “It’d be like if there is some big, blowout brawl at some Mixed Martial Arts championship and you’d like, ‘I’m going to stand next to Randy Couture, and he and I are going to see what’s going on.’ I wouldn’t do that. I can’t imagine doing that. But that’s the thing. Green Arrow puts himself in that position.”
Besides “Green Arrow,” the writer also takes over scripting duties on “Teen Titans” later this year, not to mention his work over at Aspen Comics. But despite the full plate, the writer said he is more than happy digging in and coming back for more. “Being able to do a hardcore, regular monthly book is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time,” said the writer. “So being able to come on and do ‘Green Arrow’ like that has been fantastic, and getting the opportunity to do ‘Teen Titans’ is just that much more special. I’m thrilled and lucky and fortunate and wouldn’t have enough time to thank all the people I need to thank for where I am right now.”