Jeff Lemire has a nasty habit. The writer/artist pretends he’s a quiet, unassuming guy from Toronto, Canada just happy to be making comics. But he’s a liar; He’s not quiet and unassuming at all (even though he is from Canada). Lemire takes seemingly small stories featuring characters like a hockey player from rural Ontario (“Essex County”), a boy born with antlers (“Sweet Tooth”) or an underwater welder (“The Underwater Welder”) and turns them into heart-pounding, soul-searching epics — and that’s just his creator-owned work.
From day one, the writer has called his run on DC Comics’ “Green Arrow” a crime book — but again, that’s not exactly what he’s delivering with mega-talented artist Andrea Sorrentino. Less than a year into his run, Lemire has already pushed Oliver Queen to the limits physically, emotionally and spiritually thanks to face-to-face encounters with a madman (Komodo), a super-powered mercenary (Count Vertigo), a blind mystery man (Magus) and a dangerous woman (Shado).
And he’s only just getting to the good stuff. This week, Lemire and Sorrentino launch a six-issue arc titled “The Outsiders War,” which will make Ollie’s recent romps to Seattle, the Arizona desert and back again feel like a brisk walk across Leschi Park.
Lemire told CBR News that the title of the arc is tied in name only to the long-standing pre-New 52 superhero team and that the only other parallel is the inclusion of Katana. “The Outsiders War” will feature seven distinct clans in hostile conflict including the previously revealed Arrow Clan, which is tied to Ollie and Komodo; the Butcher Clan; the Shield Clan; the Spear Clan mentioned in solicits; and the Sword Clan, which involves Katana.
Lemire also revealed to CBR News that the Fist Clan would feature a New 52 reimagining of classic DC character Onyx (once a member of the League of Assassins) and a seventh clan would remain a mystery until the end of the arc.
And yet, Lemire would still have us believe his “Green Arrow” is just a crime story from a quiet, unassuming Canadian cartoonist. Yeah, right.
CBR News: Is “Green Arrow” a superhero comic?
Jeff Lemire: I think the term “superhero” is pretty broad now. I don’t know what a superhero comic is anymore. And if you tried to make a traditional one, it would probably be pretty boring. I stated right from when I took the book over that I wanted to do a crime book. It really has become a superhero-crime mashup but I don’t even know if it’s crime. It’s more of an international thriller now, I guess. [Laughs]
And the real benefit that I have is Andrea Sorrentino’s style. It brings so much mood to the book and makes it so distinct but he is also very consistent in that he can do every issue, which seems to be a rarity these days. The second week of every month, to have the two of us together producing that book really helps.
I was going to ask about Andrea later but seeing as you brought him up, he does seem incredibly fast. I don’t think you’ve had a fill-in artist even for one issue.
He is. Every Monday, he gives me five or six pages. He might be one of the few guys that since the New 52 launch, two-and-a-half years ago, that hasn’t missed a month. He and Mikel Janin on “Justice League Dark” are the two guys that I think have consistently not missed. They can just do it. And it’s an incredible benefit to be so consistent and know what you’re going to get. You can really create a voice for the book.
â€¨Speaking of superheroes, Ollie has no superpowers. With the bow and arrow being his weapon of choice, does that set a tone for the book, as well?
I think it does help dictate the pace. He’s not just blasting people away with a gun. There is certain calmness to the weapon. There is a deliberate thought to every arrow. I think it says a lot about his personality although lately, especially since my run started, he’s really been running around chasing other people, which means he’s kind of reached his breaking point. He’s tired of being led on this mystery. He’s going to start pushing back and that’s where we are at for him.
The mystery of the arrow and why he uses that is all part of this upcoming arc. I don’t want to get too much into it here but there is definitely a reason.
Funny, you mentioned the calm before the storm because I think the breaking point for Ollie was in “Green Arrow” #24 when he tore Count Vertigo’s manipulation device from his head, neck and spine. That was not Ollie’s usual calculating counter. It was a malicious attack.
I agree. It was a loss of control. And I think we’re seeing that more. And that’s what this arc is going to be about. It’s the turning point where he’s tired of not being in control of his life anymore — and his destiny and his legacy. From Komodo to Shado to Magus, all of these people have been pulling and pushing him in different directions. He’s become almost a puppet. And that definitely goes against his personality and now we’re going to see him lash back. And that’s where the war in “The Outsiders War” comes from.
Let’s talk about this next arc. The name “The Outsiders” has a long history within the DC Universe most notably the group led by Batman in the 1980s. Is there any connection between this arc and that concept or is this simply a nod in recognition?
It’s a complete reimagination of the concept. The revolution of what the Outsiders are and everything is part of the arc so I can’t get into it too much but it’s not linked to Batman and the Outsiders at all except that Katana is involved. That’s really the only link. It’s not just another superhero team like it was before. It’s going to be something very different and it really evolves over the course of this arc into something new.
“Green Arrow” #25 tied into “Batman: Zero Year” so it wasn’t a lead-in to what we are about to see, but at the end of the previous issue, there was a two-page story featuring Diggle and Billy Tockham, the Clock King. Do they play a role in this arc?
In addition to the Outsiders world with Ollie and Komodo and Shado and everything that’s going on there, the subplot throughout this arc will continue to follow Diggle in Seattle. There is a growing turmoil in Seattle with Richard Dragon and Diggle and that sets up the arc after “The Outsiders War.” There is some stuff that is going to happen to Diggle, Naomi and Fyff that will affect Seattle greatly when Ollie returns.
In the solicitations for the coming issues, we see that you are going to be introducing some new characters. One is the head of the Shield Clan, “the deadly Kodiak.” This a brand new character, right, and not a reimagining of a classic?
He’s a completely different Outsider and a character we came up with and like you said, he’s the head of the Shield Clan.
Can you give anymore on him just yet?
No. [Laughs] Not really.
Another new character coming is Golgotha.
Yes, Golgotha is head of the Spear Clan, Kodiak is Shield, Komodo is vying for head of the Arrow Clan. We’ve already seen Butcher from the Axe Clan. And we’ll see him again. If you’re reading “Katana,” you know that she is involved with the Sword Clan. And that leaves two other clans: one that remains a mystery until the end of the arc and the other is the Fist Clan, for which we’re going to reintroduce an old DC character named Onyx.
According to the Gospels, Golgotha was a site immediately outside Jerusalem’s walls where Jesus was crucified. And the Bible translates the term to mean place of the skull. Considering it’s a pretty specific name choice, does that tie into this character at all?
I have to be careful with what I say. There is an allusion there. People familiar with the New Testament and the death of Christ, there is a spear involved and perhaps this person has been around since that time.
You’ve just teased what’s to come in “Green Arrow” after “The Outsiders War” so it doesn’t sound like you’re going anywhere anytime soon. Do you have big, long-term plans for this series?
The character really has his hooks in me. I just keep getting new ideas for him and where to take him next. I almost feel like this whole thing that I’ve done for him so far is tearing him down and then rebuilding him. It would be a shame to leave him after I put so much work into rebuilding him. [Laughs] I need to follow through on the next chapter so that’s where I’m at, right now, in my head.
Will we see Ollie in “Justice League of America” when you take over that series in the new year?
Nice try. [Laughs]
Last question but we talked about the introduction of Diggle to “Green Arrow,” a character from the TV series, “Arrow.” Have you found much crossover from fans of either series bleeding into each other or is your comic another animal altogether?
I don’t know. To be honest, the last two or three months, I’ve disconnected from being online. I haven’t paid that much attention since Diggle joined the book. Traditionally, there is not too much crossover between the fans as much as you’d hope there would be but hopefully we’re gaining a few more readers from the show. But really, I’m just concentrating on telling the best story I can. I can’t worry too much about what the show is doing.
“Green Arrow” #26 by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino is available from DC Comics this week.