In interviews and convention appearances throughout 2009, DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio put Oliver Queen and Roy Harper forward as characters to watch in 2010. The promise became a reality when DC Comics announced a trifecta of Arrow-fueled projects as part of its DCU in 2010 campaign last December, namely the one-shot special “Justice League: The Rise and Fall” (co-written with James Robinson), the four-part miniseries, “Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal,” and an upcoming arc in “Green Arrow,” entitled “The Fall of Green Arrow,” which begins in #31.
J.T. Krul, a former production coordinator on “Seinfeld,” is writing all three title titles, as he continues his meteoric rise at DC Comics as one of their go-to writers.
Born and raised in Michigan, Krul earned a B.A. from Michigan State University in Film and Video Production, much like superstar writer Geoff Johns, before heading west to Los Angeles in 1996. Transitioning from television to comics, Krul broke into writing at Marvel with runs on “X-Men Unlimited” and “Spider-Man Unlimited.” He later joined Michael Turner at Aspen Comics, writing the publisher’s flagship properties, “Fathom” and “Soulfire.”
In 2009, Krul became a part of the creative team on DC Comics’ blockbuster, mega-event “Blackest Night,” writing “Blackest Night: Titans” and several tie-in issues of “Teen Titans.”
A long-time fan of both Roy and Ollie, Krul is thrilled to be working with DC’s big bows and told CBR News that Green Arrow and Arsenal will both be crying for justice by the time the ‘rise and fall’ is said and done.
CBR News: Dan DiDio has been teasing that 2010 would be a big year for Ollie and Roy for some time, and lo and behold, you’ve landed the assignment. How did you get involved in this project? Did DC seek you out?
J. T. Krul: I actually talked to Adam [Schlagman] and Eddie [Berganza] a couple years ago about Roy. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time. Then, last summer, Adam and Dan talked to me at a convention about working with him and I jumped at the chance. As for Green Arrow, I was already writing “Black Lantern Green Arrow” #30 and developing the Arsenal story, so it came about very organically.
This is not as simple as taking the reins of an ongoing title or writing a miniseries. You’ve got your very own mini-event happening here.
We played around with the format a bit. On the one hand, it’s really a big story that spills out of “Cry For Justice,” especially for Roy and Ollie. For Roy, making it a miniseries was vital because he doesn’t have a title of his own, and we knew it was important enough to be its own beast – not a story thread running through “Green Arrow.” But for Ollie, it really is matter of cutting to the core of his character and firmly planting himself in his corner of the universe, so it was decided it was best to make it part of the regular title.
What is it about Ollie and Roy that makes them work so well in a super-powered universe? I mean, sure Batman doesn’t have superpowers either, but why do two expert marksmen play such prominent roles in the DCU?
I think they, especially Ollie, play such roles because of who they are – not because of what weapon they use. In Star City, they fight the criminal element like Batman does in Gotham, but Ollie is about bringing people out of the dark, not punishing the wicked, like Batman. His drive is more ideological – helping those in need, especially those being held down by the establishment. That’s the same role he fills amongst the more powerful heroes in the DCU. It’s his social views and morality that gives him strength and a strong voice. You can see James playing with that in “Cry for Justice.”
Are you a long-time fan of both characters? Did you read Mike Grell’s “Longbow Hunters” growing up in Michigan, or were you more of a Kevin Smith/Brad Meltzer era reader?
I did read “Longbow Hunters.” My hometown, Hastings, is pretty small, and back then didn’t have a comic book store. I was buying from the spindle rack at the liquor store – what’s up Superette? Sorry. Anyway, I got a job at the bookstore in town and eventually convinced the owner to start selling comics, right about the time “Longbow Hunters” came out. When I left a few years later, the comic business was half the store. I fell out of “Green Arrow” in college, just didn’t have the funds to continue reading everything, and then I came back with [Kevin] Smith, [Brad] Meltzer and [Judd] Winick and such.
Obviously, we’re still a few months away from this story kicking off, but what can you share about the story you’re going to tell?
I hate these questions because I can’t really answer them without spoiling stuff. At the heart of the matter, it’s time for Ollie and Roy to take stock in themselves. In “Cry For Justice,” both are pushed to the brink, and now they must confront their own demons and decide who they want to be, who they can be, and who they are actually going to be.
The dismemberment of Roy’s arm will no doubt be a trigger of things to come, as well, but will Freddy Freeman’s story be resolved in “The Rise of Arsenal,” or will that story play itself out before the close of James Robinson’s “Cry for Justice?”
Freddy’s story will be revealed in the pages of “Cry For Justice.” “The Rise of Arsenal” is all about Roy’s evolution in the face of his adversity – and the impact it has on those close to him.
Speaking of James Robinson, Roy – in his role as Red Arrow – has been featured heavily in “Justice League of America” since the title was relaunched by Brad Meltzer in 2006. Will you work closely with James in terms of storytelling and continuity during the run of “Rise of Arsenal” and “Fall of Green Arrow?”
That’s been part of the real fun working on these two projects. I met James initially last summer and have been talking with him regularly about these projects. We are even co-writing the “Rise and Fall Special.” So, yes, he’s definitely involved.
You’re using Arsenal as opposed to Red Arrow as Roy’s superhero identity. Can you shed any light on the name change/reversal?
Roy becoming Arsenal once again is partly due to his physical loss – the severing of his arm. But it is also more of a psychological transformation. As Roy struggles with his loss, he emerges on the other side of grief a changed man. Again, it all goes to the notion that Roy – and Ollie – are forced to determine who they are going to be from this point forward.
Again, knowing you can’t give too much away just yet, can we talk about the titles a bit? Both seem to invoke certain images and potential storylines. While “Rise of Arsenal” sounds like Roy will really grow as a hero in the months ahead, it sounds like Ollie is in for a rough ride. Does Green Arrow fall so low that it takes him to the ‘other side’ of Justice? And is there an ultimate showdown coming between Roy and Ollie?
There is a definite conflict coming between the two characters, as both of their paths converge. Roy’s rise and Ollie’s fall are interwoven. They are such big parts of one another’s lives that the influence and impact is impossible to avoid. That’s one of the things I’m enjoying about being able to write both stories – playing the same scenes from different points of view.
Let’s face it, Ollie is not the greatest communicator, and it’s great to be able to show how that flaw can be so problematic for him.
What about supporting characters during the crossover? Will we see much of Hawkgirl and Black Canary? What heroes and/or villains play roles?
A host of characters will be featured in the “Rise of Arsenal” book because it really does concern much of the DCU in terms of coping with Roy’s loss and his reaction to it – Black Canary, Cyborg, Batman, Donna Troy. And while Ollie’s story is very “Arrow”-centric, featuring Black Canary, Connor Hawke and Speedy, his best friend, Hal Jordan, will also play a vital role. Not to mention Barry Allen.
I’m not sure what you’ve seen so far, but can you speak at all about the work of your collaborators on these projects, Mike Mayhew, Geraldo Borges and Diogenes Neves?
I have to say that I have been blessed for much of my career to work with stellar artists – people who not only draw incredibly, but also have a love for comics and a desire to bring their very best. It’s my first time working with Mike, Geraldo, and Diogenes – and let’s just say I hope it’s not my last. They are all very different, but bring the perfect style and strengths to their books.
Mike’s “Rise and Fall” pages are stunning. It’s a very emotional issue, and he gets it. Likewise, Geraldo’s work is oozing with emotion, but there is an edge to his stuff that matches wonderfully with the darker elements of Roy’s story. Diogenes was already working on my “Black Lantern Green Arrow” story, and Adam and I only needed to see one page to know we wanted him to stay on the book. I couldn’t be happier.
That leads nicely into our final question. Will you be staying on as the writer of “Green Arrow,” after this arc? And do you have anything else cooking comics-wise at DC or anywhere else?
So far, we’re only dealing with the first arc for “Green Arrow,” but Ollie is a true pillar of the DCU, and I would be thrilled to stick around. As for other comics, I am finishing up “Fathom” Volume 3 at Aspen, and the second volume of “Soulfire” is just starting with art by Marcus To, who is doing great work on “Red Robin.” Plus, later in the spring, I am launching my first creator-owned book with Aspen. It’s called “Mindfield” and it centers on a group of telepathic CIA agents who function as a “thought” police that targets domestic terrorism. Sort of “Bourne Identity” meets “Desolation Jones.”
“Justice League: The Rise and Fall,” written by James Robinson and J.T. Krul with art by Mike Mayhew, ships March 10.
“Green Arrow” #31, written by J.T. Krul with art by Diogenes Neves, ships March 17.
“Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal”#1 (of 4), written by J.T. Krul with art by Geraldo Borges and Marlo Alquiza, ships March 24.