In establishing the new mythology for Oliver Queen in DC Comics’ New 52, Jeff Lemire makes it a point to constantly push the boundaries of plotlines and possibilities to make “Green Arrow” as rich as the founder of Queen Industries: Robert Queen.
Yes, Oliver’s father is back from the dead. To clarify, he never was dead in the first place. Instead, because father knows best, Robert made himself scarce in order to protect Ollie and the rest of the Queen family from a war that has been bubbling between the seven Outsider clans. But with Green Arrow coming closer and closer to the truth and a “Spartacus”-sized conflict set to begin, it was time for Robert to return.
Not surprisingly, Ollie was none to pleased with dear old dad (nor Shado or Magus for that matter) upon the big reveal, but Jeff Lemire thinks it’s great that Robert is back — and his return will shake things up for “Green Arrow” like no other event since the dawn of the New 52.
Lemire also discussed Robert’s look, which is reminiscent of Neal Adams’ 1969 take on Green Arrow, right down to his golden Van Dyke beard, and how Diggle’s hunt for Richard Dragon back in Seattle is setting up what’s to come in the title following the conclusion of “The Outsiders War.”
CBR News: The big news from “Green Arrow” #28 was Ollie coming face-to-face with his father, Robert Queen. Ollie’s always dealt with daddy issues, but Robert’s return obviously takes those issues to another level.
Jeff Lemire: There were a couple of reasons that I brought back Robert. I wanted to do something that really sets the mythology that I have been building for the character in the New 52 apart from the Green Arrow from pre-New 52. I wanted a big change that made it unique and different — that was definitely part of it. But also, I think it’s a development that’s really true to the character and to the story, and it came organically out of the story. When I started writing the book, I never imagined bringing Robert Queen back, but as I got deeper into the story, it just seemed like a natural progression.
Oliver’s character is very much about legacy and responsibility, and the pressure of that responsibility and his father was always a big presence looming over him even before he was revealed, so to tie him into the Outsiders’ legacy just made sense. I really thought that it would shake things up and throw the future of the character and the story into question.
And Robert Queen looks a little familiar —
[Laughs] It’s no secret that Robert looks like the pre-New 52 Green Arrow. The goatee and the fact that he’s older were deliberate. I thought that would be a nice nod to the old continuity. Also, by having him look like that it erases the chance that Ollie will ever look like the old pre-New 52 version of the character. It allows him to grow into whatever he’s going to age into. It’s nothing that we are used to. It’s going to be something new. It was me putting my stamp on the character and saying what I am building towards and where this character is going isn’t going to just fall back into the old pattern. It’s going to be something different.
As witnessed in the fight against Kodiak, there seems to already be chemistry between Ollie and Robert?
They’re father and son, so it’s natural that they approach things in a similar way. We all have similarities with our parents. Also, we revealed that Ollie spent time on the island being tortured by his father before he knew it was him: That’s how Ollie learned to become a warrior and a hunter and a survivor, by watching and fighting against this guy that ends up being his dad. He knows how he moves and he knows how he fights. I think fighting against someone teaches you how to fight with them, too.
Not only is Robert back from the dead, but he also gives a game-changing tease about Magus, calling him the “immortal trickster” and stating, “There is much more to him than meets the eye.” Your run on “Green Arrow” has been very grounded in reality, but Magus certainly brings a magical element to the story.
I can’t speak too much about Magus without spoiling some big things that are coming. There is a mystical aspect to it, but I am always playing with the mysticism where it could actually be mysticism, or it could be something else. It’s very mysterious. Is magic really happening? Is there really a mystical element to these totem weapons, or is it just myths? That’s how I am playing it, but let’s face it — as grounded as the book is, it’s still set in the DC Universe. There are aliens flying around with magic rings. It’s full of fantastic things. As grounded as you keep it, Ollie is still in that world, and it’s not out of place to have someone like Magus. Green Arrow is a member of Justice League of America with Martian Manhunter. We have isolated “Green Arrow” in a little section of the world that doesn’t often touch on that stuff, but it’s still fun to put it in and have it part of it every once in a while.
You mentioned the totems and there is a major faceoff in “Green Arrow” #28 pitting Komodo versus Golgotha. Onyx is right there, too, backing Komodo. Can you talk about the power shift within the Outsiders that occurred in this issue?
I think Komodo and Golgotha are very opposite personalities. Golgotha has been in charge of the current incarnation of the Outsiders for — we haven’t said exactly for how long, but its been alluded to that it’s been for a long time. They’ve stayed in the shadows and they’ve worked covertly as this sort of clandestine organization. Golgotha has proven that he’s a very patient and methodical person.
Komodo is much more direct: He wants to go after Green Arrow. He doesn’t hold back, and those contrasting points of view are just too much. Komodo is dying to step out of the shadows. It’s time to stop playing it safe and working in secret. That’s a major conflict between them. Komodo makes his play for the leadership, and we get a sense that they’re not going to be in the shadows any longer.
With the solicitations for the remainder of “Outsiders War” released, we know what’s coming and battle lines are going to be drawn. Can you talk about who sides with whom?
[Laughs] It’s a big war, and we have seen the battles line starting to be drawn. Katana, Magus and Butcher are assembling on one side, and Komodo and Onyx and the Spear clan are on the other side. We are going to see an epic, “Spartacus”-level conflict coming soon.
You have gone through the sides but there is still a seventh mystery clan. And that’s going to be…
[Laughs] I can’t talk about that one just yet.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch — well, Seattle — there is another conflict bubbling in Diggle, Naomi and Fyff versus Richard Dragon. We haven’t seen much of him yet, but I’m guessing Diggle’s role will continue to grow moving forward.
I love writing Diggle. I really like the character a lot. The stuff happening in Seattle is setting up what’s going to happen after “The Outsiders War,” which is a showdown with Dragon. We have seen Diggle in the book but we haven’t seen him with Ollie yet. Having Diggle and Ollie fighting together is going to be a lot of fun.That’s all presuming that Ollie survives the war. The next big story is very much focused on Diggle and his history with Oliver and what happened between them. It really sets up a new status quo for the book and brings us deeper into the mythology.
â€¨Diggle was originally introduced on the CW’s “Arrow,” which has just been renewed for a third season, but aside from ‘sharing’ that character, it would seem that the TV series and the comic book series are following two very distinct paths.
I like taking stuff from the show and using elements of it in the book, but doing it in a different way so you’re just not reading the same story. I like to surprise the readers using the history and mystery of the island much the same way that they do except in the comic, it plays out much differently than on the show — similar elements but executed in different ways to keep ’em guessing. You don’t normally get to do that in a comic, because they all don’t have hit TV shows running at the same time. [Laughs]
I bring them up every time we chat about the comic, but talk to me about building this world with Andrea [Sorrentino] and Marcelo [Maiolo]. You’re an artist — would “Green Arrow” be “Green Arrow” without them?
This is one of these unique times when an artist and a writer come together and create a third person. I guess a fourth person, because you can’t understate Marcelo’s contribution, too. It’s a unique example of three artists coming together and working so well together that you create something entirely new. This book wouldn’t be what it is without those two guys working with me. If and when they ever want to step off the book, I would have to really consider if I would want to go on without them. “Green Arrow” would become a different book, a different entity, at that point.
Before I let you go, can you give us a tease of how “Green Arrow” will dovetail into “Justice League United,” seeing that Ollie will be featured in it alongside Animal Man, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, Stargirl and Supergirl?
There won’t be a lot of crossover, which is not unlike how “Green Arrow” currently doesn’t really crossover with “Justice League of America” very much. We’ll keep them pretty separate. These are his solo adventures, and that’s his team book.
“Green Arrow” #28, by Jeff Lemire and featuring art by Andrea Sorrentino and Marcelo Maiolo, is on sale now.
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