While longtime fans are pleased to see Oliver Queen's goatee is back in all its glory for "Green Arrow: Rebirth" #1, that's not the return that fans of the Emerald Archer have been waiting for.
Benjamin Percy, who wrote the final 12 issues of "Green Arrow" in The New 52, and artist Otto Schmidt are including Black Canary -- Ollie's long time crime-fighting (and romantic) partner -- in the new series, but all is not roses when the lovebirds reunite.
In fact, Percy confirmed to CBR News that when the two meet for the first time, Oliver and Dinah Lance are adversaries rather than a couple. But, Percy promises, the fighting doesn't last for long as they get down to superhero business, clashing with the mysterious Ninth Circle, an organization Percy hopes will become his -- and Oliver & Dinah's -- Court of Owls.
CBR News: Most titles are getting new creative teams for DC's Rebirth, but you're back as the writer of "Green Arrow." Is the story in "Green Arrow: Rebirth" #1 and beyond a continuation of what you were doing in The New 52, or is this a new story and a new or rebirth-ed Green Arrow?
Benjamin Percy: You can think of everything that has come before as a prelude. You can start fresh with "Green Arrow: Rebirth" and feel completely orientated, but if you have been following me since "Green Arrow" #41, you might have a better understanding of the emotional arc the character.
When I first took over, I intentionally kept Oliver Queen out of costume, I kept him away from his bow and quiver. The hope was to emphasize him as a man, one who was struggling professionally, romantically, emotionally. It was a coming-of-age story that you could track since "Green Arrow" #41. This is a 25-year old guy, who doesn't quite know who he is, and there is a progression where the costume is going to take over. Finally, in Rebirth, [Oliver] is going to live up to the heroic mantle of Green Arrow.
You're also going to be featuring Black Canary, a character connected to Green Arrow -- to use your words -- professionally, romantically, emotionally, since the late '60s. Why is this the right time to bring Ollie's long-time love interest into the fold?
I've always been thinking about the long game, and I hoped that I wouldn't be kicked off "Green Arrow." That's why I was showing Green Arrow failing time after time with all of these different relationships. The hope was that Black Canary would eventually become a part of the series, and that we would value the relationship all the more because we would have gone through this romantic gauntlet with Ollie already. It was a total thrill when I sat down with [DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer] Geoff Johns in the writers' room and he said I could bring Black Canary back into the fray.
When Black Canary and Green Arrow meet, do they have a history, or is this a first encounter?
They know of each other but they don't know each other. Their relationship is, at first, adversarial before they set off on an adventure together. It's a team-up I hope will continue throughout this new era of storytelling.
You can really consider this Rebirth arc as a two-hander. Black Canary is vitally important to the story.
What can you share about their first adventure?
I hope this first arc, this Rebirth arc, will be my "Court of Owls." Together, Black Canary and Green Arrow are going to face an organization... and I'll say this in the most forbidding way possible -- known as the Ninth Circle, which is a reference to Dante's Inferno. The first issue is a one-shot, but it's also a gateway into this larger story about the Ninth Circle. What's the key to this organization that makes the story so suspenseful? I'll tell you later. [Laughs] You'll have to read it to find out! I can tell you that it's a six-issue arc, and there are going to be mysteries piled on top of mysteries that lead the reader tantalizingly forward.
I love what you did with Tarantula. Does Rebirth mean the end of her run with Oliver?
She's not in the first arc, but there is definitely the possibility of cycling Tarantula back into the story to create some good drama. I like that character a lot.
You mentioned The Court of Owls, but Scott Snyder also told some big stories with some classic rogues in "Batman," most notably The Joker. Green Arrow has Merlyn and Count Vertigo, and you've already used Deathstroke, but his rogues gallery overall isn't bursting with A-list supervillains. Will Green Arrow and Black Canary be up against any known DC Universe bad guys, or do you plan to introduce new foes and felons for the foreseeable future?
Mike Grell and Denny O'Neill are my touchstones for Green Arrow's canon. I'm focused on channeling their vision while bringing my own to the table. Since "Green Arrow" #41, with the exception of Deathstroke, I've been building my own rogues gallery. I am going to continue to do that. That does not mean that I won't cycle in villainous forces that have appeared in the past.
What do Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra bring to the table as artists? Or, rather, what do they bring to the quiver?
I am so thrilled to be working with these artists. Otto Schmidt is killing it. He is such an elegant artist. He brings so much energy to the page and athleticism to the characters -- so much dynamic movement.
And to have Juan on covers is awesome. He is killing it on "Suicide Squad" right now. He is very different. His art if beautiful, and is also unsettling and somewhat terrifying. We're going to be working on stories that play to the strengths of each artist. The other thing Juan does that is really interesting to me is these two-page spreads that have almost become his signature -- these multi-panel, two-page spreads. They have a cinematic sweep that is mind-blowingly cool.
You've been writing the adventures of Green Arrow for more than a year now, so I have to ask -- how proficient are you with a bow and arrow?
I come from a hunting family. We use rifles, but I have since purchased a bow. I've only target shot with it; I've never actually taken it out hunting.
"Green Arrow: Rebirth" #1 by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt is scheduled for June 1.