When the smoke cleared from "Infinite Crisis" and readers rejoined the regular adventures of their favorite DC Comics characters that were set "One Year Later," they found many of the DCU's champions had undergone some startling changes, but perhaps the most surprising change was to Green Arrow. The Emerald Bowman, who was the DC Universe's premier anti-establishment hero, is now the mayor of his hometown Star City. CBR News spoke with "Green Arrow" writer Judd Winick about the complex world of Hizzoner, Oliver Queen AKA Green Arrow.
Moving Ollie from fighting city hall to taking up residence there is something Winick has been planning for awhile. "A lot of this stuff was born out of the now somewhat infamous DC Summit," Winick told CBR News. "Where me, Dan Didio, Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka and Eddie Berganza more or less came up with 'Crisis.' Some time before that I had been kicking around the idea of Ollie becoming Mayor of Star City and what an interesting turn that would be. Sort of driving a secret identity issue as far as one could possibly go. What could be more of a public figure than that? So with that idea floating around in my head we went into the DC Summit.
"One of the things I brought up was, 'I think I'm going to destroy a huge part of Star City and Ollie will become mayor," Winick continued. "And in the discussion we started talking about the 'One Year Later' leap which was Dan's idea. I said, 'Okay that makes life a lot easier.' That's what I'll do. I'll blow up the city at the end and when we came back Ollie will be Mayor."
In between the DC Summit and Green Arrow #60, the first "One Year Later" issue, a tragedy struck the nation that gave Winick's tale of the destroyed Star City some unfortunate real world parallels. "This was long before Katrina. When that happened it was a real, real kick in the head," Winick explained. "I knew the connections were going to be made immediately, but as it went on I had no idea how unfortunately frighteningly close it was to what we we're planning on doing. Especially in the sense that I was going to have the idea that the city was abandoned by the federal government and so was the city of New Orleans. It was really unfortunate and crazy that that would happen."
Readers shouldn't expect "Green Arrow" to feature any flashbacks to crazy tales from Ollie's campaign for mayor. "Honestly the election would be really piss dull and there's nothing interesting about it," Winick stated. "I can tell you what it would be, which is a socialite, millionaire, bon vivant, business tycoon, who has made this city for a long time runs for mayor. Ollie being Ollie means he's just more interesting than any other possible candidate who could possibly be put forward. He's not interested in being a politician beyond this. He wants to save the city and that's the best thing he could possibly campaign on, 'I have no interest in being a politician.' Ollie got in there by being Ollie."
Winick has no plans to flashback to Ollie's campaign, but he does intend to chronicle Ollie's missing year in upcoming issues. "What we will see is a near full flashback," he explained. "We'll take approximately three issues -- if not more -- picking up pretty much where we left off, which was Ollie had an arrow in his chest and was dieing and the city had just exploded. We'll get into everything that happened after, which brought him to the place of running for Mayor. That I find is the more interesting story and that's the one we're going to tell."
Since "One Year Later" began Ollie's family, AKA Team Arrow: Arsenal, Connor Hawke, and Speedy, have been missing from the pages of "Green Arrow," but readers can expect their return in the flashback storyline. "They'll all be a part of the flashback," Winick said. "They'll all be a part of what happened during the time away."
Winick didn't want to reveal too much of his plans for Team Arrow in the present day storyline. "The one I will tell you about is that immediate plans are for Speedy," he explained. "Everybody should hang on tight with that. Answers are coming soon. Part of this was I wanted to create a greater mechanism with Team Arrow; to kind of break the team up a little. There's something difficult about having three archer vigilantes in one city. A couple of cataclysmic things happen which brought about some life changing experiences for all three of them and to help redefine their roles."
Ollie has had no trouble in redefining himself for his roles as the Mayor of Star City and the city's costumed protector. "He's comfortable wearing both hats, very comfortable," Winick explained. "I think he's quite happy being a politician and actually making a difference on a scale like this, where it's long term type things. A good politician can do great things and he is one who is fearless. Oliver Queen has fearlessly done acts of physical heroism and risked his life. Now as a politician he's doing a similar thing in the sense that he had absolutely no fear of a political life being lost He doesn't have to answer to anyone. He doesn't have to answer to his constituency. He truly just wants to make life better for them."
The costumed assassin Deathstroke the Terminator doesn't want to make life better for Ollie; he wants to make his life over. The rivalry between Green Arrow and Deathstroke that's been building finally comes to a head in the pages of "Green Arrow" #62, as the two enemies have their first rematch since they clashed. in the pages of "Identity Crisis" "It's twenty-two pages of fighting," Winick said "If there has been complaining about a lack of action in the first two issues, I think the twenty two pages of fighting in the next issue should make up for it. It's a really, really good fight and it also gives a not so small glimpse into the year away that Ollie's had. We give a big hint at what happened during his year away."
Green Arrow's life won't be getting easier after the rematch with Deathstroke. Following his battle with the Terminator, Ollie must contend with another nemesis. "We will see the return of Brick, who was the head of organized crime in Star City," Winick explained. "Now he seems to be protecting the people behind the wall. Events occur that bring Brick and Ollie together side-by-side and we're going to clarify what Brick is about. I've been getting a lot of e-mail saying, 'You made Brick a good guy.' The answer I give to that is, 'No, I actually haven't.' Brick might be doing some good but he's anything but a good guy. I like a good villain and he is a good villain. It's barely a team up. It's more along the lines of the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
"After the arc with Brick, we'll flashback and everyone will get the story behind the story and find out how we got here," Winick continued. "After that things will begin to heat up and Ollie's political life and vigilante life will unfortunately start to overlap a little bit."
The overlap between Ollie's day and night jobs will complicate both of them. "There's a problem with having so many secrets especially when you decide to be so public," Winick explained. "It's one thing being a public figure like Bruce Wayne or Oliver Queen when you put on a costume and fight crime in quiet corners of the city. It's something else being such a public figure; to try and do great work in public and still try to keep both of these things quiet. We'll learn a great deal about Ollie, good and bad, and about what brought him here and the future of his political and vigilante life. They'll run into one another. It will lead to basically a point where he will have to choose."
Readers of "Green Arrow" recently met one man who will try to ease the tension between Ollie's two jobs, Fredrick Tuckman, Ollie's political advisor. "With Tuckman I think it's important to have characters that are with Ollie on both sides of the fence," Winick said.
Tuckman and John Smalls, Ollie's head of security, are just two of the many new supporting cast members that Winick plans on introducing in "Green Arrow." "With Smalls, we'll learn pretty soon he has a lot more going on to him than just being a really big guy," Winick stated. "I'm fleshing out a cast that will be folks in Ollie's political arena, but at the same time in the vigilante area. the Police Commissioner is going to be an ongoing character. The point being he hates the Mayor and Green Arrow and doesn't realize he hates the same guy and has issues with him on both fronts."
In addition to interacting with the political figures of Star City, Winick also plans on having Green Arrow encounter some of the DCU's other costumed champions, but he won't say whom. "That would be telling," he said. "But yeah there are going to be, I won't call them crossovers, but there will be appearances."
The guest star appearances could bring the heroes to Star City, or Ollie might be meeting them on their home turf, because even though Oliver Queen is the mayor of Star City, the stories Winick has planned in "Green Arrow" will be set both inside and outside of the city. "The year away will be big, big, big about travel," Winick explained. "After that we're going to be hopping back and forth. I've primarily focused a lot of my 'Green Arrow' run in Star City to kind of establish Ollie's ties there and as Mayor he couldn't be tied anymore to the city than that. But we're going to start branching out from there for sure."
Green Arrow's adventures inside and outside of Star City will be part of a longer ongoing story. "I will name the arcs," Winick said. "Sometimes that's a framing device to help us move things along and reach a somewhat end point for readers and also to give a hint that there's a certain finality and we're moving on to a different thing. There will be chapter breaks like thatm but we're going to have a more ongoing story where things overlap. I just finished writing the next issue, where it's the end of a chapter arc and we're beginning a new arc but we're still finishing up a fight from the last arc. It's still going to keep moving. I'm a little more interested in doing that and having these arcs overlap more so than we did in the past."
The overlapping story arcs in "Green Arrow" will be a mixture of superhero action, gritty crime and political intrigue. "I love 'West Wing' meets 'The Shield' meets superheroes; throw in costumes there," Winick said. "That for me is great storytelling. That's what I like to read. So that's what I'm putting out there."