It's been one year since Jeff Lemire took over Green Arrow, changing the hero's whole world as he forced him to — as Lemire put it in his first issue — "become the man [his] father always thought [he] could be."
That quote from Lemire's initial chapter on Green Arrow has come full circle. In the last two issues of Green Arrow, readers found out that the character's father [spoiler alert!] is alive, and he's the reason Ollie went to the island to become Green Arrow.
Lemire, who's also known for his work as a writer/artist on books like Sweet Tooth and Trillium, is also writing Green Arrow as part of the team in DC's Justice League United title that launches in April. Newsarama talked to the writer to find out more about the introduction of Ollie's father, Robert Queen, and what else is coming up for the character.
Newsarama: Jeff, this plot twist was certainly a surprise. Has this been the end game since the beginning?
Jeff Lemire: The reveal at the end of #27 wasn't always part of the plan, but I knew Robert Queen would be important to the book in some way as I moved forward. Things began to crystallize when I started work on The Outsider's War.
Nrama: So as you were coming up with the Outsider story, and you were tying together all the different clans and expanding the mythology, what made you land upon this being part of it? Why did this element of Ollie's story interest you?
Lemire: Oliver Queen/Green Arrow is a character whose core is about legacy and responsibility. And that all comes from his father and the responsibilities of living up to his legacy. So Robert Queen was always going to be essential to the story.
Nrama: Whose idea was it to have Robert Queen sport the familiar goatee?
Lemire: Well, it's a fun nod to pre-52 Green Arrow, obviously, but it's more than that. It evokes an older, more confident version of Green Arrow, and as a result, it gives this new version's sense of legacy weight.
Also, with Robert taking that look, it says once and for all that this New 52 Ollie will not go back to that version. He needs to become his own man...become something new.
Nrama: How does Ollie's discovery of his father's role in his origin contribute to who the character is now? Does it affect Ollie — his mission, his motivation, his mindset — now that he knows the truth?
Lemire: That answer comes at the end of the Outsider's storyline, so I don’t want to spoil it here. But clearly this is huge to the character of Oliver Queen and to his mission as Green Arrow. It will change everything for him, no matter what happens in this arc. How that will change may be something he will struggle with for a long time.
Nrama: For those of us old-time Ollie fans who remember the pre-New 52 dynamic between Ollie and his then-son Connor, it's interesting to see another pair of father-son Green Arrows in this New 52 story (albeit with a different, manipulative twist). Did that comparison enter your head?
Lemire: To be honest, no. I never read Green Arrow during the Conner years, so I have no baggage form that. This was really a unique thing and won't reflect the Conner/Ollie relationship at all. At least not intentionally. I'm sure people who have affection for those Conner stories will find subtext here if they want to find it.
Nrama: We've seen April's solicitation, and it's been revealed that Robert and Ollie will be working together against the Others. What can you tell us about that team-up? How do these two deal with each other as they fight side-by-side?
Lemire: I think that solicit may be a bit of a ruse. Ollie and Robert are not going to be doing much of anything "together" in this arc. They will be at each other's throats, and Ollie is not sure Robert isn't the real villain here...
Nrama: As long as we're talking about daddy… Emiko is being influenced in a whole different way, and issue #28 featured her smiling face as the cliffhanger ending, after she saw Komodo fulfill the suggestion she'd just made. While we've probably all got our own ideas about the answer to this question…. what did that smile mean?
Lemire: Not telling! But she is my favorite character in the book, and I have huge plans for her post-"Outsider War" in both Green Arrow and another book I'm working on!
Nrama: How does Komodo's killing of Golgotha change things now?
Lemire: Golgotha has been around for a loooooong time. How long is hinted at in issue #29. So his approach has been to be extremely patient. To wait in the shadows and bide their time. To strike slowly and silently. Komodo is the opposite. He is a mercurial personality. He wants to jump from the shadows and grab the world by the neck and he wants to do it now.
Nrama: You're including Katana in Green Arrow's mythology. What were your thoughts behind that, and what are you hoping to do with the character?
Lemire: It was always the plan, from Day 1 coming on this book to coordinate with Ann Nocenti and build a shared mythology around Katana, Green Arrow and The Outsiders. So Anne had a big part in building the Outsiders mythology as well.
Unfortunately, Katana was cancelled before we got to execute that plan together. So it seemed logical for me to keep to the plan as much as possible and bring that character into Green Arrow. I'd like Katana to have a life of her own beyond this story, but she may not survive the war.
Nrama: Anything you can tease about what's coming in Seattle, now that Diggle has shown up to stop Dragon?
Lemire: Dragon will be assembling a brand new rogues gallery of villains for Green Arrow in the next arc, "Green Arrow Broken," and Diggle will be a big part of that story.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about what's coming up in Green Arrow?
Lemire: Lots of arrows!
Nrama: Now that we've found out the line-up for your new Justice League United comic, how much will the Green Arrow title interact with Justice League United, since Ollie is going to be on that team (and you're writing it)?
Lemire: They won't interact at all. No more than it has with the existing Justice League of America comic. Keeping things pretty separate for now.
Nrama: Anything you can tell us about Ollie's role in that comic?
Lemire: Martian Manhunter will look to Green Arrow to be a leader to a lot of the younger characters in the book. And having been so young and irresponsible himself prior to "The Outsider War" and my other stories, this will be a switch for him. He has to be the adult now with characters likes Stargirl and Supergirl looking to him for leadership.
Nrama: Let's talk about your artist on Green Arrow. Andrea Sorrentino has been doing some fabulous work on this series — and is doing a lot more designing of new characters and clans and such than I think anyone suspected he would on Green Arrow. How has his style and abilities influenced your approach to Green Arrow? Any scene or character you can point toward in particular to illustrate Andrea's affect on the series?
Lemire: All of them. He is a co-storyteller here. He brings so much to the book in terms of design, tone, layout and storytelling. This is truly his world as much as it is mine. I think the entire look of the Outsiders and their clans can be attributed totally to him. The goatee on Robert was my idea though.
Nrama: You've backed away from some of your monthly DC work to make time for the weekly series that's coming up, but you've stuck with Green Arrow thus far. Assuming you've got a clear end-game for this story, can you speak to your hopes for the length of time you'll be on Green Arrow? Is it probably just until you finish this long-form story, or do you have plans beyond that? (Because those of us who love this run are doing a lot of finger-crossing that you and Andrea have plans for 2015, 2016, 2017…)
Lemire: Well, to me, the end of "The Outsider's War" is the end of the first half of the story I'd like to tell. I'll have built his mythology and history, and stripped him down emotionally. Now it's time to build him up again and see what kind of hero emerges from all of this.