Writer Benjamin Percy is bringing together Roy Harper and Oliver Queen in a new storyline that he says "mines the history" of DC's legendary "Snowbirds Don't Fly" storyline and gives the two characters a "'Year One' approach."
In the first nine months of his new Green Arrow title, Percy has been turning Oliver Queen's life upside down while also re-establishing some of his pre-Flashpoint relationships.
That includes Roy Harper, who - after this week's Green Arrow #17 - will co-star in the book with Ollie for a storyline called "Reunion."
Newsarama talked to Percy about how he's been reincorporating classic elements into Oliver's life, and how he's going to be approaching the present - and past - of Roy Harper and Oliver Queen.
Newsarama: Ben, with the end of the current storyline in this week's Green Arrow #17, how would you describe what you've been doing since launching the "Rebirth" title, and how does it set up what's coming next with the Arsenal reunion?
Benjamin Percy: Since the very beginning, I wanted to cast him out of his ivory tower and build up the Robin Hood mythology.
So part of that was stripping away his fortune and his ties to Queen Industries. That created a vacuum, and into that came all sorts of other possibilities. In many ways, him losing his fortune is the best possible thing that ever happened to him.
Nrama: It strengthened a lot of his relationships, which you've also developed over the first few story arcs.
Percy: Yes! He has Black Canary, and he has a more honest relationship with Emiko, his half-sister, and he has Tom Diggle in his life.
And he has Henry Fyff, and that relationship is going to be going completely bonkers. I don't want Henry to remain on the margins for too long. He needs a showcase moment.
And then there's Roy Harper.
Nrama: Did you feel like the development of these relationships was part of the "Rebirth" mission - to highlight the "core" of the character?
Percy: Yes, and if you think about what makes Green Arrow great - and that's the very question that Geoff Johns asked me in January 2016. I flew out to Burbank and went to the DC mothership. We went to that room with the white board on it and Geoff closed the door, and that's what he asked me. He said, "What makes Green Arrow great? What are the greatest elements of the Green Arrow mythology?"
We put up everything and anything on that board - we put up the goatee, we put up the romance with Black Canary, we put up Roy Harper.
But it's a slow burn. We can't cram all these things right away. We have to stagger them out, all these classic elements we want to re-incorporate into the Green Arrow series.
Nrama: Starting with Green Arrow #18, you're reuniting Ollie with Roy Harper. It sounds like, if Roy was on that white board, you've been planning this reunion since the beginning?
Percy: Yeah, it's been planned since day one. It's going to play out in a really exciting way here. If you think about the most famous Roy Harper storyline, it's probably "Snowbirds Don't Fly." You know, the one by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams.
So we're going to mine that history, those classic elements, but reinvent them for this contemporary era of storytelling.
Nrama: So you're retelling a story from their early time together?
Percy: Yeah, it's almost like a Green Arrow/Roy Harper: Year One approach.
Nrama: And you've revamped it for the "Rebirth" era?
Percy: Yeah, it's a classic "Rebirth" move where you're tipping your hat to history, you're channeling legacy, but you're creating a new foundation of storytelling for this next generation of readers.
Nrama: So is there a flashback? How are you approaching the story and revamping those elements from the "Snowbirds Don't Fly" story?
Percy: What we tried to do was echo back to how I treated Emiko's story in issue #7 and #8. In those issues, there was this interlude involving Emiko and Oliver Queen, and we flashed back in time as they encountered the Clock King while also dealing with what was happening with Emiko in the present.
There's a similar structure going on with Roy Harper as we tell this story.
So we have him as a teenager, as Oliver Queen's ward, and then we are tracking what's happening in the dramatic present as well.
Nrama: So the teenager part of the story is what harkens back to past continuity? And the present story is a new story?
Percy: Yeah, the present storyline has to do with a pipeline that's being built by Queen Industries through the Spokane Indian Reservation. It's an artery that travels from the Bakkan oil formation in North Dakota, all the way to a Seattle refinery.
Nrama: I hear politics in here somewhere...
Percy: Green Arrow is a political series, and I'm channeling news, ripped from the headlines. So yeah, you'll see some parallels to the Dakota Access protests. And you'll also see some parallels to the militia takeover of the Malheur Reserve in Oregon.
Nrama: Are Roy and Ollie at odds in this story? We can guess the general idea behind the flashback, if it's inspired by "Snowbirds Don't Fly," but is the present-day a team-up?
Percy: I'll just say there's a parallelism between the past and the present. In the past, they are brought together and driven apart. In the present, they begin apart and at odds, but then are slowly able to bridge that gap and overcome their differences.