The clues were all there. For months now, DCU Executive Editor Dan DiDio has been saying Green Arrow is one of the characters to watch in 2010. And in November, the editor told Newsarama readers that J.T. Krul was the "up-and-coming writer" that fans should keep an eye on for 2010.
It wasn't just talk. As DC announced, the character and the writer are indeed in cahoots, with three new Green Arrow projects that will be written by J.T. Krul for a March 2010 release.
The writer will be picking up story threads from James Robinson's Cry for Justice, which DC claims will see major changes for Red Arrow/Roy Harper and Green Arrow/Oliver Queen. The story in Robinson's Cry has focused on a difference of opinion between Justice League members on the issue of reacting to crime vs. preventing crime.
The new Krul-penned stories will start on March 10th with Justice League: The Rise and Fall Special #1, a 40-page issue that will be co-written with Robinson and drawn by Mike Mayhew. The stand-alone story will bridge the gap between Cry for Justice and the Green Arrow-focused issues that follow.
On March 17th, Krul will take over Green Arrow with Issue #31. Drawn by Diogenes Neves, the issue is solicited as the "destruction of Green Arrow, as Oliver Queen's inner turmoil and guilt overwhelms him," while Hal Jordan, Barry Allen and the rest of the Justice League are hunting him.
Then on March 31st, Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #1 begins a four-issue mini-series that picks up Roy Harper's story as he awakens from a coma after Prometheus brutally attacked him and tore off his arm within the pages of Cry for Justice.
Krul is best known to DC fans for his recent Blackest Night: Titans story, which ended up being a fan-favorite and revealing a few interesting clues about the nature of the Black Lanterns. That story followed years of success with Aspen Comics, where Krul worked on series like Soulfire, Fathom and his upcoming sci-fi series, Mindfield.
Newsarama talked to Krul about his take on the Arrow family and what readers can expect from his upcoming stories about the characters.
Newsarama: J.T., you seem to be doing more and more for DC. Is this something you've been wanting? To kind of break into more mainstream comics? And what do you think finally got their attention?
J.T. Krul: Absolutely, I've been wanting to really break into DC Comics for a long time. I've done a few stories with them over the past few years (JSA Classified, Joker's Asylum: Poison Ivy), but getting the chance to work on the Blackest Night books was really my breakthrough. Obviously, Geoff Johns had a lot to do with me getting that chance. As for getting their attention, it could have been my writing ability or my personality, but it was probably my height. I'm pretty tall and hard to miss at the conventions.
Nrama: How did you hear about the opportunity to write these characters? And what did you think of the ideas DC had for them?
Krul: A couple years ago I actually talked with [DC editors] Eddie [Berganza] and Adam [Schlagman] about Red Arrow. I am a huge Roy Harper fan. That project didn't pan out, but when the plans were being laid for his future, Adam and Dan and I talked about it last summer. I was up for it from the word go. As for Green Arrow, I was already developing the Arsenal story and doing the Black Lantern Green Arrow issue, so it all happened organically from there.
The ideas for what they had in store were a big plus. Roy and Ollie are going through big changes and being able to write important stories that change the status quo are challenging and rewarding. Dan's been teasing about both of them as being characters to watch in 2010 – and he's right.
Nrama: Why did this opportunity appeal to you?
Krul: Everything about it appealed to me. Ollie is one of the pillars of the DCU and like I said, I've always been a fan of Roy. I am naturally drawn to stories that bring a certain introspective nature to the characters as they are forced to deal with situations that challenge them to examine their own souls. These are stories that really matter to Ollie and Roy (as well as the rest of the people in their lives).
Nrama: What's your take on Green Arrow? Who is he and how are you hoping to write this character? And are there any influences on how you're writing him?
Krul: I'm digging into all of Green Arrow in preparation for this story, from the early Grell stuff through the rebirth by Kevin Smith, Brad Meltzer, Judd Winick, and on through the current books. I also liked the way Green Arrow was used in both Identity Crisis and Green Lantern: Rebirth – seeing those events through his eyes. Not to mention the Green Lantern / Green Arrow classics.
For me, Green Arrow is a man of the people. He's all about helping those in need, especially when they are being held down by the powers that be. He's a real anti-establishment guy – even when he was the establishment. But Oliver Queen is a more troubled figure. It seems that as Green Arrow, he's made all the right decisions – he's a true hero. But as Ollie his track record isn't as good. Just look at his complicated history with people like Dinah and Connor.
As a hero, he lives for being out on the streets – it's a calling. A bit like Batman, but instead of looking to punish the wicked, Green Arrow is more focused on pulling people out of the darkness. There will always be people in trouble and he is compelled to be there for them.
Nrama: What's your take on Roy Harper? Who is that character as you see him?
Krul: In some ways, Roy is like Ollie. He's just as dedicated and has his own history with a variety of women, but as a father – he has a greater role and responsibility to play. He is definitely a better father than Ollie ever was. He's always been a bit of a smart-ass, but it works as a defense mechanism to protect himself from getting hurt – emotionally and physically. But Roy has also had his own troubles from his past – as Arsenal and even before he put on a costume. His days as a drug addict; his time as a covert operative. He seems more comfortable crossing over lines Ollie never would in order to serve the greater good.
Nrama: How does Roy differ from Green Arrow? Will those differences play a role in the story you're telling?
Krul: I've touched on this a bit already, but in terms for the Rise of Arsenal and the Fall of Green Arrow, it really is about how they react and respond to the events in Cry for Justice. And absolutely, you're going to see how those differences cause friction between the two.
Nrama: How and where will the characters' stories evolve into this event? What have we already seen that might play a part, and where/what will we see the rest of the prequel to this story?
Krul: All of it spills directly out of Cry For Justice. Once that wraps up, it flows right into the "Rise and Fall" special that feeds right into both stories, as well as JLA. We're trying to make the story as seamless as possible.
Nrama: So have you been working closely with James Robinson? You two both live in L.A., right?
Krul: James is up north now, but we've still been able to talk a lot about what's going on with Green Arrow and the rest of the JLA. I was even lucky enough to attend a DC summit to discuss all the plans being put into motion for our books. It was a tremendous opportunity and a great way for the stories to get even better by allowing us time to come together.
Nrama: What can you tell us about the projects – the logistics of how they're going to play out next year? You have a one-shot, a mini and a storyline in the main title, right? Do they all play off each other? Do they deal with the same conflicts or tie-in together?
Krul: March is the big kick-off. The first part is the "Rise and Fall" special, followed by Green Arrow #31 the week after, then Rise of Arsenal #1 the week after that, and capped off by Justice League after that. Once they premiere, the stories run in a parallel fashion, and there are definitely areas that overlap. It's one of the aspects I'm looking forward to the most, being able to play out the same scene from two different points of view.
Nrama: How big of a role will other JLA characters play? Can you share any of the specific characters who will be an important to the story?
Krul: Early on, the JLA will play an important role in both stories, and those closest to Ollie and Roy will have big moments throughout the story. For Ollie that means his best friend – Hal Jordan. And for Roy, that means his old friend Dick Grayson, another former sidekick who is adjusting to a new role – Batman.
Nrama: Will Black Canary be playing a role? How does her story fit with this event?
Krul: It would be impossible to tell a big Green Arrow story (or Roy Harper story for that matter) without Dinah. She is a major part of the lives of Ollie and Roy and will be featured prominently in both stories. She's a very strong female character, but she's going to be tested more than ever before by what is happening to Ollie and Roy. These are the two men that mean the most to her. She's always stuck by their sides when it mattered most – the only question is will she be able to do the same this time around?
Nrama: Will other Green Arrow characters play a part? Will this affect the rest of their universe? Or is it mostly a Justice League story?
Krul: Actually, it touches on both. In terms of the JLA and the DCU in general, the events of Cry For Justice will touch upon everyone in a way. But this is ultimately a Green Arrow story – so it will involve those in his universe to a greater extent. We wanted to use this opportunity to re-establish Ollie as a centerpiece in his universe. Sure, there is something of an "Archer Family," but Green Arrow is a major player in the DCU and his journey will dominate the book.
Nrama: What else can you tell us about the story you'll be telling about Ollie and Roy?
Krul: I don't really want to give too much away. It's going to be a very personal story for each of them – digging deep into what makes them the man that they are. And forcing them to acknowledge their own mistakes and failures in the present and the past. It's time for Ollie and Roy to take a long look in the mirror and decide who they are going to be.
Nrama: Does your involvement in the DCU mean we'll be seeing less of your work with Aspen characters? Will the concepts you've developed for Aspen still continue?
Krul: DC is keeping me very busy and I am excited about the opportunities there, but it will not affect my work with Aspen. In fact, as big of a year as 2010 is going to be for me at DC, it's going to be just as big at Aspen. Soulfire Volume Two will be continuing along, and we're looking to launch the fourth volume of Fathom next fall.
But the biggest Aspen news for me is that my first creator-owned book will be premiering in April through Aspen. It's called Mindfield, and it centers on a team of telepathic CIA operatives who function as a kind of thought police combating domestic terrorism. It's unlike anything I've done before and it's looking amazing. Alex Konat is handling the art, and he's doing some incredible stuff.
Nrama: Dan DiDio mentioned that you were a writer to watch in 2010. Obviously, you're playing a big part in the future of the Justice League and the Green Arrow characters, but will we see you involved in other DC projects in 2010? Is there anything you can tell us about them?
Krul: I am thrilled to be playing a part in a big storyline for DC in 2010, and hope that it leads to even more projects with them. From the beginning, working with them has been simply awesome and there are a lot of characters in the DCU that I would love to get my hands on. But for now, I'm throwing all my energy (and then some) into making Green Arrow and the Rise of Arsenal the very best they can be.