In the ruins of Star City, grows a mysterious emerald forest -- and in those tangled woods, there may lie a second chance for Green Arrow. With his city destroyed and his granddaughter killed in Cry for Justice, the Emerald Archer took matters into his own hands and murdered the man responsible. The consequences were enormous, as he lost both his secret identity, his wife Black Canary, and ultimately the right even to remain in Star City.
But the most dangerous kind of man is one with nothing to lose -- a struggle that readers will see in the newly relaunched Green Arrow #1, coming out this June from writer J.T. Krul and artist Diogenes Neves. Newsarama caught up with Krul to talk about Ollie's new status quo, the mysteries of the forest, and just what it means to be Star City's "outlaw for the people."Newsarama: J.T., you're shepherding Oliver Queen through some pretty rough points, and we have to ask -- what makes this the right time for a new #1 issue? How do you plan on setting up a clean break from the other volumes that have come before?
J.T. Krul: This is actually the perfect time for a new #1. Initially we thought about doing it for the Fall of Green Arrow storyline, but we realized that the "Fall" story was the journey of moving Oliver into this new direction -- for the relaunch, we are in that new direction. In many ways, it's about tearing down his life to the iconic core of who Green Arrow is. Don't get me wrong, I love the Arrow family -- from Dinah and Connor to Roy and Mia, but we felt like Ollie was getting a bit lost in his own book. With the relaunch, we are focusing entirely on Green Arrow and establishing that iconic role as outlaw for the people. In the end of the "Fall," we see that Oliver is alone again and essentially banished from Star City, but that's not going to stop him from doing what he does best.
Nrama: It's interesting to see where Green Arrow and his family have ended up in the last month or so, only because it feels like he's gone full circle to where he was at before his resurrection by Kevin Smith -- he was a flamboyant superhero, then a social activist, and finally moving back to the sort of dark place that he was at during Mike Grell's Longbow Hunters and thereafter. For you, what do you find to be the appeal of Ollie as a character, and where he is now in his life?
Krul: For me, the ultimate appeal of Oliver Queen is that activist outlaw status -- fighting crime and corruption and tyranny in all its forms. Plus, he has a knack for being very flawed when it comes to his personal life. He's a hard man to like at times, but you like him anyway. Essentially, right now we are trying to emulate the Robin Hood mythos.
Nrama: In Brightest Day, we saw what was next for Star City -- an overgrown forest out of the ruins of Green Arrow's hometown. For you, can you tell us anything about what we might see about this new Sherwood Forest? What sorts of opportunities does this new status quo open for Ollie, and for you?
Krul: See, I told you we were emulating Robin Hood. The greatest part about the forest in Star City is that it has a two-fold effect on Green Arrow. First and foremost, it reinforces that Robin Hood vibe, and gives Ollie a place to call his own as he plays the part of a true outcast. It's not like Batman, where he is embraced by the authorities. Green Arrow is considered a threat by the powers that be, but the general citizenry knows he is on their side. On a completely other level, the forest plays into the whole mystery behind Brightest Day. The forest is strange and mysterious and not just because of its origins. It's something we'll see played out over the course of the first year of the new Green Arrow. Plus, the forest really helps set Star City apart from other cities in the DCU -- it gives it its own unique identity.
Nrama: With Ollie being exonerated for the murder of Prometheus, what's the status quo for Green Arrow in terms of his standing in the DC Universe? Are the villains scared of this guy, or are they gunning for the hero who crossed the line? Or I guess another way to ask -- will there be further consequences down the road for Ollie crossing the line?
Krul: The murder of Prometheus is something that will haunt Ollie forever, and no doubt it will make villains think twice when going up against him. And while it definitely rocked the boat in terms of his relationship with the Justice League, much of the fallout we've already seen. After all, he did lose his wife over it.
Nrama: How about Ollie's state of mind? It seems like there's been this consistent theme of guilt and dodging responsibility -- but Ollie has been through a lot recently, with his identity exposed, his city destroyed and even been left by his wife, Black Canary. And yet he seemed to be completely stoic about it... so where is he at, mentally? Is this a burden Ollie will be able to carry, or is he closer to the edge than even he knows?
Krul: The reason he seemed so stoic about her leaving is because he knew what would happen the minute he lied to her. You see, for Dinah it was less about the fact that Ollie killed Prometheus. She could understand that. Hell, we all could. It was the lying, the cover-up, the betrayal of trust. That's what she couldn't stand because it was all part of a pattern. She'd had enough.
As for Ollie, sure guilt is a constant theme for him, but as we move forward he's embracing new destiny if you will. He knows he can't really be Oliver Queen and Green Arrow. He can't do what he does and have a "normal" life. That’s not to say he'll be completely alone. He'll have people around him in Star City -- and a lot of new people. Some standing with him and some standing against him.
Nrama: Let's talk a bit about the supporting characters as well -- with the latest issue of the Rise of Arsenal, you're treading into some pretty heavy waters, with his addiction to painkillers. First and foremost, how heavy a role will he be playing in this new era for Green Arrow? For you, how do you walk that line to do justice with the character and his problems without trivializing or minimizing subject matter like addiction?
Krul: That's exactly my goal with Roy's story -- to treat the subject matter with the care and depth it needs. I've been saying all along that whereas Blackest Night was a story about making death mean something again in the DCU, then the Rise of Arsenal is about making loss mean something again. This is not a fix my arm, bury my daughter, and move on type of story. It is a heavy story in every aspect as Roy is traveling along some rather dark paths. In terms of Green Arrow, he'll definitely play a crucial role in the miniseries as Roy battles his demons -- be they external or internal.
Nrama: Now, perhaps we're reading too deeply into the solicits here -- but there's this question of "who carries the heavy bow of the Emerald Archer?" Are you having someone else take on the Green Arrow identity while Ollie is now persona non grata for the authorities? Will any of his proteges be stepping up, as heroes and villains alike search the forests of Star City?
Krul: Nope. It's Oliver Queen. He is the Green Arrow. Again, it's a conscious effort to establish the iconic nature of the character. As for friends searching through the forest, Hal Jordan plays a big part in Issue #2. I was thrilled to be able to write them together some more - they are great friends with rich history together.
Nrama: How about your colleague, Diogenes Neves? You've been working with him for a little while now, on issues like Black Lantern Green Arrow -- how has the back-and-forth been evolving for you two? What do you feel he adds to the finished project?
Krul: Dio adds everything, and that's not hyperbole. His Green Arrow is tough and gritty, yet very human. I've been loving every page I see from the new series. He did an amazing job in the Black Lantern Green Arrow special. Adam Schlagman and I only needed to see one page before we knew we wanted to lock him down for the series. He's bringing all that to the new series, but in addition I've been especially impressed with his backgrounds in the new book - from the forest, to Star City, to the secondary characters -- it all looks incredible. He's a superstar in the making and I hope we can work together on Green Arrow for a long time.
Nrama: Finally, to wrap things up -- for those who might still not be convinced about this brand new world for Green Arrow, what would you tell them to get them reading? Any fun moments you can tease that you can't wait to see hit print?
Krul: Well, personally, I think the cover for #1 says it best, but let me give it a shot -- We've got Green Arrow as an outlaw. We've got a mysterious forest with plenty of secrets that tie directly into Brightest Day, and we'll be seeing a new threat emerging right away. Hal Jordan shows up in the second issue and once you see the cover to Issue #3, you'll be hooked for sure. It's going to be crazy.