Everyone has to fight their own demons sometimes. But when that fight occurs in a comic book, things can get a little crazy.
In Green Arrow, the ongoing comic written by J.T. Krul, Oliver Queen is not only facing his own inner demons, but the hero's currently encountering a literal forest of darkness.
"This theme of internal demons is rampant throughout the book, as it's such a big part of who Oliver Queen is," Krul said. "More than any other character in the DC Universe perhaps, Oliver is saddled with more guilt and misgivings about things he's done in the past. As Green Arrow, he's quite the hero, but Oliver Queen has a rather poor track record."
The comic, which is drawn by Digoenes Neves, launched last year after Green Arrow himself went through drastic changes and was saddled with guilt. Since then, much of the new creative team's run has been defined by events tied into Brightest Day, including the appearance of a forest in the middle of Green Arrow's Star City.
According to Krul, the depths of the forest echo Ollie's own feelings of failure and provide a metaphorical setting for his battle with them.
"The forest came across at the perfect time for Oliver Queen. Following the events of Cry For Justice and The Fall of Green Arrow, the Emerald Archer was definitely at a low point in his life — outlaw status, self-exile from those closest to him, separated from Dinah," Krul said. "The forest has provided an environment for Green Arrow to re-discover his worth.
"That's really what this entire 'Brightest Day' run is about for Green Arrow. He's come to view himself in a very negative light — fixating on his mistakes, failures, and flaws. He needed a chance to remember the good he does as Green Arrow as realize that we all deserve a second chance," the writer said. "Being in the forest, Green Arrow is able to really analyze his station in life — who he is, where he is, and where he wants to be."
During Krul's run on the book, several new characters have appeared, including Galahad, who believes he was a knight of King Arthur's court. Other characters have guest starred, from Martian Manhunter to Phantom Stranger, who shared an ominous prediction.The last two issues also featured the DC character Jason Blood, but he was separated from Etrigan, the demon that has plagued him for centuries. Krul said that "separation from the demon" mirrored Ollie's current turmoil. "In many ways, the forest is a place that allows one to confront their own demons. I say 'allow' as opposed to 'force,' because sometimes we need to face the music, look at ourselves in that mirror, acknowledge what we've done, and figure out what happens now," Krul said. "The same can be said for Martian Manhunter, Galahad, and Jason Blood."
Krul said that even Galahad's character represents an aspect of Oliver's journey. "Galahad exists as a kind of clean slate for Ollie to see," Krul said. "Is he an actual knight or is he a crazy person? It doesn't matter. What Ollie witnesses are Galahad's actions — that's what defines him. There's no baggage or issues or drama. It's not about what's going on inside his head; it's about what he does."While the forest has served as an important part of Ollie's life, his relationship with it will be different now that he's had to battle against it. "The revelation at the end of issue #10 changes the way Green Arrow sees the forest. He thought it was protecting him, but also bringing some tough love, but now he knows there is a dark heart at the core of the forest," Krul said. "The White Lantern Tree might be a source of light, but everything else around it is poisoned and corrupted."
But Brightest Day wraps up soon, and Krul said this month's Green Arrow #11 will conclude many of the threads that have been woven through the comic during its tie-in story to the bi-weekly."As we reach the climatic moment of Brightest Day, the book carries a real 'End of Days' feel to it, just as the Phantom Stranger alluded to earlier on in the book," Krul said. "There is a great threat to all life, and its heart is deep within the forest."
Krul, who's also writing one of DC's Flashpoint mini-series for this summer, wouldn't address how the event would affect Green Arrow. Nor would he talk more about "Black Arrow," the name he recently dropped at a convention of a foe for Green Arrow. But he did address what comes after Brightest Day: Renewal."The entire run of this 'Brightest Day' arc in Green Arrow has been something of a rebirth story. Maybe not in the same sense as we saw in Green Lantern, but it's definitely a story about Oliver Queen trying to reclaim that heroic self-image," Krul said. "No matter what he does or who he helps, how can anyone else see him as a hero if he doesn't believe it in his heart?
"With the end of Brightest Day, Green Arrow will face his darkest moment, when even being the best hero he can might not be enough," the writer said. "But like Galahad said earlier on, a hero is not defined by the victories on the battlefield, but rather by the heart and strength with which he answers the call to duty. And Green Arrow is never one to back down form a fight — no matter the odds."