ANN NOCENTI Plans For a More Pointed Ollie in GREEN ARROW



As Ann Nocenti takes over Green Arrow for DC Comics, she's using a description of title character Oliver Queen.

"He's an arrow."

Rather fitting, no? Like an arrow, he shoots off in a direction and finds his mark, because he has a good moral compass.

For Nocenti, the gig on Green Arrow begins in March with issue #7, returning her to comics after a hiatus since her acclaimed run on Daredevil for Marvel Comics.

For Green Arrow, the writer's introduction to fans at New York Comic Con in October included her promise to bring new villains to Green Arrow.

Because Nocenti is best known for bring the popular villain Typhoid Mary to Daredevil, she said her first Green Arrow villain would be "Typhoid Mary-class."

Now that solicitations have been released, fans have found out that new female villain is called "Skylark." And she's actually three individuals, although Nocenti told us that's not the way she starts out.

The first issue by Nocenti also introduces a new artist to the book, Harvey Tolibao, who's known for his work at Marvel but recently got the attention of DC readers with his art on Green Lantern: New Guardians.

As Nocenti's plans for Green Arrow take aim for March, Newsarama spoke to the writer to find out more about what's coming.

Newsarama: Now that you've started writing the first few issues of your upcoming run, what have you landed upon as far as the way you'd describe Oliver Queen? As you take over, who is he?

Ann Nocenti: The main thing you'll see with Green Arrow is fun. I want Green Arrow to have fun. I don't want him to be a tortured hero. I mean, I've written plenty of tortured heroes, like Daredevil. But it's all there in Daredevil's origin as to why he'd be a tortured adult. Green Arrow doesn't have that kind of origin. In fact, he's such a clean slate that he doesn't even have an origin anymore. The whole idea of restarting him young was to do a clean slate.

I am not going into Green Arrow's past to find something that will torture him. He's a happy guy. He's going to have fun.

However, there's obviously pathos behind that. I mean, I don't have any plans to give him anything blatant, any pathos. But it's implied.

I'm one of those people who believes you are what you do. And his actions will show who he is.

One of the descriptions I'm using is: He's an arrow.

Nrama: He's an "arrow?" What does that mean?

Nocenti: He shoots off in a direction and he finds his target. His aim is true. He's got a good moral compass. And that's one of the big things I think about when I'm doing a story. He's an arrow. Somehow his aim is true. And that's my guide.

Nrama: It's interesting that you use the terminology "shoots off." I think that's always been part of the character's personality, to kind of "shoot off." But how do you think it fits him now?

Nocenti: Well, that part of the description is because he's single, and he doesn't owe anything to anyone. So far, he doesn't have a team, so he doesn't have any obligations to a team. He doesn't have a family; he's single. He's a billionaire.

I think a lot of his initial actions are going to be informed by that, the fact that he can be incredibly reckless and follow some adventure without having to really worry about having any responsibilities.

The way the book before me was set up, only two people even know that Oliver Queen in Green Arrow. And they work with him: One of them is his weapons guy and the other is his technology expert. But besides that, nobody really knows anything about him, at this point.

Nrama: Since he's kind of new at this, is he still trying to figure what he's doing as a superhero?

Nocenti: They wiped the slate clean. He's been around for 40 or 50 years, and he's been played as a very right wing guy, and he's been played as a very left wing guy, he's been played as a young guy and even an older wise man. But they've restarted him now at 24 years old, and there's nothing known about him right now. He's a clean slate.

So yes, he's a 24-year-old who doesn't really know who he is yet. And I'm trying to have his actions be informed by who he is.

Nrama: Is that why he decided to travel and be an international hero? Is he traveling as he searches for who he is and his role?

Nocenti: Yeah! I see him as very restless. I don't see him as the kind of guy, yet anyway, who is going to stick to a routine. He's not going to go into an office every day. He's not going to be looking to get married and have kids. He's going to be a bit wild.

The other thing is that he doesn't have any powers. So when there's a hero that doesn't have powers, it has to come from someplace else, which I think is better. It has to come from someplace within. It's not because he has some kind of crazy power like a mutant.

Nrama: So are you saying that since he's not a hero because of an external strength, he's a hero because of an internal strength?

Nocenti: Yeah. It's like the Spider-Man trope that with great power comes great responsibility. If you're a mutant, you're exiled and you have to cling together with other mutants to fight for the oppressed. If you're powerful, you have to do something good with your power.

But Green Arrow is just a regular guy. So why is he flinging himself into danger when he has nothing, really, to back it up other than a skill at shooting arrows?

Nrama: Are you answering that question in the book?

Nocenti: I think we're answering that through his actions. But I don't want it to be too heavy. What I want to do, more than anything, is to have fun on this book.

Because we're starting with a clean slate and a young version of Green Arrow, I want him to have fun. I want him to have a childhood, in a weird way. You know what I mean? I want him to have his youth.

Nrama: As part of being a hero and this inner strength he possesses, does he have a heart for the downtrodden? Is there at least a beginning of the slightly left-wing persona we've come to know in Green Arrow?

Nocenti: Not yet, but I want that to come. I don't want him to suddenly be that way because I think it needs some time and experience to back it up, you know? I have friends in their 20's who are reacting to this new "Occupy Wall Street" movement, and they're extremely passionate suddenly about politics. And they go to these foreclosure events in neighborhoods where people are losing their homes. And there's a useful passion with wanting to help the downtrodden. But I don't get the sense that these friends in their 20's who are doing this even know why they're doing it.

Nrama: Is Oliver that type of passionate 20-year-old? Or is he a little different from that mentality?

Nocenti: He's got that type of passion in his generation, but he's in a different situation and is coming at it from a different angle. He represents the money! He represents the billionaire side. And he represents the technology side of it all.

So right now, because of the money, he has the playboy qualities. But he also has a technology company, so like anyone who runs a technology company, he's going to be doing things that he thinks will help social networking and social media, but also helps the kind of stuff that accidentally helps the Arab Spring and all these revolutions.

I'm only a few issues in, so the exploration of all these things is still a few issues away.

Right now, my main thing really is that I want to have fun, I want Green Arrow to have fun, I want the readers to have fun.

The first three issues is really just straight-up adventure.

By the third part of that story, he starts noticing some problems in the world, and it draws his attention accidentally into trying to correct situations.

I think what I want to do is have each trilogy (or each three issues) somewhat play with genre. The first three issues that open the run is adventure, but the one that follows that will be a noir thriller.

Nrama: What's your style? Do you have a lot of narration as he goes through his adventure? Or is this more straightforward actions and dialogue?

Nocenti: I think people are revealed through their actions, so I don't have him many thought balloons or captions. I don't have him talking about himself at all. The only indications you have about who he is is what he does. And he's very active. He's very impulsive.

I know my predecessors have written a Green Arrow who has a lot of thoughts about social justice, but that was a more evolved, older, wiser Green Arrow.

I'm putting the seeds of something like that, but right now, he's younger and in a different place.

Nrama: When you were first announced as the new writer on Green Arrow, DC made it clear that they wanted you to bring the type of new female villain you were so successful at introducing on Daredevil. Does that begin right away in Issue #7?

Nocenti: It does! I wanted to give him a complex female villain.

Nrama: Why female in particular?

Nocenti: I see his Achilles heels would be women, as it is for any healthy, testosterone, burgeoning 24-year-old. He's got a lot of money, he doesn't really know what to do with it, he likes technology, he's fooling around... I mean, he's like one of those early Internet kids, before the bubble burst. He's very impulsive. He's got that kind of enthusiasm for the possibilities of life. There's nothing pragmatic or responsible about him. He's not thinking about his future of his legacy in terms of getting married. He's not building a careful life. He's following his impulses because he can; he's rich. And so I do think women would be a vulnerability of his.

Nrama: The first villain is called "Skylark," and it's actually three "drop-dead gorgeous" women. Is that because of this vulnerability he has for women? You threw three of them at him at once?

Nocenti: Not really. It could have been one. But there are reasons in the surprises of the story for the "three" women. It's a straight-up adventure story, and you'll have to read it to see why I chose three.

At first, they're not three individuals. It's very hard to explain, because I want people to be surprised by the story.

Nrama: Have you started working with Harvey Tolibao?

Nocenti: Yes, and he's super talented. He lives in the Philippines, so that makes communication a little difficult, and I was worried about him when they were hit by that typhoon.

But what I'm trying to do is tell the stories to his strengths.

Nrama: What are his strengths?

Nocenti: He has a great sense of action. And he really focuses on the physical movement of a story. He's influencing me in that he clearly loves fight scenes more than anything. Whatever artist you work with doesn't completely change the story you tell, but it influences how you tell them. The artist has to have fun, and you want them to be enjoying it. And you want what they do well so that it makes the story better. And it's obvious that he loves to draw bodies in motion.

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