Starting with issue 17, “Green Arrow” gets a new creative team with “Animal Man” writer Jeff Lemire and “I, Vampire” artist Andrea Sorrentino. Oliver Queen has had many different masters since the start of DC’s New 52 initiative and Lemire and Sorrentino are starting fresh by adding a hardy layer of grit and grime to the series. I spoke with Lemire over the phone about creating a noir version of “Green Arrow,” what made him interested in this unlikely character for the frequently supernatural writer, and whether or not we’ll be seeing Ollie’s trusty boxing glove arrows in the new arc.
MTV Geek: Green Arrow is not exactly the first character that springs to mind for readers who are familiar with your stuff. How do you feel about that?
Jeff Lemire: That’s kind of why I was interested in doing a book like this. Up to this point wirth “Animal Man” and “Frankenstein” and “Justice League Dark” I’ve mostly done horror books, in the DC Universe. I really wanted to step outside of that and try to do something that was a little more grounded in the center of the DC Universe, just to flex some different muscles and tell some different kind of stories and at the same time I felt that Green Arrow specifically was a pretty good choice for me because the take I wanted to do on him was sort of a darker crime noir superhero story which is something that I’ve wanted to take a crack at. Also, I think there are some things about the character himself that really appeal to him, primarily his politics; his traditional left wing, loud mouth politics is something I really enjoy and I’m going to enjoy writing.
Geek: You said you want to take this into a more crime noir direction, but also into a more traditional superhero area, can you more in depth into what you mean by that?
JL: Green Arrow, the character in issue 17 is this guy, borin into privilege, born into wealth and pretty much has had anything he ever wanted handed to him. What we’re going to see in issue 17 is the collapse of all of that. A new character called Komodo is going to arrive in Seattle – where Green Arrow operates – and basically dismantle both Green Arrow’s life and Oliver Queen’s life both systemically and very quickly, and as a result Ollie is going to find himself literally at street level with nothing, with no one backing him up and he’s going to have to fight his way back up to figure out what’s going on and reclaim his legacy that his father has left him. That’s the basic set of the issue. When I talk about a crime noir superhero story what I have in mind were things that are in line with Frank Miller’s “Daredevil” stuff or the Mike Grell “Green Arrow” from the 80’s and even Bendis’ “Daredevil” from the early part of the 2000’s with Alex Maleev. Those kinds of stories which were much more gritty and grounded din reality, much more of a street-level character. So we have all that going on but at the same time Green Arrow is a marquee DC character and he’s a member of Geoff Johns “Justice League of America” which launches the same month so, while I’ll have my own unique voice and take on him, he’ll always have one foot grounded in the larger DC Universe and the larger goings-on.
Geek: So we won’t be seeing any trick arrows, no boxing glove arrows or anything?
JL: [Laughs] There will be trick arrows but I’m trying to keep it somewhat more grounded in reality, so they’re more high tech gimmicky gizmos rather than boxing gloves and whatever, the kind of silly Silver Age stuff.
Geek: You mentioned “Justice League of America,” which Green Arrow is a character in, how involved if at all with that, are you tying it into what Geoff Johns is doing over there?
JL: Not specifically, Geoff and I we collaborate a lot. We share scripts and I think for both of us what’s important is we’re allowed to tell the story we want to tell with these characters and not be too hindered by what each other is doing so what was important for us is that we’re writing the same character, that we’re consistent with who he is and what his motivations are, and then beyond that, our actual storylines and plotlines will be separate and free from being forced to crossover and be hindered in any kind of negative way. Beyond that, there won’t be any literal crossovers any time soon.
Geek: Also, Green Arrow is a spotlight right now due to the TV show which is ding really well, does that impact you at all?
JL: It doesn’t impact the way I write the character or anything I distinctly do in the book but it’s nice timing for me just from a commercial point of view. The more people who are aware of the character and he more eyes that are on the book the better for me. I’m not beholden to anything they’re doing on the show and I’m not having to make the book more like the TV show or follow any storylines or anything of that sort.
Geek: There’s been a lot of creative changes on this book, are you taking this as clean slate?
JL: Yeah, I’m trying to write issue 17 to be totally accessible as a first issue really. But at the same time I had to go through the first 16 issues of the series and make sure things that were established about the character and his world continue to a certain degree so it wasn’t just a complete reboot again. What you’ll see in 17 is a little bit of a mix of me tying up loose ends in a way that makes it reader friendly for new readers and adding my own new spin on things, and running from there.
Geek: You also mentioned Komodo, who is a new character that you’e introducing, can you tell us at all about him?
JL: It’s kind of tough to tell much about him without spoiling thing that are coming in both 17 and 18, there is a lot of mystery surrounding the character when he first appears, so beyond the fact that he’s another archer and seems to know a lot about Oliver’s past, maybe even more than Oliver knows, there’s much to tell. There is a connection between Komodo and Oliver’s father Robert Queen, which I’ll be building upon as well.
Geek: Let’s talk about Andrea Sorrentino, he takes a more horror-oriented approach to art, as you have with your writing, is that influence going to pop up in “Green Arrow” because of what you guys typically do?
JL: No, I don’t think so. I think the reason you think of horror when you think of Andrea’s art is because most of what you’ve seen from him in the past is “I, Vampire” which is a horror book. But, I think people will be surprised, he’s actually pretty versatile and he’s really embraced the characters. His art, to me, I don’t think of horror I think more of gritty photo-realistic stuff, which for me is exactly the kind of tone that I want for this book. And he uses a lot of black and a lot of shadow, which is really kind of great noir art for this.
Geek: Thanks, Jeff!
JL: Thank you.
“Green Arrow” #17 is on shelves February 6, 2013.