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Krul Intentions: J.T. Takes Aim on Green Arrow

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It's been a bleak few months for the Green Arrow family of characters after the brutal events depicted in Justice League: Cry for Justice. In the pages of that book the super-villain Prometheus cost Roy Harper/Red Arrow his arm before destroying much of Star City, killing Roy's daughter and Oliver Queen's "granddaughter" Lian in the process. These actions led to a spiralling series of events which culminated in Ollie's execution of Prometheus and subsequent estrangement from his wife Black Canary, sons Arsenal and Connor Hawke and surrogate daughter Speedy.

Now an outlaw in his home city, Green Arrow has taken residence in the mysterious, mystical forest that grew from the power of the White Lantern in the pages of Brightest Day. Broken Frontier took a woodland walk with Green Arrow writer J.T. Krul to chat about the new ongoing series, Oliver Queen's current status quo and what's in store for the GA cast in the coming months...

BROKEN FRONTIER: Oliver Queen is a curious mix of often very contradictory parts: the one-time playboy millionaire turned social conscience of the DCU who, despite his status as liberal poster boy of the super-hero set, has certainly employed some extremely illiberal/lethal solutions to situations over the years. What, for you, makes Green Arrow tick and how easy was it getting into the mindset of such a complex character?

J.T. KRUL: What makes Green Arrow tick? Well, it's no surprise given my first issue that I see a lot of the Robin Hood motif in him. He's a man of privilege, removed from his wealth (partially of his own devices), and driven to defend the mistreated and abused sections of society - those less fortunate souls who struggle at the mercy of the tyrannical and the corrupt.

I've actually gotten quite comfortable with writing Ollie. I guess I'm going on my tenth issue writing him - so I'd hope it was getting easier. He's a regular guy in many ways, gets frustrated with business as usual and the shortcomings of those in charge. I think we can all find some commonality there in our world today, no matter what end of the political spectrum you are on.

BF: Through “The Fall of Green Arrow” and “The Rise of Arsenal” the Green Arrow Family’s lives have been taken apart and spun off into new directions. In Ollie’s case he has essentially lost everything he has ever cared about. For those readers who may be considering the new Green Arrow ongoing series as a jumping on point how would you sum up the current status quo of Oliver Queen?

JTK: Oliver Queen is a man without a country...or in this case, a city. He's an outlaw in the very city he's driven to protect. While the powers that be in Star City hunt after him, he does for the needy what nobody else seems prepared to do.

BF: Your predecessor (on Green Arrow/Black Canary) Andrew Kreisberg began the plotline that saw Ollie's behavior become more violent and erratic, perhaps most noticeably when he brutally tortured Count Vertigo for information in GA/BC #20. The culmination of this was, of course, his execution of Prometheus in Justice League: Cry for Justice #7. Are Ollie's experiences since then likely to moderate his methods or can we expect to see him continuing this more extreme approach to crimefighting?

JTK: That was something at the core of the "Fall of Green Arrow" storyline. He crossed that line in a way he hadn't before. While he has killed in the past, the motivation and the execution-style manner in which it was carried out was something new for Ollie. In the end, he realized the errors of his ways, the futility in going to such extremes. This isn't to say that he'll be relying solely on boxing-glove arrows from now on, but Green Arrow is not some sadistic vigilante out for blood. He does what is needed to get the job done - and let's face it, his weapons are arrows. They are sharp.

                    

Mauro Cascioli's cover art for Green Arrow #1 and the upcoming second and fourth issues of the book. Above right - cover art for GA #3.   

BF: The Green Arrow Family are probably more integrated into the broader DCU now than they have ever been. Events in their lives are criss-crossing in  and out of a host of other books - Justice League: Cry for Justice, Black Canary in Birds of Prey, Brightest Day, Cheshire/Roy in Titans... How closely are all the various creative teams collaborating and how big an operation is it co-ordinating the characters between all the books?

JTK: As a whole, DC is extremely focused on managing that communication between the books, whether it's from the editorial side or the writing side. I had many a discussion with James Robinson as I went into "The Rise and Fall" story, and have talked with Gail Simone and Eric Wallace over at Titans as Roy prepares to step into that corner of the world. It only serves to make the stories and the entire DCU stronger by making sure everyone is up to speed with regard to the other books that directly or even indirectly connect.

BF: One of the big draws of the new Green Arrow is its ties to the overarching Brightest Day storyline. In Brightest Day #0 the White Lantern power was responsible for transforming the devastated areas of Star City into a forest environment from which Ollie will be operating. Without giving too much away how integral a part of Brightest Day is Green Arrow going to be? Recent solicitations revealed a Martian Manhunter guest-shot in Green Arrow #4 for a start…

JTK: The Brightest Day element is going to play a rather large part in these opening arcs of the new Green Arrow. Yes, Martian Manhunter is coming to Star City, and Hal Jordan is already appearing in issue #2. There is going to be an ebb and flow between the Brightest Day element of Green Arrow and the more Star City and Ollie-centric aspects as we try to re-establish who Green Arrow is, his role in Star City, and a variety of new characters. We've already introduced a new owner of his former company, who goes by the title of "The Queen." She'll play a major role in the life of Green Arrow and that's just the tip of the iceberg as we develop new threats and bring a group of "Merry Men" to help Green Arrow face these new challenges.

BF: The new direction for the book does seem to be tapping very much into the Robin Hood elements of the GA mythos – woodland archer, a “Sherwood Forest” in Star City and Ollie-as-outlaw, operating in the city despite being banned from its environs in Green Arrow #32. Are there any other legendary motifs or mythical riffs we can expect to see as the new series progresses?

JTK: I think the Robin Hood motif is naturally fused with Green Arrow and while the first issue conveys this is some rather overt ways, it's not going to be Robin Hood. It's still Green Arrow. And even the mention his "Merry Men" is thematic only. They won't be called the Merry Men. That being said, there is another mythic angle that will be coming into the story with regard to a new character making an appearance in the opening arc.

                    

   Recent recommended  "bigger picture" Green Arrow reading - the Cry for Justice miniseries and JLA tie-ins to the "Rise and Fall" story arc. 

BF: As we all know nothing is really forever in comics but Ollie’s relationships with the GA Family are at an all-time low. After their break-up Black Canary/Dinah would appear to be out of the picture for the longer-term, but will other members of the cast like Connor Hawke or Speedy pop up in the book in its first year?

JTK: I don't think they'll be popping up in the first year because we really want to give Ollie this chance to shine on his own, let him be the Emerald archer and not a husband or a father or even really a mentor at this point. He's made a lot of mistakes in recent history and Ollie is still trying to steady his compass if you will - find redemption in his own eyes. But his relationships with Dinah, Connor, Roy, and Mia are strong and sooner or later their paths will most likely cross again.

BF: What sort of threats will Ollie face in the coming months? Are you planning on bringing him up against some new faces or will there still be a number of established villains popping up in the book?

JTK: Like I said, we've introduced the Queen already in the first issue and she brings with her a new army of hired security policing the city called the Royal Guard. We'll be introducing another new villain in the opening arc and have more in store for the second arc - all new threats. We are really making an effort to build up a true rogues gallery for Green Arrow. And I think we've got some rather compelling additions coming.

BF: What can you tell us about what the art team of Diogenes Neves and Vicente Cifuentes and cover artist Mauro Cascioli are bringing to the table?

JTK: Awesome. Unbelievable. Wow. I've been very fortunate over the years to work with very talented artists and I got so lucky with Diogenes and Vicente and Mauro. The interiors of the book have energy and flair and detail. Diogenes is an incredible artist and I cannot believe how good he is doing. From the look of Green Arrow, to the forest, to the layouts - it's all stunning. And, Mauro's covers speak for themselves. That cover to the new #1 was one of the coolest Green Arrow images I've ever seen. Simply brilliant, and he's bringing that quality to each and every cover since. And let's not forget Ulises Arreola on colors and Rob Leigh on letters. And of course, the captain of this cruise - my editor Adam Schlagman. Not to mention assists from Eddie Berganza and Geoff Johns as well. We're all just trying to make Green Arrow the book that character deserves.

                   

    J.T. examined Roy Harper's life before and after Lian's death in Titans #19 and the recent The Rise of Arsenal miniseries. Roy's story continues in upcoming issues of Titans - cover art for #27 above right.

BF: Moving over to Roy Harper, the former Red Arrow, for a moment, you’ve given us two quite distinct depictions of Roy recently that reflect his very differing states of mind both before and after his daughter Lian’s death.

In Titans #19 we saw a responsible and sympathetic hero and father who had put the mistakes of his past behind him. That prologue to the Arsenal miniseries is an interesting counterpoint to his post-Cry for Justice appearances where a clearly broken man is plummeting into self-destruction and addiction. Where does a hero who has fought back from the abyss go when he’s plunged back into its depths a second time?

JTK: Roy is in the midst of a very dark journey in his life. The Rise of Arsenal wasn't the end of that journey. It was the beginning. He's lost everything in Lian - and you don't come back from something like that - not ever. He's got a hard road ahead of him and in the near future it's taking him into the pages of Titans and Deathstroke's team of villains for hire.

BF: In a shared universe where characters like Cyborg, Slipknot and Ravan have all got over losing limbs or becoming paraplegic when the story has suited it, how challenging is it to convince the readership that Roy’s injuries are an irreversible step in the character’s development and status quo?

JTK: Talk to someone who's lost a limb and ask them if getting a prosthetic replacement makes them as good as new. Talk to a parent who has lost a child and ask them how long it takes before they are over it. The answers to both are never. It wasn't too long ago when Cyborg was just as frustrated and depressed as Roy about his damaged body. But Roy has lost so much more. The Arsenal story was meant to deal with Roy's loss on very real and grounded level. He is completely grief-stricken, nothing makes sense anymore. And nothing really matters.

BF: As you’re currently guiding the destiny of both the “Arrow” characters, and there’s definitely unfinished business between Roy and Ollie I can’t finish without asking how far down the line we can expect to see some kind of head-to-head between the two?

JTK: I am sure their paths will cross again, but you'll have to wait to see when and where.

BF: Finally, J.T., are there any other upcoming projects from your neck of the woods, so to speak, that you would like to tell the Broken Frontier readership about?

JTK: In addition to Green Arrow at DC, I will also be taking over Teen Titans later in 2010 - which is something of a dream assignment for me. I've been able to write some Titans work over the past year or so and getting a chance to write the main book is quite the opportunity. I'm still rather busy over at Aspen. We recently finished up Fathom volume 3, the trade came out a few months ago. We are in the middle of the second volume of Soulfire, with art by Marcus To.

And, I launched my first creator-owned project with Aspen called Mindfield - a book about telepathic CIA agents fighting domestic terrorism. Think Bourne Identity and Minority Report. Issue #1 just came out in June and issue #2 hits later in July. Alex Konat is handling the art on the book. It's a very dark and gritty story and I couldn't be happier with how it's all coming together.

Green Arrow #2 goes on sale from DC Comics July 28 priced $2.99. For more information on J.T. Krul's work check out his website and you can also follow J.T. on Twitter here.

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