Writer Jeff Lemire invites you to a tropic island getaway.
This February, Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Sweet Tooth) and artist Andrea Sorrentino (I, Vampire) take aim (don’t you wince at me) at Green Arrow, ready to fortify the mythos of DC Comics’ storied emerald archer. Oliver Queen’s fortune is in the wind, but despite pretty boy appearances, he’s got a steadier base than all that. Lemire looks back to the mysterious island that served as Oliver’s proving ground, his baptismal font. It’s a world unto itself, and for the vigilante known as Green Arrow, seemingly everything can be traced back to those distant shores.
We spoke to Lemire about the past and future of Green Arrow with a sneak peak at Sorrentino’s jaw-dropping artwork.
iFanboy: We’re looking at these preview pages by Andrea Sorrentino right now and…you’ve got to be pretty excited about this art.
Jeff Lemire: [laughs] Yeah, I’m pretty jazzed. It’s pretty cool. You know, I really wanted Andrea on the book. I was trying to think of artists who fit the tone and the mood that I wanted for my run and for the character, and there’s no one else working at DC that I thought could do a better job. His stuff is so gritty and realistic; he uses black so well. I just knew it would have this perfect noir feel to it that I thought would be really interesting when juxtaposed with the superhero milieu of Green Arrow. Seeing the pages come back, they’re pretty fantastic.
iF: Who is Oliver Queen? How much cache does that name have in the business world in 2013? How much cache does the name Green Arrow have amongst other heroes in the broader DCU?
JL: Where I’m taking the character over, he’s just lost basically everything. He was the son of this really influential, powerful businessman, Robert Queen. Robert indulged all of Oliver’s pet projects — Q Core –this subsidiary of Queen Industries. And really, Ollie was this overprivileged rich kid who had everything he ever wanted, had everything handed to him he ever wanted, never had to work for anything. As such, he’s a pretty unrelatable, unlikeable character. But right before I take over the book he loses all of that, and he has to find himself again over the course of my run. In terms of Green Arrow I think he’s a character who, within the greater DC Universe, hasn’t gotten a lot of respect. He’s not taken very seriously by the Justice League or other A-list characters. That, as well, is changing. In line with my first issue, the Justice League of America relaunch is coming with Geoff Johns and David Finch. Green Arrow is part of that team, so obviously his profile as a superhero is on the rise just as his personal life is unraveling.
iF: What kind of conversations have you had with Geoff Johns about Green Arrow’s future and his involvement with that team?
JL: Yeah, Geoff and I are actually working really closely on this. We’ve been sharing scripts and really talking. Not in terms of crossovers. I’m not rewriting anything to change story lines to fit what he’s doing on Justice League of America or anything specific like that. We’re just being careful. We both want to make sure we’re writing the same character. By that I mean we both understand what his motivations are, what his personality is. What he’s going through in both our books. It’s just a question of consistency.
iF: And what about Scott Snyder? Any intention of bring the level of collaboration from Animal Man and Swamp Thing to, say, Green Arrow and Batman?
JL: No, I don’t think so. Nothing on the radar yet, anyway. Scott’s really busy doing his own thing on Batman and I don’t want Green Arrow to have to rely on other characters right away. I want to build his own world up, make him stand up as a viable character without his relationships with other heroes to be so important. Because the pre-New 52 version of Ollie Queen was so defined by his relationships with Hal Jordan, Black Canary, Hawkman, and I think people knew him more for that in the end than for him on his own. I want to make sure he’s a strong character in his own right before mixing him in with those other heroes.
iF: That promo image of the island. It’s become Oliver’s exploding Krypton, his Mark of Zorro and the pearl necklace in the alley. What do you want to add to the mythology of the island?
JL: Sure. Well I can’t say what I’m adding without spoiling the first arc, but I really want to build a big mythology around Oliver’s past, his family’s past. His father and him. The island is going to play a big part in that. There’ll be sort of a secret history revealed over the course of my first couple arcs about his father and also this new villain we’ve created called Komodo, the link between the two, and Oliver’s secret birth rite. All of that relates to the island.
iF: What’s your take on trick arrows? How tricky are you willing to go? Are boxing gloves on the table?
JL: [laughs] No, no boxing gloves. I mean, he does have “trick arrows” but they’re much more grounded in reality. Things like exploding arrows or grappler arrows. Things that are practical, versus silly sort of Silver Age boxing gloves arrows and the like.
iF: Who’s he aiming those arrows at these days? You mentioned Komodo…
JL: Komodo is a character who comes to Seattle where Ollie/Green Arrow is operating in issue #17. Basically, over the course of that issue, he completely dismantles everything in both Oliver Queen’s life and Green Arrow’s. This all has to do with the bigger mystery involving Ollie’s dad and the island. Komodo’s mission is very specific to Oliver Queen and destroying him.
iF: Given all the financial ruin, what’s important to Oliver right now? Who’s important to Oliver?
JL: That’s a good question. I’m taking the tack that before my story begins Ollie doesn’t have the proper perspective on what’s important. He hasn’t been a character that’s very likable. Even with the incident on the island. I’m almost treating the island as if it didn’t do what it should’ve, it didn’t change him enough. I feel like he’s still a bit selfish and spoiled when we start my run. Then, when he loses everything, it completely shifts his perspective. Over the course of my arc, that’s what it’s all about, him realizing just what and who are important in his life. What his motivations and goals will be now that his life’s changed. As a part of that I want to build a new supporting cast for him, both allies and enemies.
iF: It sounds like family plays a prominent role in this story, which has been a real emphasis in the recent Arrow television series, and come to think of it, your run on Animal Man. Is that the thrust of this?
JL: Yeah, not in the way…it’s kind of different from what I’ve done in the past. Not in the way that it’s important in Animal Man, where the book is really about the family. It’s really about legacy. Living up to legacy. Oliver’s father, on paper, on the surface, he was this perfect guy. He was brilliant. He was rich. He had everything. And Oliver’s never been able to live up to that no matter what he did. That’s what the book’s about. Him slowly discovering who his dad really was, the cracks beneath the surface. And Oliver realizing that what his dad always wanted him to be wasn’t what Oliver had always thought. So it is very specific. It’s a father and son story, though his dad will never be in the book.