Since issue #7 of DC Comics’ monthly “Green Arrow” series, ex-“Daredevil” and “Longshot” writer Ann Nocenti and international artist Harvey Tolibao have been bringing readers the adventures of Oliver Queen, billionaire playboy and bow-toting vigilante.
But in September 2012 "Green Arrow" readers get a creative team shift as Nocenti and Tolibao take a break from the book, and writer Judd Winick and current "Captain Atom" artist Freddie E. Williams II step in for the "Green Arrow" #0 origin issue.
Winick, who wrote "Green Arrow" for years and oversaw the marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary, is no stranger to Oliver Queen or his antics. Now, getting the chance to write an untold piece of the hero’s history, Winick spoke with CBR about the issue, how much of Ollie’s pre-relaunch origin remains intact and how his version of young Queen fits into the "Green Arrow" New 52 timeline.
CBR News: You’re writing the #0 issue of "Green Arrow" -- are you permanently taking over the title?
Judd Winick: I’m doing the #0 issue right now and we’ll leave it at that!
Most of these #0 issues are origin issues -- with "Green Arrow" are we going to see Ollie on the island, or is this a completely new story you’re telling?
Yes and yes! Basically, like a lot of the issues, this is a catalyst moment. This is twelve hours in Ollie’s life before he was Green Arrow when he was pretty much still a seriously snotty rich kid. This is the moment that gets him on the island. It isn’t just about getting stranded -- things happen to him over the course of these twelve hours that sort of form, not necessarily what is going to happen on the island, but his mindset as he goes into it. Very bad things happen which get him there, and this is him at his most snotty and self-important that we’ve ever seen.
The New 52 "Green Arrow" series has had two different creative teams since it’s inception -- was it difficult to balance your tone and story against what has happened before in the comic?
You absolutely want to honor everything the writers and artists did in the twelve issues prior to this #0, and I believe I did. But as far as the skill set to do this, we’re kind of at an advantage as we’re taking a big step back because it’s the origin issue. So you can have a significant shift in tone and not only is that acceptable, it might even be necessary. It’s a different time in the characters’ lives, and I think it’s necessary for a lot of the books to have a different tone because, depending on the character, they're in a different place.
The solicits say we’ll see Roy, Ollie's longtime sidekick, involved as well. With Ollie being so much younger in the New 52 continuity, and Roy not looking that much different in age, were you given the task of figuring our where Speedy fits into the new Green Arrow timeline?
I won’t lie to people, Roy’s in this just a little bit. We get a little taste of Roy at the end; he’s not an integral part of the story. You do see how these two come together and it fills in the smallest of blanks -- not so much in detail -- but we get the steps that bring us there. It’s not a Roy story, it’s an Ollie story. Chronologically from the time Ollie’s on the island to the time he meets Roy, a lot of things happen. It isn’t he spends six months on the island and then he hops off and he meets Roy. A lot of things happen and you can even see it in the book; Freddie E. Williams II is drawing it and Ollie even looks physically different. He’s younger, he’s a little thinner, very wiry, very clean cut, and looks his most youthful. It’s the moment before Green Arrow was born in a rather action-packed and emotional adventure.
While artist Harvey Tolibao has been doing a very sketchy and twisty art style on the book so far, Freddie has a much more clean and traditional style. Is this something you feel fits your story better?
I think it does. It’s a flashback and also a story that we want to tell -- I don’t want to disparage anybody -- but Freddie tells a very clean, very exacting story. He’s a terrific storyteller who knows how to walk right through it and keep it very much in lockstep with the story you want to tell. It looks really, really great.
Talking about style, Ann Nocenti has set a very specific, surrealist tone to her run -- are you trying to mimic that in your issue at all?
It’s a pretty straight story -- that is in no reflection in anyway on what Ann has done or is doing, I really dig her story. For clarity’s sake, because there’s a lot going on and we’re reaching pretty far back and there’s new characters and a new setting and a new event, it is a very straight approach.
Will we see any of the Queen Industries crew or current supporting cast make an appearance?
The supporting cast isn’t there; Ollie doesn’t know any of those people yet. I think the only one we mention in passing is his father. Aside from that, this is his old life, where Ollie was, not where he is.
Many readers already know Green Arrow’s origin story and have seen retellings of it in comics before the New 52. What makes this origin stand out from what’s come before?
This is what starts it all. This is the moment he becomes Green Arrow. We’re pretty much all in agreement that Green Arrow’s origin stays intact, that eventually Oliver winds up on the island. What happened on that island, and what became of him, and how that made him Green Arrow, we’re going to kind of leave that open to what specifically happened there. But this event puts him in the water, and what lead to it is as important as what happened on the island and made him Green Arrow. It's one giant step that puts him there and everything that becomes of it, so it’s a very small and important chapter.
Is the intention with this to also be a starting point for new readers?
It’s a jumping on point, it’s very self-contained. If you have not read a single issue of "Green Arrow" since the re-launch you’d be fine. Hell, if you haven’t read a single issue of "Green Arrow" in a very long time you’d be fine!
How is this proto-Green Arrow different from how you’ve written Ollie before and from what we’ve seen in the book?
We’ve never quite seen him this young and snotty, even in Andy Diggle’s "Green Arrow: Year One." It has shades of a couple of flashbacks I’ve done, but I haven’t done young snotty Ollie in an action/adventure -- it’s always before he got there. In the years I did "Green Arrow" we had a couple of strong flashback moments, but it was always before he got to the island and what would be this event. That’s the difference for me.
This is Ollie without any of his skills, even before he really knows how to use a bow. There is a bow and arrow but he really doesn’t know how to use it. He’s had a few lessons and he sucks, which is fun! [Laughs] He’s not a good archer at all and I like the idea that he’s not a natural. These are the things that are very different; this is not Ollie the skilled archer or superhero vigilante, this is a rich kid who finds himself in a situation.
Finally, what was the big challenge on this story, and was there a part of the issue you especially enjoyed working on or coming back to in Green Arrow’s world?
I really, really enjoy working with Freddie. I think the issue looks terrific! It was a pleasure to get the pages back from him and see how he improves the story here and there. He tightens things up; he’s just really a hell of a storyteller, I’m having a lot of fun.
For me, I like the challenge of trying to do the one-shot, self-contained story. We don’t get the opportunity to do them as often as we like, and this isn’t a fill-in, which I haven’t had the experience of doing too many of those in my time working on mainstream comics. So there’s an art to it that’s a lot of fun. It’s really interesting to try and tell the whole story in twenty pages and make it work. I like the challenge, and it’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to all these #0 issues. I think we all like origin issues. Even when we saw just a flashback or a few panels where they showed folks out of costume or when they’re young or when they’re first starting -- I always found that exciting!
"Green Arrow" #0 hits shelves September 5.