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Joshua Williamson, Sean Izaakse shoot straight on new era of 'Green Arrow'

Comic Books

Joshua Williamson, Sean Izaakse shoot straight on new era of ‘Green Arrow’

Oliver Queen is lost — and maybe found? — starting next month.

Sure, Dawn of DC is basically a return of light and optimism for the universe. But that doesn’t mean everyone is going to have the same joyful journey or experience. Whereas a group like the Titans are assuming a leadership role in the DCU, Oliver Queen finds himself somewhere all the more harrowing.

As the core of the Justice League returned to battle the Dark Army in the closing moments of Dark Crisis, Green Arrow found himself lost in the wilderness, as it were. So, where did he go, and why hasn’t he come back? Well, we’ll find out some of that (and maybe other things to boot) as part of a brand-new solo series from writer Joshua Williamson and artist Sean Izaakse.

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As “dangerous forces” work to separate Oliver from the rest of the Arrow Family, the creators promise an “action-packed adventure across the DCU that sets the stage for major stories in 2023.” As to what that might actually entail, we spoke with both Williamson and Izaakse recently about Green Arrow’s current state (physically and mentally), their love of the Emerald Archer, his uneasy relationships, a “surprise” return of sorts, and other topics and tidbits.

Green Arrow #1 is due out April 25. Minor spoilers below. 

Green Arrow

Main cover by Sean Izaakse. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: At the end of Dark Crisis, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow is lost or stranded in the wilderness, as it were. Can you tell us, Josh, where he’s at mentally heading into all of this?

Joshua Williamson: Well, that kind of gets into spoilers stuff a little bit later on, because we do talk about him kind of feeling somewhat defeated. He’s still Oliver; he still speaks truth to power; he’s still the the same kind of cocky guy with an attitude. But there’s a part of him — and, again, this gets into some spoilers — that feels like maybe things would be better if [he] had been left on an island.

I think there’s a part of him that recognizes the universe keeps doing stuff to him, essentially, keep on stranding him in different places in different ways. And it keeps on trying to separate him from his family. He says in the first issue, ‘The universe basically gave me a family when I didn’t expect it, and then that universe keeps taking it away from me.’ He’s dealing with data, and what is the universe trying to tell him, and then reacting to it. And Oliver never reacts well to things; he’s always putting his foot in his mouth in some way.

AIPT: I love that dynamic with the families. Folks like Batman and Superman have their respective families, but not really enough has been done with Oliver. He still feels very much weird about the whole concept.

JW: Bruce’s family was taken away from him — but his mom and dad were good parents to him, you know? And Superman’s parents, they sacrifice themselves to save him. Even Barry [Allen’s] mom was this awesome single mom type. Then you get to Oliver, and his parents weren’t like that. So I think that creates a weird dynamic with him versus everyone else.

Green Arrow

Variant cover by Ejikure. Courtesy of DC Comics.

AIPT: There’s a kind of big moment, for many if not all readers, when the first issue reintroduces Lian Harper, Roy Harper’s daughter. Is that a big moment in this book or does it maybe deserve to be more understated?

JW: Superman was designed to be very accessible; anyone could pick this book up. Sean and I are huge Green Arrow fans, and we’ve been fans our whole lives. We know the mythology and the history really well. So this comic is a bit more for people like Sean and I.

So, Lian in particular, that was a very tragic thing that happened almost 15 years ago. And we’ve sort of teased it over the last few years, because she was in she was in Catwoman and she’s been a Detective Comics. there were plans to try to touch on that story in Teen Titans Academy and Catwoman, and it didn’t happen. But here it felt like it was actually the right opportunity. As we’re coming out of Dark Crisis, and this idea that everything is much more fun and light again, to bring her back in at this point I think makes sense. People who are hardcore DC fans for the last 20 to 30 years, they’ll be immediately pulled into that and really know what’s going on. But people who have never read Green Arrow before, when they read get to that scene, they understand the emotions, but I think it’s not as heavy without getting into spoilers.

AIPT: Sean, you’ve done DC work in the past, but this is maybe your first big DC title. What was that transition like from more Marvel projects to the “competition?”

Sean Izaakse: I’m not going to stick to one camp like some fans decide to do. We didn’t have a lot of places to get comic books growing up here [South Africa]. So I read whatever I could get my hands on: Teen Titans; Justice League; Outsiders — that kind of stuff. People complain about ’90s comics, but I love stuff.

So the acclimating and stuff, it wasn’t too difficult. Because, I think, my excitement just kind of override the hesitancy that I might have had. I was just to excited to worry about everything.

I’ve always been drawn to two types of characters. One is water-based characters; as a kid, I would swim underwater and pretend to be Aquaman and hold my breath for as long as possible. But I also tried to make my own bow and arrow. And I watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves a million times. Characters that go into a gunfight using a bow and arrow, to me, just always seems so much cooler.

Joshua Williamson, Sean Izaakse shoot straight on new era of 'Green Arrow'

A Green Arrow design sheet by Sean Izaakse.

When I first saw [Green Arrow], I liked his look, and that he always seemed like the wildcard of the Justice League. He’d be the one to say, ‘Nah, I don’t think that’s what I want to do,” and still end up being the guy making that one shot that’s going to make all the difference because he was the one thinking outside the box.

So, I wanted this to be a book that I’d want to read as a fan. It’s the type of thing I would have eaten up and read. There’s a lot of books of these characters that I didn’t read because I saw the direction they were going and I thought that’s not really for me. Well done to those creators that did work on them, but I’m not going to be the one to rage on them ’cause they did these steps — even though I have raged before — I’m just not going to read it. And now I get to hang out with Josh and put our stamp on these characters.

AIPT: Josh, in some other interviews, you’ve mentioned wanting to play around with Oliver’s own rogues gallery. Anything more that you want to share about specific villains or other plans?

JW: I just wanted to take a moment to like shine a spotlight on some of Oliver’s villains. I think if you actually went out and you started asking people who are Green Arrow’s villains, I don’t think they would be able to fill in a very big list.

Whenever I start a new book, I always make a lit of villains. I started thinking about where they’re at and how I want them to play in the story and what they mean to Oliver and how they challenge whoever that character is. We don’t see that many villains in the first two issues; we actually are going to use some new villains as well in the first two issues. But as we go, we started shining more and more spotlights on them because I wanted to flesh them out and then also show why they can be scary. They’re not just jokes or anything — they’re actually dangerous. If you look at the cover, you can basically see who’s gonna be in the book. I think there are a couple of villains that were Oliver’s that haven’t really been fleshed out over the last few years that I wanted to play with.

One in particular, I don’t want to say just yet because that would spoil the whole thing, but there’s definitely some surprises. Sean read [Green Arrow] issue #3 last week, and there was a bunch of stuff that Sean didn’t know was coming in. And Sean you saw what appeared on the last page and said, ‘Yeah, that’s a big deal.’ All it takes is a couple pages to reintroduce a character and show why they’re cool. Or hope is if the book gets extended past the six issues, then we get to play around with more and more of the villains.

Joshua Williamson, Sean Izaakse shoot straight on new era of 'Green Arrow'

Variant cover by Frank Cho. Courtesy of DC Comics.

SI: Whenever I get onto a project, I start designing stuff in the hopes that it might be like, ‘Well, what what do you think this looks like?’ And then I can already be like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s cool; here it is.’

I remember when I was working on the cover, I even said to Josh and [DC editor] Ben Abernathy, ‘I’m a bit out of the loop, so which Count Vertigo, is it the new guy or what’s going on?’ And they came back and said, ‘What do you want to do?’ I didn’t even do a design sheet for him; I just designed it on the cover, as I was drawing it, and I’d merge the older and the newer looks.

There hasn’t been a Green Arrow book for a while. And as I was saying to a fellow artist the other day, Green Arrow has always felt like one of those books that’s kind of experimental. It was very noir-ish, and you had these artists that weren’t necessarily superhero artists. They were grim, gritty kind of things — that was Green Arrow. And, for the ones that I read anyways, there were always new characters and villains. I feel like a lot of his classic villains that were on the cover had these very plastic looks — not dated, but they need to be updated for a new era. You want them to look a certain kind of cool for a more modern audience, and so I’ll always try and add a little bit. And with drawing villains, you can just go a bit crazy with designs and stuff.

AIPT: We have time for one more question. We talked about where Oliver’s at, and so does that mean we might see more of an emphasis on Roy and Connor?

JW: You see the role he [Oliver] has in issue #1, and then he gets significantly more screen time in issue #2 and same with issue #3. As much as this is Oliver Queen’s book, Sean and I from the beginning have said this is a Green Arrow family book. So it’s him but it has a lot of Roy and Black Canary and Connor Hawke, and then other characters as we add. Oliver’s even narrating things, and so even the scenes he’s not there he still has a presence. But I think, to us, it’s always a Green Arrow book.

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