There’s nothing wrong with making a profit, but if you destroy people’s homes and lives while doing so, it’s a fair bet that Oliver Queen is going to have a problem with that. And if you’re foolish enough to actually attempt murder in the process…well, don’t be surprised if your successful career comes screeching to a halt fast as an arrow.
GREEN ARROW #43 marks the debut of writers Julie and Shawna Benson and artist Javier Fernandez on the series, and it finds Ollie going strong in his mission to protect and fight for the people of his city. But he’s not the only one. A new vigilante called the Citizen has also taken up the charge, and it becomes clear pretty quickly that he’s no friend to Oliver Queen. Combine with Ollie and Dinah starting to get serious about their relationship and it’s clear that Green Arrow’s already complicated life is about to get…well, you can figure it out.
But what we couldn’t figure out is what changes we could expect when the BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY writers make the jump to GREEN ARROW. So, we sat down with them at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss all things Ollie, including what getting serious with Ollie means for Dinah, whether their debut story was inspired by real-world events and exactly what it would be like to work for Oliver Queen.
You’ve been writing BATGIRL AND THE BIRDS OF PREY for the past two years. How does it feel to be moving onto Ollie?
JULIE BENSON: It’s big shoes to fill. Ben Percy’s run was so amazing. All of the runs over the last 75 years of Green Arrow are amazing. So yeah, no pressure. It’s been really fun, and getting to write a male character and still have Canary and Kate Spencer as a part of it has been such a blast. Finding a story that’s more personal and grounded, and that really lets us play with Oliver Queen’s emotional struggles… We’re not taking it easy on him.
I’m curious how you define “grounded.” Will you be going back to more street-level crimefighting similar to what the show has been doing recently, or will we still be seeing bankers with their skin half burned off?
JB: No, we’re pulling it back to the street level for sure. For us, when we created the new villain—the Citizen—we really asked ourselves who the best villain is for Ollie. It’s always a street level guy—somebody who’s something of a mirror image of him, but who really takes it up to eleven. Instead of someone who collects people and puts them in jail, this guy wants to be judge, jury and executioner. The question is, how does Ollie deal with that?
SHAWNA BENSON: The Citizen really sees himself as a representative of the people. He wants to take down the corrupt and powerful that seem to get away with everything. And who’s one of the most powerful and rich people in Seattle? Oliver Queen.
Ollie and Green Arrow are both going to get squeezed pretty badly by this guy.
Of all of DC’s titles, Green Arrow really tends to lend itself to stories drawn from modern day headlines. You go back to Dennis O’Neill and Mike Grell’s time with the series, and of course, Ben Percy really had some fun with that as well. It sounds like we’ll be seeing some of that with your run too.
JB: Yeah, we relish that stuff. Ollie is a guy of the people, and he’s fighting for the people, but then here’s a guy who’s literally calling himself “Citizen” and he’s saying, “WE are the people, and WE should decide these things.” At first, Oliver thinks that’s pretty cool. “All right, I’ve got some help! Put these people on blast, and then I’ll go get them. I’ll round them up.”
Of course, when the tables turn, and he’s the one being put on blast, it’s like, “Um, wait a minute…”
We start to realize that this guy isn’t just putting people on blast on social media.
SB: He’s not just shaming them.
JB: He’s going to kill them.
SB: Judge, jury, executioner. That’s his role.
JB: So, it’s tough for Ollie. He feels like he should be that voice, and this guy’s moving in on his territory.
You mentioned having Black Canary in the book. You already have a lot of experience writing Dinah in Birds of Prey. Does that help with the transition to Green Arrow a bit? How big of a role will she play?
JB: We call her an anchor, but that always sounds bad, like she’s weighing us down. But it just means we see her as a really solid character. We got to tell a little story with her. You’ll see that she’s moving in with Oliver, and she might be spending some more time in Seattle, and as a result, might be missing the Birds a little bit. We’re trying to take Dinah’s relationship with Ollie up a level—though it’s not all about the relationship, of course. We’re not going to do that.
SB: That’s not us.
JB: But we get to have that as the nucleus—their relationship. Then everything else sort of spins around it. It’s fun.
Will we be seeing some of the other members of Ollie’s family?
JB: No, actually, because they’re in other books. At first, we were kind of upset about that, but then we thought about it and realized it’s actually kind of great that it’s just about Green Arrow and Canary. It’s really about these two having to fix what feels like a very small problem, just a Seattle problem, but of course, by the end of the arc, it will become a much bigger global problem.
SB: Really, the only other major “guest star” that we have in it is Kate Spencer, who is now on retainer at Queen Industries after helping Oliver clear his name of murder. She takes on a slightly bigger role for him in our story, and that was fun to play with.
Let’s talk about Kate Spencer for a moment. I’ve always loved how relatable she is. She’s a brilliant attorney, but you can tell that she’s just working to make ends meet. Are you keeping that side of her?
SB: It’s tricky because this first arc really focuses on Ollie and Dinah. Kate is definitely there, and I think if we’re able to work with her on future arcs, we’d love to explore her Manhunter angle and talk about her son some more. We really love her whole story, so we try to give little nods to it. Like Oliver notices she’s chomping a lot of gum. It’s because she’s stopping smoking. I think things like that really humanize her in a cool way. Those are the fun little tidbits.
Bruce Wayne, when he’s Bruce, is usually kind of a jerk. He has his whole playboy persona. But Ollie doesn’t really have that anymore. So how do you make Oliver Queen interesting?
JB: There are some fun gags in our book where you see him back at the office trying to figure out his day job. There’s this fun bit where Kate’s downloading him on this and that and he says, “We’ll talk in my office.” Then they turn a corner and he says, “Hang on, where IS my office?”
He’s that guy.
We think of him almost like a George Clooney type. He’s slick. He’s happening. He’s friends with all the people at the business.
SB: He’s like, “Hey, hey, heeey….”
JB: “How was your trip to Hawaii, buddy?”
He’s that guy. Everyone loves him, but he doesn’t know where his office is at. He’s actually more personal than Bruce in those terms. He might know everybody’s name in the office, but he doesn’t know what number Q-Phone is coming out because he doesn’t care. That’s not what’s important to him. The people are what’s important to him.
SB: That’s what he does at his night time job. He’s there for the people.
JB: I don’t know. He seems like a fun boss to me.
GREEN ARROW #43 by Julie Benson, Shawna Benson, Javier Fernandez and John Kalisz is in stores this Wednesday.