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Interview: Jeff Lemire Talks GREEN ARROW

The SWEET TOOTH creator discusses his plans for GREEN ARROW starting in February with issue #17.

One of the series we are most looking forward to reading in the coming months has to be Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's takeover of GREEN ARROW. The two creators will be delivering a fresh take on DC's Emerald Archer starting with issue #17 on February 6th, 2013, and according to Lemire the pair have big plans for Oliver Queen for the long-term. We recently caught up with Lemire to discuss his plans for GREEN ARROW, how the project came about for him and much more.

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Comic Vine: The release of the first issue of your GREEN ARROW series is set to hit stores on February 6th, is this a long time coming and how did you and Andrea Sorrentino sign on to do this series?

Jeff Lemire: I have been working on the book since July…At Comic-Con I had a couple of conversations with Dan DiDio about new projects and I explained to him that I really wanted to try to do a DC book that wasn't a horror book because I didn't want to get typecast as just doing horror stuff all the time as much as I love doing ANIMAL MAN and JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK and don't really plan on leaving those books any time soon, I really wanted to try to do a different kind of story as well and flex some different muscles. I had been suggested GREEN ARROW at the time and I kind of had to think about it, but, I realized it would be a really good opportunity for me to write a character that is set a little bit more at the center of the DC Universe and more in the main stream. But also he has more of an edge…kind of a crime-noir, street-level hero, like Daredevil and Batman that I can do some really gritty, dark stories with and have a lot of fun with.

Andrea seemed like a really great choice because his art reflects that so well…he uses so much dark and shadow and has a sort of gritty-noir feeling that I thought juxtaposing that with a traditional superhero character would create a really interesting look and I was right because the art has been really gorgeous so far.

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CV: Is this a reboot or relaunch of this character, or will you be referencing the previous 16 issues?

JL: It's kind of a balancing act for me as a writer. I want this to be completely accessible to new readers, obviously, but at the same time I can't just throw away what's been done in the first 16 issues. So if I have done my job well, which I hope I have, it will read like a first issue but all the major and important bits of the first 16 issues will also be referenced and re-established in a hopefully accessible way. But I'm definitely taking a completely different tone and direction for the character, for sure.

CV: You've mentioned in a previous interview that you've taken some inspiration for this series from series like Mike Grell's GREEN ARROW run as well as Bendis' DAREDEVIL and Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL. What is it about these books that you like and what qualities do they have that you want to bring to your GREEN ARROW story?

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JL: I think they all deal with a hero who has had everything taken away from him. I think they deal with a hero who has fallen completely and has to fight his way back up…fight his way to some sort of retribution…The best Daredevil stories were like that and I think Mike Grell's GREEN ARROW run was so strong because Grell took such a grounded approach to to the character. He [Grell] really made him a street-level kind of hero, doing away with the trick arrows and all the sort of silliness around the character. For me, that's the kind of thing that sort of interested me. I wanted to make him a hero of the people again, and something much more grounded in reality. I mean he's still a superhero, but I think when he's on his own he's a much more grounded and realistic character.

CV: You've mentioned before that initially you didn't feel very close to the character, so how has your personal relationship with GREEN ARROW evolved through writing him?

JL: I think what you're referencing is…I grew up reading DC comics and was a huge DC fan, but I never really gravitated toward Green Arrow's character, for whatever reason. So when I was first offered Green Arrow I kind of just stepped back and tried to figure out who he was and what about him interested me. For me, what I really liked about him was that he was this guy who had everything. He never had to work for anything he had, and then we kind of get to see what happens when a guy like that has all of that torn away and actually has to start from the ground up and figure out who he is supposed to be, especially when he has spent his whole life never having to worry about that. That really appealed to me, that kind of hero's quest for self-worth and self discovery and this never being able to live up to the legacy of his Father, and his struggle to find his own path in the world. These are all things that appealed to me about the character on an emotional level.

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CV: You've mentioned that a "title needs to be strong on its own" before you start worrying about crossovers. Does that mean that the first few issues will stand alone? And I hate to ask how long before we see a crossover, but…

JL: Pre New-52, all the Green Arrow was so defined by his relationships with other characters; his relationship with Black Canary, his friendship with Hal Jordan, the animosity with Hawkman…these are the kinds of things people thought of when they thought of Green Arrow. I feel like he deserves to just sort of be redefined on his own terms without those preset ideas of who he is and his relationships with other characters…So I kind of want to leave other DC heroes out of it so if you want to see him interacting with the the bigger DC Universe you can see his interactions in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA whereas in my book I'll be dealing with the mythology around him and his world. I really want to keep that going for as long as I can and…I don't really have any interest in doing a BATMAN crossover…or any plans…

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CV: You mentioned you'll be "stripping Oliver down in order to build him back up again." What do you plan on stripping Oliver of first?

JL: Well, there are a number of things. I have an Oliver Queen who is going to lose his business, his father's company will be completely destroyed and his connection to it…So he won't have any wealth or resources or the thing he had previously. What that also means, on a more emotional level, is that this legacy that his father left him is lost and he sort of feels responsible for it. So that's where we start. Then I want to dismantle his preconceived ideas of who his Dad was and what his past really was, and then I want to sew on this idea that his father wasn't really the man he thought he was, and that is just a much bigger history behind that. That's just sort of where we start off.

CV: Tell us more about Komodo, the new villain you're setting up in this series.

JL: It's tough to say too much without spoiling it because he's a character that's sort of shrouded in mystery right from the start, and I'm really playing with that, but…he's another archer whose skill level is clearly better than Oliver's. He's Oliver's physical better in every way when we open the series. He's someone who seems very specifically hell-bent on destroying Oliver Queen/Green Arrow. The reason for this started to come up…and it has something to do with Oliver's father…

What do you think of Jeff Lemire on GREEN ARROW? Do you like the current series or do you feel it needs a breath of fresh air? Let us know in the comments. GREEN ARROW #17 hits comic shops on February 6th, 2013.