Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly have been frequent collaborators for years. They co-wrote JOYRIDE and HACKTIVIST as well as the YouTube original series Kings of Atlantis.
Tomorrow sees the release of DC's NUCLEAR WINTER SPECIAL, where Lanzing and Kelly have a short story starring Batman 666. Even more exciting, starting in January, the two of them will be taking over GREEN ARROW with issue #48.
These guys will be joining the long line of amazing writers (Mike Grell, Kevin Smith, Chuck Dixon, Judd Winick, etc.) to chronicle the adventures of the Emerald Archer. After hearing the passion these guys have for the character, I have complete faith that Ollie is in good hands.
Comic Lounge: It was announced that you guys were writing a short story in DC's NUCLEAR WINTER SPECIAL, can you tell us a little more about that?
Lanzing: Yeah! Each time we get the call for these anthologies, the assignment is even stranger… and this one took the cake. Tell a Christmas story in the apocalypse! After getting to play with Dr. Daedalus and the Crime Syndicate, we took the chance to jump at another Grant Morrison innovation and tell an epilogue to Batman 666 - in which Damian sold his soul so that Batman could endure forever. Well, the last time we saw that character, a nuclear bomb had gone off in Gotham - so it’s safe to say, his deal with the devil has gotten complicated. Our story finds Damian patrolling the nuclear wastes on a Christmas morning, when he has to face down his last remaining family: Ra’s Al Ghul.
Kelly: This story was also our chance to reunite with the stunning, amazing, talented and kind Giuseppe Camuncoli! After working with him during the Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special - where our Crime Syndicate story was pretty much the polar opposite of “Beach Blanket” - it was amazing to work together again. His ability to capture anguish is second to none, which is exactly what we needed for this story about family during a difficult time. Colored by Ramulo Farjardo Jr, who does an absolutely killer job, we can’t wait for fans to check it out - in fact, it’s the first story, so you can’t avoid it!
Comic Lounge: It's also been announced that you guys are taking over GREEN ARROW in January, what was your initial reaction when you guys landed the book? Have you guys been fans of the character for a long time?
Kelly: Picture a ten year old, being told that their secret wish has come true; we were like that, just a little older. It’s a complete dream project, not only because we’ve both been Green Arrow fans for, um, our entire lives, but because Green Arrow is - in a bunch of very real ways - the heart the DCU. He’s a vigilante and a lover, a billionaire and a social justice champion, and a mortal surrounded by metahumans, aliens and gods; how could someone not get excited to explore character who means so much, to so many? While we’d written Ollie before in GA #40 & #41, this was our chance to dive directly into the character as not temporary curators, but the actual commanders of his destiny. It was unbelievably exciting, but also - yes - a bit daunting; this character has a 75 year history, and here he is, being left in our hands. Knowing that you’ve got to leave it all on the table, we were thrilled that our editor Katie Kubert supported our wild ideas, and that we got permission to take an almost impossible shot with the Emerald Archer.
Lanzing: My favorite thing about Ollie is simple: he’s a man built from contradictions. As Collin pointed out, he’s both a champion for the little guy and a billionaire - and he’s aware of the fact that those two things don’t play well together. He’s self-critical but also deeply impulsive - prone to emotions that the rest of the heavy hitters of the DCU would never indulge. Batman always gets the credit for being the “normal human” in a world of gods - but I’d argue that Oliver Queen represents our foibles and our victories much more accurately.
Comic Lounge: Can you talk a little bit about your plans for the book?
Lanzing: Our arc is about weaving threads together - all the way from Rebirth to No Justice to Heroes In Crisis. We’re really trying to take stock of Oliver Queen’s chaotic life - and how it is fraying at him, since after all, there’s just a normal guy in a mask behind that bow. Following the Citizen’s chaotic attack on the rich and powerful of Seattle, the city is plunged into a crime wave the likes of which they’ve never seen. It’s the kind of thing Green Arrow and Black Canary should be out fighting hand-in-hand, but Ollie is having trouble not isolating himself in the wake of Roy Harper’s death. You don’t get over grief in a single issue, or even a trade - and pushing himself past those necessary steps is going to have some real consequences for Oliver Queen and Dinah Lance. Especially when specters of the past return on both sides and secrets get revealed. Hard times are coming - and they might’ve been coming for a long, long time.
Comic Lounge: I think Green Arrow always works best when dealing with social issues, what approach are you guys taking with the book?
Kelly: We agree! Oliver Queen’s entire motivation comes from his desire to help those who need it most; the forgotten and the downtrodden, those who are suffering and need a hero. However, you’d have to be blind to not recognize the amazing work Ben Percy did in this space; with that foundation, we actually found ourselves able to lens more directly in on the character, and his heart. We’re going to put the man Oliver Queen - and the mask that is Green Arrow - into the kind of situations that have no clear and easy answer; we’ve reached an age in both comics and the world that recognizes that a social problem may not have a single, clean answer, and even fewer of them can be solved with an arrow, even if there's a target to hit.
Lanzing: We went directly after the issue of child soldiers and foreign intervention in GREEN ARROW #39 and #40 (“The Children of Vakhar”) and we hope to have a chance to do so during our run as much as possible. That said, we’re starting with a much more character-driven story, examining how Ollie deals with the trauma and loss that surrounds him.
Comic Lounge: Do you guys have a favorite Green Arrow run?
Lanzing: I really think it’s difficult not to say “Hard Travelling Heroes.” I think Ollie is rarely better than when Mike Grell touches the character - but there’s something about the audacious firebrand that Oliver Queen becomes in the O’Neil & Adams books that remains iconic. I also think Archer’s Quest does an incredible job of telling a very heartfelt story in an incredibly short amount of pages. Putting Ollie up against Solomon Grundy is a stroke of genius - and a real touchstone for the kinds of threat escalation we hope to bring to the story.
Kelly: Kevin Smith’s run are some of the very first trades I ever bought - they’ll always have an incredibly special place in my heart, for both their emotional realism, kinetic art and cinematic storytelling.
Comic Lounge: Is there anything you want to tell Green Arrow fans that they can get pumped about for your upcoming run?
Kelly: Purely from a visual standpoint, fans of Green Arrow should start revving up their engines for the best work that Javi Fernandez has *ever* done. When we told him what we’d had planned, he literally replied with, “oh my god, I was just praying that I would get to draw that!”, which gives you an idea about the kind of simpatico energy the three of us are bringing to the table. There’s a moment in #49 that should be impossible, but which Javi executes to such perfection that it deserves a place in the Green Arrow Hall of Fame.
Beyond that, our goal with this character is to tell high octane super hero adventures that will also make you consider the humanity behind the mask. If you’re a fan of emotional authenticity AND some of the most bonkers action ever put to the page, this will be the run you’ve been waiting for.
Oh, and we’re going to blow up A LOT of stuff.
Comic Lounge: If you could describe your upcoming run with one word, what would it be?
Lanzing: I’m really sorry to say this because I know we all love these characters, but…