Life is unfair, and when it comes to the sacrifices of superheroes, true happiness is rare. In the pages of 2018's Justice League: No Justice, Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, was left to defend the Earth while the rest of the League went into outer space. Martian Manhunter appeased his anger by giving him a mysterious box, with a weapon that could take down the Justice League, which he kept secret from Dinah.
But at the end of Green Arrow #49, Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary, was given the orders from the government to take Oliver down because of his possession of this weapon. The two have one of the strongest relationships in mainstream comics, so pitting Black Canary against Green Arrow in the final issue is a heartbreaking tale, written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly, drawn by Javier Fernandez and colored by John Kalisz.
SYFY WIRE has the exclusive preview of the explosive Green Arrow #50, along with some reflection of the series and its abrupt cancellation with the writers.
"When we accepted the task of ending this amazing series, we knew that Green Arrow had to be left in a position that would prep him for accepting an entirely new status quo," Kelly says. "Our one request was that we were able to not just change his world, but to destroy it."
"Oliver Queen is a man of mistakes, and while we genuinely love him, it’s also painfully clear that he needs to start fresh if he’s ever going to be the kind of man that someone like Dinah can actually commit to, long-term. By stripping everything from him — his relationship, his world, his perceived importance and the self-image he’s built around it — we hope to leave the audience with a man who can finally drop some of the bull**** that has been holding him back," he adds. "While this hurts, and we know it hurts, we are genuinely sorry for that, our goal was nothing less than paving the way for a stronger, wiser and more self-realized Oliver Queen to one day rise again."
"Those last five pages are mean as hell," Lanzing adds. "They’re also maybe my favorite five pages we’ve ever had the privilege to write."
Lanzing, Kelly and Fernandez were poised for a long run on Green Arrow, but before they could really hit the ground running, the series was canceled. Lanzing laid out their entire process from being greenlit to cancellation on Twitter, while Kelly explained to us that Issues #48 and 49 were almost as originally planned, but Issue #50 was a different story.
"We wanted to have Ollie face a challenge from his past (in Issues #48 and #49) that could not only highlight his skills, but also his current mental ... let’s call them stressors," Kelly says. "From there, however, while I can guarantee you we had 50 more issues of story to deploy, it just wasn’t in the cards. Luckily, the emotional core of our storytelling, no matter how long the story may be, stayed intact, and we were given the absolute green light to tell the most impactful and emotional 'last' adventure for Oliver that we could."
It's an incredibly tough task to bring a series to a sudden end, but to do so in a graceful, emotional way that also gives meaning to the issues that came before it. For Lanzing and Kelly, they had experience doing this with Grayson when they took a 10-issue plan by Tom King and Tim Seeley to ramp that series down and condense it into three issues. Similarly, their shorter-than-expected run on Green Arrow follows the same challenge.
"The real trick to writing an issue like Green Arrow #50 is delivering the last moments in relationships that mean so much to the readers, and to you," explained Lanzing. "The plot needs to give way to the characters, all the punching and jetpacks and superpowers need to act exclusively as a driving agent to get at the heart of the people whose stories are ending."
"This is the last time in quite some time anyone will see Ollie and Dinah together. This is the last time you’ll see that house in Seattle, the Arrowplane, the memory of Roy Harper, or even new elements like lefty superhero Jayce Riot, in a good while. Those moments have to matter, so the process leans much more heavily on what’s going to land the most emotional damage than what’s going to challenge a character’s powerset."
Sadly, this will also be Fernandez's last work on Green Arrow, who was just settling into a groove with Oliver Queen's world. Lanzing said that while Oliver and Dinah's fight with Vertigo the last two issues were a showcase of Fernandez's use of perspective and inventive approach to action, Green Arrow #50 "lives and dies on emotions, on acting, and Javi proves that he’s capable of breaking your heart as easily as he blows your mind."
Check out our exclusive five-page preview of Green Arrow #50 below, along with a cover gallery, then look for the entire double-sized issue at your local comic shop on March 6.