Ann Nocenti On Green Arrow, Typhoid Mary, and Being a Super-Villain

Longshot #6Two weeks ago, we talked about Occupy Wall Street with Ann Nocenti, longtime comic writer and editor who had taken a long hiatus from comics but is returning in 2012 in Green Arrow. We had the chance to continue the conversation, discussing some of her creations and return to comics, and here’s how that went.

It’s been 26 years since Longshot and you (as Ricochet Rita/Spiral) are still around plaguing the X-Men. What’s it like creating a super-villain alter ego and seeing that character around all these years?

Someone once said that all fiction is autobiographical, so in that sense, I am all my characters. Spiral, Ricochet Rita, Longshot, Typhoid Mary, Mojo, Blackheart… they all have touches of things I feel or have sympathy with. I am thrilled that they “live” on in films and comics and toys and video games.

We got to see Blackheart in the first Ghost Rider movie. He wasn’t exactly your Blackheart, so I’m curious how you felt about his appearance – thrilled to see him there, annoyed with the changes, or a little of both?

Typhoid Mary (Elektra)I haven’t seen that movie yet (I will of course) but did see Typhoid Mary in Elektra, and it was thrilling. I didn’t really care that she wasn’t how I created her, it was just fun to see her in a film. The screenwriters of the Daredevil movie tracked me down before the film opened, fearful that I wouldn’t like their take on her. They offered to send me their original script so I could see how their “true” conception of her ending up on the cutting room floor. But frankly, it is such a thrill seeing something you created on film, I was nothing but pleased.

What attracted you to Green Arrow?

Green Arrow seemed like a huge challenge.  As a kid, I loved the concept of Robin Hood, the guy that stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Robin Hood is popping up in modern parlance in articles about the Occupy Wall Street movement, which I am very sympathetic to.

But visually, Green Arrow is essentially an archaic character trying to function in a modern world.  His old outfit began to look quaint and silly, and yet giving him green armor just seems silly, it doesn’t fit his status as a guy with absolutely no powers, nor his stealth methodology. It’s not like his new costume functions like Batman’s, in that it doesn’t strike fear into foes. And his weaponry is also archaic. Arrows are cumbersome and useless in close combat. They can’t do anything a gun can’t do, except perhaps pin someone to a wall. So Green Arrow has paradoxes that, rather than be fun, are just kind of annoying.

And his history is convoluted and contradictory.  He’s been both republican and democrat in his political sensibility. He’s been both harshly preachy and a reckless playboy with seemingly no values. He’s been old and young.

I must admit, when I first read his Wiki entry, I almost felt he was futile and doomed as a character.

So, I put him in my head and began carrying him around with me. For me, for Green Arrow to pull off his archaic look in a modern world he’d have to have tons of panache and hutzpah. I began to think more in terms of the swashbucklers.  He’d have to be impulsive and outrageous in attitude.  He’d have to not care one whit what anyone thought of him. He’d have to live by impulse and trust his inner moral compass to fuel his moves.

So, I when I wrote the trilogy that opens my run on the character, this is what I had in mind.

Politics have been a part of Green Arrow’s past, including a couple of runs for the office of mayor (one of which he won). Neither time did Oliver disclose that he was Green Arrow, so I am wondering if, on a more general sense, you feel that any superhero can serve in public office without disclosing that and still effectively (and ethically) serve the people?

This is a good question, but I don’t really have an answer for it…. I guess there are “real world” ethics and “superhero ethics” which are perhaps two different things…