Yeah I know, we’re all still reeling after the events of “The Calm” (more like “The Storm”! Am I right? Huh? …I’m a nerd). It’s hard to stay focused on the beginning of the story, when the end has already been revealed. Well I’m here to say that as an Arrow fan personally, I honestly think that you’re still going to find this volume intriguing.
WARNING Spoilers abound for this volume. So if you haven’t read it yet, you might want to get on that.
Alright, I’m probably not alone in thinking that the identity of the new Brother Blood was a little underwhelming (who? Oh it’s that dude that Dig and Felicity interrogated? Wow, I didn’t see that coming. *yawn*). Regardless, considering his track record, Marc Guggenheim actually finds a way to make this reveal have more impact.
Let’s get the nasty stuff out of the way, before we focus on what this particular volume might (or might not) mean to the Arrow universe.
B: Action (see A)
C: All of the Above
…you might find it lacking. There’s very little extensive fighting or action, and Oliver doesn’t make a single appearance. I mean none at all. It’s fine when to put your main character on the bench once in a while. It makes the audience really appreciate what they bring to the table that much more (Absence makes the heart grow fonder after all). But the title is “Arrow.” I personally don’t consider Oliver’s absence to be a detriment, but I’m just reporting the facts. Without Oliver there’s no Arrow, or action, or action involving arrows, or the shooting thereof. Joe Bennett and Craig Yeung have proven time and again that they put their best work in to action scenes, so leaving them out makes this volume lesser for it. The story picks up the slack, and what little action is there is cool, but it’s not this
The second thing that fans might take issue with is how much time is spent copying the often quoted interrogation scene from “City of Blood.” (you know the one) verbatim. It’s not that it isn’t a great scene, it’s even kind of cool to see in in comic form, but it’s already been shown. There are a few gaps that are filled in as we learn exactly how Diggle took Clinton Hough down in the elevator, but was that really necessary? Retreading the exact same scene with very little tweaking that means anything makes this seem either lazy or irresponsible. It’s seven pages! That’s almost a third of the entire novel on a scene you most likely already saw? This may be written for people jumping on the Arrow wagon late, but it’s such a small percentage of the viewship that it seens kind of worthless to pander to it.
Yeah, those are the only real problems, now let’s get down to what’s going right.
The art has raised in quality despite the lack of action. The women look like women this time around, and every character has more than a passing similarity to the actors that play them. It keeps the divide between the comic and show smaller, and makes the insistence that this is a prequel to season three that much more believable. Despite the retreading of City of Blood and Streets of Fire, watching the stories of both episodes through the eyes of Blood’s bodyguard adds a unique perspective that makes this supplementary material absolutely necessary to get the whole story down. Hough’s actions during the events of the episodes completely changes the perception of both of their stories, and adds a little bit more intrigue in to the anticlimactic death of Sebastian Blood. A game changing scene involving Hough’s prayer completely flips things around, and opens an entire world of possibilities that fan’s of DC comics will explode over. It also expands our notice of the character of Brother Blood, and even pays homage to his comic origins as a fanatical religious figure.
All in all, Arrow Season 2.5 #4 is competent in it’s context but outstanding in it’s content. It’s true that the volume spent a little too much time walking the exact same path that season two’s three part finale did, but it also gives us a previously unused perspective from Clinton Hough, that came out of nowhere. What’s more, it’s worth a damn. His role in the fall of Starling City and the death of Sebastian Blood changes everything that we though about how he met his death. But that’s not the content that makes the volume matter that much more. The fact that Hough prays to to an unseen and unheard force, that he seems to interpret as speaking to him in signs, really extends the life of the character of Brother Blood and even hints at his comic book origins by slyly poking at the possibility that there really is a great force behind the persona. It could mean nothing, but it could also be a gateway in to the supernatural for Arrow. Only time will tell. There’s also a short side-note about the Suicide Squad that is WAY too short for how interesting it seems. From narrative perspective though , volume 4 succeeds at putting the villain in a more threatening light. It was something that desperately needed to be done. Clinton Hough wasn’t just the seven line bodyguard character we thought he was, and Marc Guggenheim’s clever use of of dialogue and scene manipulation makes it seem like he never was.