I’m introducing a new feature onto my blog which I’m calling ‘In Theory’. Now, this blog is primarily dedicated to directing new writers to useful resources and promoting my own writing work, but I make no secret out of the fact that I love mainstream comics.
I am a continuity geek and my goal is to one day work at the big companies. Marvel Comics and DC Comics.
And like any fan, I often imagine what I might do if I were ever handed the reins to a major character. Unlike a lot of fans, I have the mindset of a writer.
Not that there is anything wrong with simply being a fan (I certainly wouldn’t want to suggest that), but the thought process of a writer is different.
You come at things from a different angle.
I think, like a lot of fans do, that the television show Arrow (based on DC Comics’ Green Arrow) has gone in the wrong direction over the past couple of seasons (although things are improving).
So, I thought to myself, what would I do differently?
Now, this is a slightly foolish way of thinking anyway, since I want to write comics, not a television show that is based on a comic, so I started to wonder if I should be asking myself what I would do in a Green Arrow comic?
But I realized my answers would likely be the same. The comic book and the television show should overlap. The characters featured in one, should feature in the other. That way, they reinforce each other, viewers and readers can pass easily between the two, there should be a certain amount of synergy.
So, rather than spinning out new ideas (which would become unusable if I were ever lucky enough to work on Green Arrow), I decided to ask myself which characters from the Green Arrow/DC Comics mythos I would use in either the show or a comic book.
These are my top ten.
10. Al Rothstein/Nuklon
Yes, my first pick is a bit of a cheat. You’re right, Al Rothstein has already appeared in the Arrow-verse in his guise of Atom Smasher (rather than his earlier Nuklon persona).
Al Rothstein of Earth One was murdered by Al Rothstein/Atom Smasher of Earth Two in the opening episode of The Flash Season Two.
But, and here is where you can tell how much of a continuity geek I am, it was mentioned in The Flash Season One by Harrison Wells that someone called Al Rothstein had disappeared after the Particle Accelerator explosion.
Yet, the Al Rothstein of Earth One was apparently on his honeymoon away from Central City when this happened.
So, what going on? Well, Arrow just introduced a new Dinah Drake Black Canary after killing off their Dinah Laurel Lance Black Canary, if they can do it once, why not again?
But this time, how about with a clever spin?
I would introduce a female version of Al Rothstein and give her Al Pratt’s, the Golden Age Atom’s power, to focus radioactive energy into punches (since the characters are related).
Metahumans exist in the Arrow-verse, Dinah Drake is now a regular with her sonic scream, it would be good to have the occasional metahuman for her to go up against.
I think Alana Rothstein/Nuklon would make a good nemesis for the new Black Canary.
Arrow EP Wendy Mericle has gone on record saying she would like to see more female villains, I think this character would be a good fit.
9. Tommy Merlyn/Merlyn
When the character of Merlyn was first introduced in Justice League of America #94 he was Arthur King; a master assassin who used arrows, but when he was introduced on the television show, it was under another name.
Arrow had Tommy Merlyn and his father Malcolm Merlyn. Now, most viewers expected Tommy to go on to become the Dark Archer, but his father instead took on that role and Tommy was killed off.
In a tie-in comic written by Malcolm Merlyn’s portrayer John Barrowman called Arrow: The Dark Archer it was revealed that Malcolm Merlyn’s birth name was Arthur King bringing that character full circle.
Interestingly, Mia Dearden, the basis for Thea Queen (who was revealed as Malcolm’s biological daughter in the show) was shown to be the daughter of a John King in the comic.
John King. Arthur King.
Tommy Merlyn is alive in the comics book, it would be interesting to tie all the King family characters together, making the comics and the television shows mirror each other.
Now, in the New 52 version of DC Comics continuity, Tommy Merlyn was scarred and did go on to become the villainous Merlyn.
The comic book version of Tommy Merlyn first appeared in Green Arrow #0.
In Arrow, the Tommy Merlyn of Earth One might be dead, but there is nothing to say the Tommy Merlyn of Earth Two might not still be alive.
And if he is, then it would be very interesting to see him as a villain to the Hood of Earth Two – Robert Queen, who there, survived instead of his son.
Arrow has already started exploring the idea of ‘what if?’ by making the Laurel Lance of Earth Two, the villain Black Siren, a player on the show.
The next step would be for Oliver Queen to go to Earth Two and see how things might have turned out if his father had survived instead of him.
So much of the character of Oliver Queen is defined by what he has lost, by going to Earth Two it would allow the show to explore these ideas through a different light, or rather, through a twisted fun house mirror.
8. John Deleon
In the comics, John Deleon first appeared in Justice League of America #75. He was the businessman who stole Oliver Queen’s fortune. In the television series, he doesn’t appear beyond a name in Robert Queen’s notebook.
But a character like Deleon is exactly what Arrow needs. Oliver Queen lost control of Queen Consolidated to Ray Palmer, who after turning it into Palmer Tech, turned it over to Felicity Smoak who was then fired.
That’s is an extremely powerful company in the Arrow-verse which for the past season has remained almost entirely unseen.
Now, Deleon shouldn’t step into a super villain role, but rather, I think it would be interesting for that company to fall into less than scrupulous hands.
To become a thorn in the Green Arrow’s side.
A negative force in the city that the Green Arrow is trying to save.
John Deleon is also a part of an interesting comic book story-line where he deduces that Oliver Queen is leading a double life, that he is secretly… BATMAN!
He blackmails Oliver into fighting the Hellgrammite dressed as the Batman.
This would be an interesting story to see play out on the show, even if the Batman alias had to be replaced and Deleon believed that Oliver Queen was someone like Vigilante or Prometheus.
7. Jonathan Mallory/Red Dart
Arrow has used a lot of villains from elsewhere in the DC Universe, this is because that the common belief, outside of a few great characters like Merlyn and Count Vertigo that the Green Arrow shares with other characters, he doesn’t really have that many recurring villains.
But that is not the case.
The Red Dart first appeared in World’s Finest #95 and faced off against Oliver Queen on a number of occasions. While the original Jonathan Mallory iteration of the character is no longer active, the identity of the Red Dart was taken up first by a Justice league villain and then by a female member of the Longbow Hunters, who faced off against the Green Arrow in the New 52.
Now, while he is not as high profile as some characters, the Red Dart is still interesting. In his opening adventure he pretended to be a hero, in order to get away with crimes.
This would allow for an interesting exploration of the trust that people do or do not feel for vigilantes like the Green Arrow in Star City.
Mallory’s use of darts as a weapon isn’t that visually interesting, but it wouldn’t be too much of a leap to make him a master of various projectile weapons – darts, throwing knives, shuriken, even the bow and arrow.
Plus the Red Dart is a legacy character, which means after his story has run it’s course, his weapons and methodology can be picked up by someone else. This is very practical for a television show that might not always be able to bring actor back and Arrow has shown that it very much embraces the idea of legacy with more than one Count Vertigo and multiple Black Canaries.
I love that Arrow has embraced the larger DC Universe and it should continue to do so, but it should mine it’s own roots as well. Too often the television series feels like ‘The Green Arrow teams up with the DC Universe’. A few episodes peppered throughout each Season with other DC characters is interesting and entertaining, but Arrow should still be grounded in it’s own mythology.
Using villains from the Green Arrow strips would help the show regain it’s identity.
6. Roderick Rose/Hellgrammite
The character called the Hellgrammite has already been adapted for an episode of Supergirl where the heroine battled a member of an alien race called the Hellgrammites.
However, the comic book character is very different from the television iteration and there is no reason that a more faithful adaptation couldn’t be made on Arrow.
Roderick Rose (who sometimes uses the alias Roderick Dobson) was a scientist that mutated himself with insect DNA giving him an insectoid exoskeleton, the ability to secrete adhesives, leap long distances and weave cocoons which can transform others into weaker versions of himself.
The character first appeared in Brave and the Bold #80 where he faced off against Batman and the Creeper, it is however his next appearance that connects him to the Green Arrow.
The Hellgrammite faced off against Green Arrow and Black Canary in World’s Finest #248 and #249.
Relocating to Star City, the Hellgrammite is operating Rebirth, Inc. which claims to restore the youth of millionaires that can pay for the privilege.
However it is a con, the Hellgrammite cannot use his cocoons to rejuvenate anyone, he has merely been replacing people with impersonators.
After John Deleon (mentioned above) crosses the Hellgrammite, he blackmails Oliver Queen into going after him, having deduced that he is a costumed vigilante (although not deducing the correct vigilante).
Oliver and Black Canary defeat the Hellgrammite, although Deleon is killed during the conflict.
This would be an interesting storyline to adapt for the screen and the Hellgrammite would make an interesting villain to have on Arrow and the other Arrow-verse shows.
The character of the Hellgrammite would go on to appear is other DC Comics titles and is now most closely associated with Superman. Interestingly, he also has a connection to the comic book iteration of Prometheus.
That said, he is a true Green Arrow villain, and would make a formidable opponent if he were ever used by the television series.
5. Kurt Lance
To understand the character of Kurt Lance, we have to take a look at the history of the Black Canary, a character who is central to the comics and television series.
Black Canary was introduced in Flash Comics #86 as Dinah Drake. She was a crime fighter who much later, developed a sonic scream.
Curiously, in her civilian identity, Dinah was a florist.
Her main love interest was Lawrence “Larry” Lance who was a police officer introduced in Flash Comics #92.
It would later be revealed that the two had married, making Black Canary Dinah Drake Lance and in Justice League of America #219 and #220 that they had a daughter called Dinah Laurel Lance.
The daughter was brain-dead and in a coma, so the Black Canary transferred her mind into the body of her daughter to continue her crime fighting career.
It was during this period that, now a widow, she became romantically involved with Oliver Queen – the Green Arrow.
The whole mind transfer angle plot point was eventually abandoned, and instead a new version of Dinah Laurel Lance was a crime fighter who had been trained by her mother; Dinah Drake Lance.
This version of Laurel Lance went on to marry Oliver Queen.
In the Arrow television series the Lance family plays a prominent role. The patriarch of the family is police detective Quentin “Larry” Lance who is of course based on Larry Lance, while his ex-wife is Dinah Lance based upon Dinah Drake Lance (although this version never takes the identity of Black Canary).
They have two daughters – Laurel Lance (later revealed to be Dinah Laurel Lance) who is based on Dinah Laurel Lance and a new character called Sara Lance.
Sara Lance becomes the first Canary and later White Canary.
Later, after the (temporary) death of her sister, Laurel become the Black Canary but is killed off in Season Four, although the actress continues to portray a version of the character from an alternate universe called Black Siren.
Recently, in Season Five, the show has introduced Dinah Drake as the new Black Canary. She is of course based on the original comic book character (much like the wife of Quentin Lance) but is unrelated to the Lance family.
During the New 52 reboot of DC continuity in the comics, the Black Canary was re-introduced as Dinah Drake Lance. She was a former black ops agent who had been married to a Kurt Lance.
He was first alluded to in Birds of Prey #1 and introduced in Teen Titans #8.
Kurt was believed dead, but was later revealed as alive. Along with Dinah he had worked for Argus as a member of Team 7.
The character was also a meta-human with the ability to amplify or siphon the superpowers of others.
The character was later aged and has not been seen in DC’s Rebirth continuity.
With Dinah Drake recently introduced on Arrow, I think it would be the perfect time to introduce a version of Kurt Lance onto the series.
He would play three very important roles.
Firstly, with the death of Laurel Lance, and with Sara Lance traveling through time on Legends of Tomorrow, the character of Quentin Lance lacks any real family ties.
This has lead to the character feeling somewhat disconnected from the rest of the cast.
I would introduced Kurt as a previously unmentioned nephew of Quentin, maybe the son of an estranged brother called Lawrence Lance. The pair could be reunited at the funeral of that said brother, bringing Kurt onto the show.
This would give Quentin a surrogate son, allowing him to play the role of a father, a role that he is currently denied.
Kurt Lance could also be used as a love interest for Dinah Drake, as at the moment it would seem that Arrow is not intending for the character to become involved with Oliver Queen, since he had a relationship with the previous two Canaries.
This would also give Dinah a connection to the Lance family and present the opportunity for her to later become Dinah Drake Lance.
Finally, Kurt Lance could also be used to fill the void left by the removal of the Suicide Squad from the Arrow television series. In the comics, Kurt Lance and Dinah are super-powered members of Team 7, which works for Argus.
By simply having Kurt come from Central City, he could be given his super-powers from the comics as a result of the Particle Accelerator explosion.
Lyla Michaels, current head of Argus, could assemble a team of super-powered heroes, to replace Argus’ former team of super-powered villains.
I think Team 7 would be an excellent addition to the Arrow-verse and both Kurt and Dinah could later become members.
This could also provide interesting drama, with Kurt trying to persuade Dinah to give up being on Team Arrow to join Team 7.
None of the Lance family has yet been introduced in DC’s Rebirth continuity, and with that reality being altered, it’s still not entirely clear whether the Black Canary is Dinah Drake or Dinah Laurel Lance.
Yet, assuming it is the former, I would introduce both Larry Lance and Kurt Lance into the comics as potential love interests and brothers.
I would also introduce an older Quentin Lance as their father. As such, this would mimic Quentin’s relationship with his two daughters on the television series, creating a familiar, if different setup.
On the television series I would also try to better establish the identity of Quentin’s wife, who was previous presumed to be Dinah Drake Lance, but with the introduction of a younger Dinah Drake, this can no longer be the case.
In the short lived Birds of Prey television series, the Black Canary was introduced as a mother and daughter called Carolyn Lance and Dinah Redmond.
As such, maybe Quentin’s ex-wife could be Dinah Redmond Lance? This would be a good use of continuity and would help smooth out the identity problems created by introducing various versions of Black Canary on Arrow.
Okay, my head hurts.
4. Emiko Queen/Red Arrow
In the Arrow television series, Oliver Queen has a half sister called Thea Queen who is based upon the character of Mia Dearden.
In the comics, Mia is no blood relation of Oliver Queen, but in 2013 we were introduced to another sibling. Another half sister.
As part of the New 52 we were introduced to Emiko Queen, who fulfills the important role of sister in the comics, nicely echoing the television series.
Unlike Thea, Emiko is the daughter of Robert Queen, rather than Moira Queen. It is revealed that Robert survived his arrival on the island and later embarked on a relationship with Shado which resulted in the birth of Emiko.
Emiko was kidnapped by Simon Lacroix, also known as Komodo, and raised by him to be an enemy of the Queen Family.
She eventually learned the truth and now fights crime alongside her brother as the Red Arrow, much like Thea Queen does on television.
Emiko Queen was introduced during the New 52 in Green Arrow #18.
As I have stated, she is a very important character in the comic books, and should remain an ongoing part of the book.
But, it would be tricky to include her on television.
Robert Queen and Shado are both deceased on the show, and never met. Also Komodo did appear in Season 3 but in a minor role.
However, we know that Robert Queen did survive to operate as The Hood on Earth Two, which also opens up the likelihood that events played out on the island differently. That might have resulted in Shado surviving.
Therefore if the show did ever want to include a version of Emiko, the best route would be to have her as the daughter of the Robert Queen and Shado of Earth Two.
The Green Arrow has often been accused of being a ripoff of Batman, and it is certainly true that the Arrow television series has borrowed the tone of the Nolan Dark Knight trilogy.
The Arrow series has also borrowed members of Batman’s Rogue Gallery such as Firefly, Ra’s Al Ghul and Talia Al Ghul. The character of the Huntress, closely associated with Batman, also appeared in earlier seasons.
Likewise, the older Green Arrow strips seemed to take ‘inspiration’ from Batman comics as well.
Greenface appeared in World’s Finest #39 and is the result of a man being scarred by chemicals and going on a revenge spree. He is very much Green Arrow’s version of Two-Face. There were other Green Arrow villains which followed similar patterns like Bull’s-Eye (The Joker), Cat (Catwoman), Master (Riddler) and Waxface (Clayface).
Yes, these are villains who, for the most part, had very little established about them but they are just waiting for the right writer to come along and reinvent them.
I think Greenface could be developed into a really compelling character for use in both the Green Arrow comics and the Arrow television series.
2. Diana Dare/Queen Arrow
In the comic books, Oliver Queen’s main love interest has always been the Black Canary. Either Laurel Lance or Dinah Drake.
But the show ruled out Laurel as a love interest early on and it doesn’t seem like they are going in that direction with Dinah.
The main romantic interest in the television series was Felicity Smoak, but the show has also moved beyond this and the character’s relationship with Susan Williams has not proved popular.
My suggestion would be that the solution to this situation can be found in Adventure Comics #241.
There, a mysterious new crime fighting archer appeared and much to the dismay of Green Arrow and Speedy, she was a girl!
Despite Oliver worrying about her putting herself in danger, Queen Arrow (I love the name!) was an effective crime fighter.
She wore a female version of the Green Arrow costume, an updated version isn’t difficult to imagine, as Thea wears a female version of Roy Harper’s red costume.
Just picture it in green.
Oliver and Speedy eventually discovered that Queen Arrow was socialite Diana Dare, daughter of wealthy Everet Dare.
She was a fan of the Green Arrow, but she was exposed to a rare Javiro ceremonial arrow which was painted with a potion that causes her to lose her willpower, making her to act out her fantasy of being a crime fighter, while remaining in a dreamlike state.
Green Arrow cures Diana, but she has no memory of being Queen Arrow and he never tells her the truth.
Any updated version of the character should drop the whole ‘acting out a fantasy while asleep’ part of the plot, it distinctly reminds me of when Black Cat was revealed as being delusional in Amazing Spider-Man #205, something mercifully undone in her next appearance.
As a wealthy socialite, she would be everything that Oliver Queen was when he was rich, but better. Classier.
As a crime fighter, she could be his equal, a partner, which is something that the character needs.
Diana Dare would be a perfect addition to both the television series and the modern day comic book.
1. Leapo the Clown/Bulls-Eye
If you mention the name Bullseye when talking about comic books, most people would think of a certain Daredevil villain, however there was a character with that name that predates him.
Bulls-Eye first appeared in 1946, in the pages of World’s Finest Comics #24 and believe it or not, he’s Green Arrow’s arch-nemesis.
Before the character of Merlyn came along and was inserted into the Green Arrow mythology, the Green Arrow’s most dangerous recurring villain was a clown called Leapo.
I’m guessing that’s not his birth name.
Bulls-Eye is a circus acrobat who turned to crime, in his first appearance he murders the district attorney who sent him to prison.
The gimmick behind the villain, is because of his acrobatic nature, he is able to dodge the Green Arrow’s projectiles.
He often cackles “Hit the bulls-eye! Only ten cents!”
Bulls-Eye is obviously a lesser version of the Joker, much as during this era, the Green Arrow was seen as a lesser version of Batman.
Despite that there are a few interesting things about Bulls-Eye that sets him apart. In one adventure he replaces Oliver Queen’s arrows with duds, a clever trick when you’re facing someone reliant on technology. Sabotage their arsenal before they go into battle.
This happened in Adventure Comics #138.
In an earlier comic book appearance, in Adventure Comics #116, Bulls-Eye also uses a dartboard to determine what type of crime to commit. This is another interesting and unique element of the character.
Now, if Bulls-Eye were to ever appear again, the character would need to be updated. It is important to remember that at times, even the Joker has been played for laughs in the comic books.
His look would need to be changed, interestingly I think Bulls-Eye rather resembles the Joker in the opening of The Dark Knight, when he is wearing a mask to appear as one of his own henchmen.
Ironically, having Bulls-Eye wear such a mask would help distinguish him from how the Joker is usually portrayed.
Bulls-Eye’s link to the Joker could even be made explicit, if he were brought back in the comics, by having him as a former member of the Joker’s gang.
As the original arch-nemesis of Oliver Queen, I think Bulls-Eye is more than worthy to take the top spot on this list. Not because he is the most interesting character here, but because of the story potential that he has.
On the television series, both the characters of Merlyn and Count Vertigo have had their stories played out.
The Arrow needs a villain with a lot of personality to step into the spotlight.
The trick is to make Bulls-Eye dangerous.
To make him a truly worthy nemesis for the Green Arrow.