It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of The CW’s breakout show based on a young Oliver Queen, early on in his career as Green Arrow. For the most part, it’s a pretty good show. Recent episodes (with the exception of last week’s “Dodger”) have shown vast improvements, and I can’t wait to watch “Dead to Rights”.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about reading the next issue of the comics series. To be quite frank, the comics are a mess. The first issue was an extremely discouraging summary of everything that had happened in the show – except, instead of the pretty good cinematography we see in the show, we got art that seemed half done. I know that that is a legitimate style of art in comics, but I tend not to be a fan of it, as it makes comics feel half finished.
Though the art style becomes more refined in later issues, it’s a big problem in earlier issues. Especially since characters like Oliver and Diggle look nothing like their TV show counterparts, and are almost indistinguishable from other characters in the comics. For example, in the issue that sees Diggle and his unit set upon by insurgents, he is essentially indistinguishable from the other soldiers around him.
Which is sad, because that is one of the few issues that I actually feel was done well. It provides some good back story for Diggle, which we haven’t really seen in the TV show. It is my opinion that flashbacks shouldn’t only be limited to Oliver, but with the stellar quality of “The Odyssey”, I’m not really complaining.
Essentially, what this comic series is a chronicle of minor events that we don’t necessarily see in the TV show. Now that the TV show has moved away from the formula of “Another week, another name crossed out of the book”, and gained a good deal of depth as a result, it seems to be the duty of the comics to remind us that this formula was once what the entirety of the show was based on.
This shows a lack of creativity on the part of Arrow’s creative team. There is a lot more that goes on in Starling City other than Oliver and Diggle taking out a corrupt rich guy every week.
One of the biggest issues early on in Arrow’s first season was that the episodes felt disjointed. While we, as the viewers, knew that it was all part of a larger story, it certainly didn’t seem that way. The same is true for the comics. It jumps from flash backs to the modern day, as opposed to crafting an original story.
We’ve gotten back story on Diggle and Huntress, but not much in the way of an actual story. And, while I loved the Diggle issue, the issue that provides Huntress’ back story is useless, as it just regurgitates events that we already know happened. The comic jumps from this to random incidents in the modern day, none of which are essential to the overall story.
Granted, you shouldn’t necessarily have to read the comics to understand the TV show. But it could be done in a way that is similar to how the Young Justice and Arkham Unhinged comics are done. Both of those series craft original stories that tie in to the Young Justice TV show and the Arkham City video game, but are optional material. While you don’t need to read them, they are a joy to read because they provide original stories that run in tandem to the source material.
Arrow has potential to be a great series – but it needs to do more. What it needs is to actually develop characters in ways that the show hasn’t already established. If the comics could tell an original story – one that lasts more than a single issue – rather than regurgitating what we already know – the series would become a lot better.
For example, one of the issues that I enjoyed was the one about the fights. That issue actually gave Oliver a little bit of development. Sure, we had seen that specific piece of development in the show already. But the story was entertaining and well executed. But it felt extremely rushed. If that had been stretched out through, say, three issues, it could have been paced better, and could have shown us more, rather than just showing us a few events.
Despite it’s potential, the comic series based on Arrow is a disaster. Neither the writing or the artwork are anything special, and the series is filled with lackluster characters and stories. Perhaps the worst thing about this series, though, is that it could consist of stories that benefit the show, rather than simply reminding us of what the show used to be.