The Comic Book Roots of TV's ARROW

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Joshua Lapin-Bertone

Nov. 19, 2019


There’s a Crisis coming, and that's far from a bad thing. On December 8th, TV's “Crisis on Infinite Earths” will kick off, and it promises to be one of the most ambitious superhero event in television history. Not only will this five-part saga adapt the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths comic storyline, but this Arrowverse crossover will also be pulling in references from past TV shows like Birds of Prey, the original Flash series, and much more!


This is a DC television event no fan will want to miss, but we understand it can also be overwhelming. If you haven’t seen any of the Arrowverse family of shows (including Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Batwoman, and Legends of Tomorrow), or you want to explore the shows' roots, we’ve got you covered. Here’s some info to bring you up to speed on Arrow, and some extra reading material if you want to see what classic storylines inspired the hit television series.





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The show focuses on Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy whose life was changed after he became shipwrecked on a desert island. After spending 5 years cut off from his friends and family, Oliver returned home a new man, and developed a vigilante identity hoping he could atone for the sins of his deceased father. Oliver is joined in his quest by his friend John Diggle, and other super heroes and antiheroes like Black Canary, Wild Dog, and Mr. Terrific.





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If you’ve been away from Arrow for a few seasons, you should know that the last few years haven't been dull for Oliver. He became mayor of Star City, but lost his position after revealing his identity as Green Arrow. He and his tech support associate Felicity Smoak had a long on-again, off-again romance before getting married. They recently had a daughter named Mia, but her existence is currently being kept a secret from the world. Now, with the threat of a universe-ending disaster brewing, a mysterious cosmic being known as the Monitor is sending Oliver on a series of missions to prevent the upcoming Crisis. Personally we hope that he fails, because Crisis sounds like it’s going to be an awesome event and we don’t want anything to stop it from happening. In recent episodes, Oliver has begun to grow suspicious of the Monitor, whom viewers recently learned is working with Diggle’s wife Lyla Michaels. Hmmm…







If you’re a fan of Arrow who wants to dive deeper into the source material that inspired the hit show, the DC Universe comics library has you covered! If you’re an Oliver Queen fan in general, we have a handy beginner's guide with some recommended storylines guaranteed to bring you up to speed on the Emerald Archer. If you just want to get the basics, or read the comics that influenced the show, we have some series you’ll enjoy as well.




Green Arrow: Year One is a 7-issue limited series that focuses on Oliver’s time stranded on a desert island and how it turned him into a hero. This limited series heavily influenced the early seasons of Arrow, and the character John Diggle was named in honor of the comic’s author, Andy Diggle. Arrow would’ve been a much different show if this series had never been published. It’s highly recommended.




If you’re a fan of Team Arrow, most of its roster has some great stories in our comics library as well. For instance, Wild Dog first appeared in a 5-issue limited series (appropriately titled Wild Dog) which told the story of his origin and lethal mission to stop the underworld. In the comics, Wild Dog’s real name was Jack Wheeler instead of Rene Ramirez, and he was a little wealthier than his television counterpart. Despite these changes, you can clearly see how the comic book version of Wild Dog inspired the Rene TV fans know and love.




Oliver’s wife Felicity actually has roots in another superhero title. Felicity Smoak first appeared in 1984’s The Fury of Firestorm #23 and she and the nuclear powered hero weren’t exactly friends. Felicity believed Firestorm did more harm than good, but her attitude eventually cooled after she became his stepmom. That’s right, the original version of Felicity married Ed Raymond, Firestorm’s father. After the reality-altering events of Flashpoint, a new version of Felicity was introduced in 2014’s Green Arrow #35, and she took lots of cues from her television counterpart.




Speaking of Oliver’s love life, in the comics things went in a much different direction. The comic version of Green Arrow has had a long romance with Black Canary, and at one point they were actually married. You can read about their wedding and discover their adventures as husband and wife in the 2007 Green Arrow/Black Canary series. As a bonus, if you’re looking for something fun and different, try the 2015 Black Canary series, in which Dinah leads a traveling rock band that fights colorful villains.




If you thought Curtis Holt was epic as Mr. Terrific in the show, wait until you see what he does in the comics. His print counterpart is named Michael Holt, and he first appeared in 1997’s The Spectre #54. Holt is indeed a pretty terrific guy, and he’s used his 14 Ph.Ds to build many wonderful inventions and an awesome business empire. If you want to see Michael Holt take center stage, check out the 2011 Mr. Terrific series.




If you want to get deeper into the world of Arrow, our comics library also has the show's tie-in series, which fills in the gaps on what Oliver was doing in between seasons. The comic is essential reading for any fan of the show, and even has some important events that the series later referenced. For example, remember when we found out the Queen Mansion burned to the ground? That’s an event that first happened in the comic.




If you’re a fan of John Barrowman (an occasional host on DC Daily) and his portrayal of the villainous Malcolm Merlyn, then we have a treat for you. In 2016, Barrowman co-wrote a comic called Arrow: The Dark Archer which explored some of the lost chapters of Merlyn’s secret past. It’s a gripping read, and feels like a bonus episode of the show.

If you want to get ready for Crisis, or if you’re a fan of Arrow who wants to brush up on your comics lore, be sure to check out some of the above series. There’s a whole universe for you to explore!



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