While shippers will probably never get to learn exactly what Oliver and Felicity did during their summer of love outside of fan fiction, Arrow fans wondering what happened in Starling City between seasons 2 and 3 have the digital companion comic, Arrow: Season 2.5.
The show has a tendency of moving so fast with its plotting that it doesn’t take the appropriate amount of time to examine character motivations or occasionally even fully explore storylines. Beginning in September of last year, every two weeks, writer Marc Guggenheim (also the show’s executive producer and a writer) has used the comic fill in that elided time. While the series’ overarching storyline extending and then definitively wrapping up the Mirakuru drama that characterized season 2 never quite worked, everything else did.
We’ve gotten glimpses of the the mounting Olicity sexual tension, the inner workings of the League, more of the conflict between Sara and Malcolm that brought on her demise, even a visit from the Huntress. But by far the best storyline has been the one that ended with this week’s final issue of the series: Oliver’s relationship to his family’s company, Queen Consolidated. This wasn’t the first time Robert and Moira Queen’s actions came back to haunt Oliver in his vigilante work, but never has the show addressed why he’s so blasé about the company in the first place. Thanks to a man named Caleb Green who had a dangerous vendetta against the Queen family even before he got Mirkuru’d, Oliver was forced to confront the fact that his reluctance to take over the company is as much about distancing himself from its tarnished pre-Arrow past as it is about his tunnel vision for his cause. It’s a nice moment and a necessary one that the show probably won’t have time to address before Felicity takes over the former QC/former Palmer Tech in season 4. But–as it always has–the show will probably blow past that development so fast that viewers probably won’t even notice there’s a chapter missing.
While Arrow can occasionally be forgiven for being a little sloppy with its storytelling because of how strong its visual style is (take the first half of season 1 as proof), that’s not the case here. Artist Joe Bennett can’t quite capture the actors’ features and perspective-wise, he seems to have even more trouble with anything that’s not just a straight on view or action panels. Admittedly, he’s gotten better over the past few months, but it’s hard not to wonder if the overall comic might not be stronger (or more successful) if it were drawn by one of the artists who drew it during the digital companion series that ran during the first season or Marcus To, who draws The Flash: Season Zero companion comic that also ran throughout this season.
Regardless of shouda, coulda, wouldas, Arrow: Season 2.5 is pretty much required reading for fans who want to know what happened between seasons 2 and 3 and–at the very least–enjoyable reading for casual fans. With a little over two months left before the season 4 premiere, it and even the earlier series, are a good way to get an Arrow fix for the rest of the summer. It’s a little heavy on the Olicity, which might turn off for some, but the comic is great for adding bits of nuance to what airs on the CW. Plus the last issue showed Nyssa and Sara having deep conversations half-naked in bed. Who doesn’t want to see that?
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.