Arrowverse Couch Club, December Book Club – Arrow: Season 2.5 (2014) #1-16/Arrow season 3 premiere, “The Calm”

We’re mixing things up a bit for our last book club discussion of the year by not only highlighting another Arrow tie-in comic, but revisiting an episode of the show as well! Arrow: Season 2.5 helps bridge the gap between seasons 2 and 3, and there’s certainly a lot to cover in these two arcs. In Starling City, Team Arrow has to deal with a new Brother Blood who’s forming a deadly church of his own, and in Kahndaq, the Suicide Squad is tasked with taking out a terrorist cell and rescuing a group of girls they’ve kidnapped. Even after Deathstroke’s attack on Starling City, there’s no rest for these heroes, so let’s dive right into this book and see how it helps set up the show’s third season.

  • Given that his belief was legitimate as opposed to just being a front for someone else’s operation, was Clinton Hogue a more dangerous leader of the Church of Blood than Sebastian?

  • Did you feel that this version of Black Adam was fitting for Arrow’s section of the world, or would you have preferred to see a more comic-accurate take on the character?

  • One major detail from this book that definitely didn’t happen on the show was the death of Bronze Tiger, as we see him alive and still imprisoned in season 7. Do you feel that this detail completely wipes the entire series from continuity, or do you still consider everything else to be canon?

  • Given that the comic revealed that 3x01 was actually the second time Oliver had been dosed with Zytle’s Vertigo, shouldn’t Team Arrow have recognized the substance when he got poisoned in the episode?

  • The last month has brought a lot of upheaval to the Arrowverse’s future, as we now know Black Lightning will be joining Supergirl in having its next season be its last while also getting news of new shows about Painkiller, Wonder Girl and possibly Naomi (though Greg Berlanti’s apparent non-involvement in Naomi makes me at least a little doubtful that it’ll be set in the same universe). With so many existing heroes being rotated out and new ones set to step into the spotlight, does this all make you more or less hopeful about the future of the Arrowverse?

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Considering Hogue’s lack of resources and the shorter time it took for Team Arrow to take him down compared to Sebastian, I’d say no, but that’s just in the short term. Had this reworked Church of Blood been allowed to continue growing under Hogue’s leadership, it could’ve morphed into something legitimately more dangerous considering their religious fanaticism. Granted, I’m not necessarily picturing an outcome where Starling City gets completely wiped out like Slade had planned, but rather something more gradual that would’ve corrupted the minds of many of the homeless and other destitute people in the city. The church would still be committing various acts of violence in the short term while trying to enact further control of the population in the long term. Hogue may have had true belief in whatever deity he felt he was serving, but that sort of truly unhinged behavior can make for a different kind of danger that still holds sway over a lot of people. And as we saw from the Crisis in Kahndaq arc, even a smaller group of unhinged fanatics can still terrorize an entire population. Even after taking Hogue down at the end of the Blood arc, it would’ve been wise of Team Arrow to keep an eye out for any further Church of Blood in the event that another acolyte took up the Brother Blood mantle

I’ve gone a bit back and forth on this. On the one hand, if you’re gonna keep your characters grounded and realistic, having Black Adam be a religious zealot and leader of a terrorist group does feel like a fitting change since he’s still able to be a sadistic leader imposing his will on others through violent measures. But knowing that the show was about a season away from going full-blown magic on us, I wondered why they couldn’t have leaned more into his powered side. Introducing the full-blown Shazam story would’ve been too much, but having Adam still be Kahndaq’s super-powered, magical dictator who’s lived for thousands of years wouldn’t seem like that much of a stretch in advance of Ra’s al Ghul and especially Vandal Savage. But then I had to remember where the show was at the time and how the writers seemed to take a more gradual approach to introducing magic to the universe. I guess having Adam be more comic-accurate would’ve actually felt like too much before season 4, so all things considered, I think this really was an interesting interpretation. Even though he most likely died at the end, he could always be alive post-Crisis…

Considering my frustration in finding out that a number of these tie-in comics have been wiped from the official canon, I’m willing to believe that most everything else from these issues did happen on the show. I don’t think anything from the Blood arc contradicted the events of the show, and the Crisis in Kahndaq arc could’ve still happened in between seasons sans Turner’s death. The operation could’ve still happened the same otherwise, just w/ him making it out alive this time, perhaps w/ serious but non-fatal injuries. I’m probably putting too much thought into this, especially since Crisis could’ve wiped it all away entirely, but I’d still like to think these stories happened on the show in some capacity anyway. To me, it just makes the stories more impactful if there’s evident cohesion w/ the show it’s building off of

On a meta level, we know that they wouldn’t have referenced this in the episode since those issues in the arc hadn’t been released yet. Even if they had been, the writers would’ve known that a majority of viewers wouldn’t have read the comic. But if the Blood arc is canon, what’s the in-universe explanation? I think this could be justified in two ways:

We know Zytle tinkered w/ the Vertigo formula in between these appearances, resulting in Oliver having different hallucinations each time. While the side effects were similar, they also could’ve been different enough to make the team think that these were 2 different substances. Also, Oliver had probably been hit w/ enough drugs at that point in his vigilante career to make these instances a little less special, if no less concerning in the moment. Not analyzing the different drugs to see if there are any similarities might not be the most responsible approach, but it’s also somewhat understandable given all the other crap the team has to deal w/

I know I mentioned this somewhere before, but it’s worth repeating that it’s kind of upsetting to see Crisis finally establish a proper Justice League, only to know that more than half the roster is now on their way out. When Supergirl ends next year, Barry, Sara and Clark will be the only one of those members left starring on a show, and at this rate, I can’ t imagine that either Flash or Legends has much more time left. Obviously all these shows have to come to an end eventually, but I was really hoping that we could’ve gotten a couple solid years of this group interacting as a unit though major annual crossovers and occasional smaller ones

Of course you have to realize that COVID had to have changed the CW’s plans at least somewhat. But it’s not like this was ever gonna stop them from making shows entirely, so why not still try to commit to this roster for at least a little while longer? The big overhauls that are coming also have me buying into speculation that WB is trying to exert more control over the streaming rights of their shows by getting rid of ones that have Netflix deals. While I can see how it makes sense from a business perspective, it’s also good business to ensure that you maintain quality products on screen regardless of where they go afterwards. I don’t wanna knock these new shows too much when we know nothing about them aside from the most basic premises, but it is unfortunate to see these more classic heroes getting dumped in favor of ones that were only created in more recent years or, in Wonder Girl’s case, haven’t even debuted at all

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Am assuming read first before watching the episode?

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That’s how I figured it’d be, though the specific order isn’t too important

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I will be honest I do not remember Brother Blood as much as I feel I should have. For some reason on the show I felt he did not play as large a part but it may be my fading memory. I did enjoy this comic version as I did not remember the other one and felt the use of multiple issues helped flesh out the character for me.

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I thought it was very well done for the realistic world Arrow takes place in. I also like the lightning like scar on the face in reference to Black Adam. I also enjoyed his hinting of the power he had so it might sound like rant of crazy person but could also lead to a future display of power.

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I had noticed this too! Is it possible for his death to have been faked or even resurrected for the future seasons? I liked his character on the show and enjoyed a person serving his time but still honorable. It does not ruin my enjoyment of either and I’m glad he did come back

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I really enjoyed these issues more than some of the other tie ins as it was written by show producers and felt just like episodes of the show. The dialogue was spot on and I like this is early in the Olicity relationship as they are not together but should be.
I also liked the fact that the show’s restrictions meant they could not call Task Force X Suicide Squad but here they go all in for it because hey we are comics!
I also liked introducing other characters to “live action “ such as Lyle Bolton aka Lockup.

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I am still hopeful even though I had hoped they could have built on the Justice League as it was a little more before changing members. I do not think the new spin-offs will be able to replace as Painkiller is a bad guy mostly and Naomi is too new. Having Superman join would feel too much like the comics and he is overpowered. I do feel as if Black Lightning has reached a good stopping point as it has progress through full arcs

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I finished watching the season three premiere, not realizing how much happened in one episode.
Of course more discrepancies with the comic as Lance woke up in comic when he saw Sara but in show they never see each other.
I did like the comic mentioning Felicity buying Ollie a bed and then this episode mentioning it.
As the leader of the Legendary Island of Misfits, I was excited to see Ray’s introduction as well as Sara before Legend status.
Then to have another Prison Break alumni with the new Vertigo to join Captain Cold and Heat Wave.
Barry wakes up! I forgot he appeared on one episode here before his accident. Then Sara’s death and the mystery of her killer. Loved seeing her as Black Canary again. Doesn’t Diggle’s baby get named after her?
So when does Arrow Season 2.5 take place as there is overlap. I did enjoy Waller in flashbacks on show and in present day in comics.

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That was a pretty nice touch. It seemed a lot more fitting for this version compared to wearing a big lightning bolt on his chest

I suppose a resurrection is possible, though it seems pretty unlikely. W/ the way they were acting after the mission, especially considering there was a grave and all, I highly doubt his death was faked, especially since I can’t imagine what purpose that would serve. And if he was somehow resurrected, that seems like way too big a detail for the show to just gloss over

Yep. Lived for a couple years, got wiped from existence by Flashpoint and then restored post-Crisis. The life of Sara Diggle has certainly been an interesting one so far

Considering Lyla says she’s about 4 months along in her pregnancy and season 3 starts about 5 months after season 2’s finale, I figure this book starts shortly after season 2

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Given that his belief was legitimate as opposed to just being a front for someone else’s operation, was Clinton Hogue a more dangerous leader of the Church of Blood than Sebastian?
Hogue was more dangerous because, unlike Sebastian, he was calling the shots. And given enough time, even more so by buying into what he was selling.

Did you feel that this version of Black Adam was fitting for Arrow’s section of the world, or would you have preferred to see a more comic-accurate take on the character?
This version of Black Adam vs something more comic book accurate works for the setting of the show, were they have done something on the live action level. Of course, hearing the name Khem Adam would automatically make we want as well as expect something more Shazam-y and the eventual introduction of Billy Batson and a creepy subway tunnel.

One major detail from this book that definitely didn’t happen on the show was the death of Bronze Tiger, as we see him alive and still imprisoned in season 7. Do you feel that this detail completely wipes the entire series from continuity, or do you still consider everything else to be canon?
I don’t take the comic book tie-ins as canon. In the case of Bronze Tiger, one could explain him being alive as part of the Post Crisis universe. I like to think tie-ins as something that could be on the show. As it is drawn vs live action produced, they have a little leeway with respect to “effects” and “displays of power”. It’s not super critical for me, but I do like seeing connections between the show and the comic and in either direction. Like the bed reference that i should have rewound to hear more succinctly but didn’t.

Given that the comic revealed that 3x01 was actually the second time Oliver had been dosed with Zytle’s Vertigo, shouldn’t Team Arrow have recognized the substance when he got poisoned in the episode?
Meh. See above. I also like the actor that played Zytle and how a low level pill pusher had such fighting prowess.

The last month has brought a lot of upheaval to the Arrowverse’s future, as we now know Black Lightning will be joining Supergirl in having its next season be its last while also getting news of new shows about Painkiller, Wonder Girl and possibly Naomi (though Greg Berlanti’s apparent non-involvement in Naomi makes me at least a little doubtful that it’ll be set in the same universe). With so many existing heroes being rotated out and new ones set to step into the spotlight, does this all make you more or less hopeful about the future of the Arrowverse?
I was hoping for a Justice League/Justice Society crossover once Stargirl had its footing and maybe another season under its proverbial belt. The fresh blood can go either way: we see things almost explode with its greatness and blossom in unexpected ways or it becomes part of the demise of the superhero genre. Like the western. So my concern is with the genre as a whole vs any particular Universe. Because I like these kinds of stories and they will only survive with storytelling done very well.

Painkiller from Black Lightning has an anti-hero vibe. Maybe it will be him walking the earth and getting into adventures. and he don’t mind killing people.

Wonder Girl if done right will backdoor us into all things Wonder Woman. Just like how Superman was introduced on Supergirl. And given the season finale of Batwoman, pandemic aside, Batman was on the cusp of being introduced.

I don’t think we need another SuperMAN show per se, but I will still watch. I wasn’t so keen on Supergirl when they first announced it and it’s been a pretty good ride. I do remember both Superman and Supergirl having seats at the the newly unveiled JL table once Crisis on CWverse concluded. Ending Supergirl and starting Superman could be just another conspiracy to make sure there is at least always one ‘S’ in play.

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That certainly made him more dangerous as he went on. He already believed what he was saying initially, but taking on the role allowed him to feed into this continual cycle of beliefs connected to the church, which just kept making things worse

I’m certainly assuming he’s still alive post-Crisis, but that wouldn’t be anything different from when we last saw him pre-Crisis. Of course who knows what his post-Crisis history is like, but unless writers decide different at some point, I doubt Crisis had much of an impact on Turner’s life

I certainly hope so. I’m still surprised that we haven’t gotten an Arrowverse Wonder Woman yet, though we seem to keep coming close

I think i have my history confused. when Oliver was in prison, Turner was the surprise ally and that occurred before Crisis?

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Yep. The only post-Crisis episodes of Arrow were the last 2

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My opinion of the tie in still stands.

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