In its second season, Arrow cemented its reputation as the finest live-action television adaptation of a comic book superhero yet. So anticipation for the show’s return on Wednesday, October 8th is at a fever-pitch, with each new piece of casting news bringing fans closer to a foaming frenzy. Fortunately, showrunner Marc Guggenheim has just the thing to feed that fever – the Arrow: Season 2.5 digital comic. Co-written by Arrow‘s co-producer Keto Shimizu, penciled by Joe Bennett, and inked by Jack Jadson, Arrow: Season 2.5 finds Oliver Queen battling the notorious Church of Blood in an epic that bridges the gap between seasons 2 and 3. I chatted with Guggenheim and Shimizu about their plans for the digital series, and the two told me how it will explore the fate of favorite characters left unresolved in the season 2 finale, while introducing new faces to Starling City.
Note: Arrow: Season 2.5′ is available now via the DC Comics App, comiXology.com, ReadDCEntertainment.com, iBooks, Google Play, Kindle Store, and the Nook Store for $0.99.
Nerdist: How will the structure of Season 2.5 differ from the first season’s digital comic?
Marc Guggenheim: That was definitely more of an anthology. It was short stories by different people, written by different writers. It all connected with Arrow, but it was much more of a looser connection of narratives. Here we’re taking the completely opposite approach. We’re going to have a theme for the entirety of the story. Keto and I are the only writers working on it, so it’s one cohesive serialized story that bridges seasons 2 and 3.
N: How long will it run?
MG: It’ll run twenty-four digital chapters and twelve print chapters. So about a year’s worth of story.
N: My understanding is that it divides at some point into two arcs.
MG: Yeah, it was really meant to be divided into two arcs. We may play a little fast and loose with that, because of various different publishing changes. But generally speaking, yes, that is correct
N: You’ve said the comic will touch on some elements of last season’s finale, like Detective Lance’s collapse.
MG: That’s right. Detective Lance, he ended up collapsing, and bleeding through the mouth as it were, at the end of season 2. We’re going to show what happened to him directly thereafter. It’s actually one of our best opportunities to directly resolve a cliffhanger from season 2, because this takes place in the weeks after our season 2 finale, as opposed to our season 3 premiere, which takes place five months after. If everything goes according to plan it will begin a few weeks after the finale and it will take you straight into the opening set piece of episode 301.
Photo of Marc Guggenheim by Sophia Quach
N: What other elements from the show will be featured?
Keto Shimizu: Certainly we get to go bigger and bolder in this format, doing things that we can’t really accomplish with our production schedule and with our production budget – really spectacular action sequences, huge explosions. In addition to that we can go places we can’t go in the show. We’re going to be doing a Suicide Squad [story] throughout this series that will be pages here and there and then wrapping up with a double digital issue/single print issue. That will take us to [the country of] Kahndaq, which is something we could never do on the show just because it’s impossible to shoot it. We’ll get to get into some geopolitics that we normally don’t really do on the show, a political fantasy of “What if the Suicide Squad could go in and fix some of these awful things that are happening in the world?” [Laughs.]
N: Will the digital series offer any flashbacks like those regularly featured on the TV show?
MG: No, there’s no plan to do so. [But] the nature of the comic allows us to travel to Hong Kong, which is where Oliver found himself at the end of season 2 in flashbacks. And Chapter 4 will flash us back to the events of episode 221.
N: The Suicide Squad was a huge hit with fans last season – will we see them again on the show this season?
KS: Oh absolutely. Absolutely.
N: You’ve said that the digital comic’s storyline will introduce characters we’ll see in season 3. Can you hint at who they might be?
MG: Peter Stormare’s character Vertigo, for sure. Some of the things he does in the season premiere will get [introduced] in the digital comic. That’s just one example. That’s just the most immediate. There’s a character in the works specifically for the digital comic named Caleb Green, he has a mysterious agenda that ties back to Robert Queen.
N: How did you select your artists for the digital comic?
MG: Joe [Bennett] and I actually did a Superman digital comic last year. I really enjoyed working with him. He’s just a phenomenal, phenomenal artist. I’ve always been a fan of his work. What we really wanted to do with the digital comic is raise the bar in terms of the quality of the art. And I feel like Joe and [inker Jack Jadson] have more than done that.
N: The monthly print comic collecting Arrow: Season 2.5 will be out in October?
MG: Yes, October 8th. So the comic will be released the same day as the TV show [season premiere]. The first digital chapter [was released] on September 1st. So for five weeks we’re your only source for an Arrow fix. [Laughs.]
N: One last question – How did you guys decide on which issues from the cliffhanger you wanted to resolve in the digital comic and which ones you wanted to leave for season 3 of the TV show to resolve?
MG: A lot of it really had to do with where the story’s taking place. In the case of Detective Lance, season 2.5 takes place in the weeks after his collapse whereas episode 301 takes place five months after he collapsed. So really we’re not so much making choices like “We better reveal this in the comics” versus “We better reveal this in the TV show.” Rather what it is is there were lots of stories that happened to these characters while the show was not on the air, and we’re doing our best to reveal what those stories were. We sort of treat these characters as if they are real. [Laughs.]
N: Thank you both so much.
KS: Our pleasure!
Image source: cwtvsource.com