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Who Is Richard Dragon? Breaking Down ARROW’s Latest Villain

Who Is Richard Dragon? Breaking Down ARROW’s Latest Villain

Prometheus was always going to be a tough act to follow on Arrow, but now we know who is going to menace Star City in the upcoming sixth season. Kirk Acevedo has been cast as Ricardo Diaz, a man better known to comic book fans as Richard Dragon.

Deadline was the first to report that Acevedo has been signed for a season-long story arc on Arrow, which means that his character is either the Big Bad of the season or at least one of the main villains. This incarnation of the character is described as “a hardened ex-con recently released from prison for crimes he didn’t commit,” who is also “bent on taking over Star City’s criminal underworld” and “a master in hand to hand combat, honed by years of life on the street.”

Acevedo has a long list of credits to his name, including stints on 12 Monkeys, OZ, Fringe, The Walking Dead, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Acevedo’s latest role has a history in DC’s comic book universe that goes back over 40 years, although Richard Dragon is still a relatively unknown character among non-comic fans. His major part in the sixth season of Arrow will go a long way towards changing that.

But who is Richard Dragon? Would you believe that he was one of DC’s first martial arts heroes during the Kung Fu comics phase of the ’70s? It’s true! Writer Dennis O’Neil and artist Jim Berry created the character for their novel, Kung Fu Master, Richard Dragon: Dragon’s Fists in 1974, while using the pseudonym Jim Dennis. The following year, O’Neil and artist Leo Duranona brought Dragon into the DC Universe with the Richard Dragon: Kung-Fu Fighter series. It ran for two years before it was canceled.

As originally envisioned, Richard Dragon was a teenage thief who was caught in the act of stealing a priceless object from a dojo. The dojo master, O-Sensei, decided to take Dragon on as a student and taught him martial arts alongside Ben Turner, a young man who later went on to become the Bronze Tiger. Dragon also helped train O-Sensei’s god-daughter, Sandra Wu-San, who went on to become Lady Shiva, one of the deadliest assassins in the world.

Following the cancellation of his own title, Dragon appearances became more sporadic. During the ’80s, Dragon became a mentor for Vic Sage a.k.a. The Question, and he went on to teach Barbara Gordon/Oracle and Huntress. Richard Dragon didn’t receive his own comic again until 2004, when writer Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel revamped Dragon’s origins and his relationships with Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva. In that retelling, the Bronze Tiger was Dragon’s mentor, while Lady Shiva was his lover and his personal nemesis.

Following the New 52 reboot, Green Arrow writer Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino killed off the original Richard Dragon and replaced him with Ricardo Diaz, Jr., the son of an infamous drug lord. This is the version of the character that Arrow appears to be using. And unlike the original Richard Dragon, Diaz was portrayed as a villain and a crime boss who has ties to both John Diggle and Oliver Queen.

Diggle killed Diaz’s father while posing as the Green Arrow, and Diaz held a grudge against both men. Diaz’s role in the new season of Arrow may mean that we’ll also see the Longbow Hunters, a supervillain team comprised of Brick, Killer Moth, and Red Dart. Within the DCU, Diaz placed an extremely large bounty on Green Arrow, which the Longbow Hunters attempted to claim. That seems like an ideal storyline for the live-action show.

Arrow season 6 will debut this on October 12, and we may see Acevedo as Richard Dragon shortly thereafter.

Are you excited to see Richard Dragon join the Arrowverse? Let us know in the comment section below!

Images: DC Comics/NBCUniversal TV

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