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You Decide – Which New Comic Character Added to Arrow in Season 2 Has Been Adapted the Best?

With Arrow just hitting its Season 2 midseason finale, we figured it was a good time to see which new character introduced to the series so far in Season 2 has been adapted the best from their comic book counterpart?

Read on for the choices!

21 Comments

Barry Allen’s been the most entertaining (whether or not he’s the best). Though i could have done without all the Geoff Johns retcons about his mother’s murder.

I had no idea how cringe worthy the retcons that Geoff Johns attached to Barry Allen were until I saw an actor trying to make sense of them. Still, they did a nice job with casting.

My vote went to Black Canary. She is connected to Green Arrow, so it make sense to interweave their origins.

I dunno, Dean. I don’t like the retcon either, but I think it sounds normal enough if you didn’t know that it was a retcon. Mother is murdered, father is framed for the murder, kid becomes obsessed with justice as a result.

What Brian says. I really think Barry needed a tragic backstory as little as he needed resurrecting (even though I love Barry Allen I was happy with Wally) but it’s a common enough theme, even outside comics.

I dunno, Dean. I don’t like the retcon either, but I think it sounds normal enough if you didn’t know that it was a retcon. Mother is murdered, father is framed for the murder, kid becomes obsessed with justice as a result.

What Brian says. I really think Barry needed a tragic backstory as little as he needed resurrecting (even though I love Barry Allen I was happy with Wally) but it’s a common enough theme, even outside comics.

Well, that’s part of the problem. It’s a “normal” part of fiction these days and “common.” It’s cliche city.

Kind of like Captain Kirk in the Abrams reboot. The way they recharacterized him as a rebel without a cause smart ass fratboy badass is very common these days, and unremarkable, which is exactly the problem. In an effort to make him more interesting, they actually made him less interesting and less unique.

I think it’s actually more unique and interesting to have Barry Allen the old way: a good natured guy devoid of some patholofgical need for closure of some tragedy or some great Joseph Campbellesque “call to adventure” who just does the right thing simply because it’s the right thing and he’s extremely civic minded. Simply because he loves humanity and wants to give back, rather than some need to exorcise a personal demon.

Similar to Tim Drake, one of the best things about him was that he was a Robin who had very little tragedy but wanted to fight crime anyway. Then under Didio’s watch it was decided that wasn’t good enough so various people in his life had to die.

But it’s so common because it works. I take issue with the notion that Barry’s lack of a tragic background had any basis on why people liked him. Did we even ever MEET his parents, outside of the Biography of Barry Allen that came out after he died?

Don’t get me wrong, I, too, enjoyed the fact that Barry had a nice background and was good just for the sake of being good, but I don’t think it was a major factor in his characterization. He was a really nice guy who did good just “cuz.” Now he’s a really nice guy who does good because of an early childhood trauma. The end result is still the same guy. It is not like Barry Allen is all grim and gritty now. Hell, not even on Arrow was he grim and gritty. He’s still just a sweet guy. Now he just has a catchier background which translates well to film and television.

Yes, we did meet his parents. First time in Flash 126 when Barry visits his hometown. Several times thereafter. But no, they were never as fundamental to his story as Ma and Pa Kent.
I wouldn’t say exactly that I liked Barry in the Silver Age because he lacked tragedy, but the lack of constant drama and torment actually made it easier for me to identify with than, say, Peter Parker and his eternal suffering. Though I’m fairly sure I’m in a minority on that.
I think the Arrow version works fine—as Brian says, he’s not exactly suffused with angst. Still dislike the Johns version in the comics.

I take issue with the notion that Barry’s lack of a tragic background had any basis on why people liked him. Did we even ever MEET his parents, outside of the Biography of Barry Allen that came out after he died?

Meeting his parents isn’t necessary for us to say he lacked a tragic background. Even if we never, ever met his parents, how would that be evidence of the idea that people liked the fact he lacked a tragic background? His sunny disposition and lack of angst or traumatic memories alone is all the evidence of a lack of tragic background a reader needs, even if the reader never meets his parents or sees his happy background explicitly depicted.

But anyway, I’m not saying people necessary liked Barry because he lacked a tragic character. What I am saying though is there’s no proof that people DISLIKED Barry because he lacked a tragic character. It’s a lazy and likely misdirected fix. It’s like in the 90s when people felt characters like the Fantastic Four or the Avengers weren’t working. The lazy fix would be to give them jackets, thongs, guns, and 5’o clock shadow. It follows the flawed logic that the problem with the characters was a lack of superifical 90s trappings. Those were common, and they obviously worked at the time at least. That doesn’t necessarily make those changes good. And it doesn’t make them appropriate to the character. All those types of moves do is make everyone generic.

And tying his origin into his archnemesis is another increasingly tired trope (see how Spider-Man in recent retellings is always having his origin tied into Oscorp and the Green Goblin these days). My feeling is that whatever you get from adding these cliched tropes is far outweighed by what you lose in the long run via the ensuing homogenization. Barry just becomes one more revenge-driven orphan looking for closure whose archenemy is tied into his origin, like the plot of the Amazing Spider-Man movie. But a guy who becomes a superhero just because of civic duty has now become such a rarity that it would actually make him stand out to a jaded audience that has been fed the same cliches for so long.

” I wouldn’t say exactly that I liked Barry in the Silver Age because he lacked tragedy, but the lack of constant drama and torment actually made it easier for me to identify with than, say, Peter Parker and his eternal suffering. Though I’m fairly sure I’m in a minority on that.”

I don’t really have a problem with the Arrow version, but I also feel this way.

I didn’t really know the murder was a retcon, and it doesn’t matter too much on Arrow, where there are still relatively few superheroes, but it does start to become unintentionally humorous when characters’ backstories start to match up so much that you end up with Justice Leaguers having “Just Us League” conversations about how they just realized that no one in the room has living parents, and most of their dead parents were either murdered or blown up.

But it’s so common because it works. I take issue with the notion that Barry’s lack of a tragic background had any basis on why people liked him. Did we even ever MEET his parents, outside of the Biography of Barry Allen that came out after he died?

I am pretty sure that they never showed up in the comics, but I always liked how the (admittedly terrible) 90’s FLASH TV series handled his family, namely Barry was part of a big police clan. It made his police work makes sense in a way that preserved (what I believe T. dubbed) his essentially slacker character. It sort of fits with his terrible relationship with Iris West to me.

More to the point, dead parents has become the go-to trope of the Geoff Johns era. Hal Jordan has a (tragically) dead dad. Barry Allen has a (tragically) dead mom. Clark Kent lost his Dad in Johns Brainiac arc. Green Arrow got a (tragically) dead dad on the show. It is like everyone has to be Batman, because Batman is the one character that DC actually has any faith in. Not only is becoming boring, but it is really awkward fit for some characters.

“It is like everyone has to be Batman, because Batman is the one character that DC actually has any faith in. Not only is becoming boring, but it is really awkward fit for some characters.”

That’s the perfect summation, as far as I’m concerned. DC is homogenizing all its character origins, until they all pretty much match.

“And tying his origin into his archnemesis is another increasingly tired trope (see how Spider-Man in recent retellings is always having his origin tied into Oscorp and the Green Goblin these days).”

Also agree with this. It started with Jack Nicholson’s Joker and it never, ever stopped. I can just see Hollywood producers sitting around and nodding, complimenting themselves on how nice and circular everything is.

More to the point, dead parents has become the go-to trope of the Geoff Johns era. Hal Jordan has a (tragically) dead dad. Barry Allen has a (tragically) dead mom. Clark Kent lost his Dad in Johns Brainiac arc. Green Arrow got a (tragically) dead dad on the show. It is like everyone has to be Batman, because Batman is the one character that DC actually has any faith in. Not only is becoming boring, but it is really awkward fit for some characters.

Exactly. It not just homogenizes the characters, but I think it has the opposite effect DC intends. If every character becomes a watered down Batman, why should I bother with them when I could just stick to the genuine Batman?

Also agree with this. It started with Jack Nicholson’s Joker and it never, ever stopped. I can just see Hollywood producers sitting around and nodding, complimenting themselves on how nice and circular everything is.

I never realized this, but you’re right, it did start with that movie. Good catch.

There is a good article about the homogenization of geek pop culture where everything is becoming so inbred that it’s terrible:

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/jj-abrams-star-wars-and-the-homogenization-of-geek-pop

I think the same thing is happening on a smaller scale within the superhero comics and superhero movies. Everything is recycling the same Johnsian, Loebian, Goyeresque tropes. Berlanti, Guggenheim, Orci and Kurtzman also fall into that same school of writing. All of them strike me as guys who come from a paint by numbers approach to screenwriting and comic book writing: take Syd Field’s Screenplay book and Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth from Hero with a Thousand Faces, combine both as a rigid manual for writing a script that mechanically follows the elements similar to filling out a Mad Libs story. Throw in a bunch of easter eggs and name drop famous creators who worked on the character. Throw in a lot of “iconic”/”symbol” language (e.g. “this city needs a symbol”). Add a ham-fisted score designed to evoke some bastard child of John Williams/Danny Elfman. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I think the “dead parent who haunts the hero” and the “archenemy who is tied into the hero’s origin” are the attempts to give heroes a Joseph Campbellesque “Call to Adventure,” which is part of the “Monomyth” model. Lucas relied on the Monomyth heavily to create the original Star Wars trilogy, which is why so much of the current homogenization feels like Star Wars (Luke Skywalker is an orphan whose parents died tragic death (kind of) and Darth Vader is tied into Luke’s origins).

I agree with T., and I bring another case study to the table: Wolverine.

I know this is hard to believe for some newer readers, but I remember a time when Wolverine was an intriguing, fascinating character. Because he had elements that were pretty unique to him in a costumed superhero universe, or at least very rare among heroic characters: he sometimes used lethal force and his past was a mystery.

But those very elements started to become more and more common, until they became the new standard procedure in the 1990s. Wolverine was no longer that quirky, original character, he boring. The formerly unique elements became exaggerated in Wolverine himself and transmited to countless other characters.

It’s interesting how, in the excellent 1990s STARMAN series by James Robinson, it’s noted in-series how the Will Payton Starman is a pretty unique superhero by modern standards, because he is just a decent guy that uses his powers to help people. He lacks a motivating tragedy or a family heritage (while the Jack Knight Starman has both). So what was once the standard procedure is now considered something of note.

In a way, this is like supply and demand in economic theory. An item loses value when it is over-produced, and gains in value when it becomes rare. Like in economics, these things are self-correcting in the long term.

More to the point, dead parents has become the go-to trope of the Geoff Johns era. Hal Jordan has a (tragically) dead dad. Barry Allen has a (tragically) dead mom. Clark Kent lost his Dad in Johns Brainiac arc. Green Arrow got a (tragically) dead dad on the show

Worst example to me is when they decided to give Tim Drake a double dose of tragedy within a very short time by having both Spoiler AND his dad die very close together in time.

I did like how Mark Waid tied Professor Zoom into the Allen family. However Johns’ assumption that therefore Wally must have his own Zoom was … less satisfying in execution.

I take issue with the notion that Barry’s lack of a tragic background had any basis on why people liked him.

But if we all agree people liked him, and he didn’t have a tragic background, doesn’t it pretty much show that giving him a tragic background isn’t a reason people will like him, or like him more?

He was popular and “it worked” as is; there was no real reason to change it. Nothing needed to be “fixed.”

@ T.

I think the “dead parent who haunts the hero” and the “archenemy who is tied into the hero’s origin” are the attempts to give heroes a Joseph Campbellesque “Call to Adventure,” which is part of the “Monomyth” model. Lucas relied on the Monomyth heavily to create the original Star Wars trilogy, which is why so much of the current homogenization feels like Star Wars (Luke Skywalker is an orphan whose parents died tragic death (kind of) and Darth Vader is tied into Luke’s origins).

To bring this full circle, the worst part of ARROW is the way they deploy exactly these tropes.

ARROW has been steadily improving since its debut as it has moved away a reliance on the most over-worked tropes from geek culture. Their core cast has a goofy chemistry that is nearly unique in superhero fiction. Diggle, Felicity and Ollie are nothing like the Batman cast and that is good thing. The less Ollie is required to brood, the more that unique dynamic comes out.

The same is true for the Big Bad of Season 1. We’d seen Malcolm Merlyn a billion times already, but moving beyond him has really opened things up

I do think this “homogenization” argument can be taken too far, though, especially if the models you’re using are broad enough. It may be suspicious when a lot of existing characters get reworked to have a tragically dead parent, but I’m not sure it’s healthy for the industry when *any* superhero with one gets automatically labeled as an attempt to recreate Batman.

I do think this “homogenization” argument can be taken too far, though, especially if the models you’re using are broad enough.

Any argument, no matter how valid or reasonable, can be taken too far. Without exception.

It may be suspicious when a lot of existing characters get reworked to have a tragically dead parent, but I’m not sure it’s healthy for the industry when *any* superhero with one gets automatically labeled as an attempt to recreate Batman.

Such an explosion of similar accusations is only harmful to the industry if said accusations aren’t true. If said accusations are true, then an explosion of similar accusations is great for the industry. That’s why it’s better, in my opinion, to not stigmatize the act of the criticism but rather to attack whether or not the criticism is (a) valid or (b) a smokescreen for another issue that is the real hidden motivation of the critic’s argument. So in this case, yes the argument could be taken too far and yes many heroes who get their origins reworked to now have dead parents as their motivation may not be attempts to recreate Batman, but if so the proper way to prove that is give rationales, arguments, and evidence backing up why this is not the case.

One weird thing about using Merlyn as the big bad is that in the comics he isn’t really part of Ollie’s story at all. He ran into GA (according to Merlyn’s first appearance) and kicked his butt in a charity archery tournament when Ollie was starting out. Then he appears in a couple of JLA stories, then shows up in Black Lightning, then disappears forever. So minor would be understating it.
Of course, given the sorry state of Green Arrow’s rogue’s gallery, can’t say I blame them.
And I agree that Felicity and Diggle are a big asset to the show,Dean.

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