This article contains Arrow spoilers in every possible variety. Don’t read if you haven’t watched season three!
Regular readers of my weekly Arrow reviews know about my obsession with chronicling every DC Comics reference crammed into each episode. I love doing it, and I’m finally putting my knowledge of DC Comics history to good use, something that parents, teachers, and former employers all agreed was impossible.
As much fun as it is going through these each week, as the season progressed, stuff that seemed to mean one thing early on ended up meaning something entirely different later. With that in mind, I’ve gone back through the series, my original notes, and the comments from sharp-eyed readers (who helped to keep me honest) to revisit what I thought I knew about the DC Comics easter eggs in Arrow season 3.
Keep in mind that, if you’re just reading this during your first viewing of Arrow season 3, then you might want to instead use the reviews as your guide. Those are linked in the episode titles for your convenience, and the DC reference guide in each episode entry is a little less spoiler-y.
For easy organization, this is organized mostly chronologically. However, stuff that was clarified in later episodes will be explained in the entries for the earlier ones. This way, I’m not repeating myself like I’m caught in a time loop. I make a few exceptions for characters who are vaguely referred to early on but don’t get their big debut until much later. To keep things simple, I put the bulk of their information in the most appropriate episode entry. Also, I kind of stopped keeping track of “52” references (because they’re annoying) but if there’s demand for it, I can partition them off in their own section.
Oh, and if you want to read full episode reviews, just click the titles!
– This episode introduced us to a version of Count Vertigo who felt a little more familiar to fans of the comics than the irritating drug dealer we had to put up with in eariler seasons. For one thing, they got his name right, Werner Zytle.
Vertigo has been hanging around since 1978, and yes, he was always a Green Arrow/Black Canary villain. He first appeared in World’s Finest #251 by Gerry Conway, Trevor Von Eeden, and Vince Colletta, although back then his last name was actually Vertigo. The “Zytle” name change came with the character’s DC New 52 reinvention.
– We also got to meet Ray Palmer this episode, a tech genius who even in his pre-superhero days is fond of keeping all his tech on his belt. This is significant because the white dwarf star matter that allowed the Atom to shrink in the comics was housed in his belt.
The Atom first appeared in the same title that a few years earlier had brought us the first appearance of Barry Allen. 1961’s Showcase #34 by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane reinvented a forgotten golden age hero with a very cool costume and some expectedly sci-fi trappings.
While most of Ray’s costumed time this season focused on him as more of an armored powerhouse than a shrinker, it looks like that’s all going to change by the time we get to Legends of Tomorrow.
Oh, and Ray’s desire to rebrand Starling City as “Star City” is because, well…in the comics that’s what it’s called!
– Tatsu Yamashiro will become Katana before the season ends. She’s another one of those “fringe” characters in the DCU, having been a part of Batman’s team of Outsiders, a Justice League lineup or two, and the Birds of Prey. Her husband Maseo (and his tragic fate) is right out of her comic book origin, as well.
– We’ll do more on Ted Grant (and his Wildcat alter ego) when he gets spotlighted in a future episode, but there were some very cool “Wildcat” logos on the corner team during the boxing match shown.
– Oh, and those fights are sponsored by Ferris Air, the aircraft company that employed Hal Jordan before (according to an episode of The Flash season one) he vanished. There’s lots of nods to Ferris Air and Hal’s hometown of Coast City throughout this season.
– They finally gave fans a plethora of Green Arrow’s trademark trick arrows to play around with. Still no boxing glove arrow, though.
Simon “Komodo” Lacroix was created by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino during their excellent run on Green Arrow in 2013.
– And speaking of Jeff Lemire, there’s a reference to the address of Third and Lemire.
– There’s also a mention of Bludhaven, the city that Nightwing took up residence in for awhile after leaving Gotham.
– AmerTek is perhaps best known as the company that employed Dr. John Henry Irons, the man who became Superman supporting hero Steel. Try and forgive/forget the Shaquille O’Neal movie. With a tweaked origin, this is a character who could fit nicely into one of the corners of the CW/DC-verse. They even mention Tom Weston, a minor DC Comics annoyance.
– There’s definitely an element of the comic book Black Canary origin hidden throughout the general Canary arcs on display. I (and I figure nearly everyone else) always just assumed that it would be the death of her Dad (who has always seemed like a dead duck to me) that got her into the action. His heart troubles seem to mirror the fate of Richard Drake, who is kinda/sorta a comic book counterpart to the character.
It would take an entire article just to trace the various Black Canary similarities and deviations, though. This isn’t the time for it!
– Get your fictional DC Universe geography lessons here! Qurac gets a mention, and we get a look at Corto Maltese. This the first actual look at Corto Maltese we’ve ever gotten in live action outside of Vicki Vale’s book of war photographs in Tim Burton’s first Batman movie. I can’t believe I just typed that sentence. You people are my only friends.
Anyway, Corto Maltese first appeared in Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley’s legendary The Dark Knight Returns.
Wildcat first appeared in Sensation Comics #1 in 1942, a comic that also saw the first appearance of Wonder Woman.
He was created by Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman, and really, the guy who actually did most of the heavy-lifting on that one) and Irwin Hasen (who just received a lifetime achievement Eisner at New York Comic-Con).
And yes, Ted Grant/Wildcat did indeed train Black Canary in the comics.
– The kid that Ted Grant is protecting with his story about sparring was Tom Bronson. In the comics, that’s his illegitimate son, who eventually becomes a kind of werecat version of Wildcat and joins the Justice Society. I suppose it’s possible that this Ted is old enough to have a teenage son, but it’s probably just a clever wink to the comics and nothing more.
– Mark Shaw was one of the many versions of Manhunter in the comics, and the second possible Manhunter character we’ve seen on Arrow (the other was the late Kate Spencer, former DA of Starling City).
– Thea uses the name “Mia” when she’s in Corto Maltese. Thea’s nickname is “Speedy,” which is the name of a number of Green Arrow sidekicks, including a young woman named Mia Dearden. Thea’s middle name also happens to be Dearden. See how this all works out?
This is an extraordinarily long article, so please forgive the multiple pages…
Ra’s al Ghul…does he really need any introduction? Well, just in case…
Ra’s al Ghul first appeared in Batman #232 (1971). He was created by Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams, a legendary Batman creative team who also gave us an equally legendary run on the Green Lantern/Green Arrow team-up title.
The Ra’s of the comics is more explicitly “immortal” than the version they gave us on Arrow, who was a little bit more like the portrayal we got from Liam Neeson in Batman Begins.
– The fictional city of Nanda Parbat actually pre-dates Ra’s by several years, first appearing back in 1967. DC characters like Deadman and the Crimson Avenger have some history there, and either would be a nice fit for the DC TV Universe should they ever decide to go that way.
– Edward Fyers’ name comes up in the meeting with Ollie and Amanda Waller, but it’s not really that big of a deal. He’s a really minor Green Arrow character who you can find in the really good Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters by Mike Grell.
– Brother Eye was a creation of Jack Kirby for his absolutely insane OMAC comic book series in the ’70s. It was a satellite super computer that helped create/activate OMAC, the One Man Army Corps superhero who was kind of like a hi-tech cross between Shazam and Captain America. You just have to go with it. It’s great stuff.
Anyway, Brother Eye and the OMAC concept has since been used to varying effect in DC Comics continuity, and these were even the heavies in an unproduced Justice League movie from a few years ago. I have more details on that right here.
– Myron Forest is actually the doctor who created Brother Eye in the original Jack Kirby comics. That’s clever. When he says “I drive a hybrid, it’s blue” he’s referencing the non-Jack Kirby version of OMAC technology, which are blue cyborgs. You know…hybrids. That sound you hear is everyone I know asking each other why they even talk to me.
– We also saw Ray Palmer checking out the blueprints for OMAC tech in an earlier episode.
– Santa Prisca gets a name check. Was that a first? Santa Prisca is an island with a pretty serious prison, and it’s where the comic book version of Bane got his start. You know you’re bad news when you start in prison.
– It is absolutely no coincidence that Felicity looks like Neil Gaiman’s Death from Sandman when she goes to visit her boyfriend in the slammer. You just know she had them all, in hardcover, and read them obsessively while listening to Disintegration by The Cure and…I’m sorry…am I projecting again?
– And yes, evil boyfriend was wearing a Starro shirt. A kind of artsy-looking one that I would totally wear. But I’m not an evil hacker. Starro is a DC villain/creature that sticks to your face and makes you evil. So, yeah. Maybe it was the shirt that did it.
– The original title of this episode was “Oracle,” the tech-whiz character that Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon became when she lost the use of her legs, and the character that, in terms of skill set, Felicity most resembles. It was changed, likely at the behest of the Warner Bros. corporate masters, which makes me wonder if “Oracle” has a role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, or some other high profile DC TV or movie project in the works. Keep in mind Ray Palmer was originally supposed to be the Blue Beetle…
Still, the “secret origin” title is plenty appropriate for a show about the DC Universe, as it’s been tagged on to individual stories and several ongoing comic book series through the years.
– We finally got a boxing glove arrow this week, something that I’m pretty sure Stephen Amell swore we would never get.
– 9th and Hasen is a reference to Irwin Hasen, artist on a number of Golden Age DC Comics character (including the original Green Lantern and the Flash), and co-creator of (you guessed it) Wildcat! He’s still around. He’s 96 and just got a lifetime achievement Eisner Award. Irwin Hasen is a treasure.
– I’m pretty sure Ted Grant was never consistently depicted as a southpaw in the comics, but as a lefty myself, I’d like to think he is.
– Roy’s new codename of Arsenal comes from his very ’90s codename, because really, calling him Speedy was never going to work.
– Carrie “Cupid” Cutter was created by Arrow showrunner Andrew Kreisberg and first appeared in 2009’s Green Arrow & Black Canary #15. Think he got some extra royalties for this character showing up in live-action? I bet he did. Spend it well, Mr. Kreisberg…and may we never have to see Cupid again. This is a terrible character and this was a horrid episode.
– Ray and Felicity meet with “the Gardners.” Could this be a reference to future bowl-cut wearing asshole Green Lantern Guy Gardner? Probably not, but you never know.
In reality, it could very well be a nod to Silver Age Atom’s co-creator (and really, a key architect of DC’s entire Silver Age revival), Gardner Fox. Ray wanted that mine so he could get the dwarf star minerals that, were this the comics, would ultimately power his shrinking technology, so that makes more sense.
– Sherwood Florist is the flower shop that the comic book version of Green Arrow and Black Canary open up once they’ve settled into domestic bliss.
– There’s talk of someone in the Suicide Squad being even “crazier than Cupid.” They’re talking about Harley Quinn. Who we’ll never get to see on this show ever again.
Captain Boomerang is traditionally a Flash villain, but it was nice to see him here, all the same.
If you read my Flash DC references article, there’s a creative team that appeared to be behind virtually every character mentioned: John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Well, guess what? They created Captain Boomerang in 1960’s The Flash #117.
– The Arrowcave and Arrowmobile jokes weren’t just jokes. Back when Green Arrow really was a half-assed Batman these were actual things in DC Comics continuity.
– The boys are sent to the corner of Infantino and Adams. I’m sure I don’t have to explain this, but just in case I do, Carmine Infantino is the artist most associated with Barry Allen, partially because he co-created him, but also because he drew just so very many of his stories.
Neal Adams revitalized Green Arrow in the pages of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and is the artist who also co-created Arrow season three big baddie Ra’s al Ghul. It’s like the corner of genius and genius…if that corner is located in a Starling neighborhood or borough that has “Kirby” anywhere in the name, it would be like the nexus of the comic book universe.
– The title of this week’s episode, “The Brave and The Bold” is taken from a long running DC Comics team-up book, not to mention a wonderful and underrated Batman animated series. Plenty appropriate. I thought Lyla did a nice job working the whole brave/bold dichotomy into the episode, too.
– The “Bart Allen” joke is a reference to Barry’s grandson from the far future, who becomes the superhero Impulse. Then becomes Kid Flash. Then becomes The Flash (briefly). Then goes back to being Kid Flash (I think). I don’t know. We won’t have to deal with this nonsense for a long time.
– Just as we did with Miraclo/Mirrakuru in season two, the Omega formula seems like a more grounded, real-world version of the “Omega Effect” utilized by DC supervillain Darkseid. Now, I’m not expecting to see Darkseid and friends show up on Arrow (or The Flash, for that matter) any time soon. BUT…
If you read Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis, he did a fine job of showing how gigantic, Jack Kirby concepts like Darkseid and the New Gods can be brought down to Earth (quite literally) for some more grounded adventures. Could we be working towards some kind of anti-life equation storyline down the line? Maybe after Greg Berlanti’s Supergirl TV series joins the party? I wouldn’t hold my breath, but you never know!
– If you want to read more of my ramblings about Ra’s al Ghul click here.
Sadly, Brick isn’t a much more interesting villain in the comics than he was in these Arrow episodes. He’s a guy with impenetrable skin, which they play with here with his gun trick, although he was far more explicitly a matehuman in the comics.
– Kate Spencer Parallel
– Thea was reading a Brad Meltzer novel. Mr. Meltzer wrote Identity Crisis, a Justice League story that helped put Green Arrow a little closer to DC’s a-list again, and also heavily featured Ray Palmer. I find it a little over-serious, myself, but you can see how that set the tone for things like this show. He also wrote a longer run on Justice League that put Roy Harper in the spotlight. The dude knows his DC lore.
– That Julius Caesar “Act 5, Scene 2” thing was a 52 reference that was roughly as subtle as a heart attack. Honestly, that play is so full of macho posturing that they could have pulled dialogue from virtually any act/scene to put in Brick’s mouth. It just happened to be appropriate here, but they could have written around that regardless of what was contained within those magic numbers.
– There was nothing in that Channel 52 news crawl at the beginning. Believe me, I looked.
– There’s another Bludhaven mention in this episode. They had better give us Dick Grayson in Arrow season 4!
– This isn’t a DC thing, but didn’t the one dude in Vertigo’s lab look like Walter White? This is the second Breaking Bad reference we’ve seen on the show (remember the bags of what appeared to be Heisenberg Blue in season 2?), and I love the fact that we can even pretend these two shows exist in the same universe.
And now we’re on to the final batch on the final page…
– We finally get to meet John Diggle’s brother…Andy Diggle! I feel like it’s common knowledge at this point, but just in case: Andy Diggle is the name of a really excellent comic book writer. This is not by accident. He wrote Green Arrow: Year One, a book that had considerable influence on the tone of this show. Totally worth a read if you dig Arrow, by the way.
– Marc Singer shows up as Matt Shrieve. Shrieve is the leader of the Creature Commandos. Basically…it’s like if Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man were in the army and fought in World War II. Don’t expect this to go any further.
– In the comics, ARGUS stands for: “Advanced Research Group Uniting Superhumans.” In this episode we learn it stands for: “Advanced Research Group United Service.” Both are terrible acronyms.
There wasn’t much in terms of DC lore we haven’t explored in other entries, so…yeah.
– That was a Lazarus Pit healing Ra’s. Call it whatever you want, but that’s what it was. There are a few things at work here: for one thing, it gives the impression that Ra’s isn’t immortal. Ah, but there’s a curveball here. Technically, he’s not immortal, but there is a Lazarus Pit. We even get to see it work. We didn’t get that in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies, that’s for sure!
This was a significant step for the series. It’s the most purely supernatural thing I think we’ve ever seen at work on Arrow. Sure, there have been extranormal/metahuman types here and there, but a Lazarus Pit is basically just flat out magic. That’s a big step.
So, since we’re dealing in magic, and Ra’s lives in Nanda Parbat, what are the odds we get to meet Boston Brand in some form? If ever there was a character screaming for a back door pilot, it’s Deadman! Alright, maybe not screaming, but at least having his agent make polite inquiries or something.
– Felicity’s crack about “needing a microscope” to find the food (thank god she wasn’t talking about something else) was a cute nod to Ray Palmer’s usual shrinking abilities.
– I have to call shenanigans on the inclusion of the Suicide Squad. We all know damn well that Deadshot didn’t die tonight, which means we just got cheated out of a Suicide Squad death. It’s not a Suicide Squad story if at LEAST one participant doesn’t die. That someone really, really needs to be the genuinely offensive Cupid. The continued threat of another Cupid appearance is going to cast a long shadow over the rest of this series.
“I think I do wanna die,” Deadshot quipped. Yes…I feel about the same way every time Cupid shows up.
In reality, they had to write Deadshot out of the show because of his inclusion in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie. It’s the same reason we’re saddled with Cupid instead of Harley Quinn.
– The introduction of HIVE won’t pay off in any appreciable form until Arrow season 4, but HIVE were always among the more technologically flashy super-secret organizations in the DC Universe. They rose to prominence during Marv Wolfman’s often forgotten early ’80s pre-Crisis run on Superman in Action Comics.
– Joseph Cray, the irritatingly stupid politician talking about his Presidential ambitions on what I presume is an open channel, is a character who has popped up a few times in Suicide Squad history. He’s about as exciting as he seemed here.
– To the best of my knowledge, the nation of Kasnia has only ever appeared in the DC Animated Universe, showing up on episodes of Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, and Justice League Unlimited. I may need to watch an episode of one of those to wash the taste of tonight’s mediocrity out of my mouth.
– Ray and Ollie fight at the Meltzer Power Plant. Brad Meltzer has written some Justice League stories, notably the not as good as you’ve heard it is Identity Crisis, a story that at least put both Green Arrow and the Atom at the center of the story. He also did a nice run on the Justice League ongoing series where he put Roy Harper in the spotlight, too.
– Well, Ray finally got to shrink something in this episode. Expect much more of this in Legends of Tomorrow.
Deathbolt isn’t exactly a major villain, but he’s got a cool pedigree. He originally appeared in Roy Thomas and Jerry Ordway’s World War II-era Justice Society title, All-Star Squadron.
– Opal City is the stomping grounds of my favorite incarnation of Starman, Jack Knight. I would pretty much do anything for a Starman TV series, and Jack Knight and his supporting cast would work perfectly in the CW superhero format.
– Jake “Deathbolt” Simmons old address was listed as Dixon Canyon. I’d like to think this is a reference to long-time Bat-universe writer Chuck Dixon, but I might be wrong.
– Speaking of Chuck Dixon, where’s Roy off to? Bludhaven? Could he possibly be headed to the Titans show that TNT is developing? Nah…probably not. But that would be kind of awesome.
It’s worth pointing out time that Ra’s al Ghul’s fixation on turning Green Arrow into his heir is ported over directly from the comics. The thing is, it’s from the Batman comics. Here, he uses Thea’s death (and life) as leverage. In the comics he used other methods, notably the daughter we have yet to meet on this show, Talia, and the child she eventually bore Bruce Wayne. And really, young Damian Wayne is the “Heir to the Demon” when you get down to it.
The thing is, Bats never took the bait, while Oliver did. To be certain, I’m not sure Batman ever would have submitted to what Oliver did tonight, regardless of who was put in danger, so it’s not like this is some kind of cop-out anymore. Arrow has really done a wonderful job of making this whole angle its own.
– The explanation about Damian Darhk, specifically that he’s kind of like a more tech-savvy Ra’s, doesn’t exactly line up with the version that was introduced in the comics. I’ll have a whole article about exactly that very soon for you…
– Lyla’s codename has been established as “Harbinger” in the past, and she was even kind of wearing Harbinger colors in this episode.
– “Bride of the Demon” is a term that comic book fans have heard before…but in relation to Talia al Ghul. Between this and the rather Batman Begins-esque plan to wipe out the hero’s home city, the Dark Knight’s shadow rears its pointy-eared head yet again.
– Roy takes on the name “Jason” and becomes a mechanic. I kinda feel like this is a nod to second Robin Jason Todd and his penchant for stealing the Batmobile’s hubcaps.
Or it could just be, y’know, a name.
– He’s hiding out in Monument Point, which in the DC Universe is kinda near Washington DC, and it was the home of the Justice Society for a bit. I don’t think we’ll be spending much time here
– There’s another mention of Ferris Air in this episode. There were probably more of them on The Flash, but I’m all but certain we’re going to get some kind of Green Lantern action in Arrow season 4, especially since the finale sets it up to look like the flashbacks will take place in Coast City.
– On Felicity’s tablet when she first tries to hack the plane, something on there is sitting at 52%. I swear, no more 52 references. Maybe.
– I don’t know if there’s any significance to the cargo ship being named “Triton’s Daughter.” None of them are named Mera, for example. One is Alana, which I guess recalls Adam Strange love interest, Alanna Strange, but I’m reaching.
– We all know Ray Palmer isn’t dead, and just (finally) shrank himself. However, the Ray Palmer in the comics has been known for getting trapped in his subatomic state and discovering worlds that way, so perhaps this accident is the first step on that kind of journey. Don’t worry, he’ll be back in time for Legends of Tomorrow.
– Is Nelson Plaza in Starling City a reference to classic DC Comics Silver Age writer E. Nelson Bridwell? I’d like to think so.
– Thea will finally embrace her “Speedy” nickname in Arrow season 4, meaning it will no longer just be an affectionate reference to her love of recreational drugs.
So, what did I miss? Den of Geek readers helped me put this all together throughout the course of Arrow season 3, so there’s no reason to believe you shouldn’t keep helping me now! Let me know in the comments or on Twitter, and I’ll update this when I can. We’ll make this the most complete guide on the internet once season three hits Netflix!