Arrow season 4 is now complete, and it had a whole stack of new DC Comics references, easter eggs, superheroes, and supervillains.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 1: Green Arrow
– It turns out the picturesque little suburb that Oliver and Felicity were hiding out in is Ivy Town, home of Ivy University, where the comic book Ray Palmer first discovered his shrinking powers.
– No, your eyes didn’t deceive you. That was most certainly a flight jacket with the name “Jordan” on it in the Coast City bar. Hal Jordan is, of course, Green Lantern, and we all know those test pilots love to drink. Whether they choose to take this any further is anybody’s guess, but I have reason to believe that we might actually get to see a little more of Hal later this season.
– Damian Darhk first appeared in Titans #1 in 1999. He is an exceedingly minor DC villain. So minor that he has only made a handful of appearances, and hasn’t been seen since ’99! From what we saw of Damian here, he has very little in common with his comic book counterpart. I have a whole lot more on Damian Darhk right here if you want to keep reading.
Needless to say, the comic book version doesn’t have mystical powers.
– The HIVE agents have a color scheme that’s almost the yellow and black traditionally associated with a bee-themed supervillain organization, so I guess that’s kinda cool. The goggles add to the vibe nicely, don’t they?
– Kord Industries plays a major part in this episode. Ted Kord is the man behind this one, and he’s the coolest version of the Blue Beetle, a character I’m still really hoping we get to see one of these days.
In addition to all the weapons Kord Industries manufactures, you can see they’re working on some microprocessing technology. I wonder if it’s the kind of thing that could power a super suit, or cool Beetle-esque goggles or something similar?
I really need to see Blue Beetle happen.
– You kind of have to appreciate the amusing reference to how unlucky people who hold high office in Star City are.
– It’s interesting that they’re drawing an additional distinction between standard metahumans and mystically powered superbeings in this universe. Now, if Arrow orThe Flash actually get around to introducing aliens to the mix, we’ll have the full set of potential superhero and supervillain types present and accounted for. Then again,Supergirl should handle the alien angle nicely, but since we still don’t know where that show fits in with all the rest of these…I don’t know what to think.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 2: The Candidate
– Michael Holt eventually becomes the superhero known as Mr. Terrific. Holt is a genius level intellect, probably surpassing Ray Palmer and Felicity. He’s generally best known as a member of the JSA, and the overall Justice Society vibe on both Arrow and The Flash remains pretty strong.
I wonder if Felicity is going to help him invent his trademark T-Spheres as the revolutionary technology that’s coming to save the company?
– Anarky has very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart. He was a Batman supporting character and vigilante, originally pegged as a potential new Robin. It never happened, but interesting things tend to happen when Batman villains show up here.
He was never quite such a looney tune, though.
– Reiter, the flashback villain, bears very little resemblance to his comic book counterpart…Baron Blitzkrieg. As in, he’s a nazi. I don’t think we’ll be seeing any of that this year.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 3: Restoration
– Double Down first appeared in The Flash: Iron Heights one-shot in 2001. He sucked there, too. Basically, his powers in the comics are magic-based, making his origin story only slightly less insufferable than the “scuzzy dude caught in particle accelerator blast wave while getting a tattoo” logic of Arrow.
– Your eyes did not deceive you. Those are definitely Mr. Terrific’s T-Spheres (and the appropriate contact lenses to transmit the information to) being worked on at Palmer Tech. I can’t wait to see if they add those lenses to a domino mask.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 4: Beyond Redemption
– Liza Warner was the “superhero” known as Lady Cop, appearing in a handful of DC Comics issues. She bears absolutely no relation other than her name and her profession in law enforcement with the version seen here in “Beyond Redemption.” We’re doing better with the version on the show.
– The “Neal Adams” who Michael Holt suspects is Green Arrow is, of course, the name of the legendary artist who did some tremendous work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow in the ’70s. Just another way for this season to tease us with a sideways Green Lantern reference, perhaps?
– Man, the new Arrow lair is pretty gorgeous, isn’t it? This is one of the more impressive sets we’ve seen on the show, and other than an Arrowmobile (we’ll never get an Arrowmobile, calm down) it does feel like it marks the final piece in the puzzle in the show’s transition to full-on superheroics.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 5: Haunted
– John Constantine first appeared in Saga of the Swamp Thing #37 in 1985. Well, kinda. That was supposed to be his first appearance, but Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 shipped first, so readers were like “who is this dude who looks like the singer from The Police and why is he in this comic?”
Having John kind of awkwardly interacting with superheroes reminds me of his earliest comic book appearances, before DC decided on making the Vertigo imprint into a separate playground for John and characters like him. I wrote more about that here.
– We finally get an indication of Curtis’ background as the old superhero standby of “an olympic class athlete.” But way more importantly…
He’s wearing the Mr. Terrific Fair Play jacket (and has an FP gym bag to go along with it). This certainly ties into that Olympian history of his, but holy moley is that cool to see, or what? (thanks to Shaquera for pointing this out to me in the first place, and Boris for the screengrab)
– The Orb of Horus isn’t ringing any bells, but it does have a certain resemblance to the Orb of Ra, which played into Metamorpho, the Element Man’s origin story. Whether the hawky-ness of it plays into the winged folks we know are coming to Legends of Tomorrow remains to be seen, though.
– Correct me if I’m wrong, but was this the first mention of Pennytown on the show? It’s not much of a reference, and it’s a fairly recent addition to Green Arrow lore, but it just caught my ear.
– OK, not a DC thing, but “this is your overlord, Felicity Smoak” will pretty much make me laugh until the day I die.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 6: Lost Souls
– “It is Wednesday.” I get a ridiculously stupid little OCD charge out of every acknowledgment that not only do these shows happen in real time, but on the nights they air. I know, I know…I’m pathetic.
– Any time we hang out in or around anything related to Kord Industries, I just find mysef counting all the blue items around. They’re killing me. You have no idea how badly I need to see the Ted Kord Blue Beetle done properly in live action.
– 4587 has come up before, hasn’t it?
– When Ray is small and in his little prison, with Damien looming over him…that’s such a classic Brainiac/Superman image to me. Superman Returns was flawed, but I still wish Routh got one more chance at Supes, preferrably taking on Brainiac. This brought a little smile to my face.
– This is no hidden thing at all, but I really dig the Atom “undersuit” or whatever it is he was wearing at the end there. In fact, I dig it a LOT more than the armor. A little headgear, and that’s a far cooler, far more practical superhero costume than the full suit.
– It’s been pointed out that the Orb of Horus could have a connection to Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and that’s certainly sensible enough. Using it to uncover a “message from the ancients” this week sure isn’t hurting that little theory.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 7: Brotherhood
– Wolfman Biologics is not about lycanthropy, but certainly about legendary comics writer (and one of my personal all-time favorites), Marv Wolfman. Mr. Wolfman is probably most famous for his epic time on New Teen Titans with George Perez on art, but he also wrote an extended run on Adventures of Superman in the 1980s that all told make for some of my favorite Superman comics ever.
Oh, and the ever vigilant NotBob pointed out that Wolfman was the co-creator of HIVE in the first place!
– Speaking of NotBob (see how I rely on my weekly readers to keep me honest?), he posits that “Muller Psychiatric” is a reference to Josef Muller, one of Batman’s “ghosts” from Grant Morrison’s rather epic time as Batman writer.
– The only “Lawrence Tanner” I can find in the DC Universe was some employee of LexCorp who appeared once. It’s probably a coincidental name. And no, I didn’t just pull this one out of my memory banks, I had to look it up. I’m good (usually), but I ain’t that good.
– I know I keep saying I’ll stop pointing out the 52 stuff, so let’s just pretend that I’m not typing the words “Slip 52” right now.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 8: Legends of Yesterday
Vandal Savage was Hath-Set, the similarly reincarnated villain from Hawkman and Hawkgirl’s first appearance in Flash Comics #1 in 1939! What didn’t appear completely clear to me, though, was whether the stuff in Ancient Egypt was the start of Vandal Savage’s immortality, or if he was already skulking around throughout history. Feel free to correct me if I missed something really obvious.
However, the “celestial rocks” would certainly seem to play into Vandal’s traditional “meteorite gives a caveman immortality” origin story. Tying his immortality and eternal struggle directly to the Hawks is kind of another nod to Hath-Set and the Hawkman/Hawkgirl enemies he became.
Also, did anyone else get a Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments vibe off of Falk Hentschel when he got ready to tangle with Hath-Set in his bedchamber?
– Cisco makes a reference to “Nth Metal” as an alloy made from the meteorites. “Nth Metal” is what made the original Hawkman and Hawkgirl able to fly. Could the meteorites have been from or a result of something involving the planet Thanagar? That might be a fun way to tie things together.
– So, Oliver’s son isn’t Connor, but “William.” Did we already know this? Am I just losing my mind?
– Thea wasn’t lying. This is what happens when you google “reincarnated nut jobs”
– The Professor that we “meet” in 1975 is also going to appear on Legends of Tomorrow, and we know that show is going to take us to 1975 for at least one episode.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 9: Dark Waters
– I might just be starting to come around to the idea that Damien Darhk is the forerunner of some kind of alien invasion. I know a few of you have voiced this over the last few weeks. Ordinarily, I would think the “Genesis” connection is a coincidence, but as we know, there are very few coincidences when it comes to names like that in this world.
Plus, I was really, really wrong about what some folks thought about Hank Henshaw over on Supergirl, all of whom were proven right this week, so my track record this season isn’t the best.
So, yeah…is the whole mind control/happy to die aspect of HIVE some kind of sideways connection to Darkseid and the Anti-Life equation? Maybe the special algae in Star City Bay is a harbinger of Starro? I dunno. Post your theories down below!
– Merlyn using Green Arrow’s gear with no compunction about not killing anyone was a fun way to remind us just how far Oliver has come in the last few years from vigilante to hero. That’s still some lethal tech he’s employing, which means it’s even harder not to kill with it.
– It should be pointed out again that the Damien Darhk of the comics never displayed any mystical powers whatsoever.
The fact that Malcolm Merlyn, who is well versed in the mystical world at this stage, has absolutely no clue what’s powering Damien Darhk might feed into that whole alien angle we’re kicking around right now, too, right?
– I did get a kick out of Oliver’s totally offhanded and matter-of-fact “she’s gonna be OK” when he’s told that Thea was kidnapped.
– That was a properly comic book “Canary Cry” rescue in Darhk’s HQ. Fun stuff that could have come right out of the pages of a Justice League comic.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 10: Blood Debts
The show started flirting with Batman mythology again in this episode. We’ll start with Anarky, since he’s the main focus of this episode.
Anarky was a Batman supporting character, and his heyday was the ’90s. He was created by the awesome Bat-creative team of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, and first appeared in Detective Comics #608. The thing is, he was never really a villain. At worse he was an anti-hero, and then spent some time working for Batman.
He was pretty non-descript when he showed up earlier in the season. In “Blood Bonds” he was a little closer to his comics counterpart. The mask, for one thing. The color of his vest also kind of recalled his original comics color scheme. Check it out…
This is what he’s looking like these days, and once again, you can see a resemblance…
– Okay, I’ve avoided addressing this so far, mostly because the showrunners themselves have said that it’s off the table and not happening, but Anarky isn’t the only Batman connection in this episode.
– Felicity suffering a catastrophic spinal injury as a result of a bullet wound sure does recall Barbara Gordon’s fate in The Killing Joke, where Batgirl found herself ambushed at home and shot by the Joker. The character spent the next two decades in a wheelchair as the computer-savvy crimefighter known as Oracle.
Look, everyone on the planet has been trying to make Felicity into Oracle in their heads for two years now. I would be shocked if she’s still in a wheelchair by season’s end. But if they were to go that route, it would be a pretty daring narrative choice.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 11: A.W.O.L.
– This episode brought us the triumphant return of goth Felicity, who looks suspiciously like Death, the little sister of Sandman’s Morpheus.
We had previously seen Felicity rock this look in season 3’s “The Secret Origin of Felicity Smoak.” Having her showing up as a kind of apparition in this one made her feel even more Death-like. Honestly, they might have to give Ms. Rickards a call when that Sandman movie finally happens.
– And, of course, Felicity finally gets her codename, “Overwatch.” Why? Because Oracle is already taken.
I have lots of feelings about this.
First of all, “Overwatch” is a dopey name. It should have been “Overlord” as in “this is your Overlord, Felicity Smoak.” But whatever, I can forgive that.
I’m still not entirely sure that Felicity will remain unable to walk for the rest of the season, because this show has flirted so long and hard with Batman mythology (and accusations of simply being a watered-down Batman show in the first place, something that has plagued Green Arrow pretty much since his inception). BUT…this is honestly the closest the CW-verse has come to actually acknowledging that Batman stuff is happening somewhere in this world. We went a whole season with Ra’s al Ghul and not so much as a mention of Gotham City.
But if “Oracle” is already taken, that means there’s a Barbara Gordon out there doing some kind of superheroics. And if she’s doing that, then there’s almost certainly a Batman, as well. I’m not holding my breath or anything, but it’s for real.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 12: Unchained
– The Calculator was created by Bob Rozakis and Green Arrow artist supreme Mike Grell. He first appeared in Detective Comics #463 in 1976. He’s never been an exclusively Green Arrow villain or anything like that, and he’s popped up to annoy just about everybody at some point or another.
The relationship to Felicity Smoak is, of course, purely coincidental and a creation of this show.
– I’m probably gonna get killed for this…but was this the first mention of Cadmus in Arrow history? Because seriously, if there’s even a little bit of a chance that Jack Kirby’s Project Cadmus is going to appear on this show, that’s a huge frakkin’ deal.
It also gives us some additional hope that perhaps John Diggle will fall in the line of duty only to be resurrected as the Guardian…hopefully with some more sensible headgear this time around, too.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 13: Sins of the Father
– Greg Rucka, the co-creator of Nyssa al Ghul gets a shout out in this episode as a street name.
Is it seriously possible that there were no additional DC Comics references in this one? For real? If I’m wrong, please let me know!
Arrow Season 4 Episode 14: Code of Silence
– Y’know, I should probably be fired for this, but I feel like this was the first episode where I actually noticed the hive motif in the HIVE secret lair. Yeah, it’s not much, I admit, but it’s a nice proper supervillain lair touch. I feel like it would be at home on an episode of Venture Bros, too.
– The electronic implant that will give Felicity her ability to walk back is kind of similar to how Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was able to recover from her own devastating gunshot from an arch enemy paralysis in recent DC Comics, too.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 15: Taken
– Vixen first appeared in Cancelled Comics Cavalcade (yes, that was an actual title) #2 in 1978, where she was created by Gerry Conway and Bob Oksner. Since then, she has made her presence felt as a member of the Justice League more than once, so don’t underestimate her.
There are two wonderfully meta jokes in this episode. One is that John Constantine isn’t available to help, because he is “literally in hell.” While that’s not far out of the realm of possibility for John Constantine, when you think about what happened to Matt Ryan’s version of the character, and how we’ll probably never see Constantine Season 2, it’s really appropriate. If we’re lucky, it’s more like Purgatory.
Seriously, somebody needs to sort that out, because we need more of Matt Ryan as Constantine.
Anyway, the other fun joke is Oliver’s reference to an “animated encounter” he had with Vixen a few months back. Flash, Green Arrow, and Vixen did indeed team up on her animated series, so that’s kinda neat.
I might have wondered this before, but is “Nelson Plaze” a reference to great DC Comics editor E. Nelson Bridwell?
Arrow Season 4 Episode 16: Broken Hearts
– Is it possible that there was no DC Comics stuff in this episode? Or did my blinding hatred of Cupid and any story involving the ridiculous Star City legal system mean I simply was too busy raging to notice any? Offer me some corrections and I’ll gladly add them to this!
Arrow Season 4 Episode 17: Beacon of Hope
– The Bug-Eyed Bandit was originally an Atom villain, created by original Flash genius Gardner Fox and the legendary Gil Kane. He was a dude in the comics, though, with the equally on-the-nose name of Bertram Larvan. He isn’t any cooler on the comics page than she was on the screen.
– I love that Curtis thinks that Green Arrow is actually someone named “Neal Adams,” one of the artists most famously associated with the character Also, the fact that he calls it “the Arrowcave” is amusing, since there actually was an Arrowcave in the comics…back when Green Arrow wasn’t exactly the coolest comic on the block.
It’s even more amusing that Curtis only recognizes the castmembers who have established comic book counterparts (yes, I know Diggle is in the comics now, chill). It’s kind of a nice nod to his overall nerdiness.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 18: Eleven Fifty-Nine
This one has enough to do without getting tied up in DC Comics stuff, I suppose…but the lack of it was astounding.
I do have to note the “DA by day, superhero by night” joke, though. That particular trope has been a hallmark of superheroes in general since time began.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 19: Canary Cry
– The “villain” of this week’s episode is “Evelyn Crawford Sharp.” Evelyn Crawford was “Starling” a Birds of Prey teammate of Black Canary’s. There’s very little in common with what we got here, though.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 20: Genesis
– Welcome to Hub City! Hub City is traditionally the home of The Question, the Randian urban vigilante created by Steve Ditko (and the template for Watchmen’s Rorschach). Holy moley, the Question would be so perfect for this show.
– Fortuna doesn’t have a direct DC Comics parallel, but she sure does remind me of Madame Xanadu. The fact that they didn’t use her leads me to believe that she’s tied up in DC Films right now (maybe as part of the long gestaring Justice League Dark movie?).
Arrow Season 4 Episode 21: Monument Point
– So, the title “Monument Point” is a reference to a “real” place in the DC Universe. For awhile, it operated as the Justice Society of America’s home base.
And did I hear them say that it ended up hitting in “Havencroft?” That is indeed a suburb of Monument Point according to the comics.
Other than these things, and the usual references to other fictional DC Comics locations like Markovia and Corto Maltese, it seems like the show is busy trying to wrap up its own stories rather than play around with too much DC Comics stuff. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 22: Lost in the Flood
– During that ridiculously dopey hacking battle, Felicity’s screens are being attacked with a logo that recalls Brother Eye of OMAC fame. Since there was OMAC stuff the last time we got into Felicity’s hacking past, I couldn’t pass this up.
– The whole dome community with announcements about how wonderful everything is from Mrs. Darhk reminds me a little bit of classic cult TV series The Prisoner.
Arrow Season 4 Episode 23: Schism
– Taiana keeps referring to Leonid Kovar, a minor character known as Red Star in the comics. It looks more and more like Arrow is headed to Russia for next year’s flashbacks.
– So Oliver gets to be mayor after all!
Oliver Queen ran for mayor not once, but twice.
The first time, during Green Arrow’s time as a back-up feature in the Superman/Batman title, World’s Finest, he didn’t win. But the second time, during DC’s “One Year Later” period in the wake of Infinite Crisis, the people of Star City had Oliver Queen as their Mayor (you can find that story in Green Arrow: Crawling Through the Wreckage by Judd Winick and Scott McDaniel).
If there’s anything I missed, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter, and if it checks out, I’ll update the article.