I remarked back in the review for Arrow Season 2.5 #6 that despite rumours, the digital-first issue didn’t quite feel like an end to the “Blood” arc. It rounded off with the heroes escaping the clutches of the Church of Blood and them discovering some disturbing things about the enemy, which came as a shock to them. It was a good story for sure though, and I especially liked the thrust of the Suicide Squad 2-page backup, which has been one hell of a tease so far in this series, some three months into Season 2.5, almost maddeningly so.
In Arrow Season 2.5 #7, we see how the arc hasn’t really ended and how there is much more of a story here than Marc Guggenheim previously hinted at. And we see the introduction of one of the villains introduced in an early episode of the third season of the show, which was a real surprise and not something I was expecting. Really though, this issue is all about Oliver exploring his own damaged and tortured psyche, even as we see how things are really heating up in Kahndaq and the setup for the Suicide Squad to go in guns blazing. Oh and did I mention that there are a ton of guest artists on this issue?
The main story here is the direct continuation of the last issue, when we had the cliffhanger with Helena Bertinelli interrupting Oliver’s escape from the Church of Blood. It was a pretty big WTF moment for me, and gave me some hope that we would be treated to yet another awesome confrontation between the two vigilantes. However, it seems that writer Marc Guggenheim had some different things in mind and that that he also knows just how to beat reader expectations and really challenge them.
I really liked the thrust of this issue that Oliver is still a tortured man, suffering under the weight of failing to save people he really cared about, especially in the last two years since the start of the show itself, Arrow. He failed his friend Tommy, his mother, his father, Helena, Slade Wilson, and so many other people. He usually is someone who has a good handle on his emotions and his mind even, but sometimes such things do happen to get out, and that is what Marc Guggenheim does here, to excellent effect.
That’s the thing about Arrow itself. The show has always had a darkness to it, in that things aren’t always bright and rosy here. In fact, matters rarely are like that in Starling City. After all, the big bad of season 1 was called the Dark Archer and the big bad of season 2 was DC’s premier assassin, Deathstroke. And in the midst of it all, Oliver has lost many of the people he cared about, all of them under the most tragic of circumstances.
This issue is a gut-punch reminder of that. When you see Robert and Moira Queen once again, or Tommy Merlyn, you know that things are pretty serious. Oliver is still trying to deal with his failures and his efforts are not enough. No matter how much he moves past the deaths of the people closest to him, he will always be haunted by their memories. Which is where the villain comes in, someone from the very first episode of season 3. It is a creepy introduction, and while it feels a bit shoehorned in and the resolution isn’t fully there, I still loved every moment of it.
And then there’s the backup by Keto Shimizu as Lyla recruits another member for the Suicide Squad, this time someone with specific interest in Kahndaq. That was something unexpected and I’m definitely even more excited to see what is going to happen with this sub-arc in the coming issues. Things are heating up, and I think the team is definitely going to be leaving soon for the troubled country in what can only be a very explosive situation.
The artists for this issue are Neil Edwards, Joe Bennett & Craig Yeung, Beni Lobel, Angel Hernandez, Elena Casagrande and Rod Reis, with colours by Jim Charalampidis & Rod Reis, and letters by Deron Bennett. The switch in the artwork as we progress from one character to the another is something that is handled really well. The characters match up as they were on the show for the most part and their interactions with Oliver are definitely something that I loved seeing. After all, any moment where Oliver is getting beaten up by Helena for his past hypocrisy is a good moment as far as I’m concerned. And the backup art by Szymon Kudranski is much better this time around, especially where Lyla is concerned and the new character introduced is someone who definitely fits the bill for mental crazies as required by the Suicide Squad, crazies who also happen to be quite-perfect killing machines.
Exciting times are ahead!