Arrow: Vengeance bundles the first two seasons of the TV show into one handy novel. Only this time, the emphasis isn’t on Oliver Queen. The authors have chosen to tell the story through the eyes of three villains: Slade Wilson (otherwise known as Deathstroke), Isabel Rochev (the woman who orchestrated a hostile takeover of Queen Consolidated), and Sebastian Blood (Brother Blood).
Consequently, there’s a lot of stuff going on. For example, we learn how Wilson got off the island of Lian Yu. We learn where he went, what he did, and how he came to Starling City. And believe us, his convoluted plot to kill Oliver Queen is totally assbonkers. He couldn’t just slice him up with his twin 27-inch tactical machetes. Nope. He had to construct an overly elaborate Rube Goldberg-like scheme to get the job done.
But that’s to be expected. Arrow is a highly charged and sensational melodrama. There’s nothing straightforward or tidy about the show. And that’s why fans love to tune in every Wednesday to watch it. Characters are shamelessly capricious (and impossibly good looking) and plot points are twisted tightly into knots. It’s all very silly. But it’s all in good fun.
Along with Slade Wilson, we get more background info about Isabel Rochev. As an intern at Queen Consolidated, she began sleeping with the company’s CEO Robert Queen (Oliver’s philandering father). When things inevitably fell apart, she vowed to wrest the company away from him. Like Wilson, she was consumed with total apocalyptic vengeance.
And finally, we spend a big chunk of time with Sebastian Blood. As the misguided ringleader of the Church of Blood, he took a vow to smash the one-percenters of Starling City (aka the Queen family). His story is perhaps the most heartbreaking. He was a battered child who was rescued from his abusive parents. Unfortunately, his rescuers were a bunch of religious weirdos who turned him into a murderous vigilante. Oops! Despite his good intentions, Sebastian Blood was doomed by his circumstances.
One final note: For some reason Malcolm Merlyn is just a secondary character in this book. His mad attempt to turn the Glades of Starling City into a pile of rubble is part of the drama. But he’s mostly relegated to the sidelines. That’s too bad. If future Arrow novels are in the works, we’d love to see more attention paid to the Dark Archer. His ongoing story is inexorably linked to Oliver Queen, Thea Queen, Starling City, and Nanda Parat.
It’s no secret that we’re enthusiastic fans of the FlarrowVerse (i.e. The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow). And as such, Arrow: Vengeance is a great way to revisit one of our favorite TV shows. Props to Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo for having the guts to write a Green Arrow novel with little interference from the Green Arrow himself. It was a good decision on their part. We like Oliver Queen, but it’s the villains that keep us coming back for more.
[Arrow: Vengeance / By Oscar Balderrama and Lauren Certo / First Printing: February 2016 / ISBN: 9781783294848]