A Generation of Vipers is a novel that reminds us of all the things we miss about the Arrow TV show, including substantive involvement from Thea Queen (the Red Arrow), Felicity Smoak (Overwatch), Malcolm Merlyn (the Dark Archer), Lyla Michaels (spymaster and director of A.R.G.U.S.), and John Diggle (ex-Army Ranger).
At some point the show stumbled and never recovered its momentum. We may be in the minority, but we’re not interested in Bratva mobsters or the new Green Arrow crew (including Wild Dog, Ragman, and Mister Terrific). In our opinion, the series worked best with the Queen/Smoak/Diggle trinity at the center of every episode.
More than anything we miss the old Felicity Smoak, the quip-y white hat who allowed Oliver Queen to share her bed. Thankfully (for us), authors Clay and Susan Griffith have set their novel in a timeline when Oliver and Felicity are still romantically involved.
There’s a moment in Chapter Six in particular that made us crush hard for the old days. During a quiet postcoital moment, Felicity uses early morning sunlight to explore her lover’s naked body.
“Her fingers trailed across his skin and her smile faltered for just a moment. She didn’t say anything but Oliver knew what was going through her mind. So many scars, crisscrossed over his flesh. Knives. Guns. Acid. Whips. Arrows. Shark bite even.
“She leaned over and kissed the newest one, still aching but healing. Her lips barely touched it but his muscles reacted even so. He drew in a sharp breath, though it was hardly from pain.”
The authors don’t escalate the scene into Fifty Shades of Grey territory. They don’t need to. Going back in time and getting a peek at the intimacy once shared by these two characters makes it clear what’s currently wrong with the TV show. It’s suffering from a broken heart.
Despite our various criticisms, there is one thing Arrow still does very well. It anchors a TV universe that includes Supergirl, Firestorm, Atom, Captain Cold, Heat Wave, Vixen, Citizen Steel, and all the various nutters in Central City. Even Barry Allen agrees: “There wouldn’t be a Flash without the Green Arrow coming first.” And for this we are thankful.
Arrow: A Generation of Vipers brings to a close the storyline from The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen. In an attempt to keep the “Fastest Man Alive” alive, Teams Arrow and Flash travel to Castlevania to purchase a wormhole generator (price tag: $1.5 billion). It’s like a crazy gothic superhero mashup. Ken Russell meets Castle of Cagliostro meets LEGO Batman. Or something equally redonkulous.
Over all, it’s a fun book. Even though Barry Allen is in danger of being consumed by the Speed Force, he and his friends are in high spirits. Cisco Ramon, especially, is resplendent as nerd royalty. Green Arrow (as always) is kind of a downer. But Felicity’s humor and indomitable spirit makes her an unstoppable force of nature. At one time, she and Oliver Queen were a dynamite pair. Hopefully Olicity will return to the TV show someday.
[Arrow: A Generation of Vipers / By Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith / First Printing: March 2017 / ISBN: 9781783294855]