TV

‘Arrow’ Producers Reveal Huge Secrets In ‘Season 2.5′

Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu discuss DC Comics' new digital first book.

Unfortunately, the agonizing wait until the third season of “Arrow” starts on The CW isn’t over yet… You’ll still have to wait until October 8 to see the adventures of Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his trusty allies. But until then, you can check out some decidedly less animated escapades in the pages of DC Comics’ “Arrow: Season 2.5.”

The digital first comic, written by “Arrow” Executive Producer Marc Guggenheim and Executive Story Editor Keto Shimizu (who both also write for the show), connects the events of the second season finale directly to the opening of season three.

The comic hits stores today, but in advance of the release MTV News hopped on the phone with Guggenheim and Shimizu to talk about the inspiration for the book – and found out a whole lot more about how the comic picks up on cliffhangers from season two, and foreshadows just what will go down in the next season:

MTV News: What’s the idea behind 2.5, and how does it dovetail with the show proper?

Marc Guggenheim: We really tried to recreate the narrative experience the show offers in comic book form. And to that end, we were trying to tell the kinds of stories we tell on “Arrow,” but at the same time take advantage of the seemingly limitless budget, and limitless scope the medium of comic books offers.

We’re telling similar stories, but we’re telling them in a way that takes advantage of action sequences, and locales, and set pieces, and all the things we can’t afford to do on a TV schedule, and a TV budget.

MTV: It’s interesting to hear you say that, because “Arrow” tries hard to stay grounded despite the occasional foray into mild superpowers. So even with the unlimited budget, I imagine you’re not saying, “Eh, let’s throw a dragon in there.”

Guggenheim: We’re definitely not going to change the grounded tone of the show, so the creative voice remains the same. it’s one of the reasons Keto and I are writing this, we both write on the show itself. One of the two things we wanted from the writing was that the stories matter, these stories are in canon in the story of the show. And also, the tone of the show was well represented by the comics. We’re our own quality assurance program.”

MTV: Because you’re doing this between seasons, do you have the opportunity to move the story forward at all? Or is it just seeking to connect the season finale to the next season premiere?

Keto Shimizu: What it’s doing is setting up Oliver’s headspace for where he is, coming into season three. Every year when we start the show we have an Oliver that’s facing different challenges, and grappling with different questions, and that is exactly what we’re setting up through this comic, and into season three: getting him to where we’re going to get some really big challenges thrown at him, at the start of the season.

MTV: So what is Oliver’s head like, in “2.5?”

Guggenheim: Everything is pretty good, which is pretty rare for him. He’s just defeated Slade, and he managed to do so in a way that didn’t compromise his values as a hero. Everything is going pretty well, and in fact, Team Arrow is operating at peak efficiency.

Everyone is at the top of their game when we meet our characters. And we really wanted to open the comic series, much the way we open a typical episode of “Arrow.” A lot of times we open with Team Arrow in some kind of cool action sequence, that just immediately drops you into the middle of the action.

We’re going to do the same structure in the comic book, but hopefully with a bigger scope than we could accomplish given our TV limitations.

MTV: At the same time, there were a number of cliffhangers in the second season premiere. One that comes to mind is Detective Lance dying of internal injuries… Will we have to wait for the season premiere, or is that dealt with in the comic?

Shimizu: No, that will absolutely be dealt with. We’ll see exactly what happens those moments following, and where he is.

Guggenheim: Because that’s such a direct cliffhanger, it really gives us the opportunity to most directly resolve the cliffhanger. We typically do our broadcast series premiere narratively takes place five months after the previous season’s finale. We’re doing the same thing in season three where you’ll pick up, it’s five months since Lance collapsed.

But only in the comic book were we able to tell the story about what happened to him immediately thereafter. In fact there are events that are referenced in the first episode, the season premiere that specifically refer to what happened in the comics.

MTV: How about the whole Olicity angle? Oliver didn’t exactly declare any feelings for Felicity in the finale – quite the opposite, in fact – but in the season three premiere, we know they’re going on a date.

Guggenheim: We’re certainly moving him and her in that direction, and over the course of the comic we’ll see them growing closer and closer. That will tie in pretty nicely for the season premiere.

MTV: What about the bad guys for the comic? Anyone new, anyone old?

Guggenheim: We’ve got a couple of bad guys. One of them is Brother Blood, who fans of the show will recognize from season two. We also have a new character named Caleb Green, who has a mysterious agenda and a mysterious connection to Oliver’s father.

MTV: Brother Blood was pretty, you know, dead at the end of last season. So how is he coming back?

Guggenheim: We’ll absolutely explain it. I would say that the answer to the question has a lot to do with season three, which is also the theme of season 2.5, and that is identity.

MTV: Anything from Brandon Routh’s Ray Palmer in the comic, given he’s also new in season three?

Guggenheim: Probably not, only because he gets a proper introduction in the broadcast premiere, and we’re being consistent with what we’re doing. There will be some characters, like Peter Stormare’s Vertigo who will make an appearance in the comic that lays the foundation for their appearance in the show. But, we wanted to make this additive, and not conflicting.

MTV: Assuming this comic does well, is this something you’d only want to do transitory between seasons, or could you see an ongoing, monthly “Arrow” comic happening from DC?

Guggenheim: Anything is possible… It’s funny, your question, it relates more to our workload, and our bandwidth than anything else. This all started way back before we launched the show. Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg and I wrote an “Arrow” comic to give away at Comic-Con. We made the decision back then that all the tie-in materials done for the show would always connect up with the broadcast storyline.

In other words, everything would be canon, and all the stories would matter. In order to do that succesfuly, it takes a bit of time, and it takes the work of all the writers on the staff who frankly are busy writing the show itself. But if successful, things are possible, there’s certainly a lot of desire on our parts. I just don’t know how much time there is!

MTV: DC is also launching a “Flash: Season 0″ comic in a few weeks. Since we’ll see the shows crossing over, could the comic books do so as well?

Guggenheim: Unfortunately, I don’t know how we would swing that. “Arrow: Season 2.5″ takes place before episode 301 of “Arrow.” And “Flash: Season 0″ takes place between episodes 101 and 102. So they don’t line up chronologically. In “Season 2.5,” Barry Allen is still comatose, and only wakes up during the first episode of “Flash.” It would be very tricky, unless we want to have a crossover with a comatose Barry.

Arrow 2.5 cover1 DC Comics

The first chapter of “Arrow: Season 2.5″ is available today from via the DC Comics App,Readdcentertainment.com, iBooks, comiXology.com, Google Play, Kindle Store, and the Nook Store for $.99.

Writer/Editor at MTV News. You can follow him on Twitter, but not in real life because that would be weird.
@azalben