Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Arrow: The Dark Archer Chapter #2 Review and *SPOILERS*

The King is Dead. Long Live the King!

Written By: John Barrowman and Carol E. Barrowman
Art By: Daniel Sampere, Juan Albarran, Kyle Ritter
Letters By: The Unknown Letterer
Digital Price: $0.99
Release Date: January 27, 2016

*Non Spoilers and Score At The Bottom*

Okay, Arrow fans, are you ready for the next installment of Malcolm Merlyn’s secret origin? No, not that secret origin we learned about on the show, where he left Starling City to train with the League of Assassins after his wife’s murder. This is a whole new secret origin that predates his other secret origin! It’s so secret, it involves Malcolm’s real name. Oh, you didn’t think the guy’s real name was Malcolm fucking Merlyn, did you? Might as well have called himself Johnny Mysterioso for crap’s sake. Last chapter we set the stage, this chapter we start getting into the nitty gritty. So let’s get into it! Read on!

Explain It!:

I feel I should begin this review with a disclaimer: Arrow: The Dark Archer Chapter #2 and the entire series should be read only by fans of the CW television show Arrow. Indeed, you should be somewhat of a regular viewer, and should have definitely seen season three before reading this comic. If you do not watch Arrow, then this digital comic will mean very little to you, since it doesn’t even feature the Green Arrow, from the television show or otherwise, and deals primarily in concepts laid out in the program. Okay? This isn’t a comic book that just anyone can enjoy, it’s not a good entry point into the series, it should be consumed only by people that watch Arrow. And if you’re not watching Arrow, what the fuck is wrong with you?

Last issue we saw Malcolm Merlyn held captive by a Shadowy Figure in the Sea of Souls, which is actually a weird altar cave that is slowly filling with water. Shadowy Figure again demands that Malcolm reveal his real name, get some stuff off his chest before he drowns to death, and so Malcolm does: his real name is Arthur King. DC fans may have caught themselves in a stifled gasp at that bit of information, because that’s the real name of Justice League nemesis Merlyn as shown in Justice League #94 in November of 1971! We won’t be exploring that right now, though—instead we jump to Malcolm’s fortress in Corto Maltese from earlier in the day, when he got a bunch of weird packages delivered and then was besieged by like a zillion arrows. He rushes inside his laboratory compound with his personal assistant Rainie and the old dude he almost ran over with his motorcycle in order to regroup and reassess. Of course Rainie has to keep asking question because girls are soo annoying. And Malcolm tells her as little as possible because boys are such assholes. Especially Malcolm Merlyn.

Outside, the woman that I think is Nyssa’s mother and her son Sarcon are strolling around in hooded robes acting like their shit don’t stink and preparing an assault on Malcolm’s stronghold with the help of a bunch of ninjas. Inside, Merlyn takes some time to open his mail and unwraps a box with a severed pinky in it. The pinky has a ring, which Malcolm recognizes as being from the Lost Tribe of Ashkiri, legendary folks that settled the region before the Conquistadores showed up. Nyssa’s mom and half-brother turn the alarms on to rattle the people inside, and ruminate on the dead Llama outside that was killed during the first wave of attacks. Nyssa’s mama tells no one specifically to skin the llama and bring her its heart, which is a funny way of honoring the dead. I guess if someone dies and you don’t think it’s regrettable, you poop in their casket.

While Malcolm Merlyn suits up in an outfit that looks suspiciously similar Oliver Queen’s Green Arrow costume (except in black) and prepares for war. While he puts on his gajillion pieces of leather armor and accessories, Malcolm tells Rainie that the people attacking are members of the Hidden, a mythical sect created during the Crusades to protect the sacred and the dead. Well, myth begone because they’re definitely cutting through the front door with an acetylene torch. Just before the conflict starts, Malcolm tells Rainie he was once a member of the Hidden, then ninjas bust in and it’s all flying kicks and bullets everywhere. The old dude that Malcolm almost ran over opens a secret passage in the rock wall, and the two of them escape in the heat of battle!

This was a pretty exciting book, despite the fact that it took place in one room for the most part. The artwork is really good in this chapter, and it seems like the plotting has improved as well. As far as intrigue, well this book’s got it in spades—IF you have been watching Arrow, that is. While some books hold your hand a little so everyone is (literally) on the same page, this one does not. So what I’m saying is that you should watch Arrow, it’s great. And then read this comic book.

Bits and Pieces:

This chapter really threw out some wild concepts, and tied Arrow’s Malcolm Merlyn to the DC Comics universe in a satisfying way, at least to this old codger. It was well-paced, nicely written, and I do think the art in this chapter was slightly better than the last one…or maybe I just grew more accustomed to it. Regardless, there’s lots of intrigue and action in this chapter, so if you’re a fan of Arrow—and ONLY if you’re a fan of Arrow—you should definitely give it a look.

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