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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Static Thoughts - 10 Possible Villains for Arrow Season 5

Edited by Robert Beach 

If there is one worthwhile name in DC comic adaptations in the 2010s, it’s the CW. By this point, they’ve created 2 incredibly great shows with The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow that perfectly adapt their respective source materials and are now taking on the responsibility of a 3rd great show with Supergirl. Unfortunately, all that excellence raises the question of what happens to CW’s original superhero show Arrow.  

Love it or hate it, Arrow is just treading water, an adjunct to a universe that no longer needs it. So far, the only thing that really made Arrow stand out was the inclusion of Ras Al Ghul as a new bad guy, following the Daredevil school of villain appropriation. Given that, it makes sense Arrow season 5 will keep ripping off Daredevil; this time trying to crib Daredevil season 2’s Punisher plot with a killer vigilante story of its own. Well, I’m not one to shy away from speculation. So here are 10 vigilantes we might see as the big bad of Arrow season 5. 

This one is the most obvious, mainly owing to some obscure comic lore. Wild Dog was a gun-totting vigilante put forward in the ‘80s because Punisher was getting a ton of popularity. Obviously he never really caught on, probably owing to his perfectly ridiculous costume blending camo pants, a bulldog shirt, and the Jason Voorhees hockey mask for a perfectly ridiculous ensemble. Additionally, Wild Dog has a lot less of a back-story than Punisher, functioning as just a fed-up citizen taking to the intercity streets rather than a marine who’d lost his family. 

The only reason he tends to pop to mind as a possible Green Arrow foe is a combination of his street-level obscurity and also shared pages with Black Canary in his initial debut. Obviously, CW could drop any of those elements and simply adopt the Wild Dog name and call this an adaptation, much the same way they did with Damien Dark in season 4. If they want a starting point, “DC’s Punisher” Wild Dog is the best place to start. 

Wild Dog might be functionally the closest thing DC has to a Punisher. As far as “heroes who kill villains” go Crimson Avenger sits comfortably atop the food chain. Jill Carlyle, the Crimson Avenger, discovered a pair of Colt pistols that were host to a spirit of vengeance that then possessed her. When the spirit within the guns sensed a soul that needs avenging, Carlyle would relive the victim’s death before teleporting to their grave. Once there, she gains the skills of the victim along with her powers of teleportation through a red mist. 

What’s more, her guns never miss and have a mind of their own as they’re possessed by a mystic sentience. Of all the folks on this list, Crimson Avenger is the one I most hope is in Arrow season 5.  She’s a badass character with a cool, conflicted origin story and the perfect set-up for ongoing reappearances if CW wanted to go that way.  Also, Arrow has ended up as CW’s major source for magic plotlines, so Crimson Avenger would be a great way to keep that going. 

While he’s technically a villain, Black Spider’s origin is close enough in line with the role of “evil vigilante” to fit the part.  Additionally, the guy’s a Batman villain. If there’s one thing Arrow loves to do, it’s adapt Bat-foes into Arrow foes. Black Spider was originally created as an inverse Spider-Man, in that he got addicted to drugs and ended up killing his own Uncle Ben. 

Distraught by his actions, he kicked the habit and adopted the identity of the Black Spider to try and clean up the drug trade with murder. His plan failed almost immediately with Spider ending up back on the smack and working as an assassin for various drug lords. While hardly a top-level bad guy for a possible season arc, there’s at least enough to his look and concept to create the groundwork for a better characterization. 

Onyx is a weird character, and one of the 3 folks on this list who come from a very bizarre era of Batman comics in the mid-2000s. During the ‘90s, Batman writers ended up reviving the idea that Batman wasn’t a lone wolf hero, rather a super dad to a whole collection of crime fighters. This concept slowly mushroomed till the mid-2000s where he was the lead of a whole army of characters. Onyx was the sidekick of one such ally we’ll get to next. She was a kick-ass black woman superhero who served as some serious muscle. She was also always ambiguous on the subject of murder, working for a time as an assassin. If CW wanted her to act as an anti-Arrow, she could fit the bill. 

Orpheus was another mid-2000s Batman ally and notable as the first major black hero in the Batman mythos. His gimmick was he was a hero who posed as a gang lord, so he could organize Gotham’s black community around a crime that he could control. It was a weird idea, but Orpheus was a cool character for his brief time in the universe, and it’s been way too long since he showed up. 

It’d be an interesting twist on the “evil vigilante” role if Arrow did go with Orpheus as he’s only “evil” in the sense that he’s not willing to beat up the lower classes for the crime of doing what they need to survive.  It’s a very progressive form of justice, and one that would fit perfectly with Green Arrow’s various flavors of liberalism. 

Tattooed Man is another "villain." During his time with Villains for Hire and in his own mini-series, he was a lot more of an anti-hero than a straight villain, so I could see CW pushing him one way or another. He was a US marine involved in some military action that went awry, and he got left behind.  While there, the local natives taught him weird tattoo magic where he could bring to life his various tattoos and have them do his bidding. Later, Tattooed Man returned to the States as a sometimes villain and sometimes local community hero of the ghettos in the same vein an Orpheus.  

Tattooed Man is traditionally more of a Green Lantern foe, but he tends to live in that nebulous zone of most C- and D-list bad guys where he’ll fight anyone on hand. If CW does bring him in as the new big bad, it’d be pretty great if it turned out to all be a long set-up for Green Lantern. I’m not holding my breath.

At this point, we’ve left the C-list and jumped straight to the G-list. Gang Buster is one of a handful of forgotten Superman supporting cast characters meant to answer the question of who deals with normal crime in Metropolis. It’s a worthwhile point given Superman is usually off fighting aliens or giant robots, so stuff like organized crime or gangs tends to fall off his radar. Enter Gang Buster, a violent latino vigilante dressed in riot gear committed to righting Metropolis’ less prevalent wrongs.  

While I don’t really think Gang Buster could work as a season-long villain, especially not with that goofy name, it would be cool if his involvement were tied to CW’s new Supergirl show. I doubt this will happen, but if it turned out he had secretly immigrated to Earth-1 from Supergirl’s Earth-4, it’d add a really unique wrinkle to the very standard anti-hero vigilante story set-up. 

Another one of the mid-2000s Batman supporting characters, Tarantula was a revamped iteration of a Golden Age superhero from WWII. The original Tarantula had been a non-powered mystery man with a web gun and a domino mask that most folks forgot existed. The Tarantula on this list was a brutal vigilante who worked out of Bludhaven alongside Nightwing. While working together, and romantically entangled, Tarantula ended up pushing Dick Grayson down a harsher path, persuading him to kill the super villain Blockbuster. 

Later, during the massive gang war event War Games, Tarantula started up her own gang on the streets of Gotham in the same vein as Orpheus, a decision that pretty much shattered her relationship with Nightwing and sent her spiraling towards the role of all-around villain. If Arrow really wants to try and emulate the approach of Daredevil season 2, Tarantula could act as both Punisher and Elektra to Green Arrow’s Matt Murdock. 

We’re getting into the really unlikely territory now. In case you’ve never heard of this guy, Red Hood was originally Jason Todd, Batman’s 2nd Robin after Dick Grayson.  Unfortunately, while hunting for his mother, Jason ran a fowl of the Joker and was beaten to death before getting exploded. Later, Ras al Ghul found Jason’s body and brought him back to life, turning him into a weapon against Batman before setting him loose on Gotham City as the Red Hood. 

In his newfound identity, Jason was a murderous vigilante who took over a huge chunk of Gotham’s drug trade and nearly killed Batman on several occasions while slipping deeper and deeper into suicidal mania. In the right hands, the Red Hood is an amazing character and a great exploration of the actual cost of superhero resurrection. While his origins are linked heavily to Batman, a good chunk of his back-story is already present on Arrow thanks to the Ras Al Ghul plot. 

Okay, this one is going to be a little strange, but I think Baphomet is actually the most likely guy on this list (except for maybe Wild Dog). Baphomet’s another Batman character in a weird way. It takes some explaining.  A while back, Kevin Smith wrote a pretty decent Batman mini-series called Widening Gyre. In that story, Batman meets up with a new vigilante named Baphomet who helps Batman clean up Gotham that Bats comes to very much trust and respect. However, the last page of that book revealed Baphomet was actually a villain, playing the role of vigilante to con Batman into revealing his identity and getting close to him. 

Baphomet’s true identity is…Onomatopoeia, a relatively obscure Green Arrow villain that Smith also created. Onomatopoeia is a hero hunter, a deadly super assassin obsessed with killing heroes and with the weird adopted gimmick of saying any sound he happens to be making. He’s one of the only real arch-foes Green Arrow has outside of Merlin, and he’s yet to appear in Arrow. If this is how they bring him in, under the Baphomet identity, I wouldn’t be surprised. 

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