The CW's Arrow and its spinoff The Flash won't premiere until October, but DC Entertainment is giving fans some comic relief while they wait. The Arrow digital comic series, which has been on hiatus since last year, is set to return with an all-new chapter in the life of Oliver Queen, while The Flash: Season Zero will bring us up to speed on the life of Barry Allen, a.k.a. the Fastest Man Alive. Both books are being written by the series' showrunners, guaranteeing the stories are in sync with what we see on TV.
Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim is thrilled to be expand the show's universe with Arrow: Season 2.5. Unlike the original comic's self-contained chapters, this version will "tell one continuous story that I've separated into two-different arcs," says Guggenheim, who is penning the series with Keto Shimizu, an Arrow staff writer. "It will take us from the end of Season 2 right up to the beginning of Season 3."
Season 2.5 is being designed to fit seamlessly into the TV series' storyline. "We've tried to put in all the elements that people like about the show, so there will be Oliver and Felicity banter," Guggenheim promises. "We're going to see what's happened to Detective Lance after he collapsed in the season finale. A good chunk of the burning questions left over will get answered in the tie-in comic."
The comic, which features art by Joe Bennett with inks by Jack Jadson, will also set the stage for new elements to be seen on TV. "Particularly towards the latter half of the series, we're going to start introducing characters who you'll see in Season 3," Guggenheim teases. "If everything goes according to plan you'll start to see characters in the comics before they show up on TV."
Guggenheim's fellow Arrow exec producer Andrew Kresiberg, who is now also showrunner on The Flash, is excited to give readers more of Barry Allen's backstory as he settles into his new identity as the Scarlet Speedster. "Flash: Season Zero takes place between the pilot and episode 2," Kreisberg says. "Barry will [already] be the Flash, he will have his team, everyone will be in that world, and we'll introducing a new set of villains that we won't be seeing on the TV show. It'll feel like the same heart, humor and spectacle that you get watching Flash."
Season Zero, which is being co-written by Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak and features art by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur, will showcase the entire TV cast, plus these new rogues, a group of circus performers who gained super powers as a result of the S.T.A.R. Labs particle accelerator explosion that also transformed Barry (as seen in the Arrow episode "Three Ghosts," as well as The Flash's pilot). This "freakshow gallery," as Kreisberg calls them, are lead by Mr. Bliss, a character who first appeared in DC's Starman comic series: "He has the ability to manipulate peoples' emotions. He and his cadre of circus folk have decided that they've been pushed around long enough and are going to take it to society."
Though The Flash (like Arrow) will be have a real world feel, the comic companion will embrace the franchise's colorful roots. "The villains are a little bit more costume-y and a little bit more outlandish," Kreisberg says. "They don't necessarily have to be as grounded as on the TV show."
The first chapter of Arrow: Season 2.5 is scheduled for a digital release on Monday, Sept. 1, followed by the first chapter of The Flash: Zero Year on Monday, Sept. 8. The series will alternate releases every Monday at readdcentertainment.com and via the DC Comics app, the iBookstore, Nook Store and Kindle Store.
The first printed collection of The Flash goes on sale Wednesday, Oct. 1, while the initial Arrow book reaches comic book stores on Wednesday, Oct. 8.