Arrow made good on last season's tease of the Longbow Hunters tonight, introducing viewers to The CW series' take on a team with unique DC comics.
Spoilers for tonight's episode of Arrow, "The Longbow Hunters", below.
In tonight's episode, fans are introduced to the three villians helping big bad Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) with his criminal enterprises -- Kodiak (Michael Jonsson), Red Dart (Holly Elissa), and The Silencer (Miranda Edwards), collectively known as The Longbow Hunters. They're a team that was name-dropped during the show's Season 6 finale as a mysterious and legendarily lethal group that Diaz had some connection to and may have been the ones to save Diaz after being screamed into the water by Black Siren (Katie Cassidy).
But who are the Longbow Hunters? As comics fans know, the team -- and its name -- has an interesting DC Comics history that stretches back all the way the classic Green Arrow miniseries from 1987. Because of the long history of the name as well as the interesting path Arrow has taken to get to the villain team, we've come up with a brief primer on The Longbow Hunters.
Read on for more about the comics legacy, the team, and more.
For many Green Arrow fans, the name "Longbow Hunters" refers less to a team and more to one of the more iconic storylines in Green Arrow comics history -- 1987's Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters written and drawn by Mike Grell.
The three-issue miniseries followed Oliver Queen as he relocated from Star City to Seattle, Washington where his girlfriend, Dinah Lance, lived. His move prompts him to change his costume as well as abandon the use of his gimmicky trick arrows in favor of traditional archery equipment. His updated identity set, the Green Arrow works on tracking down the Seattle Slasher, a serial killer murdering area prostitutes, while Black Canary tries to infiltrate a drug ring with possible ties to the wealthy shipping magnate, Kyle Magnor.
Green Arrow tracks down the Seattle Slasher, but manages to escape him until a mysterious female archer later takes him down and disappears. The archer turns out to be Shado, the daughter of a Yakuza agent who was forced by American soldiers in World War 2 -- including Kyle Magnor -- to reveal where a large quantity of the organization's gold was hidden. Shado's father killed himself to atone for this and when Shado grew up, she set out on a mission to kill the men responsible which includes a motorist who happened to be passing by when Shado shot the Seattle Slasher.
Later, Oliver hears that the drug supplier Dinah was investigating had been found dead and mutilated. This sends him to the warehouse Dinah suspected the drugs were at and he finds her tortured and near death. Oliver kills the man torturing Dinah and it turns out that he was one of Shado's targets. It prompts Magnor to ask for better protection which in turn prompts someone named Eddie Fyers to be brought on to kill Shado. The story ultimately ends -- after several additional events including Oliver and Shado meeting on Mt. Rainier -- with Shado managing to kill Magnor in his office despite Oliver intending to frame him for the murder of the drug supplier.
The series was an incredibly popular one, garnering an Eisner nomination as well as leading to the first-ever Green Arrow ongoing series. It also helped shape Oliver Queen as a character for years to come, with his actions murdering the man torturing Dinah left him unable to find peace.
While the Grell story arc is iconic, it's the New 52 team that Arrow is taking its cue from when it comes to The Longbow Hunters.
The team debuted in Green Arrow (Vol. 5) #31 from July 2014 in the storyline "The Outsiders War, Book 6: Spoils of War". Created by Jeff Lemire, the Longbow Hunters were assembled by Richard Dragon and was comprised of Count Vertigo, Brick, Red Dart, and Killer Moth. In the comics, the Longbow Hunters come after Green Arrow after Dragon places a $30 million bounty on the hero's head. Green Arrow is able to defeat the three villains -- Brick, Killer Moth, and Red Dart -- with help and is then reunited with John Diggle after Dragon attempts to kill him by throwing him out a window. As that's not exactly the most effective way to kill him, Diggle and Green Arrow fight and eventually defeat Dragon.
The Season 6 finale of Arrow featured the first reference to the Longbow Hunters on The CW series. According to one of Ricardo Diaz's former allies, Anatoly Knyazev, the team has mythical status, so fierce that even the League of Assassins are scared of them. Knyazev says that it's believed that the team died out in the 1950s, but it's soon revealed that after becoming leader of The Quadrant, Diaz has contacted the team and they are now his allies.
At San Diego Comic-Con this year, the show revealed that they had cast for the three members of the Longbow Hunters: Red Dart (Holly Elissa), Kodiak (Michael Jonsson), and The Silencer (Miranda Edwards). Of the three, only Red Dart has comic book ties to the team.
In comics, Kodiak was the leader of Shield Clan, one of the eight Clans of The Outsiders, wielding something called the Shield Totem which granted its owner immortality and true enlightenment.
In tonight's episode, Kodiak does have a shield and while it's not clear if it grants him immortality and true enlightenment it proves to be a vicious tool, one that can cut through anything and anyone in its way.
In comics, The Silencer is Honor Guest, a deadly assasin who worked for Leviathan until Talia al Ghul let her retire. She then lived a normal and peaceful life with a husband and son, but was forced to return to her role as Silencer to protect her family.
On Arrow, it's not clear what Silencer's backstory is, but she does retain one of Honor's powers -- the ability to create zones of total silence. A device on Silencer's belt appears to be the source of this ability and as seen tonight, is very helpful when it comes to fighting the sonic powers of Black Siren and Black Canary.
While there have been multiple villains in DC comics named Red Dart, the canon Longbow Hunters iteration is a bit of a mystery. Her real name unknown, the character's calling card is her use of trick darts as part of the Longbow Hunters.
On Arrow, Red Dart definitely has her trick darts. She puts them to use in multiple scenarious, including taking out technology on the train carrying the weapon Diaz is after.
While Ricardo Diaz may be the primary threat this season, the Longbow Hunters will play a significant role as well, according to series showrunner Beth Schwartz.
"They're a force," Schwartz said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "Each one has a different team member that they'll go toe-to-toe with, specifically with what weapons they use."
According to Emily Bett Rickards, who plays Felicity, their threat will be compounded by the fact that Team Arrow has disbanded to keep their immunity deals.0comments
"When you have a multitude of people who are sort of distracting [you] and working as a team toward evil, you're, for lack of a better word, screwed," Rickards said. "The team doesn't necessarily have a designated leader since they've been broken up. It goes back to, what is everybody's cost? If you don't have the same amount of cost, you're going to face disagreement and trouble and possibly not having good teamwork against three people that are working together as a team with a dedicated message, which is probably, at the root of it, evil. They're kind of outnumbered in terms of mental game, which transfers into the powers that they have."
Arrow airs Mondays at 8/7c on The CW.