NYCC: Marc Guggenheim on Arrow 2.5, and Black Canary's Ties to the Suicide Squad

A new issue of Arrow Season 2.5 hits the stands on Monday from writers Marc Guggenheim and Keto Shimizu, adding to the continuing storyline that connects the second and third seasons of the hit CW drama based on DC Comics's Green Arrow.

Kicking off this week is Suicide Squad: Crisis in Khandaq, a backup story that serves as a second feature for the rest of the "season" and helps to inform what some of the characters not on Team Arrow were up to during the break.

Today at New York Comic Con, Guggenheim joined ComicBook.com to discuss the series.

Will we be seeing some Sara in Season 2.5?

Yes, actually you will. She actually plays a very big role in Season 2.5 and you’ll see her in two ways: you’ll see her in the Arrow story that we’re telling, but you’ll also see her in the Suicide Squad storyline that Keto Shimizu is writing. That, I think, Sara fans will really enjoy because you’ll get to see her in a different kind of light and in a different way than you’ve seen her in the past on Arrow.

Is that how the breakdown goes -- you’re doing most of the Oliver stuff and she’s doing the Squad?

More or less. She’s doing the Suicide Squad stuff an in the Arrow stuff, there are various scenes that I’ll ask her to write. It’s a little more organic in the Oliver stuff and Suicide Squad is her baby.

Now, David [Ramsey] obviously wants a Suicide Squad spinoff…

...Really? [Laughs]

...Well, is it nice to do this in 2.5, because you obviously can’t do the Suicide Squad every week on Arrow.

No, we can’t. And it is very nice. One of the reasons why we chose the Suicide Squad for the digital comic is that it has such a huge fan base and becuase its fans are clamoring for it. Keto’s story is going to feature the Suicide Squad, but it’s also going to involve Dig and a couple of other surprise guests and hopefully the fans who enjoyed the Suicide Squad on Arrow will love the comic book even more. David’s spinoff? One day maybe. You never know!

Obviously you’ve already touched on some things that happened during the gap, with Captain Lance and Roy. Are we going to see how it came to pass that Sara was texted almost immediately and then took five months to show up in the Season Three premiere?

Yes. Actually, one of the things we’re going to be doing is, that’s the whole kind of point of Season 2.5 is to fill in all of those gaps. We’ll also learn what brings Sara to Starling City at the end of Episode 301. She was there for a very specific purpose and we’re going to get to that in the comics. Werner Sidle’s drug Vertigo and Werner Sidle’s appearance chronologically, that will also happen in the comics. We really wanted to be, not required reading for fans of the show, but if 23 episodes a year isn’t enough for them, the comic book will obviously fill a nice little void for them.

There are things you’ll presumably be evolving a bit is the Oliver/Felicity relationship, right?

Is it difficult to slow-pedal that even more than you have in the show?

I think what makes it difficult in the comics is, you don’t have the benefit of on-air chemistry. That’s been a little hard. I’ve been trying to get at that through their interactions and her concern for Oliver. You’ll see a little bit of that in future chapters that are about to be published. Getting that chemistry across on a comic book page, even with as gifted an artist as Joe Bennett, is hard. It’s that X factor on the show that you sort of feel as you’re watching it. We’re doing the best we can, given what the medium of comics allows us.

It’s a very different animal now versus the original Arrow comic. Did the one-and-done format make it easier given the digital format?

Yes, it was much easier. It was a lot easier for me becuase my support staff and my writing staff did the vast majority of that writing. At the same time, one of my favorite things to do in the original iteration of the comic was to do the chapters that really tied in very closely with the series and this is like that on steroids. It’s harder work, it’s a lot more work, it’s a lot more to keep in my head because I need to juggle timeframes while I’m writing. I need to juggle Season Three and Season 2.5, but it’s a labor of love and it’s actually worth all the effort.

You’ve got a ton of other things going on right now; how are you dividing up that time, is it just finding 20 minutes on the set?

A little bit. The majority of my feature writing work I do in the mornings, early morning at 5 o’clock before I come into work. My comic book work I tend to do in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed. The middle of the day is Arrow and sometimes I’ll sneak in the middle of the day a chapter of Arrow 2.5 but it’s sort of catch as catch can sometimes. I always bring my laptop with me and it’s not uncommon to see me outside reception if I’m waiting to go into a meeting and I’m always typing something. If I’ve got 20 minutes or even 15 minutes, I can get a decent amount of work done.

Obviously there are some characters who haven’t had as much screentime as others for various reasons. Are you going to take the comic as an opportunity to flesh some of them out?

Yeah, absolutely. The other thing that’s kind of fun is, we get a chance to spend time with characters and tell little moments of story with them. There’s a moment in Chapter 4 with Thea and Malcolm that we probably wouldn’t have had the screen time for on the show. We do 42 minutes, we usually shoot about 50 minutes of airtime. So a decent amount of material gets left on the cutting room floor. On the comic book side, we don’t have those kind of limitations. I’m finding with the comic I’m able to put in more moments that we typically wouldn’t be able to see on the show and that’s a great boon. Not just for characters like Merlyn and The Huntress but for Diggle and Felicity and everybody.

In Chapter Three, we revealed where Oliver gets some of his tech from. In three years on the show, we’ve never been able to find the time to get that information out. It’s hard, but it’s a great little advantage to have this place to be able to tell story.

He really reminds me a little bit of Harold, by the way, who used to serve a similar function for Batman for a while. Was that on purpose?

No, it’s funny actually: I had in my head a guy who had built so many bombs and built so much stuff that blew up that some of it just blew up on him and he had the scars from it. And then when I got Joe’s character designs back, I was like, “Wow, he does look a bit like Harold.” I think intellectually he’s a very different character from Harold but I don’t mind the parallel. It’s a nice little nod for people who are familiar with that character and have a fondness for him.

One of the things you guys get to do is, budgetarily, you can’ blow everything up every week. So far, it’s been a fairly character-centric comic. Are we going to start to see some of that, “Holy crap, everything’s on fire?”

Not only “Holy crap, everything’s on fire,” but “Holy crap, everything’s on fire in a place that clearly isn’t Vancouver.” One of the advantages of the Suicide Squad story is, we’re going to go to Khandaq, which is a locale we could never show on the show for any extended period of time because there’s no deserts. We might be able to fake it for a scene or two, but an entire storyline set in that world? That’s something we could never do on the show. That’s the other thing we’re always trying to do, which is, what stories and moments that we can show in the comics that we couldn’t show on the show because of budget and logistical limitations?