SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Season 6 of Arrow, currently airing on The CW.
The CW released an official synopsis for the Arrow Season 6 episode "Next of Kin," and it includes a surprise character making her Arrowverse debut. Chastity Dotson (Pitch, Imposters) will guest star as the vigilante Onyx, who is described as the leader of a rogue black ops team who "breaks into Kord Industries and steals something lethal." Who is Onyx, and what could her inclusion mean for Arrow and Oliver Queen?
The Redemption of Onyx
Onyx was created by Joey Cavalieri and Jerome Moore for a backup story in Detective Comics from 1985. A former member of the infamous League of Assassins, we find her living in a monastery after changing her ways and going into hiding. She is tasked with tracking down Oliver Queen, a former student of the monks, so he can help save them all from a terrible fate.
The story of Onyx is one of redemption, of seeing your past mistakes, and changing your spots to become something better. She's a fairly obscure character, but it's an easy message to spot, given everything she has been through. After her and Green Arrow save the monastery, she went on to appear sporadically around the DC Universe as a newly christened vigilante.
Onyx would later become a hero in her own right when she moved to Gotham City and became a tangential member of the Bat family during the early-to-mid 2000s. She played an important role during the "War Games" storyline, when a gang war got out of hand and Batman needed her help to get things under control again. Even a former assassin can be a hero when the world needs one.
Rectifying Who She Will Be on Arrow
The episode's official synopsis describes Onyx as a member of a black ops team. In the comics, Onyx is someone who uses her fists first, last and (mostly) only. She is an expert in many forms of martial arts and was even trained by Lady Shiva herself during her time with the League. When Jeff Lemire reimagined her in Green Arrow for DC's New 52 publishing intiative, he cast her as the leader of the Fist Clan. Talking about black ops means she's part of the military and uses guns, making this seem like a completely different character. If they changed this about her, what else will be different?
It's important to note, however, that guns don't make the woman. We never saw Onyx as a member of the League, only heard about it once that part of her life was over. We never truly saw her turn away from villainy, but we did get to see her rise to heroism. Perhaps this is the journey we will see when she debuts on Arrow in 2017.
Whether we see her ties to the League of Assassins or her prowess in hand-to-hand combat is irrelevant. What truly matters is her journey from villain to hero, and how that journey can ultimately help Oliver Queen through his own. Unfortunately, we don't know where the writers are going with her character -- yet.
The Parallels With Oliver Queen
When we see Oliver Queen again, he will be at rock bottom. Adrian Chase managed to bring Oliver's entire life down around him and prove, in a way, that the Green Arrow has been the bad guy all along. Even though the villain is now dead, it was nothing short of a pyrrhic victory for Team Arrow -- if there is even a team after the Season 5 finale -- and Oliver personally, who now finds himself at a crossroads.
Shown by Adrian that everyone around him suffers, Oliver's own son now believes him to be a monster. He has admitted to his darkest sins -- that he killed out of pleasure during his first years as a vigilante -- but can he truly move on from them? It's up to Oliver to determine where he goes from here. Can he rise up from the darkness surrounding his life and become the hero he wants to be? It seems rather ironic (or is it kismet?) that Onyx would be introduced just as the show's main character needs to figure out a new direction in his life.
Oliver will be in a dark place when "Next of Kin" premieres on The CW, but will Onyx be there to meet him at the bottom before the inevitable rise? Dotson's casting as a guest star makes this feel like a one-and-done appearance, but perhaps that will be enough time to provide a lasting effect on Green Arrow.
The Arrowverse has seen many adaptations of popular DC Comics characters fall far away from what would be deemed as accurate. No one would be upset if Arrow has simply applied a familiar name to an unrelated character in order to create a compelling villain of the week, but the show, and its viewers, would be missing out on a story sitting right there in front of them.
Arrow is a production of Berlanti Productions developed by Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg. The show stars Stephen Amell, Katie Cassidy, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey, Willa Holland, Susanna Thompson, Paul Blackthorne, Emily Bett Rickards, Colton Haynes, Manu Bennett, John Barrowman, Echo Kellum and Josh Segarra.