BOOK REVIEW: Arrow – Oliver Queen’s Dossier

Oliver Queen's Dossier

Title: Arrow – Oliver Queen’s Dossier

Author: Nick Aires

Publisher: Titan Books

Published: 14 October 2016

RRP: £19.99

After a shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen was missing presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the Pacific. When he returns home to Starling City, desperately wants to make amends for the actions he took in his youth. As Oliver reconnects with those closest to him – playing the role of the wealthy, carefree and careless philanderer he used to be by day – he secretly creates the persona of Arrow, a vigilante, to right the wrongs of his family, fight the ills of society, and restore Starling City to its former glory. Oliver Queen’s Dossier​ collates the intelligence Oliver Queen has uncovered on nefarious business dealings and criminal activity in Starling City, with “eyes only” records on his alter-ego Arrow since his return from Lian Yu. Includes hard copy duplicates of confidential government and business documents acquired by Oliver and Felicity Smoak, top secret schematics for Arrow’s weaponry, and information on his family and allies.

The CW network has been producing a range of fantastic series’ since they took a vigilante hero that a mainstream audience would perhaps not be so familiar with from the world of DC Comics, and created a series that has not only reached its fifth season but also inspired three spin-offs. For such a hugely popular television show, Arrow has been somewhat lacking in the tie-in book market. This latest offering, Oliver Queen’s Dossier is touted as the vigilante’s guide to the cases he’s solved and his allies. It’s an unusual format – so how does it hold up? Here’s my thoughts.

First of all, let’s talk about the presentation. Oliver Queen’s Dossier is a wonderful looking book. It has a leather-look, flexi-binding that does have that “living journal” feel about it. Inside the covers are what I can only really describe as a graphic designer’s dream. Page after page of newspaper cuttings, pages from police files, photographs and more – each with a little post-it note from the Arrow himself, shedding some minor insight into Oliver’s own thoughts about the topic in question.

The book’s 158 pages of content are stacked with such materials – drawn together successfully to resemble a scrap-book of sorts – including what are obviously illustrations and drawings from the television series’ design department. Oliver Queen’s Dossier is certainly easy on the eye.

Where the book is somewhat lacking however, is in the level of detail in the text itself. I was expecting this book to be something of a reference book that I could turn to and get a relatively detailed “in-world” background to the criminals and heroes of Oliver’s world. In this regard, I was disappointed. Detail is scant at best – each page having multiple disparate entries that provide the merest hint of detail about the people inhabiting the world of Arrow. If this is Oliver Queen’s Dossier, used throughout his investigations, it’s a wonder he solved any crimes.

I guess I’m not sure what Oliver Queen’s Dossier is intended to be. From the blurb, I expected some detailed case notes, biographies of characters and so-on (perhaps less detailed than in Nick Aires’ other Arrow book) but certainly enough content to make me remember the episodes or characters being discussed. As a case in point, series stalwart John Diggle – Oliver’s key associate – gets a double page spread. One page is a very scant resume, the other a few photographs, a letter of thanks from the relative of a victim who the team aided and a note from Oliver about that case. On the other hand, I can’t fault the skill that’s gone into the design and compilation. The book almost feels like a cosplay accessory rather than a reference book or even a coffee-table book.

Would I recommend this book? I don’t think so. Unless you’re a die-hard Arrow fan who must have every possible piece of merchandise released, this book will probably disappoint. There’s just not enough meat beneath the rather lovely skin. It’s a beautiful book and I tip my hat to the designers, but it’s definitely a case of style over substance.

Unfortunately, Oliver Queen’s Dossier misses its target for me.

GS Rating: 2/5

GS Blogger: Antony McGarry-Thickitt

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