So, I did it. I told myself that I would marathon through all of Arrow over the winter hiatus from start to finish in December, in time to be caught up on the CW series when it returns in January, and I managed to do it with time to spare. Hype was the main reason I set out to check this series out, as my interest in the show was pretty minimal before that, but I’d heard enough good things about the show from people whose opinions I trust — our own Jesse Carp among them — and wanted to see if a TV viewer with limited interest in comic books or knowledge of the DC universe could get into a drama like this. The verdict is in, and I’m an Arrow fan. It hooked me, mask, arrows and quiver.

Enjoying the show didn’t entirely surprise me. As I said, I had it on good authority that the series was not only good, but getting even better in its second season. But not knowing exactly what to expect, there were a few things that pleasantly surprised me. Before we get to that, for those who haven’t seen it, the short and sweet synopsis is that Arrow stars Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, a billionaire playboy who spent five years marooned on an island after a shipwreck and returns to his city presenting himself as the same partying, spoiled bachelor. But he’s secretly taken on a vigilante role, determined to right the wrongs of Starling. There’s more to it than that, and I’ll get into that with this list. But for the sake of newbies curious about Arrow, this article is spoiler free.

Here are the five things that surprised me most about Arrow, which help explain why this show lives up to the hype...

You really don't need to know anything about the DC universe.
I feel like this point needs to be made first, because, apart from knowing some general things about DC Comics — Mostly Superman and Batman movie-provided trivia — my knowledge of the original story is pretty limited. I was as aware of Green Arrow as I was of Green Hornet, Green Lantern and Green Goblin, but I’m honestly not sure I could’ve pulled Arrow out of a line-up if his weapons weren't showing. And I’d heard enough about Arrow to know there are a lot of DC tie-ins with this series, so I was a bit concerned that I was going to be in the dark every time a new character was introduced. That hasn’t been an issue at all.

Yes, there are DC-connections to certain characters — from my understanding, due largely to their names, which match names of known characters in the DC universe — which may offer some clues as to what could be ahead for certain people on this show, but the series seems set up to introduce everyone to us as new characters in this story. Arrow makes no assumptions about its audience’s pre-existing knowledge of the story, the comics or anything that may or may not be set up to happen. The show plays like a completely original series, regardless of its characters being comic-based or inspired.

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