The Ninth Circle – one of Oliver Queen’s greatest enemies in the Green Arrow comics – seems poised to threaten Star City in both the present and the future of Arrow‘s seventh season. Earlier episodes suggested that the Ninth Circle might be the secretive organization that John Diggle and Lyla Michaels are working to expose. Now there is reason to believe that the Ninth Circle is also behind the sinister scheme at the center of the flash-forward storyline set in 2038.
The plot of Arrow season 7 has seen the former Team Arrow separated, as its members sought new ways to try and save their city in the wake of Oliver Queen’s imprisonment. For John “Spartan” Diggle, this meant taking up a command position alongside his wife, Lyla Michaels, with the anti-terrorism group ARGUS. Their storyline saw the two career soldiers forced to play both sides against the middle, as they began investigating a mysterious criminal financial organization headed by someone called Dante, which seemed to have been purposely ignored by their bosses in the US Department of Defense.
The storyline set in the not-too-distant future of Star City boasts similarly high stakes. It was here that Oliver Queen’s son, William Clayton, Roy “Arsenal” Harper, the second Black Canary, Dinah Drake, and future Black Canary Zoe Ramirez uncovered a plot to bomb the ghettos of Star City, while leaving the gated community called the Glades untouched. The latest episodes of Arrow confirmed that the local government of the Glades is involved in the bombing plot, mirroring a storyline from the comics which involved the Ninth Circle.
The following breakdown will explain what the Ninth Circle is and their history with Green Arrow in the comics. It will also reveal what little we know about the group and their leader Dante in the reality of the Arrowverse, and consider how the organization may be tied into the fates of Star City in 2019 and 2038.
The Ninth Circle Were Hinted In Arrow’s Midseason Finale
The first reference to the Ninth Circle came in “The Demon” – the fifth episode of Arrow season 7. It was here that Curtis “Mister Terrific” Holt discovered an image of a painting among the encrypted files belonging to a recently captured black market weapons dealer. The painting was determined to be Dante (He Hath Seen Hell) by 19th Century French artist Jean-Léon Gérôme.
The significance of this image would not be revealed until “Unmasked” – the eighth episode of Arrow season 7 and the mid-season finale. It was here that Lyla discovered that the painting was being used as a digital calling card by multiple terrorist organizations in relation to their financial holdings. Searching for the name Dante led her to a bank account that had been used to send payments to the mercenaries known as the Longbow Hunters. All of this pointed to someone called Dante leading a vast underground financial institution that catered to criminals around the world. While this group has not been given a name yet, it sounds exactly like an organization from the Green Arrow comics called the Ninth Circle.
The Ninth Circle Explained
First appearing in Green Arrow: Rebirth #1, the Ninth Circle are a recent yet immediately popular introduction to the mythology of Green Arrow. The Ninth Circle is a bank built on the belief that there is no immorality where profit is concerned. Headed by a mysterious figure known only as Dante, the group specifically adopted Satanic imagery based on the Divine Comedy to mock the idea of evil’s existence.
The Ninth Circle caters to those who believe that greed is good and selfishness a virtue. Are you a mad scientist who needs a loan to finance your research into a new chemical weapon? Or perhaps you’re a embezzler who needs a place to hide the fruits of your skimming where the SEC won’t see it? The Ninth Circle is there to discretely meet your needs, no matter how distasteful.
Green Arrow first encountered the Ninth Circle while investigating the activities of one of their intermediaries – the Underground Men. A modern-day gang of slave-traders who primarily prey upon the homeless and other people who won’t be missed, the Underground Men were responsible for providing the “product” for the Ninth Circle’s many operations involving human trafficking. This included recruiting soldiers for the Burned – the Ninth Circle’s private army, who are ritually baptized in lava and brainwashed into mindless servants who obey the orders of the Ninth Circle’s leadership without question.
Disturbingly, the leadership of the Ninth Circle are all the heads of legitimate businesses and respectable politicians. They meet wearing masks, so that none could betray the rest of the ruling council should one be caught. As Green Arrow worked to uncover the organization, he was shamed to discover that both of his parents had been members. Perhaps nothing speaks to the evil of the Ninth Circle quite so much as the fact that Lex Luthor was offered membership and he turned it down because even he found their activities distasteful.
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