There's little we know about Isabel Rochev, the recurring character Summer Glau will play in the second season of Arrow. And we do not know to what extend Arrow's writer will stick to the comic book character.
In the DC comics, Isabel Rochev is a villain described as follow:
Isabel Rochev is from a small village in Siberia, where she lived a life of servitude ,working in a diamond mine. When the head of Queen Industries, Robert Queen, came to her village, she was inspired by the man, who she saw as a symbol of ones inner power. She fell in love with him and whilst he may or may not have loved her, she found him a great source of inspiration and vowed to make something of herself and rise from her humble status as a slave girl.
She achieved this goal when, many years later, as well as after the death of Robert Queen, she became the new CEO of Queen Industries, having brought large numbers of shares in the company, though many smaller organizations that she owned. Her goal was, and still is to make the name of Queen Industries great again, after the company had continuously lost profit and support for many years. She would soon begin to provide her own personal private security forces to Star City, as the corrupt bureaucrats of the city, who were desperate to try to keep control of the population, after hundreds were left homeless in the wake of the events of Cry For Justice. With much of Star City destroyed, Isabel soon began to increase her influence over the city and become closer to power.
Isabel is a somewhat eccentric individual and often wears a mask to hide her face. She also believes herself to be the true heir to Queen Industries and the true love of Robert Queen's life. This gives her her single minded nature and she is also know to wear the jewelry of Robert Queens wife, specifically her wedding ring. Now "The Queen" of Queen Industries, she desires nothing more than to make the company's name great again and see the disgraced son, Oliver Queen killed, by whatever means necessary.
Source: DC Wikia
In The CW's Arrow, Isabel Rochev is described as "the beautiful and dangerous Vice President of Aquisitions for Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated"...and that's it.
Fortunately, Arrow's writers and executive producers have given us some clues in season one episodes or when interviewd.
For example we know that Isabel Rochev has failed Starling City; her name appears in George Queen' book of corrupt people that Oliver is hunting down ever since he has come back from the island (see screencap below). And for this reason Isabel Rochev is probably one of the two villains executive producer Marc Guggenheim teased would be in the second season.
Arrow's Rochev arrives in Starling city under similar circumstances as her comic book doppleganger.
The soldiers created by Rochev bear a striking
resemblance to another villain seen in the island,
In the comic books, Rochev arrives in Star(ling) City right after an unnatural disaster that has left most of the city in ruins, while Arrows first season finale saw "The Glades" almost leveled after being hit by a man-made earthquake caused by Malcolm Merlyn.
Guggenheim revealed previously there will be two main villain in season two, one a physical challenge for The Hood and the other a cerebral, mental antagonist. In the comic books written by J.T. Krul , Rochev essentially privatized the law enforcement of Star City in an effort to capitalize on the chaos that resulted from the city's near destruction. That move fits the Malcolm-esque, cerebral baddie described previouly, don't you think? (it reminds me of Peter Fleming's privatization of the police forces in The Cape, btw).
When looking at the comics (picture on the left), we can't but note that the soldiers created by Rochev with her Defense Contract bear a striking resemblance to another villain seen in the island, Deathstroke/Slade Wilson. Could that mean that Deatstroke is connected to this private army, or even that he's leading them in present day Starling city together with Rochev?
That said, it is doubful that Arrow's writer will mirror the comic book character; Arrow tends to use characters from the DC comics universe, but often just invents its own plotlines using them. The announce that Caity Lotz has been tapped for a recurring role and the character she's playing is the beginning of the story of the Black Canary can only reinforce this feeling.
Some of you may have missed it but we got a glimpse of Isabel Rochev (even if her name was not mentioned) in Arrow 1×22 “Darkness At The Edge of Town”.
Near the middle of the episode, we return on the island and found out what Fyers’s boss end game is. Fyers, the man leading the operations on the island, is going to destabilize the Chinese economy by shooting down a Ferris Airlines plane. We see Fyers calling his boss using a satellite phone saying "It's happening". The man at the other end of the line then reports to a lady, visibly at the head of this whole operation.
The woman is only shown from the knees down as she is sitting in a chair, and of course the actress supposed to play the part was not cast at the time this episode was filmed (read more about Summer Glau's casting process in the Blog: Arrow: Will Summer Glau be Oliver's new love interest?)
UPDATE: it seems it's not Isabel Rochev in this picture but rather Amanda Waller (it became obvious at the end of season two)
Based on that image of Isabel Rochev, it's safe to assume that Arrow will provide their own version of Isabel Rochev. Whereas in the comics she's surrounded by wood furniture, the Arrow version seems to be living in a modern (high-tech?) environment (think Catherine Weaver but less "cold"). Similarly, the revisited Isabel prefers chic and elegant clothes instead of the long red skirt she wears in the comics (see image below). Similarly, it's very unlikely she'll be wearing a black mask and goggles.
One can wonder how close to the comic character Arrow will keep Isabel. And we would like an answer to those questions about Isabel:
Will she be Russian (from Siberia )?
Will she still have started out as a slave girl in the diamond mines ?
Will her alias still be The Queen ?
Will she still have once loved Robert Queen ?
Will she still keep her face covered ?
Will she continue with her fetish of wearing Moira's jewlery and wedding ring ?
On a related topic, we have already discussed on the forum the opportunity for Summer's character to go blonde. Check out the results of the poll.
Personally, I tend to think that the answer to those questions is no. Sure, at this stage, we have not enough elements to give a definitive and detailed answer but I can very well imagine Arrow making Isabel the love child of Robert Queen, making her Oliver and Thea's half sister (of course it makes the love story more complicated); or Isabe wearing an elegant hat with dark lace veil.
I’m curious to see whether Arrow uses Isabel as a straight villain or perhaps a complicated anti-hero and love interest for Stephen Amell’s Oliver (I'd prefer the later). I also expect Isabel to be a physical and not just a business challenge for Oliver Queen; you don’t cast the Firefly and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles actress just to look pretty.
Anyway, Arrow's writing proves that you can use and improve on a comic books source material to tell good stories on TV. Of course it can be confusing at times for comic books experts but I like the fact they don't simply re-told the comic book history or copy/paste the characters.
The Arrow panel at San Diego Comic Con on Saturday, July 20th should provide us with further informations about what's coming in season two. Watch Arrows stars Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards as they discuss Summer's role in this interview.
Arrow returns on Wednesday, October 9 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
In this interview made at San Diego Comic Con 2013, TVLine's Michael Ausiello chats with Arrow's stars Stephen Amell, who plays Oliver Queen, and Emily Bett Rickards, who plays Felicity Smoak. They discuss season one finale, season two opener and Summer Glau's character Isabel Rochev.
Awesome news, both Stephen Amell and fan favorite Emily Bett Rickards will have scenes with Summer Glau in the season premiere. The Arrow's stars actually don't know much about Summer's character and are as intrigued as we are by Isabel Rochev but it seems Summer made quite an impression on them.
While waiting for additional informations, you can read my take on on Summer Glau's character in a Blog post: Will Arrow stick to the Comic Book Character?
The second season of Arrow begins on Wednesday, October 9 at 8PM PST/EST on The CW.