We’re rounding the bend of Nekron week with a look at the DC Universe Classics modern version of Roy Harper, the Red Arrow. Although the figure may not look it, Roy’s character has been through some pretty rough times, especially in the last few years.
Roy Harper started his super hero career as Speedy, Green Arrow’s original sidekick. Things were pretty good for him back in those days. He helped catch goofy Silver Age super criminals, he became a founding member of the Teen Titans, and he even dated Wonder Girl for while. But nothing stays perfect forever, especially in soap opera world of comic books, and Roy soon had to deal with the disbanding of the Titans and his break-up with Donna Troy. It didn’t help matters that Green Arrow abandoned him for some over the road time with Hal Jordan. The deserted Speedy soon turned to heroin, giving us one of the most memorable covers in comic book history with Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85.
Roy eventually recovered from his addiction, but his relationship with Oliver Queen had changed and he soon struck out on his own. He eventually joined Checkmate as a drug enforcement agent. While under cover, he met and fell in love with the super villain Cheshire and the two had a daughter named Lian.
Reestablishing his life as a super hero, Roy took the name Arsenal and eventually rejoined the Titans, but after the death of Donna Troy the team disbanded and he eventually joined the Outsiders. Over this time Vandal Savage tried to harvest his organs, he was shot in the chest by Brother Blood, and his throat was slit and he was left for dead. But none of this would compare to what lay ahead.
Roy joins the Justice League, adopting the name Red Arrow and finally settling his differences with Ollie. This newfound peace didn’t last long under the writing of James Robinson. Roy gets his right arm cut off in a conflict with the villain Prometheus. Then Prometheus blows up part of Star City, killing millions. Among the dead is Roy’s daughter, Lian. This amount of loss is too much for Roy to take and he begins taking drugs again while carrying around a dead cat and hallucinating that it’s his daughter. (I wish I was kidding about that…) Red Arrow does eventually get a cybernetic arm and kicks his drug habit before the DCnU takes over.
I understand that sometimes have to put characters through a certain amount of hell. Characters need to grow to be successful, which is in itself a mostly foreign idea in comics. But there’s also a point where the amount of pain that is pushed onto a character begins to verge on the sadistic. Instead of creating obstacles for a character to grow around, writers use gruesome devices while only allowing the character to return to the status quo at best. This only creates a torturous environment for the reader with no true payoff, and is one of the reasons I find it increasingly difficult to invest time in most comics these days. Especially DC, where it seems most prevalent these days. (OK, Sorry about that little rant tangent. I’m done now…) Continue to page 2…