Featured Columns

April 5, 2015

Character Spotlight: Roy Harper


Marchery may be over but I figure we got enough for Archery April! This month we’re going to the original Speedy, Roy Harper! Roy has had several codenames throughout his heroic career. He’s been through some rough times but he’s also had some great ones too. So who is he and what kind of codenames did he have? Let’s find out!

Roy William Harper, Jr. was the son of a park ranger. He never knew his mother and only had his father until he was 2 years old. It was at this time that Roy’s father died while saving several Navajo people. When Brave Bow, the shaman of the people who were saved saw that Roy was now an orphan, he took the boy in. Roy would be raised as a member of the Navajo and Brave Bow saw the boy had a talent for archery.

Spending most of his time becoming a great archer things would change when news of the Star City vigilante, Green Arrow reached Roy. Becoming the Emerald Archer’s biggest fan, it was a dream come true when Green Arrow would arrive to help judge an archery competition that Roy was participating in. During the contest a robbery occurred and Roy was able to quick draw faster than Green Arrow and help stop the crime. Thoroughly impressed with him, Green Arrow invited Roy to become his ward and Roy happily accepted.


Donning the name Speedy for his speedy quick draw in their first team up, Roy would become the sidekick to Green Arrow. When Green Arrow joined with the Justice League of America Roy would help form the Teen Titans. He’d have many adventures with Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl, even developing a somewhat romantic relationship with Wonder Girl for a time. Sadly, the Teen Titans would feel like they’d aged out of their team and disband. Green Arrow would lose his fortune and decide to travel the country with Green Lantern and Black Canary. Roy was left alone with no friends, family, or any other kind of support.


Turning to drugs, Roy would get addicted to heroin until he was found by a returning Green Arrow. Oliver did not handle Roy’s drug use well, he’d punch the young man and leave him. Green Lantern and Black Canary would help him quit as he went through withdrawals. Now drug free, Roy would become an anti-drug advocate and help those who were dealing with addiction.


Working as a counselor and superhero drew the attention of the Central Bureau of Intelligence (precursor to Checkmate) would offer Roy a job in dealing with drug traffickers. Going in undercover, Roy was to bring in the mercenary Chashire as she was tied to a drug ring. The two would fall in love and Roy knew her being close to him was dangerous for her since he would have to arrest her so he left her, not knowing that Cheshire was pregnant with their child. Learning that he was a father, Roy would team up with his friend Nightwing to find Cheshire. While they tried to stop Cheshire from fulfilling an assassination contract, Roy would get kidnapped by Cheshire and poisoned. Nightwing was able to rescue Roy but they’d learn that Cheshire had left their daughter, Lian, behind for Roy to take care of.


Now a single father, Roy would eventually pull double duty as both a member of the now called Checkmate and revived Teen Titans. During this rebuilding process, Roy would stop going by Speedy and take up the name Arsenal instead, having been working as a government agent he’d learned he was as good with guns as he was with archery so his own arsenal had grown and varied. Now in a stronger place, Roy would reach out to Oliver seeking to forgive one another for their pasts. The two were able to make amends and feel like family again. This was just before Green Arrow would die saving Metropolis, so while his father/mentor was gone, they had made some peace with one another.


Roy would learn he was related to the immortal criminal, Vandal Savage and that Savage wanted to use the organs of both himself and Lian to further his ancestor’s immortality which was threatened at the time. Roy was able to keep both he and Lian’s organs to themselves, thankfully. Roy would hire Rose Wilson, daughter of Deathstroke and known as Ravager, to help take care of and protect Lian.


When the Titans (they’d dropped the teen part cause they were all in there early 20’s now) teamed up with Young Justice the Titans would lose the lives two members, new member Lilith and original member Donna Troy. This would devastate Roy and disband the Titans. While one death occurred another was undone, Oliver Queen had returned to life. While there were some hiccups along the way, Roy and Ollie were able to become good friends again. Finding teams with such strong emotional bonds to be a liability, Roy would consider the Outsiders, a team of relative strangers for the most part working together. While working with the Outsiders, Roy would be seriously injured and out of action for months. When he finally returned to the team, Lian was in danger from a child slaver but the team was able to rescue her.


While with the team Roy would be mangled again and again, even considered dead along with the rest of the team so they could be more covert. When Roy quit the team he’d be offered a job on the Justice League of America, with this he’d take on the name Red Arrow. His time with the team was short but he just felt like he could do more work elsewhere.

A series of events would occur that would have Star City blown apart and Lian dead with Roy losing an arm. Roy was unable to get a good prosthetic due to the wound and he was pushing away anyone who was close to him. Falling back into drugs, Roy would hallucinate that he was protecting his daughter and fight anyone who he came across. When he was able to sober up a bit he’d go on to join a team of villains dealing with Cheshire again, the team was trying to use a resurrection machine and when offered to bring back Lian was able to snap out of his chaotic thoughts to realize how bad this whole thing was and stop the team.


In the New 52 Roy had a falling out with Oliver and then had his friend Robin (in this version he was friends with Jason Todd, not Dick Grayson) killed by the Joker. This lead to Roy becoming an alcoholic and attempting to die by fighting Killer Croc. Croc would see his pain and become Roy’s sponsor on his road to recovery. Roy would sober up and join the Outsiders (with the revived Jason Todd) and begin a relationship with teammate Starfire.

Poor Roy had a real rough end there before New 52, no one deserves that. Roy seemed to be a good dad, friend, and teammate. Someone you’d want on your team, as he often was on many teams. He went through 3 codenames over his career but each kind of reflected who he was at that time. He was also someone who could fall but still rise about it, I just wish his last fall didn’t happen cause that was so poorly done. Maybe he’ll get to be with Lian again sometime. He’s currently on the show Arrow shooting alongside the Emerald Archer.

Suggested Reading
More Fun Comics #73
Green Arrow
Teen Titans
Justice League of America

Dr. Bustos


One Comment

  1. klue

    Okay…KILLER Croc became a SPONSOR??? I guess the “killer” part is just for show now

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