Roy Harper: 1988 - 2003
Roy Harper, Jr. is the son of Roy Harper, Sr., an Oregon State Forest Ranger, and his wife Mary Harper, who died in childbirth. The death of Mary Harper was not the only tragedy young Roy was destined to know. When Roy, Jr. was three, his father was killed in a forest fire, trying to evacuate members of a nearby Native American tribal reservation. After hearing of the dead ranger’s orphaned son, Chief Raymond Brave-Bow offered to adopt Roy, raising the boy like he would have raised his own sons, who had been killed in the same fire that claimed the life of Roy’s father. Together, Raymond and Roy became each other’s surrogate family, spending much of their time hunting in the charred remains of the same forest that took so much from each of them.
It was on these hunting trips that Raymond learned of Roy’s natural talent for archery, hunting, tracking, and wilderness survival. Raymond bolstered that talent, teaching Roy traditional tribal techniques and by the time he was twelve, Roy considered himself to be tribe’s greatest hunter and scout (Yeah… he was never the humble sort).
Because of Roy’s “personality” (for lack of a better word), several of Roy’s peers became tired of this white boy thinking he was better than them and on a hunting trip, two of the more troubled boys in the tribe conspired to teach Roy a lesson. They beat him unconscious, chained him to a tree, and left him to the elements for the remainder of the night. They planned to come for Roy in the morning, hoping to have instilled some humility in him, but when they returned Roy had escaped and fled to Star City, where a modern day Robin Hood character had been sighted. In Star City, Roy lived on the streets for two weeks before he managed to track down this vigilante archer and gain an audience with him.
Impressed with the boy’s tenacity, Green Arrow lent the boy his bow to see what he could do and was impressed with the boy’s incredible speed, though his accuracy could use some work. Since Batman had a teenage partner, why couldn’t Green Arrow? Naming Roy “Speedy” (much to Roy’s chagrin), Star City’s quivered duo was born.
Speedy: 2003 - 2007
Roy became Speedy, the sidekick to the Green Arrow (though I’ve got a stack of magazines that misprinted he was the Flash’s). Most of the JLA were doubtful of Speedy’s worth, suspecting that G.A. had just taken a random kid off the streets and given him a bow so he too could have a teenage partner like Batman and because of this, the JLA would not allow Green Arrow to admit Speedy into the Titans at the same time as Robin, myself, and Beast Boy and continued to deny him entry for some time.
In that time, Roy perfected his skill with a bow, learned to drive the various vehicles in the Arrowfleet, and became an incredible martial artist thanks to his training with Oliver, John, and Dinah. In the summer of 2005, the Justice League could no longer deny Roy his place among the Titans and so he joined the same year as the second Robin, Jason Todd. Roy and Jason hit it off and a bromance was born. In their two Titanic summers, their Titans destroyed much of the good publicity that the previous team had generated for costumed crime fighters. Still they did some good. Then, October of 2005 happened. I think it is fair to say Roy took it the hardest.
After the funeral, Roy quit the Titans by throwing his feathered cap in Green Arrow’s face at a press event. Roy turned up in Gotham, looking for the Joker, eating Big Belly Burgers at Jason’s grave site. One night, with a Bellybuster in hand, Roy stumbled on Cheshire digging up Jason’s body. Though Roy knew the assassin from his time with the Titans, he did nothing to stop her; instead he grabbed a shovel, hoping it was possible to bring his friend back. Worse, when Cheshire asked Roy to come with her, Roy did not say no.
Roy Harper had now become, for better or worse, a member of the League of Assassins, having joined quite willingly. Ra's al Ghul extended him the rite of entry, citing that since he had been trained by one of the League's greatest warriors, they were like family. This legitimately upset Nyssa so Roy was made a member of the White Glove faction within the League, pledging his services to Talia. But there was more to than simply Ra's keeping Roy away from Nyssa. As El Penitente was preparing Jason's body for the upcoming rituals and El Penitente belonged to the Black Glove, Ra's was also keeping Roy kept out of the loop with regards to what was being planned for Jason.
However, Ra's had been burned by bats and arrows one too many for his liking so he was still wary of Roy's presence in his camp. In order to keep tabs on Roy, Ra's tasked Jade Nguyen with seducing him. To this end, Cheshire covertly dosed Roy with a unique narcotic of her own making she simply called "Lotus." In a short time, Roy became addicted. The narcotic made his mind more pliable and open to suggestion, and whenever he would go too far between doses, he'd feel empty and hollow inside, every thought fighting through a fugue of wondering when he would get his next dose. Under these effects, Roy was easily convinced to join Jade in her bed and it was no longer after that when Jade discovered she was pregnant. The League celebrated this news by holding a traditional League wedding ritual and feast on the eve of Jason's resurrection ritual.
It was Roy himself who was the one to lower Jason's body into the Lazarus Pit. When the ritual, which had not ever been used to bring someone back from true death, actually worked, Roy was ecstatic and ran into the Pit to embrace his resurrected friend. But as Roy would later tell it, "the boy arisen from those waters was not the one I buried." Jason had changed. At first, the effects of the Pit and the meddling of El Penitente had turned young Jason into a blank slate, one easily able to later be brainwashed. But it was the shock of seeing Jason so different and so not himself that proved able to shake Roy out of his own funk.
After once again being sequestered away from Jason, Roy went cold turkey, kicking his drug habit. He feigned taking the following days' doses of Lotus until his head was clear again. It was then that he confronted Jade about what he had done and why he had done it. He told her he loved her, that in spite of all she had done to him, it was not just the Lotus that had made him marry her. He pleaded with her, for the welfare of their unborn child, to flee the League and go to Star City. When Jade agreed, she was then surprised that Roy would not be coming with her. When Jade asked him why, he said he had something left to do. Jade assumed it was rescuing Jason Todd, but what she did not know was that Roy had been sneaking around the camp at night and had discovered the League's plans for Gotham and what they were doing to Jason. While Roy still intended to rescue Jason, he felt the only way to do that was to cut off the Demon's Head.
Arsenal: 2007 - Present
According to Ra's al Ghul's own admission, Roy Harper nearly killed him. Roy had the blade of a flaming dagger he had stolen from the League armory a mere inch or two from stowing it in the eye socket of Ra's al Ghul when the brainwashed assassin in the iron mask grabbed Roy and prevented him from finishing the deed. As the other assassins split into two groups, one attempting to drag Ra's to safety and the other doing their best to turn Roy into a pulpy puddle, Ra's broke free and ordered his assassins to stop. Ra's then picked up the flaming knife and offered it to Dumah. Dumah gave a single nod and approached the battered and bloody Roy. Ra's ordered Dumah to take the traitor's life. Dumah knelt on Roy's chest and in a gruesome series of strokes, took the traitor's arm.
While the assassins and Ra's were staring at the arm, Dumah looked into Roy's eyes and whispered one word: "Run." That is exactly what Roy did, fleeing into the desert with scores of assassins in pursuit. Roy managed to escape by disappearing into a thicket and using all of the lessons of Brave-Bow to remain completely motionless and silent. When the chase was called off as the assassins needed to break camp and leave, Roy went deeper into the desert. He survived for two days on the brink of death when Quraci patrol discovered him and brought him to a hospital. By then Roy had slipped into a coma where he would remain for months, registered under a presumed name based off the incoherent rambling of Roy's sun-baked brain when he was found.
While Roy was sleeping, Jade made her way to Star City where Oliver Queen gave her protection (by way of turning the barracks in the Arrowcave into a luxurious cell). When Roy failed to join Jade within a week, Jade, Oliver, and the rest of Team Arrow believed the worst. Their fears were only played upon more when Ra's ordered David Cain to plant the remains of Roy's severed arm among the carnage of a Markovian bombing perpetrated by Prometheus a couple days after Roy was due to arrive in Star City. I bear some responsibility as it was I, in my early days as Oracle, who flagged Roy's DNA on a searching program. I got the notice in July of 2007, when the Markovian police had finally got around to testing the DNA of unaccounted for limbs. At that point, Roy had been missing for eight months. Oliver had already started drinking again and when he heard this news, he lost it. After his massive bender, Oliver Queen left his new ward, Artemis Crock, with Victor Stone in Happy Harbor and disappeared. He told everyone he was going on an African safari, but his private jet's flight logs indicated he went to Markovia.
Roy woke up from his coma too late to warn anyone about the Cataclysm. Having woke up in the middle of the night and having enough of his wits about him to realize what had happened, Roy escaped the hospital and made his way back to Star City. But when he finally returned home, he found the Lodge deserted. He found John and Lyla using Oliver's penthouse (Ollie's wedding gift and apology for needing to miss their wedding was giving them the penthouse to use rent-free until his return). John and Lyla accompanied Roy to the safehouse where Jade had been relocated after giving birth to their daughter which she had named Lian after the Chinese word for "lotus flower." Eventually, John got Oliver to answer his satellite phone. Oliver did not believe what John had told him and when John put Roy on the line, Oliver broke down crying and wailing. Roy tried to comfort him but the line went dead.
Before Oliver returned from his "hunting trip," Roy and Jade enjoyed a couple of days of enjoying life as a seemingly happy couple with a child. Then after one more night of passion, Jade disappeared. She left a note for Roy telling him to take care of their daughter. Oliver returned the next day and though something was clearly distracting him, he was excited to see Roy back from the grave and see Lian for the first time. Word is that Oliver's face lit up when he first held Lian.
But Roy's return from the dead was not all happy reunions. Jade had left him to raise a daughter by himself, his father was clearly distraught over something and drinking heavily as a result, he was still missing his arm (which came with a bunch of baggage in and of itself), and there was the fact that no one believed him about Jason being alive. They insisted this was a ruse crafted by Ra's al Ghul. As a result of all these things compounding, Roy chose not to return to the life of a hero. He tried to focus on raising Lian and to his credit, he did a fine job... for a year.
When Gotham was finally recovering from the devastation, Dick Grayson and Victor Stone came to see Roy Harper. Unlike most people, Dick believed Roy had seen Jason alive as Dick had also encountered the resurrected Jason Todd. Dick wanted to put together a team to go find Jason and bring him back into the fold. Most of the crimefighting types were all busy with the upcoming return of the Justice League so Dick had to rely on recruiting his own closest friends and a few fringe hero-types that Bruce had recommended. Roy initially refused Dick's offer, but when Dick told him that no one knew Jason better than Roy, Roy paused to look at his missing arm. Roy sighed and told them he'd be willing to help them out as a consultant but without his arm he did not know how he'd be of any use in the field. Victor smiled and said he could help with that.
Taking the English translation of his assassin name as his new costumed identity, complete with a weaponized bionic arm, Roy became Arsenal and the Outsiders were born. After a globetrotting adventure that ended with Roy finally beating the brainwashing out of Jason's head. The two boys who had returned from the dead and were now both men reunited with a manly hug in the Markovian rain - at least according to Roy and Jason (that rain became Roy and Jason's convenient excuse for why their faces were wet when others recounted the tale with mention of the two sobbing uncontrollably and crying during their hug - I checked the weather report, no rain anywhere in Markovia that day).
Until recently, Roy moved to Blüdhaven to work as the full-time Leader of the East Coast Outsiders where he and Lian lived in the team's bunker. Roy has also been dating Donna Troy off-and-on through most of his tenure with the Outsiders; during those 'off-seasons', he admits he may have had three or four rendezvous with his ex, Jade - but now insists that ship has sailed.
Most recently, during the fallout of the discovery of the contents of the Batcave's seventh server and claiming their intent was to rescue Dick Grayson from League captivity, Roy joined Jason, Koriand'r, Helena Bertinelli, and Donna Troy to form a new team 'the Outlaws'. They didn't really do much other than evade the Justice League and get captured by some mysterious group known as Spyral.
As of August 2017, Roy and Donna have escaped custody of Spyral and may be working with Batman and the Outsiders to rescue Jason and Koriand'r. Whether Roy will return to the Outsiders afterward remains to be seen.
- Acrobatics: While nowhere near as proficient as Dick Grayson, Roy has displayed on many occasions that he is an expert in acrobatics, and often uses this skill while evading enemy fire.
- Archery: Oliver Queen is perhaps the finest archer ever known, but there is an aspect of archery which Oliver has never been able to match Roy at: speed. While Ollie claims to be able to shoot 26 (or was it 29?) arrows per minute, Roy can accurately shoot between 37 and 42. It was for this reason Roy got stuck with the codename 'Speedy' as a teenager. When equipped with bow and arrow, Roy has a wide-variety of trick arrows, ranging from bola arrows to time-bomb arrows to the infamous boxing-glove arrow. As Arsenal, Roy has used these gimmick arrows sparingly, preferring the time-tested simple arrow or guns, but his skills have never lost their edge. Like his mentor, Arsenal has shown the ability to shoot an arrow down the barrel of a gun. Unlike his mentor, however, Roy's speed does sacrifice accuracy and Roy has killed more than his fair share of henchmen and goons due to shots aimed at the shoulder instead piercing the heart or jugular. This fact has so far kept Roy from being endorsed by the Justice League Founders for admission, though Oliver still puts Roy up as his first choice every year.
- Aviation: Roy knows how to fly most types of aircraft, including helicopters and spacecraft such as the Javelin.
- Firearms: Roy is exceptionally skilled in the use, maintenance, and construction of most types of weaponry. Roy is a skilled marksman and gunsmith. Roy is responsible for the custom firearms and ammunition which both he and Red Hood use in the field.
- Hunting and Survival: Roy's ability to hunt comes from years of training, patience, and survival. Oliver himself has claimed that he believes Roy is a better tracker than himself.
- Martial Arts: Roy is proficient in several forms of hand-to-hand combat including Judo, Escrima, Moo Gi Gong, Kickboxing and Karate. Proclaimed as a martial arts master, he has shown the ability to take on seven people at once. This training is mostly learned from Oliver and Dinah.
- Peak Human Condition: Oliver's not the only one who can rock that salmon ladder in the Quiver.
- Swordsmanship: Roy is a master fencer, a skill which Oliver forced him to learn. Once upon a time, Bruce and Oliver even pitted Roy against Jason in a fencing match. Bruce had never been able to defeat Oliver consistently so it came to a surprise to everyone when Jason beat Roy. We would later learn Roy and Jason had rigged the fight so Jason would win just so Oliver and Bruce would stop using them to vicariously feud.
- Investigation: Maybe not a detective on "Bat-Family" levels, Roy still possesses keen analytic skills and deductive logic.
- Throwing: With his right arm in particular, Roy is a master of thrown weaponry. His attacks are both incredibly precise and immensely powerful. I've witnessed him burying a throwing knife completely inside a wooden beam.
- Weaponry: The name 'Arsenal' is not just for show. There are not many weapons which Roy cannot use with remarkable skill. Roy always keeps several grenades and at least two firearms on his person when on patrol or mission.
- Strength Level: Due to extensive archery training, Roy's natural arm strength is superior to that of the average man. Roy's right arm however has grip strength equivalent to Enhanced Strength Class IV.
- Custom Bow: Roy uses a custom bow built by Oliver Queen.
- Quiver: Roy's quiver is a state-of-the-art quiver designed to not spill his arrows when performing acrobatic maneuvers. It also has an arrowhead-changing mechanism that can add gimmick features to standard arrows. His standard quiver holds thirty arrows.
- Music: Roy used to be drummer for the band Great Frog, while still a member of the Titans.
- Bionic Arm: Roy's right hand has several technological advancements other than its mechanical motors and reinforced frame making it highly resilient to damage and corrosion. The arm also have a three shot sonic blaster which can be fired from the arm's wrist. It also features a grapnel line, lock-pick release device, wrist blade, communications equipment, and several small storage compartments which Roy uses to store first aid supplies, evidence, and a couple of cigars (he and Jason have a tradition of smoking cigars at the conclusion of a succession mission).
- Indomitable Will & Ceaseless Courage: According to Hal Jordan, Roy might have what it takes to be a Green Lantern. This might just be Hal wishing to replace Guy for another redhead, but maybe there is something to it. Roy is definitely stubborn and brave to a fault.
Trivia and Notes
- As a member of the second generation of Titans, Roy was considered to be a member of the "Brat Pack," a clique among the Titans where the Titans with mentors would be scolded far less than those without.
- As one of the Wild Childs (the Gen-2 Titans), Roy was at the center of several scandals and antics just like every other member, such as sneaking into the girls locker room with the other guys. Roy's most notable antic during his time as Speedy, was breaking into the Hall of Justice with Jason Todd to street race the back-up Arrow Rod and Batmobile through Washington DC.
- There is a possibility Oliver Queen killed Prometheus.
- His identity as Arsenal is known to ARGUS.
- He and Jason Todd partake in a lot of stupid games, including one which involve punching each other in the genitals.
- His portrait was inspired by his appearance in Young Justice animated series.
- In the comics his arm was cut off by Prometheus.
- His addiction to the Lotus drug might be a nod to his heroine addiction in the comics.
- The salmon ladder is a nod to the Arrow TV series.
- His legal alias is a nod to the Jim Harper version of the Guardian. In Earth-27 he's a composite character with John Diggle.