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Arsenal

Alias: Roy Harper
Formerly: Speedy, Red Arrow

Joined: Teen Titans #19 [1968]
revealed as founding member in Teen Titans #53 [1978]
Related Links: Green ArrowLian Harper Cheshire
Speedy II (Mia Dearden)

Arsenal Quick Bio: When Roy Harper’s forest ranger father perished in a fire, Green Arrow adopted the young orphan and trained the natural-born archer as his sidekick, Speedy. Roy’s time as a government agent exposed him to all manner of weaponry – leading the boy bowman to become an expert marksman as Arsenal.

Recent File Photo:


Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

Hero History


The Boy Bowman

Roy Harper senior was a forest ranger who rescued a Navajo medicine chief from a massive forest fire. He then went back to the fire to look for more victims. He was never seen from again. Young Roy was barely two years old at the time, and Brave Bow, the man that Roy’s father had rescued, raised the boy on the Navajo reservation.

Roy grew up with few friends. With so much time on his hands, he developed himself physically and learned how to use a bow and arrow, reaching a level of physical prowess and archery skill of someone twice his age. Green Arrow was Roy’s idol, and the Emerald Archer learned of the boy. At an archery contest that Green Arrow was judging, Roy was given arrows with magnetized lodestone tips, which caused him to miss the elimination shot. It was a ruse to keep Roy’s identity a secret. Even through Roy lost the contest, he helped Green Arrow capture some crooks who were attempting a burglary of one of the reservations’ main employers. The young archer got off a shot before Green Arrow – thus proving he was “speedier.”

Roy was asked by Green Arrow to become his partner, and when Brave Bow died, Roy became Oliver Queen’s ward. Roy was given a costume and a set of trick arrows similar to Green Arrow’s and became known as Speedy. The two embarked on a career of crimefighting.

ABOVE: Roy Harper meets Green Arrow and becomes his sidekick in
MORE FUN COMICS #73. BELOW: Brave Boy prepares Roy’s path in ARSENAL (mini-series) #3 [1998]



Teen Titans

When the Justice League inexplicably turned to crime, their young sidekicks – Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Speedy and Wonder Girl – teamed up in an effort to solve this mystery. The teen team eventually learned the evil entity known as the Antithesis had used its powers to manipulate the minds of the Justice League. The five resourceful teenagers joined together, stopping their possessed mentors and expelling the Antithesis back into limbo. Spurred by their success, the group decided to make their partnership permanent, and the Teen Titans were officially formed. Although the sidekicks would continue to operate alongside their mentors, they discovered newfound confidence fighting crime with their peers in the Teen Titans.

Speedy was, at first, only a reserve member. Oliver Queen had recently lost his fortune and had been going through some great changes in his personal life. As the distance grew between them, Roy joined the Teen Titans and replaced Aqualad who took a leave of absence. It was at this time that he began dating Donna Troy. Alas, some time later, the team temporarily disbanded.

ABOVE: Speedy is revealed as a founding member in a flashback tale from TEEN TITANS #53 [1978]
BELOW: Speedy joins the team and makes a move on Wonder Girl in TEEN TITANS #19 [1968].
They don’t call him Speedy for nothin’!

Roy and Oliver began to drift apart, as Roy started feeling partially neglected by his guardian. It was at this time that Roy started experimenting with drugs. He took the trust money that Oliver had set up for him and spent it on heroin. Roy at first fooled Green Arrow into thinking he was working ‘on the inside’ to bust up a drug ring. Soon enough, his secret was exposed. Black Canary and Green Lantern helped Roy kick his habit.

Soon after, Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy and Mal Duncan were lured to Titans Lair by a false distress signal, where they battled Dr. Light, a villain seeking revenge on the Justice League through their sidekicks. Dr. Light was ultimately defeated and the Teen Titans reformed for a time. They set up a new headquarters at Gabriel’s Horn, a discotheque in Farmingdale, Long Island. The disco was actually a cover for their secret underground headquarters. With Gabriel’s Horn, Roy was afforded an opportunity to have a steady gig for his rock group, Great Frog, in which he played drums.

Roy becomes hooked on Heroin – as told in the classic tale 
“Snowbirds Don’t Fly” in GREEN LANTERN #85-86 [1971]

Roy resumed his romantic relationship with Donna Troy at this time, but this incarnation of the Teen Titans didn’t last long. Soon after an adventure with the Titans West team, the Titans disbanded once more.

Government Sharp Shooter

The next incarnation of the Teen Titans was gathered by Raven, which Speedy was not to be a part of, although he did assist the team on various cases. At this time, however, Roy devoted much of his efforts as a counselor for various anti-drug programs. These connections led him to taking a job with the DEA as a narcotics agent – and eventually transferring to Checkmate, a division of the CBI under the directorship of Sarge Steel.

After assisting the Titans, Speedy returns to 
his work with Drug Centers in NEW TEEN TITANS #32 [1983]. 

As a CBI Agent, Roy Harper crossed paths with the dangerous assassin Cheshire in the Orient. His assignment was to track down Cheshire, gain her confidence, and hand her over to the authorities. But plans changed when Harper fell in love with Cheshire and she with him. Though he could not bring himself to turn her in, he knew his presence would eventually lead his people to her. Consequently, he walked out on Jade, vanishing in the night and leaving her to learn much later his true name and affiliations.

A year later, having returned to super-heroing, Speedy was among a number of Titans summoned to Switzerland to prevent Cheshire from sabotaging a critical international arms control meeting. It was during this encounter that he learned for the first time of Lian, the daughter brought about by his union with Jade. Upon seeing Harper for the first time since their tryst, Cheshire exploded with rage. In the end, her love for him allowed his safe escape. And when the archer tracked Jade down in Japan, she even allowed Harper to hold Lian for the first time.

Cheshire reveals Roy Harper as the father of her child in
NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986]

Later, Speedy enlisted Nightwing’s help in tracking down Cheshire. The two heroes prevented Cheshire’s assassination attempt on several ambassadors. Nightwing later unraveled Speedy’s true objective, which was to extract his daughter Lian from Cheshire’s custody.

Speedy was captured by Cheshire’s friend Wen Ch’ang, who despised him as the man who represented his mistress’ one weakness. Nightwing located and freed his friend, as Cheshire was forced to abandon her daughter during a hasty retreat. After Roy recovered from Cheshire’s slow-acting poison, Nightwing reunited him with Lian.

Now assuming custody of his infant daughter, Roy became a private investigator for a brief time in Los Angeles, and returned to aid the Titans at Nightwing’s request. He helped the Titans unravel the mysteries of the Wildebeest and also fought a group of lycanthropic humans. After a series of adventures, Roy returned to his life as a CBI operative.

Taking Aim as Titans Leader

Roy returned to the Titans after the team went through a series of shocking changes after being targeted by the Wildebeest Society. At this time, and with the help of technology made available to him by Steve Dayton, Roy adopted the new identity of Arsenal, now equipped with a vast array of high-tech weaponry.

Roy Harper becomes Arsenal in NEW TITANS #99 [1993]

The Titans were pressured to place themselves under the government’s watchful eye, due to increased public scrutiny. Sarge Steel appointed Arsenal as the group’s new leader, forcing Nightwing to step down. Roy led this new group of Titans, but was consistently challenged by the burdens of leadership. Eventually, each members’ dedication to the team began to waver, and the team disbanded.

Though Roy Harper had severed his connection with his mentor, the two archers reunited briefly and opened a dialogue of reconciliation. Though Ollie never officially adopted Roy, Arsenal considered the old man his surrogate father. Unfortunately their reunion was short-lived when Oliver seemingly died in an airplane explosion.

During a short stint with a group of Titans that Loren Jupiter had placed together after the Zero Hour crisis, the villain Haze bestowed Roy with what he believed was Arsenal’s deepest desires, a “Red Arrow” designed costume.

Psychologically, Roy Harper wasn’t ready to be Red Arrow and struggled with who he was. Working with Connor Hawke and reconnecting with Dinah Lance, Roy found out that he was distantly related to Vandal Savage who was attempting to harvest body parts of his kin to keep himself immortal. Arsenal saved his daughter from Vandal’s schemes and afterwards returned to Arizona with his tribe. During a ritual, Roy received a Navajo tattoo around his arm and changed the design of his costume, placing a ceremonial feathered arrow as his emblem on his chest to reflect his heritage.

Titans Reunited

In the far reaches of space, an alien threat loomed – one that would soon reunite the Titans of past and present. Having collected a planet-size assortment of technological debris, Victor Stone journeyed to Earth to turn its moon into a new Technis world and populate it with his Titans allies. The JLA and the Titans first clashed, then united, eventually freeing Victor from alien influence. Following this encounter, the original five Titans decided to reform the team, inviting five other members to join as well.

REUNITED: The five original Titans bond in JLA/TITANS #3 [1999]

Arsenal briefly rekindled a romantic relationship with Donna Troy, who was experiencing an identity crisis and testing her boundaries. Lian took to Donna as a maternal figure, as her true mother joined Vandal Savage’s villainous group, Tartarus. When Tartarus botched a mission in Zandia, Cheshire was taken into custody to stand trial for her crimes against humanity. Sadly, Lian witnessed Cheshire’s careless attempt at a prison break.

Outsiders

Shortly afterward, a conglomerate known as Optitron offered to sponsor the Titans and Young Justice after summoning them to San Francisco. Before any decisions could be made, a mysterious cybernetic girl known as Indigo emerged from the future. Unwittingly, she somehow activated a rogue Superman android, resulting in the apparent deaths of Donna Troy and Lilith Clay. At Troy’s funeral, Nightwing disbanded the Titans.

Arsenal forms the Outsiders in OUTSIDERS #1 [2003].

A few months later, Arsenal persuaded the reluctant Nightwing to join a new proactive group of clandestine crime-fighters known as the Outsiders. And later, the Outsiders – along with the newly formed Teen Titans – eventually rescued the resurrected Donna Troy on New Chronus.

Later, a botched rescue mission forced Nightwing and the Outsiders to go underground. Arsenal decided to leave the team at this point, but publicly lied to the press to preserve their cover.

A Cry For Justice

When the Justice League of America reformed, Arsenal was invited to join the legendary team. At this time, Roy Harper changed his identity to Red Arrow, in honor of the “family name.” Red Arrow also found romance in a short-lived fling with fellow Leaguer, Hawkgirl.

Arsenal become Red Arrow in
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #7 [2007].

Red Arrow was called to help his former friends when the Titans were attacked by Raven’s demonic half-brothers. Working together as a team, the Titans thwarted the Sons of Trigon and prevented Trigon’s invasion plan. Following this adventure, Red Arrow decided to join his former colleagues – and the Titans were together as a team once more.

But Roy Harper’s life would soon unravel in unimaginable ways. In an insane plan to destroy the Justice League, the scheming Prometheus brutally attacked the team – severing Red Arrow’s right arm in the process. Prometheus then used his super-technology to target each of the cities the Justice Leaguers called home. He brought armageddon to Star City and the death toll was enormous. But one small loss proved most devastating: Roy’s daughter, Lian, was crushed and killed during the attack.

Angered beyond reason, Green Arrow took the law into his own hands and murdered Prometheus. Having violated the League’s moral code, Green Arrow became a fugitive.

The Rise of Arsenal

Roy Harper lost everything at the hands of Prometheus, barely surviving the brutal severing of his arm. But when he finally awoke from his coma, Roy found that his dangerous journey into despair was just beginning. The doctors were able to provide him with a cybernetic arm, but the new appendage impaired the archer’s once-impeccable aim.

Out of his mind with grief, Harper relapsed into drug use and became haunted by hallucinations. Arming himself with knives and weaponry, Roy re-assumed his identity as Arsenal. In his rage, Arsenal was driven over the edge and killed the villainous Electrocutioner, an ally in Prometheus’ plan.

The down-on-his-luck Arsenal then joined Deathstroke’s new Titans team, a collection of lost souls exploited as meta-humans for hire. The team’s true purpose was later revealed, as each mission served to create a life-restoring Methuselah Device. Deathstroke used the technology to restore his son, Jericho, and offered Cheshire and Arsenal the opportunity to try and resurrect their deceased daughter. Cheshire was willing to accept the devil’s bargain, but Arsenal was reluctant to use the macabre machine. Arsenal then rallied Tattooed Man, Jericho and Cinder to challenge Deathstroke’s leadership and dismantle the Methuselah Device. In the wake of these events, both Cheshire and Arsenal gained a sense of closure regarding the death of their daughter. While Cheshire fled, Arsenal and Jericho vowed to restart the Titans and restore their good name.

Together, Roy and Joey vow to restore the Titans’ good name in TITANS #38 [2011].

 Powers & Weapons


Red Arrow possesses no superhuman attributes, but he is a marksman of incredible accuracy. He is extremely adept at the use of the bow and arrow, as well as a wide array of weaponry. He also has the ability to take virtually any object and use it in combat as an effective weapon. Red Arrow also possesses keen analytical and detective skills.

 

Essential Reading


More Fun Comics #73: Roy is asked by Green Arrow to become his partner, and when Brave Bow dies, Roy becomes Oliver Queen’s ward. Roy is given a costume and a set of trick arrows similar to Green Arrow’s and becomes known as Speedy. First appearance of Speedy.
Teen Titans #4 [1966]: This is an Untold Tale “from the secret files of the Teen Titans” and occurs between the origin of the Teen Titans, revealed in issue #53, and The Brave and the Bold #60. In this flashback tale, Speedy joins forces with the Teen Titans on a twofold mission: to locate a missing Olympic contender, and to prevent the disruption of the Olympics by DIAELO, an international hate group. First Speedy appearance in the Teen Titans.
Teen Titans #19 [1968]: Speedy and Wonder Girl begin dating. Aqualad returns to Atlantis for an extended leave, ostensibly in order to look after the infant Aquababy while Aquaman is involved in a quest for his missing wife, Mera (as shown in Aquaman), and Speedy becomes Aqualad’s replacement among the Titans. Aqualad leaves the team. Speedy joins.
Green Lantern #85-86 [1971]: Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Black Canary begin working together, leaving Speedy without much support; Speedy becomes hooked on heroin; While a disbelieving Green Arrow was stunned into inaction, Roy overcame his addiction with the aid of Green Lantern and Black Canary, and thereupon severed relations with the Emerald Archer to go out on his own. Although this story appears during the Teen Titans series, this story takes place [chronologically] AFTER events of Teen Titans #43.
Teen Titans #53 [1978]: The origin of the Teen Titans is revealed in flashback as an Untold Tale from the Teen Titans Casebook: the story of how Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Speedy met and formally organized and named the Teen Titans team, between the events of The Brave and the Bold #54 and 60. Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy unite when the Justice League of America goes on a crime spree; It is discovered that the JLA was possessed by the Antithesis; The name “Teen Titans” is coined, with Speedy acting as a part-time member. The group disbands a second time to pursue their solo careers and studies; First appearance of Antithesis. First mention of Speedy as a founding member.

Best of DC (Blue Ribbon Digest) #18 [1981]: This DC Digest contained mostly reprints of Teen Titans comics from the 1970s. In addition, however, was an original 10-page tale called “Reunion.” Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Carmine Infantino. After an unsuccessful attempt to halt a drug-smuggling operation, former Titans Speedy and Aqualad join forces with the New Titans to close the case. Speedy is established as a government agent in this story.
New Teen Titans #26-27 [1982-1983]: After the Titans return, Kid Flash goes home to Blue Valley and Changeling meets Terra on top of the Statue of Liberty, which she is trying to destroy; Robin and Starfire begin dating; Adrian Chase enlists the Titans aid in stopping drug smugglers; Speedy dons his costume again and helps the Titans foil gangster Anthony Scarapelli’s plan to have runaways sell drugs on the streets of New York City. First appearance of Terra in issue #26.
New Teen Titans (second series) #20-21 [1986]: In Switzerland, Cheshire comes face to face with Speedy and informs him that he is the father of her child. Cheshire fakes an assassination attempt for the Church of Blood, battles the Titans, and escapes with some Church of Blood acolytes, who arrive via helicopter for her; Speedy goes to Hong Kong to find Cheshire and is allowed to hold his daughter, Lian.
Action Comics Weekly #613-618 [1988]: “The Cheshire Contract” A 6-part Nightwing story with Speedy. The two heroes try to prevent Cheshire from fulfilling her contract, which is to assassinate various ambassadors to prevent a peace treaty from taking place. Nightwing tracks down and frees Roy, who battles Cheshire as she curses herself for loving him. She gives Roy a slow-acting poison and leaves. As Roy recuperates in the hospital, Nightwing surprises him with his daughter; Cheshire left Lian behind and Roy is reunited with his daughter at last.
Secret Origins #38 [1989]: Secret Origin of Speedy and Green Arrow. Roy Harper sees an article on his life in a news magazine, and muses about its veracity. He then relates the true story of his life to his infant daughter Lian.

New Titans #97-99 [1993]: Roy Harper reappears; Having given up his Speedy identity, he now works as a government agent. Roy Harper assumes the new identity of Arsenal in issue #99. In issue #99, Dick proposes to Kory and she accepts. First appearance of Roy Harper as Arsenal in issue #99.
New Titans #114 [1994]: Arsenal agrees to the Titans under government jurisdiction.
New Titans #0, 115 [1994]: Under government control, Arsenal leads a new team of Titans, including Impulse, Damage, Changeling, Darkstar, Mirage, and Terra. Government funded and based in New Jersey. But after being corrupted by Raven, Changeling betrays the team. First issue with new Titans members Terra II, Mirage, Impulse and Damage having already joined the team.
New Titans #126 [1995]: A great downtime issue featuring Arsenal’s Titans team and art by Rick Mays. Arsenal assesses his new role as leader. The Titans play wargames.

Arsenal #1-4 [October 1998 to January 1999]: Arsenal confronts Vandal Savage in a mini series written by Devin Grayson and drawn by Rick Mays. Guest starring Black Canary and Green Arrow (Connor Hawke). Roy Harper — former heroin addict and one-time Green Arrow sidekick — must consider the failures of his past to face the future and find his own niche as Arsenal. But before he can move forward, there’s a problem from the past that needs a speedy resolution. Roy’s daughter, Lian, has a fatal disorder and the only one that may be able to provide the cure is the villainous immortal, Vandal Savage. Roy Harper’s daughter Lian is kidnapped by Savage and Roy learns he is part of the Vandal Savage bloodline.
JLA/Titans: the Technis Imperative #1-3 [December 1998 to February 1999]: The original Titans were reunited in a mini series that also featured the Justice League of America. Former Titan Vic Stone threatened to carry out his Technis Imperative and turn the earth’s moon into a new Technis world. The JLA and Titans first clashed, then united to save the earth and Vic Stone. The mini series was designed as a primer to restart the Titans series with the five original members (Nightwing, Troia, Flash, Arsenal and Tempest) as the core.
The Titans Secret Files #1 [1999]: Learn about the history (and future) of the new team of Titans in this one-shot. In an origin story, the original members and the new additions get together for the very first time, and we learn what happened to those who didn’t make the cut. In a “lost pages” segment (written by Jay Faerber, with art by Rick Mays), discover what took place between the end of Arsenal’s Titans and the beginning of the Atom’s group.
Titans #1-2 [1999]: Following close on the heels of the events in the JLA/TITANS miniseries, the original Titans decide to set up shop, rebuilding their headquarters (a new Titans Tower) and enlisting a second, non-core group of Titans to help them. And the entire, 10-member roster gets a workout when the team is attacked by the reformed H.I.V.E.!
Titans #30 [2001]: “Sins of the Past” presents the definitive conclusion to the long-running love affair between Titans member Arsenal and Cheshire – the mother of Arsenal’s child and the terrorist wanted around the world for her international crimes. After Cheshire is sentenced to life in prison, she resigns herself to her fate. A break-out attempt by Cheshire’s former allies in the Ravens affords Cheshire an opportunity to escape – but Roy Harper takes a heartbreaking stand against her – as she is taken back into custody. Cheshire is seen in her jail cell, left to reflect on her crimes.
Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #1, Outsiders #1 [2003]: Nightwing and Arsenal gather the Outsiders team.

Justice League of America #1 [2006]: It’s Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman…and the true roster of members who will become the new Justice League of America. Arsenal joins the Justice League.
Justice League of America #7 [2007]: Arsenal officially joins the Justice League and adopts the new identity of Red Arrow.
Titans #1-4 [2008]: After Cyborg’s Titans East team is brutally massacred by an unseen evil force, Titans members are attacked by demonic entities around the globe. Raven, sensing Trigon’s presence once again, calls upon her former Titans allies to defeat her fiendish father. But the Titans discover that the bestial assaults were actually orchestrated by Raven’s three demon half brothers – Jacob, Jared and Jesse. Using Raven as a doorway, the Sons of Trigon open a portal to the desolate realm where a weakened Trigon awaited. The brothers then betray their own father by siphoning whatever small power was left within him. In the wake of this battle, the Titans – Nightwing, Troia, Flash, Red Arrow, Raven, Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy – decide to become a team again.
Cry For Justice #5-7 [2009-2010]: In an insane plan to destroy the Justice League, the scheming Prometheus brutally attacks the team – severing Red Arrow’s right arm in the process. Prometheus then uses his super-technology to target each of the cities the Justice Leaguers call home. He brings armageddon to Star City and the death toll is enormous. But one small loss proves most devastating: Roy’s daughter, Lian, is crushed and killed during the attack. Angered beyond reason, Green Arrow takes the law into his own hands and murders Prometheus. Red Arrow loses his arm in issue #5. Death of Lian Harper in issue #7.
Titans #26-27 [2010]: Straight out of the JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE RISE OF ARSENAL miniseries, Arsenal signs up with Deathstroke and Cheshire when the Titans target a child slavery ring for takedown.
Titans #38 [2010]: The team is split over whether or not to use the Methuselah Machine to bring back their various loved ones, as Arsenal challenges Deathstroke for leadership. Arsenal then rallies Tattooed Man, Jericho and Cinder to challenge Deathstroke and dismantle the Methuselah Device. In the wake of these events, both Cheshire and Arsenal gain a sense of closure regarding the death of their daughter. Arsenal and Jericho vow to restart the Titans and restore their good name.

 

Speedy Come Lately


How Speedy Retroactively Founded the Teen Titans

The original Teen Titans – affectionately referred to as the comic book fab four – consisted of Robin, Kid Flash Aqualad and Wonder Girl. Speedy, Green Arrow’s seminal sidekick, was initially a guest-star in the original run of the book. The boy bowman eventually joined full-time in Teen Titans #19 (1968). The untold tale of how Speedy joined the Titans as a founding member was later explained ten years later in Teen Titans #53 (1978).

“In the Beginning…” revealed that DC’s five most prominent junior super-heroes were first brought together to solve the mystery of why their adult partners had suddenly turned criminal. It turned out to be the work of Antithesis, an alien who forced the heroes to commit crimes in order to absorb “the energy created when [they were] successful in deeds of a criminal nature.” Afterwards, the teens decided to form a loose union in which members could participate when they wanted to.

For continuity buffs, the story helped explain an “untold” Titans tale featuring Speedy that appeared in #4 (August, 1966) which was set at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo – about the same time that Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad’s first team-up appeared and a year before they were first called the Teen Titans. That benefit from the tale, though, was unintentional, according to its writer, Bob Rozakis. “As far as we (he and editor Jack C. Harris) were concerned, Speedy was a member of the group from the beginning,” said Rozakis. “I think he was a much more useful character than Aqualad.”

“We kind of felt sorry for him,” explained Rozakis, “because we had done to him what had been done to Green Arrow in the early days of the Justice League: he was ignored. So, rather than let him be an also-ran, we established his presence as an original member of the group and tied it in with his attitudes and personality as they had been established in the Green Lantern drug issues.”

Nonetheless, Speedy was not an active member of the group for the first few years of the series. Why? No strong reason, apparently. Neither Haney nor Kashdan could remember, although Kashdan suggested that it may just have been that Green Arrow didn’t have his own strip at the time and therefore Speedy’s power to draw readers may have been considered negligible.

Regardless of the reasons, Teen Titans #53 solidified Speedy as a founding member. And the fab four became the fab five.


A 2003 commission from the legendary Nick Cardy.


Roy Harper: Teen Sidekick, Drug User


In 1971, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams presented a comic book tale like no other with “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” in the classicGreen Lantern #85-86. The now-famous tale was a cautionary anti-drug story featuring teenage sidekick Speedy as a heroin addict.

After the first disbanding of the team in Teen Titans #43 (1971), Speedy found himself somewhat at loose ends. Green Arrow had been going through some great changes in his personal life, first lessening his activities as a crimefighter as his life as a financier took up more of his time, and then losing his personal fortune in a fraudulent business deal and beginning his long-standing romance with Black Canary. Without Wonder Girl and the Titans to keep him occupied, and despondent over his guardian’s seeming lack of interest, Roy turned to drugs. While a disbelieving Green Arrow was stunned into inaction, Roy overcame his addiction with the aid of Green Lantern and Black Canary, and thereupon severed relations with the Emerald Archer to go out on his own, as detailed in Green Arrow #85-86 (1971). He formed a rock band called “Great Frog” in his civilian identity and also began working with various anti-drug programs to help other addicts find a cure as he had, as seen in Action #436.

A Neal Adams Interview:
Comics Scene Magazine #27, 1992

His Green Lantern/Green Arrow stories with Denny O’Neil are considered milestones in presenting social issues to the comics-reading audience. Adams never thought of those stories as particularly controversial until the now-famous drug story involving Green Arrow’s young sidekick, Speedy. “I went home and decided I really wanted to do the drug story,” the artist recalls, “so I pencilled and inked the cover, and it’s exactly as you’ve seen it, with Speedy and his works on the table. I took it into [editor] Julie Schwartz’s office, put it on his desk, and he dropped it like a hot potato. “He was very clear that if we did the story, we would have to make Speedy into a heroin junkie. Not a pot smoker, not a pill popper like they did at Marvel; he would have to be a hard drug user. It was an interesting situation. Denny wanted to write the story, I wanted to draw it, Julie came around after he had calmed himself down. And then, Stan Lee did his Spider-Man story…”

Within a few weeks, remembers Adams, while DC staffers debated the prospects of doing the drug story, Lee got the jump on them by publishing a drug abuse story in Amazing Spider-Man #96-98 (illustrated by Gil Kane) that was a first. Originally rejected by the Comics Code Authority, Marvel published the story anyway without the seal of approval.

“We could have done it first and been the ones to make a big move. Popping a pill and walking off a roof isn’t the sort of thing that really happens, but heroin addiction is; to have it happen to one of our heroes was potentially devastating. Anyway, the publishers at DC, Marvel and the rest called a meeting, and in three weeks, the Comics Code was completely rewritten. And we did our story.”

Green Lantern didn’t start out being a “socially motivated” book. It was on the verge of cancellation; Gil Kane had stepped down as artist, and Adams asked if he could do the last few issues. “Julie said fine, and here was Denny O’Neil,” Adams says. “In those days, if anyone could be considered a radical, it was Denny. It was the ‘60s and we were feeling pretty randy. Nothing was really going on at DC and nobody was paying attention to the book, so we thought it would be fun to play with the problems of our day.”

Roy lashes out in GREEN LANTERN #85-86 [1971]

Q & A with Denny O’Neil

Q: How did [the storyline for “Snowbirds Don’t Fly”] develop?

Denny: The story developed as we were dealing with what we thought were serious social problems. Addiction was, and is, one of the worst, so it had a place in our series.

Q: Why choose to use Roy?

Denny: We chose Roy for maximum emotional impact. We thought an established good guy in the throes of addiction would be stronger than we some character we’d have made up for the occasion. Also, we wanted to show that addiction was not limited to “bad” or “misguided” kids.

Q: Was there any plans to follow it up?

Denny: When the story ended, it ended. We never planned a sequel.

Q: Was DC open to the idea of a teen sidekick drug user?

Denny: Was DC open to the idea? Not sure what you mean by “DC.” We got no interference from anyone above editor Schwartz on the food chain.

Green Arrow catches up with Roy Harper after his
drug ordeal in ACTION COMICS #436 [1972].

“The Continuity Fix”
by John “Mikishawm” Wells

A month after Green Lantern #86, Speedy was appearing inTeen Titans #36 without so much as a hint that he’d had any type of problem. And that continued to be the case right up to the cancellation of Teen Titans at the end of 1972. Elliot S. Maggin, however, brought Roy back in Action #436, where we learned that he was doing his crimefighting in plainclothes and that he’d joined a rock band called Great Frog (still part of continuity as recently as the [1990s] Titans series).

At the end of the story, Green Arrow tells Roy that he’s headstrong and Roy responds, “Look who’s telling ME not to be headstrong — the ego-king of the western hemisphere … I still need to be a loner for awhile. Got to sort things out … get my head together. You can dig that, can’t you ?” Biting his lip as Roy walks away, Ollie thinks, “Yeah, I can dig that … son.”

Maggin used the civilian-clad Roy again in an 18-page Green Arrow/Black Canary pilot intended for early 1976’s First Issue Special #14 but the title’s cancellation put the story in limbo. In the meantime, Teen Titans was revived with #44 in the latter half of 1976. Here, the Titans expressed their happiness that Roy had beaten his drug habit, confirming that, regardless of the order in which they were published, Green Lantern #85-86 occurred after Teen Titans #43.

One month before Teen Titans got the ax again (with #53), Julie Schwartz finally pulled the GL/BC pilot from limbo and ran it in late 1977’s Green Lantern #100 (with one page cut).

In March of 1978, Gerry Conway did another Green Arrow/Speedy meeting, set immediately after Teen Titans #53. Already depressed about his team’s break-up, Roy concludes in the epilogue that “we’re still a good fighting team, Ollie … but I guess that’s ALL we are, now. Too much bad water under the bridge … too many things we should have said once, but didn’t… now, it’s just too late, you know ?” “Yeah, kid,” Ollie answers. “I guess I’ve always known.”

After that, Roy showed up at Wally West’s high school graduation (DC Special Series #11), discovered his kinship to Jim (Guardian) Harper (Superman Family #192-194) and reunited with the Titans for a case (Brave and the Bold #149) before Marv Wolfman reestablished him as a drug agent in 1981’s Best of DC (Blue Ribbon Digest) #18.

A 2007 con sketch of Speedy by Cameron Stuart.

 

 Arsenal’s New Titans


The Titans were pressured to place themselves under the government’s watchful eye, due to increased public scrutiny [New Titans #93-114]. Sarge Steel was their chief liaison, and Nightwing stepped down as leader and allowed Arsenal to take command. Arsenal led this new group of Titans [New Titans #114], and was consistently challenged by the burdens of leadership. Many members left, but new faces emerged as well. Arsenal’s team consisted of Darkstar (Donna Troy), Green Lantern, Supergirl, Damage, Mirage, Terra II, Minion, Impulse and Rose Wilson. Eventually, each members’ dedication to the team began to waver, and the team disbanded.

The series lacked some focus, as team members were introduced, then not used, then reintroduced into the series.

“The Titans have had a series of problems in the past year,” says Titans writer Marv Wolfman. ‘They lost a number of members. They were sued by the government and people generally hated them. Finally, their leader Dick Grayson – Nightwing – left them.”

Left in such disarray, the road to rebirth has been a long one. “Even before Zero Hour, Roy Harper, once known as Speedy and more recently known as Arsenal, was approached by Checkmate’s leader, Sarge Steel, to align the Titans with the government,” Wolfman says. “It seems that the JLA has broken ties with the government and Checkmate wanted a new superhero team to replace them. After going over the problems and being assured [his team] will have complete autonomy, Roy agreed to sign with Checkmate.

ABOVE: The New Titans by Bill Walko
BELOW: Playtime! The Titans play war games in NEW TITANS #126 [1995]

“Trouble is, he had no members to go with him. On his own and with Sarge Steel, new members are found recruited and a brand new Titans is formed.” Wolfman reports that this new group will have a slightly different focus than past Titans teams. “Long ago, when the Titans were first created, the team featured already-existent heroes. In many ways we are going back to that original premise,” he maintains. “Arsenal leads a group consisting of Damage, Green Lantern and Impulse, characters who either have their own titles, or in Impulse’s case, is featured in Flash. Also in the New Titans are Mirage and Terra from the now-defunct Team Titans. Finally, rounding out the title is Donna Troy, now a Darkstar. So we’re bringing in characters from other books as well as several already-known Titans.

“Interestingly, all the heroes mentioned are in one way or another orphans whose past lives are shrouded in mystery,” he continues. “Where the last Titans team came together to fight Raven’s demonical father, Trigon, the new team comes and stays together because they are all in a similar situation. The Titans is a place for these people to get together, to find themselves, to be with others like themselves. They are not coming together to fight some great battle, but to understand themselves and to grow. This common need will allow them to become close and eventually became friends.

“So the role of the New Titans is a club for the young DC heroes, a way of getting together with their peers, a place where they can be with their own kind and learn from each other as they grow.”

“The book has gone under a lot of changes in the past few years, but all were evolutionary,” Wolfman says. “Heroes died, new heroes replaced them, tempers flared and, because they were young, mistakes were often made. That is the way life is. But now we begin with a new group. A revolution, so to speak. New heroes, all with their own lives, hopes and desires. This allows us to create a very different kind of Titans book.”

The Commentary

The Arsenal-led Titans didn’t last too long [from New Titans #115-130]. Sales on the book had slid, and many readers had already left the book. When the series was canceled in 1995 with #130, the Titans team was still active, although with some members having left. It wasnt until Titans Secret Files #1 that we saw the final dissolution of the team.

The team had potential. Check out New Titans #126 and New Titans Annual #11 to see what the team might have been.


A 2005 commission by Phil Jimenez.

 Titans In Love: Roy Harper & Donna Troy


“They don’t call me Speedy for nothin’, doll,” quipped the boy boyman, as he angled a team-up with Wonder Girl on his first mission as a full-time member (Teen Titans #19 [1967]). By issue’s end, Speedy had scored “a date with the Wonder Chick,” too. Their relationship was likely a casual one, as Speedy later put the moves on Wonder Girl’s roommate, Sharon Tracy. As a matter of fact, the Speedy-Wonder Girl relationship was not touched on for the duration of this era (up until Teen Titans #43 [1973], wherein the book went on hiatus).

The details of their disastrous first date were later detailed in the charmingly heart-breaking Teen Titans: Year One #5 [2008]. What started as a romantic evening quickly went South when the Arrowcar was stolen by Ding Dong Daddy.

ABOVE: Speedy joins the team and lines up a date with Wonder Girl in TEEN TITANS #19 [1968]. 
They call him Speedy for nothin’! BELOW: Speedy and Wonder Girl’s first date is detailed in
TEEN TITANS: YEAR ONE mini-series #5 [2008].

The Speedy-Wonder Girl romance resumed when the book returned from hiatus, with Teen Titans #44 [1976]. The teen Amazon gave Speedy an amorous greeting, “That’s okay, lover, as long as you’re back now.” Once again, aside from the occasional “lover” and a couple of jealous outbursts from Speedy, their romance remained frustratingly off-panel. The series was canceled with Teen Titans #53, and when it relaunched with New Teen Titans #1 [1980], it became obvious that the Speedy-Wonder Girl relationship was no more.

The two adventurers rekindled their relationship years later, in the pages of Titans #1-25 [1999]. Donna Troy’s memories had been mystically restored, leaving the  Amazon to question her own identity. Testing her own boundaries, Donna (now Troia) entered into a wild affair with Roy Harper (now Arsenal), as seen in the pages of Titans #9. Once fully restored in Titans #25, Donna gently broke off the relationship to a very-understanding Roy. The two still share a very deep and loving connection, even as their relationship remains platonic.

Romantic Reads:
Teen Titans [1967] #19
Teen Titans [1976] #44
Teen Titans: Year One [2008] #5
Titans [1999] #6, 9, 23-25

A 2006 commission from Mark Buckingham.

 

 Titans In Love: Roy & Jade


In Tales of the Teen Titans #51-52 [1985], Cheshire revealed one of the Titans had fathered her child. But the truth behind the child’s parentage was not uncovered until New Teen Titans (second series) #20 [1986]. On the last page, Cheshire blurted the shocking truth, “Speedy — my lover, and the man who fathered my child! And I wondered what would happen once I tracked you down. Once I stared into your eyes. And now I know exactly what I’m going to do. Roy Harper, I’m going to kill you!”

In the opening pages of issue #21, Jade failed to make good on her threat, admitting Roy Harper was the “one weakness in my life.”

And that scene laid the groundwork for the tumultuous relationship between Speedy and Cheshire. Their sordid history started with one of Roy Harper’s undercover missions for the government. His assignment was to track down Cheshire, gain her confidence, and hand her over to the authorities. But plans changed when Harper fell in love with Cheshire and she with him.  Their one night of passion left Jade pregnant, as Roy vanished into the night. In the closing pages of New Teen Titans (second series) #21, Jade allows Roy to hold his daughter Lian for the first time.

ABOVE: Cheshire is having a moment in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986].
BELOW: Cheshire allows Roy Harper to visit Lian for
the first time in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #21 [1986].

With the help of Nightwing, Speedy later freed Lian from Cheshire’s guardianship in Action Comics Weekly #613-618 [1988]. Once again, Cheshire’s feelings for Harper led to her own undoing, as she cursed herself for loving the amorous archer.

Roy and Jade eventually came to some sort of understanding, as witnessed in Titans #8 [1999]. There, Roy leaves a picture of Lian in a diner for Jade’s retrieval. Unfortunately, Cheshire proved beyond redemption by taking up with the anti-Titans group known as Tartarus (Titans #10-12). After Taratarus’ botched mission, Cheshire was forced to stand trial for her crime against humanity (Titans #21-22 [2000]).

Titans #30 provided  a turning point in their relationship, as Cheshire’s attempted prison break-out is witnessed by a visiting Lian. Realizing Jade was well beyond redemption, Roy was forced to take a heart-breaking stand against her.

Upon breaking out of prison, Cheshire emerged more sadistic than ever. Her erratic behavior made her an unpredictable assassin and dangerous adversary. Lian Harper was later killed during a brutal attack on Star City ( Cry For Justice #5-7 [2009-2010]), leading an enraged Jade to attack her former lover (Rise of Arsenal #3-4 [2010]).

Roy and Jade’s relationship is pretty volatile in many ways, but it has certainly sparked years of passion-fueled stories!

Romantic Reads:
New Teen Titans [1986] #20-21
Action Comics Weekly [1988] #613-618
Titans [1999] #8, 10-12, 21-22, 30
Titans [2008] #26-27, 38


A 2004 commission from George Pérez.

 Creators On Roy Harper


George Pérez: “Speedy and Aqualad? Nicest guest stars. I like Speedy/Aqualad because of the limitation of his powers.”

Marv Wolfman: “I remembered the Speedy story and it absolutely revolted me that Speedy’s reason for taking drugs was that Oliver Queen didn’t have the time to talk with him. When you come right down to it, that’s what Speedy says. That’s nonsense! That may be one tiny reason, but that’s not going to drive him to take drugs. In the long run, there’s got to be thousands of little things that build up.”

Devin Grayson: “On some levels, Roy Harper would just be happy continuing to be his own man without the Titans. But he finds the dynamics pretty irresistible-not to mention the free rent [in their new HQ on Titans Island]. Since he’s raising his baby daughter full-time, he knows you can’t really get a better group of baby sitters than the Titans, He’s a man who just kind of goes where his path takes him.”

Jay Faerber: “Arsenal is a real kick to write. I actually really enjoyed the team he led, and I still think that line-up could have been fantastic. But alas, it never really gelled.”

“Roy isn’t really the jerk he pretends to be. Deep down, he’s a caring, intelligent, guy. He just likes to get a rise out of people — it’s something he learned from his mentor, Ollie, and maybe his ‘attitude’ has increased as a way to keep Ollie around, if only in spirit. He can always count on Dick to tell him when he’s gone too far, though. And even though their romance has ended, a part of him will always love Donna, and when he’s in the dark of night, sometimes he wishes she was the mother of his child, not an international terrorist. Roy likes to rag on Garth, but would be the first to leap to his defense if anyone else started in on him. Roy’s dated girls like Jesse before — buttoned down business-types, so her brash ways don’t bother him as much as they can bother the other Titans. And he thinks Argent’s got a lot of spunk, and sometimes has to stop himself from ‘checking her out,’ considering how young she is.”

Brad Meltzer: On Roy becoming Red Arrow and joining the Justice League: “Roy’s identity for better or for worse has always been tangled up in Ollie’s, and I don’t think there was an astute reader out there who didn’t say, ‘Why didn’t Ollie go along with them?’ and that was exactly the right question. Ollie, for all his jackass moves, I think this is the only way he knows how to say, ‘I love you’ to Roy. He also knows his ‘son’ well enough that the very best thing he can do for him is to know when not to be there for him. I think this is the best gift that Ollie could ever give Roy. It was always the plan to be that.

“It’s like Roy said in the issue [JLA #7] – if you’re going to be in the family business, you should wear the family name. I don’t ever want to slight Arsenal – I believe in Arsenal as a character – I don’t think that he was just a red Green Arrow. As it said in the issue, I want it to be clear that he can do more than Ollie can do. I just feel that this is the graduation point for the character. Roy started in red, and I really did want him to end up in that full red again.”

“And also, I think that if Roy is paying anything back, this is the best ‘thank you’ that he can give Ollie. It’s a graduation day, not just for the League, and not just for Roy, but for Ollie as well. All of them are finding their identities in that moment. We’re seeing Ollie being loving and responsible and caring, and that’s the only way he can close that chapter for all the bad he did to that poor boy. Only a real and total ass would just take Roy’s spot on the League.”


Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Series, DC Who’s Who Binder Series, The Official Teen Titans Index [published byICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990], DC Universe Role-Playing Games: Sourcebooks and Manuals [ West End Games], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com


End of titanstower.com transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind titanstower.com. He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author