A Troubled Shooter
To paraphrase the Bard, some people are born heroes, some achieve heroism, and others have heroism thrust upon them. In the case of young Roy Harper, a case can be made for all three.
The Harper family is not unfamiliar with the concept of a hero. In World War II police officer Jim Harper used a hastily assembled masquerade costume to become the hero known as the Guardian, using his physical skills and intellect to not only fight crime, but also act as mentor for the Newsboy Legion [a role he continues today, although the second team of Newsboys has been forced to move on without him].
With that kind of legacy to live up to, it's not surprising that his younger brother Will, a forest ranger, sacrificed his life to save a Navajo medicine man named Brave Bow from a fire. When Ranger Harper later died in an avalanche, Brave Bow repaid the debt by becoming the legal guardian of his infant son, the aforementioned Roy.
Roy buried himself in the Indian ways, especially in the skill of archery. As he grew older, his skill surpassed all other members of the tribe, including Brave Bow himself. Naturally, when news reached the reservation of the career of the fledgling hero Green Arrow, Roy followed the reports avidly.
Brave Bow was getting old, but realized that young Roy needed a father figure to guide him on the path to manhood. Roy dreamed of becoming Green Arrow's "assistant", so when the hero was scheduled to appear at the nearby Greenville Fair, he and Brave Bow went to meet him.
Roy's skill at archery initially failed him that day, due to a set of magnetized arrows, crafted by Green Arrow himself, which were designed to conceal his skills from the public. However, his athleticism allowed him to win several track competitions. The next day, when a band of thieves attempted to make their escape, Roy punctured the tire of their vehicle with a well-placed arrow.
Green Arrow agreed to let Roy be his "assistant", dubbing him Speedy because Roy was "as quick with the bow as on a track". In his civilian identity of Oliver Queen, GA made Roy his ward.
Years passed, and Green Arrow and Speedy made a name for themselves as bow-toting heroes. Soon, as more heroes emerged, they banded together with the newcomers, Oliver in the JLA, and Roy as a founding member of the Teen Titans. Both had achieved stature in the eyes of the world in general, and Star City in specific.
However, Green Arrow was developing a social conscience he began to devote his not inconsiderable fortune to charity work. His career as Green Arrow became of paramount importance, allowing a business rival to drive him into bankruptcy.
For a champion of an underdog, this was no loss. No longer tied to the city, he began a country-wide odyssey with his friend Green Lantern, and his "significant other", the second Black Canary.
For a father, however unofficial, it was a tremendous mistake. Roy felt abandoned by his mentor [the third father figure to leave him]. He began to look for solace in other places, his fellow Titans, even a rock band called Great Frog. He found it, however, in the arms of an unfortunate mistress .heroin.
He concealed his addiction from his fellow Titans, an act simplified by their temporary dissolution. When Green Arrow returned suddenly, he caught his ward in the act of "shooting up", and reacted with anger, causing a rift in their relationship that lasted for years.
With the assistance and support of Green Lantern and Black Canary, Speedy was able to overcome his addiction and rejoined the Titans for a brief period. When the team again disbands, he joins the Central Bureau of Investigation, concentrating on narcotics cases.
During one case in Japan, the young agent crossed paths [intimately] with the assassin Cheshire. Smitten, he lets her escape. Unknown to him, she was carrying his child.
A short time later, Roy joined a team of Titans on a mission to Switzerland to prevent a terrorist from disrupting a US/Soviet summit. The terrorist turned out to be Cheshire, who reveals the fact that she had given birth to his daughter, Lian. The heroes pursued her to Hong Kong, where she is captured. Shortly thereafter, Roy gained legal custody.
Moving to Los Angeles, he began two new careers, both as a single father and as a private investigator. Meanwhile, back in Washington, the CBI merged with the paramilitary team known as Checkmate. Its commander, the famous Sarge Steel, rehired Roy as a Checkmate operative. With the assistance of Dayton Industries, he developed a new costumed identity, Arsenal.
Later, after several publicized fiascoes, the Titans were forced to become a government-regulated agency. Arsenal is installed as the new leader, complete with a new costume. The pressures of leadership didn't agree with him, however, and the team eventually disbanded once more.
Roy continued doing the occasional mission for Checkmate. His devotion to his daughter, borders on obsession, probably overcompensation due to his own feelings of abandonment. On one occasion, he broke a man out of a foreign prison, merely because he is his daughter's maternal uncle, and it's her birthday.
During this period, Roy reconciles with Oliver Queen, shortly before the latter's apparent demise. When a mission to Southeast Asia led to him being injected with heroin, Roy angrily left Checkmate. He reappeared a short time later, teamed with Batman, to rescue Cheshire, his daughter's mother, from an apparent kidnapping.
In recent months, a team of half-alien teenagers began calling themselves the Teen Titans. Along with the other founders of the original team, Roy investigated their activities, discovering their beneficent motives.
When a former adversary of the original team reappeared, old Titans and new teamed up to defeat him. During the battle, the mysterious Haze demonstrated his power by showing Roy his heart's desire transforming his Arsenal garb to a crimson variation of the original Green Arrow's costume. In this costume, he stayed with the Titans for a short period, but left soon afterwards, fearing for his daughter's safety.
Roy moved to Metropolis, where he remains to this day. Lian is the most important thing in his life, and he would do anything for her. No baby-sitter is good enough, no doctor fast enough. Not even the immortal Vandal Savage is foe enough to stand in his way. Finally, he has found the role he is destined for. Not Speedy, not Arsenal but Daddy.
This article is © 1998 Mario Di Giacomo.
All characters are © DC Comics