Posted by BatWatch (2721 posts) - - Show Bio

Red Hood and the Outlaws has been one of the few clear successes of the DCNU. Scott Lobdell was able to take three B-list heroes and create a successful new team which has consistently garnered sales in the mid thirty thousands ranking it slightly above the middle of the pack out of the Not-So-New 52. RHATO has generally met good critical reception too; not everybody is a fan, but it has a solid fan base and almost everybody can appreciate some elements of the series.

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Of course, Red Hood and the Outlaws has had its critics mostly due to the rebooted characterizations of the heroes. Virtually nobody minds the tweaking of Red Hood's personality to make him more stable and less prone to nonsensical outbursts of homicidal mania and general dickishenss, but many have taken umbrage with the reboot of Starfire. In addition to wiping out a large part of her history, Lobdell has made her mentally deficient so that she can no longer remember major past events or distinguish between the majority of human faces. In an effort to further discourage any woman from ever wanting to pick up a comic book, the Outlaw creative team made sure to give Starfire a ridiculous figure, an even more revealing costume than had ever previously been donned by the heroine, the modesty of a nudist, and virtually no sexual mores. Oh, and she occasionally kills people without the slightest hint of remorse.

Full disclosure here: I love continuity, yet I am not extremely familiar with Roy Harper. I know a lot about him via various articles such as his character history on ComicVine, but I have not had the pleasure of reading a ton of his stories which occur mostly in Teen Titans in the modern era.

However, I have seen and read enough of Roy's life to fall in love with him in a weird sort of way.

Let me explain.

Most characters are stagnant. Superman is essentially the same now as he was twenty years ago. Batman has had various archs that somewhat develop his character, but in a very real sense, all that happens is he swings between being slightly more broody and slightly less broody throughout the modern age. Spider-Man is another character who has been more or less plateaued for the last couple of decades. All these characters might go through brief changes, but their fundamentals stay the same.

Roy Harper has never been a stagnant character in the modern age. In the last twenty-five years, Roy went from being a sidekick to a member of the Justice League of America to a killer drug addict. How many other characters can claim that much character “growth” over the years?

A Speedy Telling of the Life of Arsenal

For you to understand my point, you really have to understand pre-Flashpoint Roy Harper.

Roy Harper learned the skills of archery from the Native American man who raised him, Brave Bow. After getting infatuated with the hero Green Arrow, Roy entered an archery contest in the hopes that he would land on GA's radar. As luck would have it, Roy lost the competition but won the approval of Green Arrow who took Roy as his sidekick because Ollie just copied everything Batman did in those days, and Batman had a kid sidekick, so why shouldn't Green Arrow? When GA learned that Roy was actually faster with the bow that Ollie himself, (though not more accurate) Roy earned his first codename, Speedy.

Roy was nearly always Green Arrow's compatriot in battle, and his tour of duty also brought him in contact with greater heroes like Superman, Batman and Robin. Robin, Speedy, and other sidekicks began hanging out and eventually formed the group Teen Titans.

To briefly run through many years of continuity, Roy hit a hard time when he broke up with fellow Teen Titan member Donna Troy and his partnership with Green Arrow seemed to dry up as Ollie focused on his relationship with Dinah. Roy turned to the solace of drugs and became addicted to heroine. When it was discovered, Green Arrow turned his back on Roy, but GA's girlfriend, Dinah, helped Roy to detox. When cleaned up, Roy became an anti-drug spokesman.

Despite that, it is the reboot of Arsenal that really bothers me.

Eventually, Roy, now an adult, shed the name Speedy and took the moniker Arsenal using a great variety of different tech and weapons rather than relying solely on his trusty longbow. Arsenal was soon recruited by the government organization Checkmate where he was assigned to infiltrate a criminal organization ran by the villain Cheshire. Roy apparently got in too deep with his cover falling in love with Cheshire and eventually infiltrating his way into her pants. Realizing he had screwed up, Arsenal withdrew from his cover and abandoned the operation. Unfortunately, this was not the end for Roy soon discovered that Cheshire had born him a daughter named Lian. At the end of the day, Roy ended up with sole custody of Lian.

Arsenal soon left Checkmate and rejoined the Titans. When that team disbanded, Roy formed his own group called the Outsiders. Eventually, Roy, using the code name Red Arrow, made it all the way up to the big time gaining a slot on the Justice League of America. It was around that time that Roy's whole world fell apart.

The villain Prometheus destroyed a large part of Star City, the location of Roy's home. In the destruction, Lian was killed. After having an emotional breakdown, Roy shed his identity as Red Arrow and returned to the old identity of Arsenal. Enraged at the loss of his daughter, Roy begins to track down and kill everyone who played a role in helping Prometheus' schemes. It was during this time that Roy began using heroine again.

Eventually, the superhero community had to act on Arsenal's behavior. With Ollie's approval, Dinah Lance and Dick Grayson worked together to take Roy down and turn him over to the justice system. Roy, however, continued to do his bloody work using his time in prison to get close to the Electrocution (one of Prometheus' goons) and torture him to death before escaping. When last we saw Roy before the reboot, he was constantly shooting up and working as an assassin with Cheshire.

So What?

Now is that a happy story? No, but how many heroes over the years have had such a compelling story of tragedy? Few could compare in my view. Sure, lots of heroes have had horrible things happen to them, but I see Roy as a character who, though very flawed, tried immensely hard to do the right and overcome his own personal weaknesses. In the end though, he loses his daughter, is abandoned by his friends, and loses himself to his own addiction. I can't speak for you, but that one strikes me right in the heart.

I enjoy the new version of Roy, but I can't help but feel there was still a lot of story left to be told with pre-Flashpoint Arsenal. The universe left him in a very dark place, and unless there is a reboot reboot, then I think some part of me will always feel that Roy is still in pain and tearing himself apart. Perhaps if the universe had continued, Roy might have been able to get to the same place DCNU Roy has reached. Maybe old Roy might have been able to become the addict in recovery who masks his pain and insecurities by making jokes and playing dumb. Maybe...but we will probably never know, and I can't help but think that old Roy, if left to continue in his self-destructive direction, would have ended up dried up and dead in some Star City alley with a needle in his arm.

#1 Posted by Teerack (6251 posts) - - Show Bio

Roy Harper is the best revamped character out of the new 52 currently. Nearly everything that happened to Roy after he had a daughter was horrible and i'm glad its all gone.

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#2 Posted by akbogert (3222 posts) - - Show Bio

@BatWatch said:

...and became addicted to heroine.

Haha. Oh, unintentional irony.

But yeah, I appreciated this read. I've been loving RHatO and while I'm fine with former Starfire fans taking issue with the assault on her character, as one new to Kori I've liked her quite a bit, and I think she has become a decently compelling character regardless of whether she's also shamelessly eye candy. There's also a definite window for her to lose her amnesia (if it were permanent, why have her vaguely remember her Titans time in the beginning?), so I think even older fans may be able to come to terms with the new version eventually.

#3 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

I would have loved to see some greater resolution with Roy's pre-reboot character, it would have been fantastic to see what became of him on the dark path he was headed. Unfortunately we'll never get that chance now, but I'm enjoying his characterization in the New 52 nonetheless. RHATO, despite its criticism, has consistently been one of my favorite books of the relaunch, and Roy has always been one of my favorite characters.

#4 Posted by BatWatch (2721 posts) - - Show Bio

@Teerack said:

Roy Harper is the best revamped character out of the new 52 currently. Nearly everything that happened to Roy after he had a daughter was horrible and i'm glad its all gone.

I thought it was very interesting and gripping. Why didn't you like it?

@akbogert said:

@BatWatch said:

...and became addicted to heroine.

Haha. Oh, unintentional irony.

But yeah, I appreciated this read. I've been loving RHatO and while I'm fine with former Starfire fans taking issue with the assault on her character, as one new to Kori I've liked her quite a bit, and I think she has become a decently compelling character regardless of whether she's also shamelessly eye candy. There's also a definite window for her to lose her amnesia (if it were permanent, why have her vaguely remember her Titans time in the beginning?), so I think even older fans may be able to come to terms with the new version eventually.

Yeah, comic fans are resiliant, and most will come to accept these new versions, but I actually think DC might end up rebooting the reboot. It will depend largely on how they do this year. Marvel has already taken back a lot of the ground the DCNU won. The question is whether Marvel will continue to gain ground, if things will stabilize, or if DC will continue to bleed readers.

Like you mentioned, I think there is definitely an easy loophole in Starfire's memory issues that a writer could use to fix her memory issues. In some ways, it would make more sense since Starfire seems to have good recollection of some events while barely holding on to others. It could be some memory loss which only affects newer memories perhaps? Maybe.

I'm glad you enjoyed the article. There are a lot more like it at BatWatch.net

@Imagine_Man15 said:

I would have loved to see some greater resolution with Roy's pre-reboot character, it would have been fantastic to see what became of him on the dark path he was headed. Unfortunately we'll never get that chance now, but I'm enjoying his characterization in the New 52 nonetheless. RHATO, despite its criticism, has consistently been one of my favorite books of the relaunch, and Roy has always been one of my favorite characters.

I'm with you on RHATO being a consistently high quality books. So far, I have not seen an issue I thought was bad though the latest comes awfully close.

I would sure love to see some resolution to Arsenal's pre-Flashpoint series. Here's hoping to a reboot reboot.

#5 Posted by Demonturtle (455 posts) - - Show Bio

Its my favorite of the new 52! Only series I'm reading continuosly.

#6 Posted by Teerack (6251 posts) - - Show Bio

@BatWatch: Always been a big Roy fan but around the time Roy lost his arm DC started acting retarded as a whole and literally ruined their whole character base to the point where they started the new 52 a few years later. It felt like Roy specifically had a lot of conflicting ideas for his character direction in DC and I felt it showed. Once he joined the justice league it looked like maybe they were getting him back to a good place and then they killed off his daughter shortly after, just to ruin him more and have him lose his mind.

And sense this isn't the 80s i think changing him from a heroine attic to an alcoholic makes a lot of sense, because alcohol is around a lot more to tempt him appose to heroine.

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#7 Posted by daredevil21134 (11769 posts) - - Show Bio

I was a huge fan of Roy before the New 52 I loved him in Outsiders.Rise of Arsenal was horrible and I didn't like when he changed his name to Red Arrow either

#8 Posted by Timandm (3374 posts) - - Show Bio

I enjoyed your breakdown on the history of Roy Harper...

I get what you're saying about the whole 'Now it never happened" type of thing after a reboot. I've never been a fan of reboots. One of the things lost during these reboots, is the rich history (good or bad) that belonged to these characters. We the readers are invested in these characters. Sometimes for decades, and it feels that we've lost something when they reboot and undo all those years of stories that we've held on to....

#9 Posted by akbogert (3222 posts) - - Show Bio

By the way, we do all realize the drug is spelled heroin, right, not heroine? I mean, I'm as addicted to Kori as anyone, but...

#10 Edited by BatWatch (2721 posts) - - Show Bio

@Demonturtle said:

Its my favorite of the new 52! Only series I'm reading continuosly.

In my view, there are a lot of comics out there that are better, but I do think RHATO has been a consistently entertaining series.

@Teerack said:

@BatWatch: Always been a big Roy fan but around the time Roy lost his arm DC started acting retarded as a whole and literally ruined their whole character base to the point where they started the new 52 a few years later. It felt like Roy specifically had a lot of conflicting ideas for his character direction in DC and I felt it showed. Once he joined the justice league it looked like maybe they were getting him back to a good place and then they killed off his daughter shortly after, just to ruin him more and have him lose his mind.

And sense this isn't the 80s i think changing him from a heroine attic to an alcoholic makes a lot of sense, because alcohol is around a lot more to tempt him appose to heroine.

Hmmm. Interesting idea about the addiction. I don't see how it matters too much, but I guess different substances speak to a different kind of psychological pathology. Alcohol is a depressant whereas heroine is a stimulant, so I guess it might speak a little to Roy's personality.

I like that Roy is conflicted. I think it is what separates him from the rest of the crowd. He wants to do right, but he has a lot of pain that he just wants to escape.

@daredevil21134 said:

I was a huge fan of Roy before the New 52 I loved him in Outsiders.Rise of Arsenal was horrible and I didn't like when he changed his name to Red Arrow either

Tell me about rise of Arsenal; I'm not familiar with the plot line.

I agree that the Red Arrow names is stupid, but I do like how he was portrayed in Justice League of America.

@Timandm said:

I enjoyed your breakdown on the history of Roy Harper...

I get what you're saying about the whole 'Now it never happened" type of thing after a reboot. I've never been a fan of reboots. One of the things lost during these reboots, is the rich history (good or bad) that belonged to these characters. We the readers are invested in these characters. Sometimes for decades, and it feels that we've lost something when they reboot and undo all those years of stories that we've held on to....

I think there is a real chance that DC's sales might keep slipping over the coming years which means we might be seeing a return to pre-Flashpoint continuity...or maybe not. Time will tell. People who were a fan pre-COIE complained about the same situation, but the difference in my mind is that a lot of pre-COIE continuity was wacky and confusing. Post-COIE up to Flashpoint might be convoluted, but most of it is not things that hurt the universe.

@akbogert said:

By the way, we do all realize the drug is spelled heroin, right, not heroine? I mean, I'm as addicted to Kori as anyone, but...

Whoops! (grins) Uhm, let's see. I was being deep and clever by saying that he turned to drugs because he broke up with the heroine of his heart, Wonder Girl. Yeah, that was it.

#11 Posted by Teerack (6251 posts) - - Show Bio

@BatWatch: Yeah it's a shame the original writer and artist abandoned RHATO for Superman. I was really hoping to see more of Roy's back story in the new 52, and the way Lobel wrote in Roy's best memory being a fail suicide attempt made me think his past would be really harsh and dark, Showing off what a huge bad ass Roy is to still be a Hero.

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