Roy's father, a forest Ranger, died in a forest fire on an Navajo reservation when Roy was very young. Roy was then taken in by a Navajo medicine man named Brave Bow, because Roy's father had saved his life. Brave Bow taught Roy archery and marksmanship.
As Roy grew he came to idolize the Green Arrow, a modern day Robin Hood and superhero. In order to prove to himself that he was a worthy archer, young Roy entered an archery contest. Although he ultimately lost, the Green Arrow took notice at the young boy and decided to make him his partner helping in Roy's development as an archer. He adopted the name Speedy for the fact that he was faster than Green Arrow himself. Eventually, Roy became Oliver Queen's ward, after Brave Bow's death. It was later revealed that Roy's uncle, James Harper, is a superhero called the Guardian.
Roy Harper was created by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris. He first appeared in More Fun Comics #73, as Speedy, Green Arrow's sidekick. It was in New Titans #99, written by Marv Wolfman, that he debuted as Arsenal.
Original Continuity: Earth-One
Known as Speedy, Roy became the sidekick to the Green Arrow in the 1940s. He served with distinction as a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory (aka Law's Legionnaires). The Seven Soldiers vanished after fighting the mysterious Nebula Man, but had actually been transported through time. They were brought back into the fold of the DC Universe in the Silver Age when they were rescued by the Justice League. The Seven Soldiers were gone only hours for them, but it was decades in their home universe.
Modern Age: New Earth
The Crisis on Infinite Earths undid that history and had neither Green Arrow nor Speedy as members of the Seven Soldiers of Victory. But much of Roy's Golden Age History was left relatively unchanged by the revamp. When Roy joined the Teen Titans where Speedy became attracted to Donna when he first met her. They began dating when they were both on the Teen Titans. They later broke up. They briefly dated again when the Teen Titans reorganized, but broke up once more when Titans disbanded again. Roy proposed to Donna, but when Lilith Clay made a prophecy to Donna that her red-headed husband would die, so she turned down Roy (though this turned out to be Terry Long). During Titans they briefly resumed dating. Roy liked Donna as a mother figure to his daughter Lian.
When Roy went undercover while working as a government agent. He was supposed to turn Cheshire over to the government, but instead he fell in love with her. She is the mother of his daughter, Lian Harper. Cheshire confronted Roy over the death of their daughter, blaming Roy for not being able to protect Lian. They fight, but end up having sex. She then gets Roy to join her plan in killing Deathstroke. Currently they are both serving on Deathstroke's Titans, and are in a relationship together.
Roy is very flirtatious with women in general, and has many one-night stands. While leading the Outsiders he had a thing with Grace Choi. He also had a fling with Huntress. Later, while on the Justice League he had dated Hawkgirl. Their relationship became strained because of the search for the missing Cheshire and of Hawkgirl talking about Hawkman quite a bit.
After the events of Flashpoint, the DC Universe was reset, and Roy never had a child with Cheshire and may have never even met her. He also has never relapsed from his heroine addiction. Currently he is working with Red Hood and Starfire as part of Red Hood's Outlaws. In the new universe Roy sports a green snake tattoo on his left bicep. He is also frequently seen with a trucker hat.
In the New 52, Roy Harper was once a part of the Teen Titans under the leadership of Dick Grayson, but was forced to leave for an unknown reason. It is later revealed that he became depressed and started drinking heavily and going so far to the point that he was fighting Killer Croc half hoping that we would kill him in order to stop his misery.
Roy is first seen in Red Hood and the Outlaws when Jason Todd saves Roy from a Middle Eastern prison and discovers a new team mate named Starfire who also pitched in the rescue mission. He later helps Jason with the situation relating to the Untitled.
Major Story Arcs
Original Continuity: Earth-One
The Teen Titans
Roy joined Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West), Aqualad (Garth), and Donna Troy aka Wonder Girl to form the Teen Titans. While members of the Titans, Donna and Roy started dating. Unfortunately, just as things were looking good for Roy, his life took a horrible turn. The Titans disbanded, he and Donna broke up, and Ollie started to neglect Roy. Roy took up heroin and became very quickly addicted. After Ollie lost his fortune due to scandal he sets off for an adventure across the country with Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Black Canary. When Green Arrow finds out about Roy's addiction, he is in shock. Feeling betrayed and ashamed, Ollie punched Roy and kicked him out of his home, leaving the poor youth without a home and with a drug problem.
Eventually Hal found the young Roy and brought him to the home of Ollie's girlfriend, Black Canary (Dinah Lance). While there she took care of Roy and helped him kick his habit. Eventually, Roy was able to completely free himself of his drug addiction thanks to Dinah. As a means to stop other youths from doing drugs, he signed up with the government and became an Anti-drug spokesman.
Modern Age: New Earth
After kicking the habit, Roy helped the Titans on various missions. Through these missions, Roy came into contact with various government agencies. One such agency was the CBI, Central Bureau of Intelligence, or Checkmate. Checkmate recruited Roy and put him undercover to help fight the war on drugs. While on a mission to gain the trust of the villain Cheshire, Roy fell in love with her and the two had an affair. Unable to bring himself to turn Cheshire in and believing he put her in danger, Roy soon leaves. Unknown to Roy, Cheshire was pregnant with his child.
While on a mission with the former Robin, Nightwing, to stop Cheshire's attempt to assassinate a group of dignitaries, Roy learns he is the father of Cheshire's daughter. Roy is captured but soon released by Nightwing. Roy then acquired sole custody of his daughter, Lian Harper.
Arsenal and the Outsiders
Roy later rejoins the Titans with the new name Arsenal, no longer using just arrows but a large "arsenal" of high-tech weapons. While with the Titans, the group came into contact with an android from the future named Indigo. While searching for Indigo, the Titans battled a Superman android that killed both Lilith and Donna Troy. Distraught by Donna's death, Nightwing ends the Titans, despite Roy trying to persuade Dick out of it.
Roy took this opportunity to start the Outsiders. Roy formed the team with Indigo, as well as recruiting Thunder, Grace Choi, Shift, and Jade, then asked Nightwing to join, not as a leader, as Nightwing didn't want to lead the team at the time, just as another member. While in battle with Brother Blood, Roy was shot in the chest. After a long recovery, in which Roy questioned his limitations, Roy returned. Not long after his return, the Outsiders were tracking a child-slaver, who even captured Roy's daughter, Lian. Fortunately, the Outsiders were able to rescue Lian and the rest of the children abducted.
Infinite Crisis and One Year Later
During Infinite Crisis and One Year Later, Roy and the Outsiders were battling low-level criminals and felt as if they were not making much of a difference. Roy decided leading the Outsiders was not for him and handed leadership of the Outsiders to Nightwing, and left the team.
Justice League Of America
Shortly after leaving the Outsiders, he received an invitation to join the ranks of the Justice League of America. At first, Roy thought it to be a joke, but when he realized it was a legitimate request, he quickly accepted. As a gift to welcome him into the team, and to show Roy that he wanted to be a part of his life again, Ollie had a new costume made for him. Upon receiving the costume, Roy decided to take it as a new outlook on life and changed his codename to fit the "family business". Now known as Red Arrow (he took the name from Hal who was about to call him by his real name during a mission, but to cover himself Hal called him Red Arrow instead), he became a full fledged member of the Justice League. He and fellow JLA teammate Hawkgirl have begun an intimate relationship. Roy remained a member for a time but after hardships with Hawkgirl, because of the hunt for the missing Cheshire, the two broke up and Roy decided to leave the Justice League for an undetermined amount of time.
Cry For Justice
Following Bruce Wayne's death, Roy once again rejoined the Justice League. Ollie and Hal once again teamed up and formed another Justice League after the main team gets beaten by the Shadow Cabinet. The two old friends discover that Prometheus has been planning something and head off to warn the other Justice League. Prometheus was already one step ahead of them pretending to be Freddy Freeman, from here Prometheus manages to defeat both teams after he cuts off Red Arrow's right arm.
Before Prometheus can escape Donna manages to capture him and he tells them his plan. Using a series of teleporters he was going to send cities to random spots in time. He uses Star City, the home of Green Arrow and Red Arrow as an example; but something goes wrong. Instead of teleporting the city away to a place it couldn't be retrieved the teleporter malfunctioned and started destroying the city. Prometheus says he will give them the codes to stop all the other devices if they let him walk. Green Arrow agrees and Prometheus is freed. The device left huge destruction in Star City, ironically in the shape of a star.
Roy manages to survive, but remains in a coma for quite some time, but eventually awakens. He is given a bionic arm (gold with red circles) but he still feels incomplete, and ultimately finds out that Lian had been killed in the destruction, whereas Mia had survived. Mia had supposed have been babysitting Lian, but she had left Lian to stop the Electrocutioner (who had been the one to plant the device in Star City). Roy suffers an emotional breakdown and berates Mia for being unable to protect Lian. Roy uses the Arsenal identity and discards the Red Arrow identity and begins hunting down everyone associated in building Prometheus' mass teleporter. This begins to mirror Green Arrows current actions; as he crossed the line by killing Prometheus. Struggling with all his pain he thinks about his past drug use. It is shortly after this that Cheshire shows up to kill him.
Cheshire is angry over Lian's death, and blames Roy for it. After she realizes that Roy had nothing to do with Lian's murder, they eventually settle their differences. Roy is forced to leave Cheshire, and he hits the streets and begins to resort to lethal force in dealing with criminals. Roy soon falls back to his old ways of using heroin when he buys some from a dealer off the streets. With his bionic arm, he nearly kills a group of robbers, but is stopped by his longtime friend, Dick Grayson, the current Batman.
Black Canary and Dick were forced to put Roy into a jail, that would also help him recover. Deliberately wounding his arm stump to alert some paramedics, Roy manages to escape and sets off to break into the jail where the Electrocutioner (the accomplice of Prometheus directly responsible for Lian's death) is held. Despite the intervention of Green Arrow, Roy cruelly butchers the villain with knives. He then burns away his house and all his possessions, becoming a dark, broody vigilante enacting his brand of deadly justice on low-lives and criminals.
Titans: Villains for Hire
Recently, Cheshire asked him to join her in a plot to kill Deathstroke. She manages to do so by holding Lian's death over his head. While it appears that he wished to join Deathstroke's Titans, and does so, the truth is that it's part of Cheshire's plan to kill Slade Wilson. While on this team he is constantly high, and doesn't fight at his peak, though is still rather good.
The team travels to the All Caste temple in the Himalayas. They must enter the Chamber of All to find where the clue to where the Untitled might be. Roy and the team give up their most precious memories to S'aru the watcher. In the Chamber of All, they come across this giant monster that eats Starfire so Roy and Jason are left to fend for themselves until Jason finds the clue and Starfire bursts from the creature. She grabs the two and they fly out of the chamber of all to reclaim their memories. The team ends up in Colorado where Jason and Roy are in a bar while Starfire watches from above. Jason ends up in a quick scrap and a cop takes them to the station. The cop turns out to be one of the Untitled, but the wrong one. Roy saves Jason from having his organs ripped out and they head outside. They spot this large explosion and Roy points out it matches Kori's energy signature. Roy leaves Jason to fight the Untitled to go and save Starfire.
Roy finds Crux and shoots him out of the air with a shock arrow and pins him to the ground demanding to know where Kori is. Roy gets the information needed where he runs to and finds Kori prone and shivering. Roy lights up a thermal arrow to get some energy into Starfire where she thanks him for the kindness he has shown her in world that does not treat her as such. Crux comes back and grabs Roy. Roy detaches his backpack which houses his arrows and sets off a self-destruct function which knocks Crux out and they fall in an ice hole. Starfire soon regains her powers and she pulls Roy and Crux out. Roy stops Kori from dealing a death blow to Crux as Jason comes running through the woods being chased by a mod, saying they need to go.
Roy pilots one of Crux's ships and he helps Jason fight Essence. After Suzie Su awakens from a coma, the Outlaws head to Gotham to deal with her since she has a hostage situation. Roy and Kori deal with the hostages while Jason kills Suzie and Roy reminds Starfire that he has to take her on a real date eventually to which she replies she would like it. After cleaning up the mess, they intercept a call from Alfred to help deal with the Talons and Court of the Owls. They decide to stay and target Mr. Freeze who is a person of interest to the Talons. Roy helps defeat Mr. Freeze while Jason heads off to defeat the Talon. He defeats Freeze with a taser arrow and they end up delivering Freeze to Batgirl and leave Gotham.
Roy is asleep in a room with Starfire and an alien is seen watching them. The alien attacks Jason outside, but Starfire awakens and finds him to be an old friend from Tamaran named Orn. Roy is teleported with the rest of the group and Isabel to Starfire's ship where he and Jason are impressed by her taking charge of the ship and declaring the invaders better give up or she will destroy them. Roy helps Starfire where he can when they fight the squadron by putting out fires. After the battle, Starfire asks her two friends for help. She explains her origin about being traded and that no one on Tamaran came to her aid and she has no feelings towards helping her home planet. Jason agrees with her that she has a reason to not help and compares it to his Batman and Joker problem in the past. Roy tells her that she is a good person and that she would help, not because it is her home planet, but because she is a good person. In telling her this, she leaves to go by herself to think it over. When the Blight attack the ship, Roy jumps in the way of a teleportation ray aimed at Kori, causing him to get transported to a place where he is then tortured by the Blight and Blackfire. It is revealed that Roy intentionally got himself transported to save Blackfire and the both of them get transported back to the ship. Roy watches as Kori and her sister leave the ship to save Tamaran.
Kori and Blackfire begin assaulting the Blight forces and soon get help from Jason and Roy. Arsenal explains that he wonders what would happen if Kori went all out with her powers and watches on as Starfire nukes the area in a massive nova burst and loves it. The Outlaws and Tamarans defeat the Blight and stay on the planet for a week and Starfire admits to her sister that she loves Roy. Arsenal and the Outlaws get a new ship called the DePalo, named after Kori's first mate of her old crew due to his sacrifice in destroying the Blight ship. After they board, they head back home to Earth.
As the Outlaws head back to Earth, they are confronted by Superman. Superman just wants to talk but the Outlaws attack in a futile attempt against the much superior Kryptonian. Superman defeats them easily and just wants to talk as he questions Starfire about any Daemonites showing. Kori lies about her encounter and Superman gives them the heads up to contact him if they are confronted. The Outlaws drop Jason off at Isabel's home. After helping the Teen Titans, Roy and Kori are escorted to Jason's location. Roy has some fun with Damian with a football and sparring. When Roy hears Jason scream from an acid bomb planted by the Joker, he goes rushing to find his friend.
Jason ends up going missing and Roy and Starfire travel to the Acres of All to find him. He gets a vision in a dream brought about by Essence when she tries to break his spirit by forcing Roy to face the people who saw him as a failure in life. Roy proves himself past his flaws and all the people he has failed in search of his best friend. He gets the entrance location and him and Kori arrive, they are attacked by wild creatures. They defend themselves against them until a larger one appears and is slayed by Jason. It is revealed that Jason has no memories as S'aru has taken them.
S'aru forces Starfire and Roy through Jason's memories and it was revealed that the night Roy met Jason when Jason saved his life, was the night that set Jason's death into motion. It is also revealed that Starfire is able to put herself through a selective amnesia because one bad memory can destroy them as Tamarans have a very high emotional level. Roy tranqs Jason and attempts to attack S'aru to force him to give him his memories back, but S'aru teleports the trio away. Roy is angry with Kori for thinking she lied, but he is also angry that everything seems to be falling apart. Ducra, Essence, and S'aru look over the group from a distance.
Powers and Abilities
Roy doesn’t have any super powers but he is one of the best marksmen in the world after being trained by Green Arrow, his specialist weapon is the long bow which he has been using since he started as Speedy [since he was 13], he is able to shoot a target from 200 meters away.
In his time as Arsenal he used more hand held weapons than just a bow, he used guns and lasers amongst other things and showed he can use almost anything as a weapon. Roy is also a brilliant swordsman after training with Green Arrow, he has been shown to be able to uses knifes and swords.
Roy is a very decent hand to hand fighter although he is nowhere near the standard of his friend Dick Grayson he is still a decent level and he used to spar with Dick on a regular basis when they where in the Teen Titans.
Teen Titans: The Animated Series
Roy Harper appeared as Speedy in Teen Titans, as a Titans East member. He is shown as a very skilled archer and fighter that uses arrows with technology similar to that of Robin's gadgets. In his debut appearance in the Teen Titans animated series episode Winner Takes All, he enters a hero tournament. Beating Aqualad and then, with Robin's help, Wildebeest.
He loses in the final against Robin after he breaks his bow. He is later seen again as a member of Titans East. He is often mistaken for Robin, something that greatly irritates him. In the 5th season, when the Brotherhood of Evil are capturing the Teen Titans Speedy is captured by Cheshire, though he later escapes and helps the Titans take down the Brotherhood of Evil.
The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Speedy's first animated appearance was in the Teen Titans segments of the series. In those episodes, Speedy serves in the effective place of Robin.
Justice League Unlimited
Speedy appears in the episode Patriot Act. There, Speedy states that he is Green Arrow's ex-partner when Green Arrow calls him his ex-sidekick. He works alongside Green Arrow,using a special trick arrow called a Quantum Arrow. Visually, he appears to be a slightly older, better built version of his Teen Titans incarnation. This episode paid homage to the golden age Seven Soldiers of Victory as the modern incarnations of the original members were all present.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
Speedy appears in the episode Dawn of the Dead Man and is voiced by Jason Marsden. Batman, as a spirit, possesses Speedy to tell Green Arrow to dig up his grave. While Batman and Deadman deal with Gentleman Ghost, the two archers find his coffin and get the body out. They later fight against Craddock's army of the undead. He has appeared in several episodes since then.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Roy Harper was slated to appear in Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, before it was shelved.
Roy Harper, as Speedy, appears in the premiere episode of Young Justice. He is voiced by
Crispin Freeman. He appears later in the series in his Red Arrow persona, though he never became Arsenal, like he does in the comics. He dislikes being called a sidekick and believes that he and the rest of the sidekicks will be taking their first steps in becoming members of the Justice League and gets angry when their big day turns out to be just 'a glorified backstage pass', ranting against both Aquaman and Green Arrow before angrily quitting his role as Speedy, mocking Aqualad, Kid Flash and Robin as he storms out of the Hall of Justice. He doesn't appear for the rest of the episode.
In a later episode Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad are seen trying to persuade Roy to join Young Justice, and Roy says no, that it is just another way for the Justice League to keep an eye on them, and control them. He appears in another episode, bringing a mission to the Young Justice, involving technology being used by the League of Shadows. Here he confronts Green Arrow's new sidekick, Artemis. He leaves, but at the end of the episode tells Artemis he knows her and Green Arrow saying she is Green Arrow's niece is a lie.
In "Targets" Roy helps thwarts an assassination attempt on Lex Luthor by the assassin Cheshire. After losing her and failing to recapture her he asks Aqualad for assistance. And thus he acknowledges to Aqualad that the team does have his respect and that he will help them whenever necessary. In this episode, Roy seems to be thoroughly intrigued by the mysterious assassin Cheshire.
In the season finale, Red Arrow discovers that he is a clone of the original, and that the real Roy Harper was kidnapped and replaced three years ago. The real Roy (who is missing an arm) is shown being held captive by the members of the Light.
Young Justice: Invasion
Red Arrow foiled a robbery in progress. The grateful shopkeeper offered him a reward, but Red Arrow declined, claiming that his gratitude was reward enough. Unbeknownst to him, Red Arrow had surreptitiously kept a stack of money. This act was witnessed by Green Arrow, who had been looking for his former sidekick.
While returning to his hideout, Red Arrow was confronted by Green Arrow, Black Canary, Nightwing, Wally West, and Jim Harper, the former Guardian. Green Arrow accused him of stealing money from the people he saved, but he countered that searching for Speedy was expensive. Black Canary was aghast at how Red Arrow allowed his previously muscular body and well-honed skills to atrophy, but he brushed off her concerns as well.
The assembled group then attempted to convince Red Arrow to abandon his fruitless search for Speedy. They had searched for years, but finally concluded that the Light didn't keep him alive. Red Arrow would have none of that—he was intent on continuing his search, and suggested that they try to rehabilitate Aqualad instead. He then left for home.
Red Arrow arrived at his derelict hideout, and was accosted by his estranged wife, Cheshire. She wanted him to stop his all-consuming search for Speedy as well. He refused, saying that she lost her right to backseat drive his life when she left him to return to criminal activities.
Cheshire then laid down all her cards. She had given birth to a daughter, Lian Nguyen-Harper, and Roy needed to be a part of her life. He was visibly shocked when she presented the sleeping Lian to him. To help him exorcise Speedy's ghost, Cheshire had called in all her chips. She had a lead—one last chance for Red Arrow to find the original Speedy.
In "True Colors" Roy is now going under the alias Arsenal and is apart of "The Team". He seems to have a slight problem with Nightwing and The League.
Roy Harper appears in the Arrow TV series portrayed by Colton Hayness. He is a teenager from the Glades, the poorest district of Starling City, and is a purse-snatcher who redeems himself and becomes a love interest of Thea Queen. In the episode "Salvation", a lethal vigilante named The Savior is killing victims live on camera feed travelling on an underground Subway train. One of his victims ends up being Roy, who he blames as an example of criminals ruining the Glades. Harper is saved by Arrow, after which he decides his calling is to find the Hood and help him, eventually convincing Thea to help in his search.
Injustice Gods Among Us - Red Arrow appears in Green Arrow's finale where he is being trained on the alternate world by Ollie to protect Star City since their Green Arrow was one of Superman's first victims.
What Creators Think of Roy Harper
"Speedy and Aqualad? Nicest guest stars. I like Speedy/Aqualad because of the limitation of his powers."
"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."
"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."
"Arsenal is a real kick to write. I actually really enjoy 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."
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."