Roy William Harper Jr. (Speedy)

Roy HarperIn Arrow episode Dodger, another very important character from Green Arrow‘s mythology has been introduced: Roy Harper, portrayed by Colton Haynes. Listening to production notes, he’ll become a love interest for Oliver Queen‘s sister, Thea, but, at the moment, he started off as a purse-snatcher from the Glades, who got arrested after stealing Thea’s purse. The tv show version has him as an unwilling thief, who tries to survive on the streets after his mother became catatonic because of a Vertigo overdose. In the comics, his story is completely different, and he’s been close to Oliver Queen since the very beginning of his superhero career.

Just as with his mentor Green Arrow, also Roy Harper’s story has been changed during the years. In the first version, Roy’s parents got killed in a plane accident, and, still a child, he found himself alone in Lost Mesa, an isolated and secret location in Arizona desert. In here, young Roy became friends with Quoag, a local, who taught him how to hunt for survival. When some robbers arrived in the Mesa in search of a hidden treasure, Quoag was killed, and Roy was alone once again. He allied himself with famous archaeologist Oliver Queen, who had followed the robbers from Star City, since they tried to steal from his museum too. The two archers, together, defeated the bandits, and Queen adopted Harper; when Queen became superhero Green Arrow, Roy followed him as his sidekick Speedy. However, his origin story was retold, and changed quite a bit. In the new version, Roy was the son of Roy Harper Sr., a forest ranger. He never knew his mother, who died soon after he was born (he never knew even her name). Roy Sr. tried to raise his son on his own, but after two years he died in a fire, while saving some inhabitants of a Navajo reservation from the burning forest. The tribe, named Tachini, was ruled by wise Chief Thunderhead, who felt that the tribe had a great debt speedycomics1towards Harper. Little Roy was then “adopted” by Brave Bold, the Tachini’s best huntsman, a great warrior and a wise shaman, who took the boy with himself and taught him the way of the bow. Little Roy grew up following the moral code of the Navajos, and learnt from Brave Bold many fighting and hunting skills, along with a great respect for every living creature. The shaman saw in the boy a great unborn talent for archery, and trained him intensively, until Roy became even a better archer than his own mentor. Soon, Brave Bold understood that Roy needed a wider world than the one provided by the reservation, and, because of a failing health, he started searching for someone who could have taken care of Roy after his death. When the superhero Green Arrow made his debut, and Roy started to worship the hero as his role model, the answer was rapidly found.

Brave Bow organized an archery contest in the reservation, and invited Green Arrow as a judge. The hero gladly accepted the offer, and Roy, in presence of his hero, tried his best to impress him, clearly succeeding in doing so. Unfortunately, one of his rivals gave Roy a magnetic arrow for his last shot, and he missed the target, thus losing the contest. In that very moment, anyway, a robbery occured, and Roy, with an extremely fast movement, drew an arrow and used it to stop the thief. Green Arrow was very impressed and praised the lad for being “speedier” than him. Talking with Brave Bow, he offered to take Roy as his ward, and both the shaman and the boy happily accepted. In public, Roy Harper was just a young boy who received the attentions of the philantropist and benefactor Oliver Queen; secretely, the hero Green Arrow was training him to become his sidekick and fellow crime-fighter, nicknamed Speedy as an everlasting praise to that first arrow that impressed the hero. Roy received his own costume, red and yellow, and started helping Green Arrow in his “missions” the very moment Queen decided he was ready. When Brave Bow speedycomics2ultimately died, Oliver became the only father figure in Roy’s life, and this strenghtened their bond. As Speedy, Roy followed Green Arrow wherever he went, and the two formed an inseparable crime-fighting couple. When Green Arrow became a member of the Justice League of America, Speedy, along with other sidekicks (Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl) founded the Teen Titans, a group of teenager superheroes. After many years of adventures, during which Roy also started a semi-serious relation with Wonder Girl, Roy went through a great crisis: his team disbanded, and Oliver, in a crisis of his own, lost almost all his fortune and began an on-the-road life with his friend Hal Jordan aka Green Lantern and his girlfriend Dinah Lance aka Black Canary. Left alone, feeling abandoned, Roy developed a heroine addiction, and his condition worsened when Oliver, who learnt about his problem, instead of helping him, punched him in the face and kicked him out of his house, leaving him homeless and alone. Roy managed to overtake his problems thanks to the help of Black Canary, Hal Jordan and many others, and started a solo career as Speedy, while helping other drug-addicted teenagers as a counselor as Roy Harper. His life became a continuous effort to prove his strength to his estranged “father” Oliver Queen, even if the fracture the latter had caused was seemingly unreparable.

Roy Harper is an enthusiastic and passionate boy, always trying to prove himself and to gain the attention of many father figures, first of all Oliver Queen. He’s deeply insecure, and, since his father died when he was a child, he suffers from an abandon complex: feeling alone is something that brings him to deep depression, with catastrophic results. As Speedy, he’s one of the world’s best archers, with his skills surpassed only by his mentor’s ones. He’s also an extremely proficient martial artist, mastering Moo Gi Gong, a special martial art that allows a warrior to use any object as an effective weapon. He’s also a good detective and a master strategist. Speedy always pushes himself to his limit, in the hope of earning, once again, Green Arrow’s respect.

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8 Comments

  1. […] one actually), and has chosen a battle name that diversifies him from his mentor more. So, after Speedy and the Red Arrow, we’re at the third and last costumed identity of Roy: let’s see […]

  2. […] Arrow kicked his friend and protegee Speedy out of the team upon his discovery of his heroin addiction, Roy ended up abandoning also the Teen […]

  3. […] of Starling City, the vengeful woman known as The Canary. Following The Arrow‘s orders, Roy Harper follows Sin until she leads him to her friend, even if that proves to be not such a smart idea for […]

  4. […] are a clear reference to two characters who took the mantle of Green Arrow‘s sidekick: Roy Harper and Mia Dearden. The last one already made her live action debut in Smallville, where she […]

  5. […] have protected his city and the entire world. In the years, Oliver took a young boy as apprentice, Roy Harper, an orphan who would have become his sidekick Speedy and his adoptive son. He also entered […]

  6. […] ally to the Arrow Family, especially to his former enemy Green Arrow himself, and his sidekick Speedy, an identity used, at that time, by young Roy Harper. When Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, had a […]

  7. […] a high-school friend of Robin; the other one was the costume of Golden Age hero Guardian, Speedy‘s grandfather, along with his indestructible shield. Wearing the Man-Amplifier under the […]

  8. […] people, so that nobody would experience her same pain: along with other teenager heroes, Robin, Speedy and Aqualad, she founded the Teen Titans, a “junior Justice League“, thus […]


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