Speedy: Who is The Living Arsenal?

Three Identities, One Hero

Lex Luthor: “We have confirmation. This one’s Green Arrow’s pal, Speedy.
Speedy: “It’s Red Arrow now.

Young Justice “Targets” (Season 1, Episode 10)

An army of robots is attacking a city. Police and superheroes are fighting them off, but they can’t be everywhere at once. A squadron descends on a field hospital and slaughters the guards. The lead robot aims his gun at the patients.

An arrow pierces the robot’s head before it can fire. A quiet ticking is the only warning before the arrow explodes, taking the robot with it. Three more explosive arrows scatter the squadron. A red-garbed archer jumps onto one of the robots and fires a volley of electric arrows to short-circuit the attackers. As the last bot falls, Speedy refills his quiver and rushes into the fray.

Speedy is one of DC’s longest serving sidekicks. He’s fought alongside Green Arrow, the Teen Titans, The Outlaws, and even the Justice League. So who is he? How did he become a superhero? Let’s find out.

Titanic Archer: Speedy’s Backstory

Green Arrow: “You wanted Superman? Now you’ve got–[Speedy and Crimson Avenger teleport in]– The Crimson Avenger and my ex-sidekick.
Speedy: “Ex-partner.”
Green Arrow: “Speedy, we gotta do this now?

Justice League: Unlimited “Patriot Act” (Season 3, Episode 7)

Speedy debuted in More Fun Comics #73 in 1941. He was created by Mort Wessinger and George Papp.

Roy Harper Jr. was the son of a forest ranger. Roy’s father died saving a Navajo medicine man named Brave Bow from a wildfire. To repay Ranger Harper, Brave Bow raised Roy as a member of his tribe. Under Brave Bow’s tutelage, Roy became an Olympic-level archer.

Time passed, and Brave Bow developed cancer. He advised Roy to seek out Green Arrow, knowing that he could become a hero under the superhero’s tutelage. Roy impressed him by taking down two criminals before GA could don his costume. Green Arrow decided to adopt Roy as his ward and gave him the codename Speedy.

Early in his career, Speedy fought a villain alongside Robin and Aqualad. This team-up inspired the creation of the Teen Titans. Speedy was not one of the founding members, but he was the first new hero to join the team. He also began dating Wonder Girl.

The Speedy and Green Arrow team were unstoppable, but they grew distant because Green Arrow began focusing on work with the Justice League. Speedy turned to heroin to cope with his loneliness. Green Arrow was disgusted by Speedy becoming a junkie and kicked him out. Luckily, Black Canary found Speedy and helped him through withdrawal.

Broken Arrow: Speedy’s History

Red Arrow:Should I be concerned over the obvious delight our daughter takes in the ultra-violence?
Cheshire:It’s genetic.
Red Arrow:Great.

Young Justice “Bloodlines” (Season 2, Episode 6)

Speedy had to find new work after Green Arrow fired him. He joined the DEA to help other addicts and began hunting down drug kingpins. While on a mission to Japan, he fell in love with an assassin called Cheshire. 

Speedy and Cheshire’s fling led to the birth of their daughter, Lian. Cheshire’s assassin lifestyle meant she couldn’t raise Lian so Speedy raised her as a single father. The experience helped him mature, and he reconnected with Green Arrow. As a symbol of his newfound responsibility, Speedy took the name Red Arrow.

Writers dealt Red Arrow a poor hand in the miniseries Cry For Justice. He was attacked by a villain called Prometheus, who cut off his arm after a brutal fight. Even worse, Prometheus blew up several cities, including Red Arrow’s hometown of Star City. Lian was killed in the explosion.

Rise of Arsenal: Speedy’s Modern Stories

Arsenal: “Gotta love modern weapons tech. Easier for a one-armed man to fire a missile launcher than pull on his pants

Young Justice “Satisfaction” (Season 2, Episode 8)

Losing Lian broke Roy. He fell off the wagon and lashed out at his friends and family. Cyborg created a prosthetic arm for him, but complications caused Roy to feel constant phantom limb pain. Roy became a murderous vigilante calling himself Arsenal.

Cheshire manipulated Arsenal into joining a new incarnation of The Titans led by Deathstroke the Terminator. Arsenal planned to assassinate Deathstroke, but was kept in line by a mind-control drug Deathstroke had slipped him. Roy managed to get clean, defeated Deathstroke’s Titans, and formed a new version of The Titans to atone for his actions as Arsenal.

Fate smiled on Roy in the series Convergence. A villain called Dreamslayer offered to resurrect Lian if he betrayed the Titans. With their help, Roy double-crossed Dreamslayer and Lian was resurrected.

Walking Armory: Speedy’s Powers and Personality

Arsenal: “I love them so much. Always have… I just took it for granted… for so long. They gave me a home and family and friendship. They made me want to be a better man. [hugs Lian] And now they’ve given me the greatest gift of all.

Convergence: Titans

There’s a reason that Speedy’s third identity was called Arsenal. He’s trained to use a variety of weapons, including guns, knives, swords, and his trusty bow. His prosthetic arm strikes with superhuman strength and contains a hidden machine gun.

Speedy is an expertly trained martial artist who specializes in Mugi Gong, a subset of the Korean Hwa Rang Do that teaches practitioners how to use 108 different weapons. This lets Speedy create improvised weapons and predict his opponents’ actions.

Speedy began as a brash teenager. His experiences with drug abuse and fatherhood caused him to mature into a reasonable and empathetic adult. His childhood created a deep connection with Navajo culture. As an adult, he participated in a ceremony to be accepted into the tribe.

The Actors Who Play Speedy

Pat Harrington Jr. – The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure
Mike Erwin – Teen Titans, Justice League: Unlimited
Jason Marsden – Batman: the Brave and the Bold
Crispin Freeman – Young Justice, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Scott Menville – Teen Titans Go!
Colton Haynes – Arrow

Didya get all that?

An archer with an arsenal in his back pocket.

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