Roy Harper is dead. The hero known as Arsenal was murdered at Sanctuary, the therapy home for superbeings set up by Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Roy’s friends say goodbye to the onetime Speedy, including Bird of the Navajo tribe which raised the future hero after his father was killed.
Oliver Queen can only recall the bad times.
He lashes out at Clark Kent, blaming him for Roy’s death while under his robotic therapists’ care. And he asks a very pertinent question.
Superhero funerals are tough. Not just for the characters, but the readers. How do you get emotionally invested when half of the people there have died and come back? Why is Roy not in a holding facility for folk almost certain to be revived (I hope he at least has a trick arrow with a bell end in that coffin)? How do you make sense of there actually being a funeral right now when there’s a killer out there able to slaughter not just teenage archers, but superhumans? If someone is offing superheroes by the dozen, why stand out in the open with non-powered civilians? Why is only Batman trying to find the killer?
I suspect it’s impossible for anyone who’s been reading comics for a few years to concentrate on the emotional arc of the story when we’ve literally seen it all previously. Writers Julie and Shawna Benson do a fine job with the lemon they’ve been handed – this Heroes in Crisis tie-in interrupts the story they’ve been telling involving a new villain, Citizen – but it’s all so very pointless. This time next year, almost certainly, Roy will be back, hale and hearty (though please God, the stupid backwards baseball cap stays six feet under). Meanwhile, it’s all so very angsty, and sssh, don’t mention that time Ollie came back from Heaven. I look forward to next month, when the Bensons get to put their considerable talents into more fruitful areas.
The art by Illustrator Javier Fernandez and colourist John Kalisz is really lovely. The opening spread of mourners and coffin against majestic mountains is terrific, a serene scene setter, the flashbacks are evocative of Roy’s troubled times while a very nicely written time-out with J’onn J’onzz is a visual palate cleanser. Kalisz’s colours evoke the mood, while Deron Bennett’s letters are as unobtrusive as a good undertaker.
Alex Maleev’s cover and Kaare Andrews’ variant are both excellent, though a shot of Roy as Speedy, Red Arrow or Arsenal would’ve been appropriate.
For what it is, this is a good comic. I just wish it was something else.