The original Roy Harper returns to headline this Convergence tie-in, alongside fellow Titans Starfire and Donna Troy, and this longstanding Harper fan is here to break it down for you. (Be warned, many spoilers follow within.)
Before I begin, let me just say that Roy Harper is my absolute favorite comic book character of all time, and that if there is anyone who could possibly challenge him on that front, it would only be his daughter, Lian. As such, when I saw the cover for this issue a few months back, I was almost brought to tears, and even exclaimed to many of my friends that it was already better than anything else published by DC Comics since the New 52 reboot hit in 2011. Clearly, I am extremely biased, and that will be reflected in my primary focus on Roy in this break down, but as the issue also mainly focused on him, I don’t think that’s too much of a bad thing.
Now just to catch up those less familiar with the ground work here, or for those who may need a reminder, Roy was caught up as a victim in a massive attack against the Justice League which left him maimed and his daughter murdered. This resulted in him acquiring a mechanical arm to replace that which had been lost, and going a bit mental as he relapsed into his drug usage, becoming a drug addled Punisher-esque anti-hero that stood against the Justice League (then lead by Dick Grayson as Batman, and encompassing many former Titans within its ranks). But over the course of the last pre-Flashpoint Titans ongoing, he did eventually find his way back to being a hero, turning on Deathstroke, and teaming with a revived Jericho to bring the Titans name back to something worth respecting in the hero community. Sadly, most of the set up from that final story has been lost here.
The issue opens up with a quick recap of Roy’s life (and ends with a slightly more detailed one for those completely unaware of his pre-Flashpoint characterization), and quickly establishes that he went down a bad road, but had refocused himself to be something better. Which yeah, he did, as mentioned above, but what about Jericho? There is literally no mention of him throughout the entire comic, and so right away the whole thing being a continuation of sorts is thrown away. But that’s just one of several inconsistencies presented here.
Another is within the early recap, itself, where we see Roy watching as Lian dies in the rubble. Now, yeah, clearly Roy is having a nightmare here, so its not necessarily an intentional misrepresentation, and given the more in depth recap at the end, I’m sure the writer knew what really happened, but for less informed readers, this could be extremely misleading, though it does work sensibly as a nightmarish image, so I can’t complain about it too much. What I can complain about is the New 52 Roy getting a frame, because even as a nightmare (which the New 52 is to many fans like me), this Roy shouldn’t have that image in his head.
Furthermore, a much more glaring inconsistency is Roy’s usage of a bow. Yes, he has always primarily been a bowman, but it was made very clear in the Rise of Arsenal mini-series after he lost his arm that Roy could no longer use a bow because he could not feel the draw with his mechanical replacement, which resulted in his arrows either falling short, or massively over shooting his target, and ultimately resulted in him snapping his bow in half. And yet here he is, mechanical arm and all, running with his bow. Now, I suppose the argument could be made that he has spent at least a year sober by this point, which could have potentially given him enough time to calmly practice, and relearn how to sense the draw, but given the lack of mention whilst he goes over other things he did during the year just makes that seem unlikely to me. Sadly, this feels much more like an oversight on the part of the writer and/or illustrator, and its made all the more awkward by the fact that he only uses it briefly before putting it aside to utilize his arm canon, instead. Which, another thing… he didn’t even have an arm canon in the comics originally. That was an addition given to him in the Young Justice cartoon, but I digress.
Meticulous fanboy complaints aside, the issue was actually pretty decent. It doesn’t have much of a story to tell, really, but it being told from Roy’s perspective gives it some emotional validity as we see him post recovery, dealing with the death of his daughter. Often times, the issue felt as a call back to all the times where he thought of Lian before himself, and how he continued to be what he was because she needed him to be. To me, it felt strongly connected to one issue from the last pre-Flashpoint run, in particular, where Roy has a near death experience, and begins to worry about what would happen to Lian if he were to die in the field, except here it was reversed, as she was dead and he was dealing with it.
But with the turmoil of the Convergence event at hand comes the only thing that could really destroy him at this point. The prospect of having her back. Teaming with Donna and Starfire to battle for their city, one of their opponents offers him a reunion. Seemingly pulled from another space and time before she died, Lian is presented to Roy as a potential reward for turning on his fellow Titans. This is a prospect he had been offered before by Deathstroke (albeit under vastly different circumstances), and one that he had ultimately turned down, feeling in that moment that Lian needed to be allowed to rest in peace rather than be forcibly resurrected as Jericho was. But here it was quite different. Here her resurrection wasn’t required. Here she was already alive. Here she was crying out to him for help.
I’ve got to be honest. This choked me up. I could actually feel the tears pooling in my eyes. This comic, for all its off putting inconsistencies that were impossible for a Harper centric Arrow fan like myself to even attempt to ignore, was impacting me emotionally, even if just within its final few pages. My hand literally lifted to cover my mouth as my jaw gaped at what I was seeing. Roy receiving this offer, seeing his daughter alive, and making a drastic decision characteristically unheroic, yet something I couldn’t help but agree with.
Having to turn on his friends to save his daughter is a horrible situation to be in, and I like both Donna and Starfire quite a bit, but I couldn’t help but agree with his decision as the book ended. What a cliffhanger!
I’ve spent the last three and a half years yearning for a return to this Roy’s stories. Wanting to see the further adventures he would see as a hero once again. And while this book was in no way what I wanted to see, nor was it remotely as consistent with what had come before as I had expected, it was still largely a nice return to my favorite character, even as it brought me emotional distress.
I know its weird to be so emotionally invested in a comic book, especially an iteration of a character long since removed from his primary publishing form, but sometimes that is what it is to be a fan. We can’t always decide how we feel about something, and even when we’re given something so massively flawed, as long as it holds the heart of what we cared for so greatly, it will still manage to strike us well.
Ultimately, I found the issue to be of great enjoyment, and I quite look forward to the conclusion of this two part tie-in next month. For all its flaws, it is still a fairly nice look at what once was, even if its not half of what it could have been. But these are just my thoughts on it all… how did the issue make you feel?
Let me know in the comments below, and lets discuss your thoughts.