Green Arrow and Black Canary have tried to face the Citizen head on as they kill Seattle’s 1%. Unfortunately they have failed at every turn, though Green Arrow was able to save the Citizen’s recent target. Even with that Green Arrow still has not save himself as Oliver Queen is still a target of the Citizen’s greater plans. While that is still going on Green Arrow and Black Canary must face the recent events that took place in Heroes in Crisis, where Arsenal (Roy Harper) was killed. How will Green Arrow and Black Canary deal with the death of Roy Harper? Let’s find out with Green Arrow #45.
Writers: Julie Benson and Shawna Benson
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At Roy Harper’s funeral Bird (Roy’s brother from the Spokane Indian Reservation Roy was adopted into) gives the eulogy, speaking on what Roy meant to him.
As everyone in attendance can’t hold back their sadness Oliver can’t stop thinking how he wishes this was just a bad nightmare. He thinks about how he promised to call Roy a few days ago but never did.
Bird finishes his speech and hands things over to Diana Prince (Wonder Woman). Diana talks about how Roy was a fighter and how he had strength to ask for help.
Hearing this Oliver thinks back on how he was so focused on the Citizen crisis that he didn’t listen to when Roy said his problems and going to Sanctuary to deal with them.
Thinking how Sanctuary was supposed to be a recovery center set up by the Justice League he gets mad when he spots Clark Kent (Superman) speaking with Diana after her speech. Oliver punches Clark and blames him for Roy’s death.
Diana stops Oliver from starting a fight as all their friends are grieving around them. Oliver questions if they are friends where Bruce Wayne is. Clark and Diana state that Bruce is looking for Roy’s killer.
Oliver then pleads with Hal Jordan (Green Lantern) to use his ring to bring Roy back. Hal says his ring doesn’t work that way. Oliver then calls the Justice League a joke as they couldn’t even bother to protect Roy.
As he is about to reveal he has ways to take down every Justice League member Martian Manhunter mentally tells him not to continue talking. Martian Manhunter tells Oliver he isn’t thinking clearly. Oliver says he is and that Martian Manhunter gave him the box to stop the Justice League if they ever got out of bounds, which Roy being killed is an example of. Martian Manhunter says they tried to help him at Sanctuary. Oliver breaks down when he says he loved Roy and would give everything up to have Roy back alive. Martian Manhunter tells Oliver that he understands and that he must let people grieve for Roy’s passing in peace.
Back in the physical realm Donna Troy is the next one to speak. Donna talks about how Roy would’ve taken a bullet for anyone and how the Titans were like a family to him, something he wanted but never had. She goes on to say how Roy was reckless but that is why she liked him as he always had everyone’s back, including her when her life went off the rails.
When Donna goes on to talk about the demons Roy fought Oliver is reminded of when he first met and started training Roy. At the time when Roy left Oliver saw him as a ungrateful and headstrong.
Oliver decides to sit down on the cliff to collect his thoughts. He is approached by Annie who met Roy during his drug recovery. Annie reveals that Roy was the one who convinced her to become sober as he understood where she was coming from and listened to her. Oliver jokes that Roy must be laughing about how high up they had to climb to get to where they are. Annie reveals that they are actually in the spot Roy decided to become sober. Annie calls Roy a superhero for how he tackled his problems and saved her life.
Annie rejoins the everyone else. Dinah approaches Oliver to talk. Oliver breaks down again as he admits Roy is gone and there is nothing he can do. Dinah says she misses Roy to but that today is a day to remember the good times. Oliver admits that only the bad times keep coming to his mind.
Oliver than thinks back to when he and Hal searched everywhere when Roy disappeared only to find Roy hurting himself with drugs. At the time Oliver lashed out on Roy because he was disappointed in both of them. Thinking about it now he understands that what Roy needed was a father instead of a friend or boss.
Oliver gets up to talk next. After saying he’ll see Roy on the other side Oliver apologizes for not being the man Roy needed him to be. He tells Roy he loves him and says good-bye.
As Roy is laid to rest Oliver walks away and how he is going to work on not disappointing Roy again, motivating him more to get back to “work.” End of issue.
The Good: With every great comic book run there is always a turning point issue that creates complete confidence in fans mind that they are in store for something special. Green Arrow #45 is exactly that issue for Julie Benson and Shawna Benson’s run on Green Arrow. Even with the Roy Harper’s death taking place over in Heroes In Crisis the Benson sisters use this to showcase their complete understanding of who Oliver Queen is. In doing so they create excitement for the direction they plan to take Green Arrow on.
Since Oliver Queen and Roy Harper had their failing out decades ago after the latter’s drug addiction the relationship has never been the same. Ever since that failing out Oliver and Roy’s relationship has been rocky at best. Julie and Shawna Benson identify this and do not run away from this status quo from the former mentor and protege.
What was particularly excellent about the way the Bensons explored both Oliver and Roy’s characters was the fact that they dealt with the strengths and faults of both of them. It’s those characteristics that made their mentor/protege dynamic different from the likes of Batman and Robin. Even though they worked effectively at first as Green Arrow and Speedy, their mindsets at the time made them clash because they could not identify each others strengths and weaknesses.
Having Roy’s death be a giant eye opener for Oliver was a great way to use what happened in Heroes in Crisis to make Green Arrow a stronger series. Throughout his own spiritual journey during the Roy’s funeral we saw Oliver go through many ups and downs. Everything about Oliver’s character arc in Green Arrow #45 was a building block for Oliver to identify what he did wrong. In doing so we got to see Oliver finally realize what Roy needed was a father not a mentor or friend.
In having Oliver go through this character arc the Bensons were able to further build off what happened in Heroes in Crisis by making the Justice League play a key part of Green Arrow #45. With how our first official visit to Heroes in Crisis showed a massive tragedy with many deaths, that included Roy’s, Oliver punching Superman was one of the outcomes you would expect. Not only was this expected but Oliver’s words to both Superman and Wonder Woman is the reality check both characters needed. Through what Oliver said about them and the rest of the Justice League, they were brought down to Earth as they needed to realize how much they failed everyone.
Oliver pleading with Hal Jordan was particularly a tough thing to watch. The Bensons hit the right note with this that brought back the fact that Oliver and Hal are best friends. This is something that hasn’t been explored since the New 52 reboot. Though it hasn’t been revisited before this issue the Bensons quickly re-established their friendship through the flashback scenes. Having this re-established during the course of the story made Green Arrow #45 an even better issue when re-reading it.
That all led to an even stronger scene with Martian Manhunter. Through this scene we finally got to learn the connection between the two and what the boxes Green Arrow has. Along with that we also got to see Martian Manhunter have his most human scene as he gave Oliver a much needed reality check. Even though it led to one of Oliver’s breakdowns it was one he needed to understand everyone at the funeral was mourning together because they loved Roy.
Oliver’s character arc in Green Arrow #45 made the exploration of Roy Harper’s character event stronger. Of all of DC Comics’ character Roy was one of the most flawed. Roy went through so much during his life, from being a superhero and Teen Titan to being a drug addict to a hero who got redemption. All those ups and downs, as Donna Troy explained, made Roy stand out even amongst a class that included Dick Grayson and Wally West.
Bringing in characters from Roy’s life that were outside his adventures as Speedy and Arsenal was a great move by the Bensons. The speech from Roy’s adopted brother Bird was a great way to show how none of Roy’s relationships were perfect. Even when they weren’t perfect or Roy lost touch with those close to him they all loved him.
That fed in well with what Annie told Oliver in their scene together. Through Annie we got to see how Roy’s entire character arc was about him searching for a family. Whether it was with Oliver, the Titans, Outlaws or people like him Roy was searching for connections that could lead him to a family he never had. While Roy did help people like Annie he was still searching and his own character flaws kept him from achieving that in the long-term.
Through all of this the Bensons never used Roy’s history to paint him as a bad guy, he was just extremely flawed. All of the experiences that Roy went through built him to be someone that had many people that love and supported him. Even when he pushed them away Roy always had people that wanted to watch his back. Seeing the people that attended his funeral showed that impact Roy made in everyone’s life.
While she didn’t play a major role the Bensons did a good job with having Black Canary their to be supportive figure for Oliver. The Bensons continue to portray Dinah as that constant that Oliver needs to keep his head above ground. Small acts like Dinah being supportive when Oliver needs it makes their relationship even stronger and gets readers behind them as a couple.
Javier Fernandez continues to provide strong, grounded artwork that fits well with a series like Green Arrow. While not always perfect Fernandez did a great job bringing out all the emotions that Oliver Queen and all the characters at Roy’s funeral were going through. The flashback scenes in particular are made even better with how Fernandez draws all the different periods in Roy Harper’s life.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Green Arrow #45 is a must read comic. Whether you are a Green Arrow fan or just reading Heroes In Crisis this comic is required reading. That is all thanks to the excellent job Julie Benson and Shawna Benson do in exploring the impact of Roy Harper’s death. That impact created a phenomenal character arc for Oliver Queen that included key scenes with the Justice League. If you are reading Heroes In Crisis make sure you pick up Green Arrow #45. You won’t be disappointed.