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Comic Review: Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal #1 by J. T. Krul and Geraldo Borges

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When I was growing up and the Teen Titans were still a group comprised of sidekicks of the Justice League (Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, then Wonder Girl), Speedy was a frequent guest star and one of my favorite superheroes. I know, I know, the whole trick arrow schtick was really cheesy, but I could become an archer, right? I couldn't grow up to be Superman or the Flash, but I could be Green Arrow, and Speedy was the first rung on that ladder.

Besides, Speedy was cool. The chicks dug him. And he was always pretty laid back while everyone around him got tense. Then in the 1970s, Roy Harper (Speedy) turned to drugs and ended up being the first superhero to have a drug problem. Then he kind of faded out of the limelight again.

Since then, Speedy has grown up, become a father, and a renowned archer and fighter. He dropped the Speedy name and became Arsenal, a one-man army. Lately, he's become known as Red Arrow, basically a red knockoff of Green Arrow.

But trouble has come to Roy's life again, and the first issue in this new four-issue mini-series has serious consequences for him. First off, Prometheus cuts off Roy's right arm. That wouldn't really be a problem because there are so many bionic replacements in the DC Universe. However, he's also infected with some kind of nano-tech virus that won't allow this. At least, not yet.

The hardest blow, though, appears to be the death of Lian, his young daughter. I really liked her and the relationship he had with her, and I thought she fit in well with the rest of the DC Universe. At first I believed that her death was going to be unconfirmed, but the scenes in this issue seem to leave no wiggle room for that.

With the direction DC Comics had taken of late, I thought we'd gotten away from some of the dark storylines. Geoff Johns had been writing comics that elevated the medium again, making it bigger, bolder, and brighter. Hope and heroism were two of the main ingredients.

I have mixed feelings about this new mini-series. J. T. Krul has written a compelling narrative, and Geraldo Borges has created some really good art. But darkness and death weigh really heavy in these pages. Not only has Roy lost so much, but he's pushing everyone away from him as well. I don't know if I'm ready to wallow in so much pain with a hero I grew up with.

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