DC Finally Confirms Green Arrow Could Have Prevented His Greatest Tragedy

Warning: Spoilers for Saved by the Belle Reve #1 ahead!

Out of all the chapters in Green Arrow's history, losing his sidekick Speedy to heroin addiction is one of the darkest - and a recent revelation only compounds that tragedy. In one of DC's anthologies, Saved By the Belle Reve (2022), there is a story that reveals just how early in their relationship that the rift between Oliver Queen and Roy Harper developed. This break between the two would become not only Green Arrow's greatest tragedy, but his greatest failure as a father figure as well.


Saved by the Belle Reve is a collection of school-themed DC stories, featuring such tales as what happens when the Suicide Squad pose as teachers at a prestigious university, or teasing Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson's relationship by showing what happened on their prom night. Green Arrow's story deals with the difficulty Speedy has in school, struggling to balance his academics with a burgeoning and much more interesting career in costumed vigilantism. Here, the character flaws and friction between Oliver and his mentee are on full display.

Related: Even Batman Can’t Believe How Badly Green Arrow Stole From Him

The main thrust of Dave Wielgosz, Mike Norton, Allen Passalaqua, Steve Wands and Ben Meares' Earn it Back is how Green Arrow's attempts at keeping Roy under control only push him further away. His first response is to bench Roy from hero work entirely until his grades improve, even going so far as to chase away the Titans when they try to visit him; but this only drives Roy, DC’s best sidekick, to start skipping school. It's only after the school's guidance counselor calls Oliver out for overcorrecting into authoritarian behavior that he is able to take Roy out for a heart-to-heart, explain his fears and concerns, and finally earn back the trust of his ward.

Green Arrow Is a Bad Parent

The tragedy is that Green Arrow and Roy continue to repeat this pattern of behavior, all the way until it breaks them. In his fear that Roy will squander his opportunities, Green Arrow acts to restrict Roy and keep him under his thumb; in response, Roy rebels in increasingly destructive ways to assert his own freedom, ultimately resulting in his heroin addiction. His actions during Earn it Back proves that Green Arrow is ultimately aware of how his disciplinarian tendencies affect Roy; in the end, his fear for Roy's future results in him being unable to give his ward the autonomy he needs and so Green Arrow’s sidekick heads down a dark path.

It is rarely easy for superheroes to balance their responsibilities as heroes while being properly supportive parents. Green Arrow ultimately could not give his ward the support he needed, and Roy still bears deep scars from his addiction and fall from grace. If Green Arrow had only listened, the tragedy of Speedy could very well have been prevented.

Saved By the Belle Reve #1 is now available from DC Comics.