DC Admits a Classic Hero Romance Was Actually Messed Up

Contains spoilers for The Other History of the DC Universe #5. 

DC has admitted that the relationship between Roy Harper - aka Arsenal - and Grace Choi was unhealthy. One of the signature young hero romances, Grace and Roy have been depicted as a couple in many comics. However, a new comic is shedding some light on their relationship and putting it into a fresh perspective.

In The Other History of the DC Universe, writer John Ridley explores facets of the DC Universe which have previously either been brushed over or not touched on at all. In the fifth issue of Ridley's proudest work, with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, he focuses on Thunder, the daughter of Black Lightning, as she explores her future as a hero, her relationship with her father, and what it means to be herself. As Thunder transitions onto the Outsiders team and forms bonds with them, readers get a glimpse into what she thinks of each member of the team. One revelation, in particular, is how Thunder feels about Grace Choi - and, most importantly, her relationship with Roy Harper.

Related: The Other History of the DC Universe Revisits 80's Black Lightning

Thunder's narration reveals that the relationship is not what the outside sees. While many characters view Grace's sexuality as being casual, Thunder's internal monologue reveals this is far from the case. She describes it as being a way for Grace to undo the abuse that she endured. "It was an effort at undoing a lot of deep-seated complications. She needed it. Roy wanted it." This was one of the ways that Grace sought closure, much like fighting the child sex-trafficking ring served as closure for her as well. However, with the knowledge that Grace needed to have sex in order to take control, her relationship with Roy takes on a different light: one where, perhaps, Roy doesn't actually respect Grace, but sees her as a way to get what he wants.

Because this story is being told from Thunder's perspective, though, it's not a purely objective look at the relationship. Thunder reveals that she does have feelings for Grace and so, her belief that Grace "could do better. I mean, I could just see her with someone...better" is pretty telling that her views on this relationship might be tainted by her own feelings for one of the participants. Still, this is not the first time that The Other History of the DC Universe has called a previously "okay" relationship into question - in issue 3, the relationship between Tara and Slade Wilson is called into question.

Comic characters - especially those who have been around a long time - will have things in their past that are not okay. The series takes a more critical look at the topics of race, gender, sexuality, and consent through the eyes of this medium with familiar characters. These characters are complex - and characters like Roy and Grace are no exception. It's a refreshing take on the DC Universe, allowing readers to see characters and past situations (like Batman's formation of the Outsiders) in a new light - and that light isn't always necessarily positive.

The Other History of the DC Universe #5 is available now.

More: Arrow: 10 Best Roy Harper/Arsenal Moments In The Series

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