Roy Harper Is Still Dead (Sort Of)

The following contains spoilers for Teen Titans Academy #14, on sale now from DC Comics.

While Roy Harper -- former Speedy, former Teen Titan, former Red Arrow -- died in Heroes in Crisis, Infinite Frontier rapidly returned him to the land of the living. Now, he's putting his life back together and is part of Teen Titans Academy as one of its teaching staff.

Things are certainly looking up for him. However, it turns out that while death is easy in the DC Universe, resurrection is not.

The graduation ceremony in Teen Titans Academy #14 (by Tim Sheridan, Tom Derenick, Peter Pantazis, and Rob Leigh) reveals that the school remains named in Roy's honor. When Roy points out that he's alive, Donna Troy indicates that he remains very much deceased, legally speaking. He rolls with the news in classic Harper fashion, delivering a quippy reply. Amusing to him or not, though, it points out there must be several hurdles for resurrected superheroes. At least, from a legal standpoint anyway.

Returning from the dead has always been a tricky business in comics. Batman and Superman both had to deal with their successors after returning from death. For the Dark Knight, two Batmen was only slightly confusing, but, in the case of the Man of Steel, two of his replacements ended up being supervillains. For Roy, his return saw him recruited into the Black Lantern Corps, which also drew him into the latest cosmic conflict at the time.

However, those problems are easy to resolve compared to the ones seen here. This is no mere case of mistaken identity or an incorrectly filled out form. Heroes like Roy were actually dead, with death certificates and everything. Donna mentioned that the Titans had a team of lawyers and that they were the ones who informed her of this fact. However, not everyone has a superteam's super team of lawyers.

When Roy returned, he was on his own. Considering most heroes return thanks to cosmic coincidence, many likely would be as well. This makes it even harder to have oneself legal status as deceased undone. Some may find it so complex that they choose to start an entirely new life. However, even that is extremely complicated (and legally dubious).

Even if Roy, and resurrected heroes like him, are re-declared as living in the eyes of the law, there are still plenty of other bureaucratic nightmares to endure. Bank accounts, social security numbers, and taxes become more complex than they already are. All need reinstatement in some way. Then, of course, there's the matter of a last will and testimony. If the person's estate has already been divided up in accordance with that will, what happens upon resurrection? It might take any number of legal battles to reclaim their possessions. Until that happens, they have nothing in this world.

Considering the cycle of death and rebirth is becoming an all too common occurrence in comics (just look at "Death of the Justice League"), its legal issues have become more critical. Before, it was only the rare case where someone who was declared dead returned. Now, it's happening all the time. Soon there will be a backlog of superheroes trying to get their death certificates revoked so that they can reclaim their lives. If the legal system of the DC Universe doesn't come up with a solution quickly, they'll be overwhelmed by the time the Justice League returns.

Green Arrow jumps over a dark cloudy sky
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