According to an article by the Associated Press, today's "Green Arrow" #43 will reveal that Green Arrow's sidekick Mia is struggling with a personal battle against HIV.
The AP notes that this is the first major comic book to deal with the illness, although it's certainly not the first time HIV has been discussed in comics. "Green Arrow" writer Judd Winick's own "Pedro & Me" was a chronicle of his time spent on MTV's "The Real World" in 1993 with Pedro Zamora, who died the next year after a public battle with AIDS. Also, AIDS was found to have infected the titular hero of Jim Valentino's original "Shadowhawk" series and was also dealt with in the memorable "Incredible Hulk" #420.
In the comic coming out today, Mia, who's been in the care of Green Arrow for two years, discovers that the time she spent prior on the streets as a prostitute resulted in her contracting the disease. Winick told the AP that he sees this storyline as a way to explore socially conscious themes, while giving the Mia character extra motivation to do good in the world.
"We've been hinting all along the way that she's interested in taking up the mantle, being a sidekick, getting out there in the streets and helping out," Winick told the AP. "Green Arrow won't hear of it.
"So he allows her to slap on a costume and become his sidekick, which has the silly name of Speedy," Winick continued. "It's not as a death wish, but she can't fool around anymore. This isn't about an abbreviated life span. It is about life having focus."
The original Speedy, now known as Arsenal, had his own demons as well when he battled a drug addiction in early issues of "Green Lantern" co-starring Green Arrow, by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams.
"Mia is coming to terms with it in the way most young people are. It isn't about death and dying. Young people, for good or for bad, are still pretty fearless. With drug combination therapy people are living a very long time," Winick told the AP. "She seems to be unafraid of death, she's mostly feeling like no one is ever going to love her. She's HIV-positive and who's going to want to be with her now?"
The AP also revealed that Mia will soon join the ranks of the "Teen Titans."