DCAU - Why were you always so good to us?
Batman Adventures #12 remains one of my all time favourite comics... well, EVER! It moves Nightwing along in the DCAU to the point where he's in Bludhaven... but this isn't the Dixon-angst ridden Nightwing we got in the comics... this is so much more in keeping with Dick Grayson's personality it's untrue. (It's also VASTLY more fun). Ty Templeton writes and Rick Burchett draws
Okay, there's a LOT of arc-plot in this as It's part of a much longer storyarc, involving Penguin becoming Mayor of Gotham, Batman trying to find out HOW, and in a prelude to what Paul Dini did with him OYL, hiring the Riddler as a consulting detective to investigate it using his own... unique skills. This is the only issue Nightwing was a major part of, and indeed, he'd been notable by his absence in this run of the title.... I'm going to be focussing more on the interactions than the plot, so please bear with the ocassional infodump.
So after losing the Gotham election, we find that now ex-Mayor Hamilton Hill retired to the city of Bludhaven, and is shocked when Edward Nygma shows up on his doorstep late one night, with a knife in his back. Nygma collapses from massive bloodloss, muttering something appropriately cryptic; the words "ticket" (He's holding a train ticket to Gotham), "cellar" and "time flies"
The Police show up, and begin the investigation... and then look who shows up!
Note; NO BLOODY PONYTAIL!!! He's still got a bit of a quiff, but the ruddy mullet is GONE! And there was much rejoicing from the masses
See, Nightwing enters the room and the cops start SMILING... they want to shake his hand, put their hand on his shoulder. Men want to be him, women want to be with him... and so do some of the men in all probabiilty...
So they need leads, and have none.. but Nightwing has a plan, and it's here we see the REAL difference between Dick and Bruce's style... first thing he does is....
Batman would never think of that, but the idea of Dick asking for public assistance, and having confidence in the innate desire of people to do "right" works just fine for me. And also that he'd be a natural media hound. The kid was born in the spotlight.
Nightwing decides to visit the travel agent who sold Nyga the ticket... He also takes an un-Batman like approach there, he knocks at the door!
This clearly comes as somthing of a shock to Dick!
Batman has spotted a couple of bulletholes in the wall of the back room and demands (You know, the way Batman does) to know what happened. The terrified agent pulls a gun out, explaining that he was robbed the month before, but is too shaky with it to even hold it steady at Batman...our heroes leave... And Dick is NOT happy.
You tell him Dickie boy! :)
Of course, as it turns out, Batman deduces that the word combo Nygma used was about the "ticket seller", not "ticket, cellar" and time flies is from the Latin "Tempus Fugit" and remember who "Temple Fugate" is in the DCAU? Yup, the travel agent is actually Clock King, the villain who hates Hamilton Hill more than anyone. Batman and Nightwing confront him, but he manages to escape them using a clock with a bomb in it (essentially a time-bomb, geddit?)
They run Fugate's car off the road, but he timed his crash to allow him to jump onto the passing train (A villain who depends on trains being on time? That'd never work in the UK that's for sure). Our heroes arrive as the end of the train is pulling away...
Sigh... Batman, LISTEN to the cute guy in spandex sometimes wouldya?
Fugate starts to stomp on Batman's desperately grasping fingers until.... (Oh, and words cannot express how much I love this next page in it's entirety.
Nightwing saving Batman, Nightwing using his media connections and asking for a favour, and eople being only too happy to do so. Batman saving Fugate, and that puns comment in the last panel gives me the warm fuzzies every time, not even ALFRED could get away with saying "Shush" to Batman in costume.
I'm including this last panel for the cops first line...
"...and your friend here" Ooooh BURN Dark knight, BURN! :)
The two part amicably enough, though Dick is shocked to discover that Nygma was working for Batman. Batman's reply is "I have a different style from you Nightwing"
And so ends this story, which is also, chronologically, the last time Dick Grayson is seen in the DCAU (His mute cameo in JLU to one side) since it's set after the end of New Batman Adventures toon since he's now in Bludhaven.
Dick is never glimpsed in anything related to Batman Beyond (Which is a crying shame) beyond Terry wondering in one panel who "DG" is (He's found the initials in a dinner jacket he's borrowing from Wayne Manor) and Barbara saying that if Terry thinks HE has issues, he should talk to Nightwing.
But anyway, just when I thought that was pretty marvellous, we get the simply fantastic backup story by Dan Slott and Rick Burchett. 9And this si why the above post was cropped so much, as I HAD to include some panels from this.
That first panel is just so damned awesome i want it framed and on my wall. It encapsulates what young Dick Grayson Robin SHOULD be like IMHO!
"Can we keep it?" "NO" - Just awesome....
Dick is a sad little birdboy, and goes to bed early. Alfred feels the time is right to have a little chat with Bruce... He observes that when cleaning Dick's room, he noticed that all the circus posters and memorabilia he had there had been taken down. Bruce explains that for secret identity reasons, he'd thought it best that people not be reminded that Bruce Wayne's ward was a highly trained acrobat. Alfred feels this is a lot for a young boy to give up, and Bruce comments that it's no more than HE'D given up when he was young...
Alfred clearly has "views" on that...
Love little Dick hanging upside down from an outside window ledge to listen surreptitiously...
So when Dick trudges down to the cave the next day, he's stunned to see sitting in the middle of the cave... the dinosaur, all put back together again. Batman never even mentions it., nor does Dick, it's just... there, and what more need be said really? Bat-dad just got his kid the coolest surprise present of all time!
I adore the idea that the trophy room was always intended for Dick's enjoyment, as a means of Batman to show his Robin how much he meant.
Alfred is calling Tim and Babs to come and see Dick off at the bus station, as he's decided to relocate to Bludhaven to be out on his own, and besides, Gotham has a LOT of masked heroes. On that note, Dick knows that Bruce is out protecting the city (and Alfred is proud he understands that), and so doesn't feel too bad that Dad didn't show up to say goodbye, but still... :(
So we cut ahead in time a little....
Sigh... and we didn't get to see Dick coccooned, what a shame.. ;)
So Dick takes his first trophy back to his new base, which built into a mountain overhang on the outskirts of the city (The Night-Eyrie?) to find he's had a visitor...
Sometimes, Batman IS the best Dad in the world, even if he's not always the best at saying it out loud!