Saturday, February 26, 2005

NIGHTWING #104

Once more (with feeling) to celebrate the new site. And besides, I let you off easy last issue:

My problem with this story arc can be boiled down to my paraphrasing a pal: "I got as far as 'Kory Who?' and then went blind." As I've been saying from the first issue of this retcon, this isn't the DCU's Dick Grayson. It's the Dini/Timm version and it exists only within the context of Batman's Gotham -- sure, they can put in a panel of Donna with Terra and Gar in the background or have him visit Metropolis, but this isn't a Dick truly touched by the world outside of Gotham City.

While it is ridiculous to assume that the Marv Wolfman/George Perez version of Dick Grayson, the one they had to fight to mature past perpetual boyhood, could stand as the definitive one forever -- certainly not in a universe where Bruce Wayne can never age -- it is similarly ridiculous to replace a wonderfully organic (and still functional) history with an inferior one simply because the option was available. "It was there" works for mountain climbing, not here. We are halfway through this Nightwing: Year One story and I have yet to see a stronger reason for its existence than "Chuck Dixon was bored and Devin Grayson was busy".

Think I'm being unnecessarily fangirlish? I'm not the only one who isn't ready to throw in the Wolfman/Perez history. By presenting a history that is nothing more than a retroactive backstory for his own run on Nightwing, Dixon is, unsurprisingly, working at cross-purposes with the rest of the DCU. While Geoff Johns, Judd Winick, Brad Meltzer and others are using Koriand'r's history with Dick (in Teen Titans, Outsiders, and Identity Crisis respectively), Dixon is obliterating it. Kory is reduced to the status of glorified fling in this issue, someone not important enough to Dick that he can't try to put the moves on Barbara Gordon in an unsubtle bit of sledgehammer foreshadowing for the Dick/Babs 'shippers. Forget that Kory was arguably the most important influence in Dick's life as he transitioned from Robin to Nightwing -- Dixon assures us that she barely registers to Our Hero by having it be Babs who keeps the future Twu Wuv romance on ice. The world outside of Gotham is irrelevant here -- just as it is in the animated series.

Now, as for the actual events of the issue... I'm not quite sure what Dick hoped to accomplish by his little tour of Gotham. I know the stated premise, but his introducing himself around with the "Hi, I'm Robin in different clothes" spiel is perhaps not how I'd go about making an independent stand and getting out from under Batman's shadow. Breaking in to Arkham, blindsiding Jim Gordon... whatever. It's been par for the course for this very shallow, action-junkie Dick -- shoot first, think later -- and I suppose nothing else should be expected. It certainly sets up the later Dixon routine of Nightwing being a flexible, affable idiot and Oracle doing all of his thinking for him. And we're all about the presaging here.

Next issue, Jason and Dick meet. Woo.

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