Friday, January 25, 2013

Nightwing #16

Dick puts the "muse" in adult entertainment.

In this issue, Nightwing confronts the Joker in amusement mile and ends up captured and at the Joker's mercy as the Joker teases him with a glimpse of what is under the cover of his serving tray.
That's also what happens in Red Hood but change out the hero's name and the location. That's also what happens in Teen Titans but change out the hero's name and the location again. So that's three comic books I don't even need to comment on since they're all running the same formulaic plot simply to get all of the Bat-family to The Joker's party in Batman #17.

What am I going to do with all of this free time now that I've done three commentaries in two paragraphs? Maybe I'll put on some pants and go outside!

Ugh. No. I think I'll just stay inside and read comic books.

The introduction to Nightwing sounds ominous. "But when the boy became a man, he left the Batcave and now serves his own brand of justice!" This sounds like the origin of some guy that was sexually assaulted as a child and then became some kind of Punisher-type anti-hero that goes around castrating sexual predators. Or is that just me? Was that interpretation more about me than the actual quote? Was that a bit of a "My Last Duchess" moment? Maybe I should just move on.

Nightwing heads back to Amusement Mile in a panic that The Joker has the little girl from Haly's Circus held hostage. Oh, along with everybody else from the circus as well. It's just that Nightwing promised the little girl that he'd keep them all safe and, well, it would be really awkward to have to look her in the eye at this point. Unless she's already been killed. That would be a relief.

The Joker is the perfect foil to Batman since he can also be in fifteen places at once. Maybe this is just a prerecorded message while he marries Babs and torments Damian with the local karate instructor.

The Joker has dug up hundreds of corpses and had them arranged in the stadium at Amusement Mile. Dick still believes that The Joker knows his secret identity and he still thinks it's Batman's fault and that Batman has been lying to the entire Bat-family. But The Joker reveals that the stuff he knows about Nightwing is stuff anybody paying attention could have figured out. Nightwing has appeared in every major city that Haly's Circus was currently in. That's a bit of a clue that he's tied to the circus, isn't it? It also explains why The Joker would choose Raya as the Nightwing knockoff without The Joker having to know Dick and Raya's relationship.

What is it about Dick and Bruce that makes them constantly do public things as their alter egos that links them to their secret identities? Batman and Wayne Enterprises are inextricably bound together because of Batman, Inc. Nightwing has now made his associations with Haly's Circus pretty obvious to someone paying close enough attention. The main reason for having a secret identity is to protect the normal people in your life. By having any kind of public connection to any person or corporation, it puts them at risk. So Batman dealing with Bruce Wayne's company puts everybody at Bruce Wayne's company at risk just as much as if a criminal knew Batman was Bruce Wayne. Which is why Alfred was kidnapped. And the same thing has now happened with Dick and Haly's Circus. The Joker doesn't have to know that Dick Grayson is Nightwing to hurt the people close to Dick because Dick has made the connection between Nightwing and Haly's Circus obvious by having too close of ties with them.

That was convoluted. But the point is simple: super heroes that have secret identities need to remain completely cut off from all public associations. It's like Alcoholics Anonymous! They remain free from any ties to any politics or corporations or anything that could sully their simple message of helping people manage their lives. I have some philosophical issues with Alcoholics Anonymous but I admire that they try to remain self-contained and don't get involved in other bullshit. Well, maybe some chapters do! You can't speak for every group when every group is self-funded and run independently from the larger organization.

And then The Joker decides to shut the fuck up and get serious for a second.

Goodbye Amusement Mile! Goodbye dream! Goodbye Dick Grayson's trust fund!

Is this a good enough message for you, Nightwing? The Joker doesn't fucking want you in town. Batman is his. And anyway, was this really such a good idea? I was expecting the Ferris Wheel to be turned into a giant, rolling, flaming wheel of death at some point. But so soon? Come on, Dick. This is still Gotham. You knew it would end this way. Give up on dreaming, big boy. It's a dead end! It's a sucker's game! Just tuck your little birdie tail between your legs and slouch off to The Joker's surprise party for Batman. Dick Grayson's life as you knew it is over.

Except you probably got the insurance, right? Even though I'm sure Insane Super Villain Insurance Premiums are probably sky high in Gotham. But I bet you couldn't even begin improvements on Amusement Mile until you had the insurance! So after Death of the Family blows over, you can probably rebuild the park. But you might have a little trouble rebuilding the trust between yourself and your Haly's Circus family.

Thankfully, Dick probably won't have to deal with rebuilding that trust.


Kyle Higgins is really playing this as if The Joker knows who Nightwing is. And I believe he does because Nightwing hasn't made a terrible effort to separate his Nightwing persona from Dick Grayson's interests. Maybe it was Nightwing's fault that The Joker figured out everybody's identity! Because it isn't difficult to go from learning Bruce's ward is Nightwing to Bruce is Batman.

Oh for fuck's sake! It isn't difficult for anyone to realize Bruce Wayne is Batman! I'd be surprised if The Joker as well as 85% of Gotham didn't already know! And meanwhile Superman is teaching Wonder Woman how to have a secret identity by wearing glasses and putting her hair in a pony tail! How naive are these assholes?

Dick's Jokerized friends incapacitate him and he's hauled off by The Joker to what looks like it could be the Batcave. And then he's presented with the secret entrée that nobody ordered.

If there's a steak under there, it had better be from Alfred's flank and not Batcow's!

Nightwing #16 Rating: No change. This issue makes it pretty clear that if The Joker doesn't know the Bat-family's secret identities, he's not really making an effort to think things through. He knows Nightwing's connection to Haly's Circus so he knows Nightwing and Dick Grayson are connected. He obviously knows Batman's connection to Bruce Wayne enough to kidnap Alfred. He knows where Red Robin lives in New York. He knows that Jason Todd spends his time on an island amidst the wreckage of a Tamaranian starship. And he seems to know that Batgirl has a connection to the Gordons. Seems like The Joker might know something!

At this point, it's just ridiculous that everyone blames Batman because The Joker somehow found his way into the Batcave. The connections between Bruce Wayne and the other members of the Bat-family are so fucking obvious that somebody as obsessed with The Batman as The Joker would eventually figure it out. Anybody with the ability to count could figure out Bruce Wayne and his wards/adopted children/whatever were Batman and his Robins! Right?

I know, I know! I allow myself to say things like this as if I were a civilian who doesn't get it. But of course I do! I'm a comic book reader! I absolutely allow myself to believe that the secret identity is a thing that only other good heroes could ever figure out. As readers, we all accept, unquestioningly, that bad guys suck at noticing that stuff! Even Lex Luthor is too dumb to notice (or else he just doesn't have any fucking clue who Clark Kent is!). So having The Joker possibly know their identities has actually been a fun story. Although the more likely it seems he knows, the less I want to believe it! I keep hoping that somehow Scott Snyder is going to show how The Joker was able to do everything he did without knowing their identities and it will all make sense!

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