Thursday, August 22, 2019

Teen Titans Spotlight #14: Nightwing

So that's why I finally dropped this series: they dropped the "on:".

Obviously I didn't drop this comic book because they dropped the "on:". The first thing I did was rename this comic book so I didn't have to include that stupid shit in the title! But then I was a different person thirty years ago. Maybe thirty years ago, I couldn't abide having a comic book change its title in the middle of its run. No, no. I already disproved that when I bought fifty more issues of The New Teen Titans after it changed its name to The New Titans. Maybe dropping this series after the Nightwing issue is simply proof that I fucking couldn't stand Nightwing for the first forty years of my life (granted I wasn't really reading comic books throughout my thirties. I took a break after Cerebus ended, continuing only by reading collected editions of Fables and The Walking Dead. I restarted again when I turned forty because I hate myself.

That probably sounds like a slam against comic books and it is but in my defense, have you read most comic books? They're fucking garbage. I don't know why so many people are trashing their reputations to join a shadowy white supremacist comic book movement that touts to make comics great again when the majority of comics never were great. I understand that I'm a forty-seven year old cynical jerk who's unwilling to continue to see comics in the same way I did when I was younger. But that's my prerogative, right?! Yes, I loved comic books growing up. I remember a lot of comic books fondly. But I can also admit, upon rereading comic books that helped shape the person bashing comic books that I am today, that a lot of those comic books don't hold up now and they didn't hold up then and only my naive innocent stupidity made them seem as great and inspiring as they were. Sure there were great artists and writers who invented an entire art that captured the imagination of generations of kids! But those people are easier to panegyrize in general terms. Kirby created vast vistas and engaging worlds. Stan Lee brought to life dozens of characters that would remain popular across multiple generations. Neal Adams wrote stark and realistic accounts of daily life but didn't know when to quit. Grant Morrison did something with some Baker and everybody shit their pants or something. Whoops! I started getting too into the particulars there! Anyway, great artists and great writers have simply made it easier to defend all the shit creators who fill the rank and file comic book jobs needed to keep the cash coming in. And yet even the Lobdells and Nocentis have their place because a lot of naive innocent stupid people, like I once was, will always be around to love Jason Todd or Green Arrow or Katana or Arsenal or Catwoman, no matter how fucking terribly they're actually being written.

All of that really doesn't say as much about comics as some people getting ready to send me a expletive-filled response might think. That simply says a lot about me! Why then, if that's my attitude, am I willing to reread all of the comic books in my collection from the last forty years? What kind of a sick, perverse self-hater am I?! Why would I waste my final years of this short and finite life doing this to myself? Come on! That's easy to answer! It's fun! I love writing and I love thinking thoughts and I love putting them on the Internet for sixteen people to enjoy! Oh, sure, I have over a thousand followers on Tumblr but I'm fairly certain most of those accounts were deactivated when Tumblr stopped allowing titties.

You might have forgotten that the biggest gang in Gotham in 1987 were the Jewish Surrealists.

I don't even care how many people don't know what the fuck I'm on about. Did you know this world is on fire?

Batman is busting a cocaine shipment into Gotham in the prologue of this comic book. According to the cover, he's about to be crucified. I guess the Jewish Surrealists are still micro-managed by Caesar's Hand.

Speaking of unbelievable things in comics (this segue works because I believe I was speaking about it fifteen hundred commentaries ago when Nightwing drove a motorcycle up the wall of a building), how does Batman always wind up unconscious and in some form of complicated trap and yet, in all the time it takes to put him there, nobody ever takes the mask off. Not one henchman is curious? Not one henchman binding Batman to the cross ever thinks, "If I knew Batman's identity, I could quit this henchman gig, sell the information, and retire"? I don't believe it. My theory is that thousands of henchmen have tried this plan but Alfred intercepted all of the blackmail notices, hired Jason Bard to find who sent them, and then hired Tommy Monaghan to kill them.

I would just like it on the record that I spelled Tommy's last name correctly before looking it up.

The Jewish Surrealists capture Batman because they had a sniper with a tranquilizer gun on overwatch during the deal. Batman gets drugged, blackjacked, and spit upon before nobody thinks to take off his mask.

At least I hope that's spit.

I guess if that isn't spit, I now understand why nobody took his mask off.

"Are ya kiddin' me, Rudy?! Put yer fuckin' dick away and help me schlep this bastard into tha van! The boss can take tha fuckin' mask off. Ugh."

Alfred calls up Dick Grayson when Bruce doesn't show up for morning stitches. Dick sighs, hangs up the phone, and goes off to do a literally thankless job because Batman thinks expecting people to be there for him is the same thing as gratitude.

I hate complaining about the art because I never complain about the art. So when I finally complain about the art, that means I really fucking think the art sucks. And, well, I'm complaining about the art now.

"Fuck dinosaur references! I got this!" -- Stan Woch

This is some of Woch's earliest work with DC so I shouldn't be too hard on him. Plus he's still alive and he might read this. Although wouldn't it be worse if I were criticizing the work of a dead man? Also, he draws a pretty decent studio apartment and jizz dribble.

Nightwing heads off to save Batman even though he knows Batman doesn't need saving. If Batman seems to need saving, it's only because Batman misses Nightwing and this is the only way he can see him without admitting that he misses him. "Oh no!" says Batman as he tries to remember what it's like to feel sleepy from tranquilizers or to feel concussed from a blackjack to the back of the head. "My legs are all, um, wobbly? I'm, um, falling now, right? OH! I'm helpless! I just peed a little too!" Then he lets the bad guys kidnap him and waits for Alfred to worry way too soon and call for backup. And of course Batman would choose a night when Jason Todd is off in California and Superman is off on Oa and Wonder Woman has her anniversary dinner with Steve Trevor.

Oh, just because he's suddenly half-robot, I'm supposed to believe some high school football star can now design high tech contact lenses?! Fuck you, comic books.

Dick finds a vial of acid left behind as Batman as a clue to who murdered him. I mean kidnapped him, probably! Who would kill Batman when they had the chance? I mean if they actually had a chance and Batman wasn't completely faking and ready to start breaking kneecaps the second somebody tugs at his cowl or tries to put a bullet in his brain. Anyway, the acid vial reminds Dick of that one case which was the only one ever in which Batman used a vial of acid which leads him to Drakkar, a Gotham drug lord. This is less evidence that Batman was in trouble and realized Nightwing would come looking for him and more evidence that Batman wasn't in trouble at all and was expecting Nightwing to come looking for him because Batman misses him.

With all the Batman themed stuff in this picture, that marquee obviously says Debbie Does Batman.

Nightwing threatens to beat up some cowardly punk named Skates who Batman apparently beats up every time he needs information. And even though Skates always gives up the information, he somehow hasn't been killed by any other Gotham criminal. Skates tells Nightwing that Batman is going to be killed at midnight in the graveyard. It's going to be a huge party. But instead of thinking, "I'll go to the graveyard and stop this!", Dick wastes precious time tailing Skates hoping he'll lead him to Batman or Drakkar. When Nightwing loses him due to Nightwing's fandom crowding around him, Nightwing thinks, "Wait. What did Skates say? Oh yeah! He gave me everything I needed to know! But now it's so close to midnight, I might not make it in time! Shoot!"

Drakkar's plan is to auction off the right to unmask Batman and put a bullet in his brain. So, you know, almost the plan I proposed when they first knocked him unconscious! Stupid greedy thugs! Now Drakkar won't be rid of Batman or rich because Nightwing has found him! And he saves Batman in the nick of time! Time for hugs and demonstrations of familial love and intimacy!

Oh Batman!

Nightwing should know Batman cares because he didn't disappear the instant Nightwing looked away. Batman does smile at the end but not until Dick leaves. Only the reader gets to know Batman is capable of the tiniest bit of joy! And that joy probably wasn't due to Nightwing telling Batman that he's proud to have been Robin. The joy was probably in getting away with not thanking somebody for saving him yet again.

Teen Titans Spotlight #14: Nightwing Rating: C+. If I had written this issue, it would have been from Batman's point of view. And all along the way, Batman would be thinking things like, "I'll drop this acid vial which will remind Dick of the Great Dragon caper which will lead him to Drakkar and the subway graveyard where I'm certain Drakkar will take me to kill me!" Then Batman will think, "I bet Dick and Alfred are brainstorming how to find me right now!" And later, as the gun is being put to Batman's head, he'd be all, "The lights should go out just about now! Dick will save me in the nick of time which I'll totally razz him over. Should I say, 'Cutting it pretty close, Boy Wonder' or 'Jason would have been here five minutes sooner'?" Then the final panel of Batman's life will be a bullet passing through his head as he's unmasked. The final page would show Dick Grayson sitting in his apartment listening to Cat's in the Cradle with the phone off the hook.

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