Even if you take pride in your knowledge of obscure Bat-Family villains, like Stallion and Thrill Devil, you may have trouble placing Defacer, introduced on the final page of “Nightwing” #10, and her former mentor The Pigeon, revealed in this week’s Issue 11.
That’s because Defacer was retroactively inserted into Dick Grayson’s history, courtesy of a flashback to his days as Robin, and The Pigeon … well, for her origin you have to go back further than the 1990s — to 1977, and a Hostess cupcake ad.
“Nightwing” #11 opens with the end of what Robin dubs the “Case of the Stolen Statuary,” as the Dynamic Duo — with some help from Lt. Gordon — recover defaced statues, stolen by “art terrorists” The Pigeon and her protege Defacer in an attempt to “rewrite Gotham’s history by destroying its monuments to the past.” Among the stolen works are a bird statue whose face resembles the creepy Court of Owls masks, and a depiction of Lady Justice with a Joker-esque painted smile. However, the best Easter egg is The Pigeon herself.
She’s actually Pigeon Person, whose plot to steal all of America’s statues was foiled by Batman and Robin in the 1977 Hostess ad “Birds of a Feather.” There the winged fiend, who corrects the Boy Wonder when he refers to her as Pigeon Woman, employs flocks of super-strong birds (pigeons, presumably) to haul off the nation’s statues. We first see her taking the Statue of Liberty, which may explain the somewhat-similar Lady Justice in “Nightwing” #11, before proclaiming, “Tomorrow we steal America’s last statue, and an America without statues is an America without a past! Ha! Ha! Ha!”
That final statue was to be Mount Rushmore, which would seem to have posed a problem for even the strongest birds. But hey, it was an ad for cupcakes, so you can’t really argue logic, just their deliciousness. That is, if you can move past the scatalogic imagery conjured by the historical relationship between pigeons and statues (“Defacer,” indeed).
Although writer Tim Seeley and artist Marcus To don’t depict The Pigeon as soaring through the pink skies of Gotham in “Nightwing” #11, her wings, red costume and modus operandi are unmistakably those of Pigeon Person. So too is her slightly updated declaration, “Sheeple! You worship at the feet of patriarchal icons!” It was probably only a matter of time until she planned that Mount Rushmore heist.
However, The Pigeon’s release into Dick Grayson’s past doesn’t just provide a retroactive connection to Defacer, who’s not so secretly his supervisor at The Haven Community Center in Blüdhaven. It may signal that the Hostess universe depicted in the ubiquitous comic book ads of the 1970s and ’80s in now part of DC’s Rebirth continuity.
That could mean we’ll soon see a miniaturized Hal Jordan battle Dr. Live (“Spell that backwards and you’ll know what trouble you’re in for …”), Shazam return to “The Cup Cake Caper,” and Wonder Woman lasso Cooky La Moo. Which, of course, will lead to the new slogan, “DC Comics’ Rebirth: You Get a Big Delight in Every Bite.”
“Nightwing” #11, by Tim Seeley and Marcus To, is on sale now.
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