This article contains major spoilers for “Nightwing” #3, on sale now.
He may be wearing his classic blue and black costume again, but Dick Grayson is still operating in the moral grey area he navigated in his recent life as a super spy. “Nightwing” #3 by Tim Seeley and Javier FernÃ¡ndez sends Dick on a mission for the Court of Owls, intending to betray them and steal their secrets only to find other schemes in play undermining his efforts, with dire consequences.
“You let an innocent man die, Nightwing!”
Batgirl levels a pretty heavy accusation at Nightwing right on the first page, one that seems to be backed up by the man bleeding out on the floor as the mercenary Raptor stands over him with blood dripping from his claw.
An immediate flashback places the scene in context, as Nightwing and Raptor stake out the home of one Knute Ruud, a maze designer whom a fortune teller has predicted will be assassinated in his home. You can guess how Knute addressed this problem.
Before they can navigate the booby-trapped house, however, Nightwing and Raptor are surprised by Batgirl, who has tracked Dick down after he stood her up and disappeared in the final pages of last issue. Nightwing reveals his plan to her: he’s going to recover rather than destroy a blueprint to the Owls’ secret headquarters in Crete.
The trio survives a series of hair-raising traps, but Raptor, despite Nightwing’s assertion that he can be trusted because “he has his own moral code,” ditches the heroes to advance on their target alone. By the time Dick and Babs catch up, Knute is dead.
The Owls are Not What They Seem
As Dick takes out his rage on Raptor, the Owls watch the fight via live feed and gloat. The true purpose of sending Nightwing on this mission was to undermine his standing in the Bat-family.
When the Owls tune out, though, Knute stands up, very much alive. It turns out Raptor has his own plan to bring down the Court of Owls. This new information, though, does little to assuage Nightwing’s conscience or moderate Batgirl’s rage.
In that sense, the Owls’ plan worked rather perfectly. Dick and Barbara, of course, have one of the closest relationships of heroes within Batman’s circle, or the entire DC Universe, for that matter, and driving a wedge between them will be a significant psychological blow to Nightwing. It will also certainly give Batgirl cause to question his judgment in future operations and team-ups.
With little choice but to see the plan through, Nightwing joins Raptor to continue both the mission and the tutelage that will supposedly make him “Better than Batman.” Raptor reveals that long ago, the Owls hired a “mad inventor” to keep their books and hide their arcane secrets, and this person created the nigh-indecipherable Book of Wisdom. This mad inventor was Doctor Leviticus, who will shortly be joining the double agents in their journey to Greece.
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