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Things That Turned Out Bad – “Did Nightwing From the Future Just Try to Rape That Lady?”

by  in Comic News Comment
Things That Turned Out Bad – “Did Nightwing From the Future Just Try to Rape That Lady?”

In this column, I will spotlight plotlines by writers that probably weren’t a good idea at the time and have only become more problematic in retrospect. I’ll try to stick with stuff that’s more ill-conceived than flat-out offensive (like racist stereotypes of characters during the 1940s).

Today we look at the dark, strange path that “Dick Grayson” went on after he traveled from the future in the pages of New Titans and Team Titans (as well as a weird side-plot with his girlfriend in the future)…

It all began in New Titans Annual #7, which was part of the summer crossover Armageddon 2001. The concept of the story is that some superhero turns into the evil Monarch ten years in the future (the annuals all came out in 1991, natch). So a time-traveler known as Waverider comes to the present to use his power to see into each hero’s possible future to see which one of them becomes Monarch. So each annual has Waverider look into the future. In New Titans Annual #7, he picks Nightwing, and here is Nightwing in 2001…

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New Titans Annual #7 came out during the midst of the Titans Hunt storyline, where Nightwing was searching for his kidnapped teammates. The Annual takes the conceit that Nightwing never finds them, but ends up joining a future version of the Titans who are at war with a villain known as Lord Chaos. He is haunted by the memory of his lost teammates, though, especially his girlfriend, Starfire. He is all messed up, but seems to have formed SOME sort of relationship with his teammate, Mirage (robbing the cradle a bit there, Nightwing, but at least you’re not Terry Long)…

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Again, circumstances have definitely broken Nightwing a bit. Check out his willingness to give in to basically blood lust when he finally meets Lord Chaos and learns that Chaos is the son of his former teammate, Donna Troy!!

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At the end of the annual, the leader of the Titans decides to send the Titans of the future into the past to kill Donna Troy to prevent Lord Chaos from being born.

In New Titans #80, this particular Titans team (sans Nightwing for some reason) end up in the past.

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A bunch of other Titans of the future are sent into the past, as well, but they get scattered around. Also, Lord Chaos makes his way to the past, too, to ENSURE that he is born.

Upon seeing Dick in the past, Mirage can’t help but use her shapeshifting powers to first capture Starfire and then take her place with Dick…

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Writer Marv Wolfman had a really hard time handling this particular plot point. There’s a decent argument to be made for this being sexual assault by Mirage (sex under false pretenses at the very least), but Wolfman plays it off more as a love triangle between Mirage, Starfire and Nightwing. Sort of like Archie, Betty and Veronica stuff. Check out this sequence from an early issue of Team Titans (after the Lord Chaos stuff was resolved, the Titans of the future got their own book and it was called Team Titans), Mirage is flat out taunting Starfire with the stuff Mirage did while everyone thought she was Starfire…

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The love triangle approach was an odd one, and it ended in New Titans when Dick and Starfire trick Mirage into using her shapeshifting powers to make it so that everyone sees Nightwing and Dick Grayson together so that Dick can date Starfire as Dick Grayson without worrying about blowing his secret identity (or Batman’s).

Wolfman then resolves it by first having Starfire and Nightwing have it out…

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and then reconcile and get engaged…

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Things get much weirder, though, when future Nightwing shows up in the present in Team Titans #8…

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He meets up again with his friends from the future (including one of the older Team Titans, the Cable-esque Battalion, who was one of the scattered Titans of the future that I mentioned before)…

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During this point in time, Raven had become a villain and was using her abilities to mess with people’s souls to torture Nightwing until she breaks him. Go to the next page to see the debut of Deathwing!

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