SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Batman #54, by Tom King, Matt Wagner, Tomeu Morey and Clayton Cowles, on sale now.
Over the years, the Dark Knight’s aptly titled “Bat-family” has grown by leaps and bounds. From Batgirl to Batwing to the Signal -- plus more Robins than you can shake a crowbar at – Bruce Wayne has no shortage of allies in and around Gotham City. However, we’d be remiss if we failed to acknowledge that the Bat-family truly began with the 1940 debut of the first Robin: Dick Grayson.
Although he currently watches over the streets of Blüdhaven as Nightwing, Dick’s ties to Bruce run deeper than arguably any other member of the Bat-family. He’s the first of Bruce’s sons – surrogate or biological – and he’s assumed the mantle of Batman on several occasions.
Nevertheless, one could argue that in the post-Rebirth DC Universe, the original Dynamic Duo hasn’t felt quite so “dynamic.” Thankfully, though, that changes in Batman #54.
The issue uses non-linear storytelling to take us back and forth between young Dick’s early days as Bruce’s ward and the present day, where the pair battles such D-listers as Crazy Quilt and Condiment King, much to Nightwing’s amusement. In between quips, though, Nightwing makes a concerted effort to cheer Batman up in the aftermath of his and Catwoman’s breakup. Then, as we cut to the flashback sequences, we see just how striking the parallels are between what Bruce did for a recently orphaned Dick and what Dick is attempting to do for recently heartbroken Bruce.
“Bruce, man. It’s cool,” Dick says as Batman jumps from one end of the emotional spectrum to the next. “I know you’re fine. Just know I’m here if you don’t want to be fine.”
Obviously, Bruce isn’t one to shine a spotlight on his feelings, and Dick knows this better than anyone not named Alfred. Still, the fact that he’s there for his mentor in spite of Bruce’s opposition perfectly mirrors how Bruce was patient with his young ward when it seemed like his whole world had come undone following his parents’ murder.
That being said, is taking Bruce and Dick’s relationship back to its roots enough to help the brooding Dark Knight get over the biggest emotional blow of his adult life? Perhaps not immediately, but redefining Batman’s most enduring partnership of his nearly 80-year history is certainly a step in the right direction.
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