WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Nightwing #63, from Dan Jurgens, Ronan Cliquet, Nick Filardi and AndWorld Design, on sale now.
Dick Grayson's life is finally on the upswing, after being shot in the head by KGBeast and losing his memory, and then becoming Ric Grayson as a result. He eventually regained his memory, but has yet to rejoin the Bat-family, as he's still trying to reconcile his divided existence, unaware that Bane has been orchestrating everything.
Trying to rebuild, Ric resumed vigilante duty in Bludhaven with the Nightwings, a crew influenced by his former mantle, but he has yet to don the costume. Still, he's enjoying life, as he gets to drive his taxi, fight crime and achieve a sense of fulfillment he didn't have in the past. However, that life is upended in Nightwing #63, which confirms Ric finally has his very own Joker, the demented William Cobb -- and it's a rivalry that may be deadlier than the one between Batman and the Clown Prince of Crime.
William is Ric's great-grandfather, who cut his teeth in the circus and then became the Gray Son, intended to fix the class system in Gotham at the behest of the Court of Owls. He became the deadly Talon, introduced in 2011 as one of DC's most lethal assassins. Over time, William was placed in stasis and revived whenever required for duty. He ran afoul of the Bat-family a couple of times, and even partnered with Bane in the "Forever Evil" arc to remake Gotham for the low- to middle-class, as they felt it always should have been.
Now, he's back, and William has a nasty plan for his great-grandson, only this time he has a twisted sense of humor, a la the Joker. We know the extent of the Joker's heinous acts against Batman, and William seems to have learned from that rivalry, because he's treating Ric like his own archenemy. William first attacks Zak (Nightwing Blue) in the field, stabbing him with an array of knives to send a message.
Those weapons have been his specialty since his introduction, but William inches closer to the Joker in the way he leaves Zak barely alive, hanging off the side of a building. It's a tribute to Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, with Zak serving as a calling card.
William has vengeance in mind, which leads him to stalk Ric, and employs his taxi service for fun and games. Outside of toying with Ric, William also stalks his new girl, Bea, at her bar. When Ric is busy, William enters the bar in a scene reminiscent of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's The Killing Joke, with a sick grin on his face. It reminds us of when Joker and his goons broke into Barbara Gordon's apartment, so let's hope Bea's fate is much better.
This is what happens when a nemesis knows the hero intimately. It looks as if William aims to push Ric over the line, just like Joker often attempts to do with Batman. In this scenario, however, Ric doesn't have the same moral code, so if he breaks, William will be in for the fight of his life. Facing Nightwing is one thing, but messing with an unconstrained Ric Grayson might bring repercussions the Talon never anticipated.
Nightwing #64 goes on sale Sept. 18.