Dick Grayson is one of the most influential characters in the Batman mythos, serving as the Dark Knight’s almost polar opposite, while remaining his staunchest ally. When he took over from Batman, he initially struggled, feeling like he was putting himself in his father’s shoes, while mourning his death. All of these feelings were compounded when he learned that Bruce may have been involved in his parents’ deaths.
Batman #687-691 (by Judd Winick and Mark Bagley) shows the difficulties Dick faces in stepping into the role of Batman, as well as how he appropriated himself. He abandons the Batcave, choosing to start afresh in a bunker under Wayne Tower. He also incorporates his own unique style, moving with more agility and even smiling as he takes down criminals. This doesn’t go unnoticed, as Two-Face suspects this isn’t the real Batman.
Dick receives a security alert from the Batcave and goes to investigate as Batman, only to find that Two-Face has somehow broken in. He confronts Dick, asking where the real Caped Crusader is. After a hallucinogen-induced fight, he is able to defeat Two-Face, convincing him that he is the Dark Knight. At the end of the story, we see Dick cleaning up the remaining items from the Batcave. While dismantling Jason Todd’s memorial, he finds a data key hidden in its base. He inserts the key into the Batcomputer and is shocked when he finds a folder full of information regarding the deaths of the Flying Graysons.
This is where the story ends, as Judd Winick’s schedule kept him from continuing his run on Batman. Tony Daniel took over the rest of the series, but it was cut short by the New 52. However, a recent story in batman: black and white (by Becky Cloonan and Terry Dodson), can give us an idea of where the script was supposed to go.
batman: black and white #4 begins with Bruce Wayne investigating the death of a fortune teller at Haly’s Circus. He interviews a number of actors, including the Flying Graysons, in an effort to solve the case. This eventually leads him to the circus owner, Haly, who reveals that he and the cashier had a falling out regarding his new business partner, Tony Zucco, which got him fired. Despite this, Batman comes to the conclusion that the death was a suicide, as the cashier was stuck in a toxic relationship and had just lost her job. Following this tragedy, Haly’s deal with Zucco goes awry, resulting in the death of the Flying Graysons.
The Dark Knight’s failure to look past the obvious ultimately cost the Flying Graysons their lives. Had he been willing to further investigate Zucco and his illegal dealings, the deaths of Dick’s parents might have been avoided. Although the story told in batman: black and white may not be the one Judd Winick intended to tell, both explore Bruce’s possible connections to the greatest tragedy in Dick’s life. However, he has grown since the untimely death of his parents, showing that there is indeed light beyond the shadows.
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