Batman #54 Review - Shadows of the Past
Updated: Mar 17, 2020
We often see Dick Grayson (Nightwing) as a goofball that doesn't take much seriously. It has been said for decades that the Robin character kept Batman from going over the edge.
What's often lost is that Richard's origin is just as tragic as Bruce's. Both of his parents were killed in front of him and he was left orphaned. It's a wonder that Dick Grayson was able to remain as grounded and optimistic in light of the circumstances.
Batman #54 shines the spotlight on the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Dick comes to Gotham to support Bruce as he deals with the pain of being left at the altar by Catwoman in issue #50.
We have interweaving scenes of the characters teaming up to take down minor villains. These scenes are interspersed with scenes of Dick dealing with the immediate aftermath of his parent's murder.
In the flashbacks to Nightwing's childhood, we see that he didn't always have an optimistic outlook. He had difficulties coming to terms with his parent's deaths and even being Bruce's ward. Bruce never gave up on Richard and was always patient while he worked out his issues.
The empathy bleeds back to the present. We see Dick being patient with Bruce as he tries to ignore the pain that he is obviously feeling over the rejection. The entire issue overlaps past and present and what we're left with is Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson that love each other and are bonded by circumstances. At times the relationship blends between father-son, partners, brothers but ultimately as a family.
This issue is fantastic.
I'm not a big of a fan of the art as with previous issues but it's very strong in a couple of key areas. Most of the transitions in the issue begin with Grayson either as a child or present-day and Matt Wagner captures the age and de-aging perfectly. There was a lot of pain in Grayson that he had to overcome and Its rarely covered in the comics. This issue provides a lot of context for the character and the relationship between both men.