Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying (part 4 of 5) New Titans #61
Last week: The stalker—who we can now openly call Tim Drake—explained how he met Dick the day the Flying Graysons died, and how he figured out who Batman and Robin are just by watching news footage on TV. Meanwhile, Batman and Two-Face attempted to outsmart each other and their efforts came up snake eyes. Snake eyes: Because it’s two on a pair of dice. You see, double twos in that.
You know what? Never mind. Moving on.
Dick’s about to tear out of the Bat-cave on a motorcycle that was just laying around when he stops and looks over his shoulder. Judging by how high that collar of his is, I’m surprised he can actually see anything. It turns out Tim’s begging him to stop and put on the Robin costume. Dick gets off the bike and snatches the costume right out of Tim’s hand, and by now he’s had enough; he angrily points out that Tim has no right trying to tell him what Batman needs. He flies out on the bike, leaving a crying Tim behind with Alfred.
And… all of that was shameless padding. Part three ended this scene very well, with Dick heading out and Alfred implying Nightwing had shown Tim the Batcave because he should be the new Robin. It was short, sweet, and effective. What we got here and now was three useless pages. On top of that, all of this really feels like it undid the tone of part three, where Nightwing seemed to realize what both Tim and Bruce needed: each other. Here, Nightwing goes from being smart and insightful to just petulant. I’d chalk this up to a different writer, except Marv Wolfman’s penned all four parts so far. Maybe what we’re seeing is the influence of the different artists, with varying results?
Over at Titans Tower, Raven answers a call.
I know why Raven changed over to a white outfit: symbolism. That being said, she simply never looked as cool in white as she did in blue/black. The mystery caller says he “invented” that ploy, which considering the police had been using it for decades before this comic seems pretty arrogant but okay, whatever.
After the line goes dead, we find out Raven had tied in the other Titans. Vic, who’s with a woman and a bunch of kids, talks to the others. We see Kory in a bikini in what I’m guessing is a photo shoot, and between her and Marvel’s Mary Jane Watson Parker (and gawd, how I miss being able to call her that. I still haven’t forgotten, Joe Quesada. I never will), it just goes to show the mystique and popularity of the supermodel before the advent of the internet. I think Jericho is about to paint a model, because the woman is in a bath robe and he’s sitting in front of a blank canvas, and Donna is with [sigh] Terry Long. I know the dude was later killed off, but was there ever a point where somebody pulled a Jason Todd and brought him back?
Well yeah, sort of. Damn, I forgot all about Donna having a son and them killing the baby off. It’s like the DC editors said to Marvel’s editors, “We’ll see your Gwen Stacy and raise you.”
Roy Harper AKA Speedy is all alone. I can’t remember if he had started up his relationship with Chesire by this point. Hey, remember when Roy and Chesire had a daughter? And then they killed that kid off? And they killed off Jason Todd, too? Man, what do the editors at DC have against children, anyway? Roy says he has an idea about the squeal they heard and he’s going to go check it out.
Meanwhile, Vic says to the woman (Sarah) that he’s gotta go and she says she and the kids’ll be fine. This is Sarah Sims, and she and the kids are part of Cyborg’s subplots. I’m guessing the kids will all die sooner or later.
Donna intercepts Starfire in mid-air, and the latter expresses concern about not being able to find Dick. You have no idea how difficult it’s been to not make the obvious jokes. The heroines meet up with Cyborg at a telephone pole. Vic figures the mystery caller tapped into a phone line, and judging by the tire tracks, immediately tore off towards the nearby highway.
Back at Titans Tower, the gang reconvenes and Speedy makes a Yahoo Serious reference. Who or what is a Yahoo Serious, some of my younger readers might ask?
Only Australia could have produced… this.
Speedy says his hunch was right, and it was a coded message through a modem. Jericho has deciphered it, and Raven says while the caller skillfully disguised his voice, he was full of conflicted emotions. Damn, Raven sounds a lot like Deanna Troi here. Or had Deanna Troi always sounded like Raven? Hmm. Jericho signs Dick and Raven’s names, and Raven says she understands.
Cut to Gotham City, where Nightwing crouches on the rooftop of the GCPD’s main precinct where the Bat-signal is shining. Commissioner Gordon tries both to get the young hero to open up about what’s wrong with Batman, and to offer his support. It seems like Batman’s a no-show, but someone else is not.
See? She doesn’t look nearly as cool when doing that while wearing a white outfit. Nightwing says to her, “I took leave of the Titans.” First, does anybody talk like that? Ever? Outside of a fantasy novel, I mean. And second, would it kill him to say “hello”, or maybe give her a hug first? This is still your friend, dick.
Raven’s come bearing a gift in the form of a “data disk” to be run on his “micro computer”. Nightwing plugs it into his bracer and sure enough, it’s a coded message from Batman. It seems Jericho understood it subconsciously from this one time he had possessed Dick. Raven says the gang’s all here to help, but Dick says this is between him and Batman. Raven counters she felt the same when it came to her and Trigon, but she’s not going to press the issue. She departs, and soon Nightwing pulls a Batman on Gordon by slipping out when he’s not looking.
And…. that was about four more pages of padding. We knew Batman was the caller because we saw the left side of his face, so it wasn’t Harvey. Batman could have easily left a message only Dick would have understood. All this cryptic BS just feels like Wolfman giving the rest of the Titans something to do in this Nightwing/Batman story.
Dick calls the mansion and finds out Bruce isn’t in, and Alfred doesn’t know why Bats would leave a data disk except to perhaps pique Dick’s interest. After he hangs up, Tim asks why the pair fight like they’re competing, and Alfred counters that they used to be more like father/son then rivals. Bruce took on Jason as much to have a surrogate son as a partner, because only one guy on Earth believes in family more than him.
Dick rides his motorcycle through the streets of Gotham, and as a responsible motorist, he’s wearing his helmet. He mentally does a bit of exposition for the New Titans readers who opted out of buying Batman #440-41. Batman helpfully provided Dick with all the data on that disk and after digesting it, Nightwing’s now piecing it all together.
So, if I’m reading it right, this means Two-Face had planned to do some crime involving the twins all along, he just didn’t know when. And somehow, he knew the bridge would factor into his plans too. I guess he goes through this every time he blows into town: does his homework, goes over city maps, plans out his campaign, and prepares for things to fall apart. I bet Harvey would run a bitchin’ Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
Nightwing finds Batman, who expected him to figure out the clues, albeit not this fast. That’s about the highest praise you’ll ever get from him, Grayson, so savor it. Dick asks what’s up and Batman responds:
I love how Dick’s amused by Bruce’s inability to admit when he needs help. Though, it’s not funny at all; it’s actually a little troubling and sad. I guess Batman sees it as a sign of weakness, maybe. Or maybe after Jason’s death and the Outsiders kicking him out of his own team, he feels a little lost.
Batman thinks Harvey knows he’s coming, so Dick suggests the direct approach, with the two going through the front together. Batman wants Nightwing to guard the back, but Dick thinks him going through the front would throw Two-Face off. Alas, Batman’s laid down the marching orders and he swoops down, leaving Dick to either bail or play soldier in this one-man army. Dick opts for option B and sneaks in through the basement window, while Bats…
…has to make as noisy and flashy an entrance as possible. His only regret is that it’s a first floor window and not a skylight. Dick finds that for some weird reason there’s no staircase to the first floor, while Batman…
…finds Harvey’s been busy. Okay, now how the hell did Harvey get all this done in so short a time? I’ve watched Property Brothers, Good Bones, and a lot of other shows on HGTV; it takes weeks to demo and redecorate a house. Unless Harvey did all this well beforehand on the off chance he would need it. You know, like he did with the twins and the bridge and the numeral IV thing from before? I bet supervillain team-ups with Harvey must be a nightmare: “I can’t use fifty three Penguins; we need a number divisible by four at the very least! Selina, could we at least make your crime involve Siamese cats? Eddie, if your riddles could somehow involve Janus, Gemini, or I dunno, yin-yang, I’d appreciate it. Joker… just… go home, okay? And somebody call Ventriloquist and see if he’s available; his dual personality gimmick is perfect!”
Dick suggests that they’ve hit a wall and should back out, but Batman’s determined to figure out what Harvey’s trying to say with this upside-down house. Dick decides to stick around, but not before he takes “precautions” and fiddles with his portable computer.
As the pair talk out the clues, Batman figures it out: if the first floor is upside down then that means the basement is the second floor. And this means… do I dare? It’s so old and been done to death. But… it’s a classic! What the hell? This means…
Steel shutters slam down on the basement windows and Harvey shows up from a staircase hidden behind a wall. Is there some underground organization that builds secret lairs? That would make so much sense. I could imagine it being owned and run by Lex Luthor through a host of shell corporations, with any being built for guys hating on Superman being done gratis.
Harvey flips his coin and it comes up scarred. A bomb goes off and…
…Batman and Nightwing are reunited, although not in the way they wanted.
Back at Wayne Manor, Alfred and Tim head down to the cave and discover Dick transmitted his location when he turned on his homing signal. Two-Face’s address can be seen on the big screen, but the bad news is the transmission has been cut off. Alfred assumes it was an “accident”, but Tim’s danger sense is tingling.
And judging by the way they zoom in on the Robin costume, I’m assuming Alfred doesn’t do the smart thing and call the Titans.
Next time: Part five of our tale and also the conclusion!