|First Published:||March 20, 2013|
|Previous Issue:||Nightwing #17|
|Next Issue:||Nightwing #19|
Just a short while ago, Nightwing had received some helpful advice from young Robin after his confidence was shaken by his encounter with the Joker. Now, Robin is dead.
Dick has been wondering for a while if he has been a bad son, because he moved on too fast after his parents died. He mourned, but he doesn't offer his parents the same deference that Batman does his. For the first time since Damian saved the city as Robin, and lost his life, Dick visits the boy's grave. Despite all that the Joker had taken from him, Damian had stayed by Dick's side in ways that others hadn't, and now he is gone, and Dick is finding it harder to move forward than he expected.
Dick has been ignoring Sonia Branch's phone calls, refusing to accept either her affections or her sympathies. Still, he listens to her voice-mail messages when he gets them. Two days after visiting Damian's grave, a knock comes at Dick's door, and he opens it while listening to one of Sonia's messages, but all that is there is a videogame. Thanks to his last conversation with Damian, he had promised to order the latest Swordwalkers game, and now it had come - too late to play it with his adoptive brother. Overcome by loss and anger, he smashes his phone against the wall.
Feeling some guilt, Dick finally gives Sonia a call, and they go out for coffee, but he is obviously not in much of a mood for talking. Instead, Sonia opts to tell him about how she grew up after her father was arrested for the murder of Dick's parents. She was put into a number of foster homes, but no one ever felt like she was a good fit with their family. Dick asks her why she brought it up, and she explains that she has difficulty opening up to people, and that caring about someone means that you can't be unaffected when they are in pain, or when they cause you pain. Everyone has times in their lives when they need to lean on someone, she says, reminding him that, maybe, this is one of those times for him.
On his way home, Dick wonders if maybe he's better off by himself for a while, but when he returns to his apartment, he finds Batman there, waiting for him. They go out on patrol together, covering half the city without uttering a word to each other. Eventually, Batman explains that there is a dealer who is auctioning off memorabilia from tragedies that occurred in Gotham City. Lately, this man called The Dealer has been raiding sites attacked by the Joker for items, and one of those items was John Grayson's costume. Dick demands to know what else Batman isn't telling him, but Batman merely regards him coldly, and returns to patrol.
Meanwhile, The Dealer is in the middle of one of his auctions, selling a pair of Joker Teeth for eight thousand dollars. For his next item, he unveils John Grayson's aerialist costume, admitting that while it is already a symbol of tragedy in Gotham, its recent jokerization ought to increase its value significantly. The bidding begins at fifteen thousand dollars, but before anyone can utter a sound, the power cuts out. Fumbling in the dark for his lighter, the Dealer waves the flame around the room until he finds himself face to face with Nightwing. Reacting quickly, the Dealer sets Nightwing's costume on fire, and he is forced to hit the floor in order to avoid being gunned down by the other patrons.
Worriedly, Dick realizes that any one of these men would gladly pay a fortune to watch him die - a fact disturbingly confirmed when the Dealer revs a chainsaw with which to cut off some Nightwing memorabilia. Eagerly, the auction patrons begin making substantial bids for his soon-to-be severed limbs. Unfortunately for him, Nightwing's acrobatic ability allows him to dodge the clumsy swings of the saw, and when the Dealer realizes that he has lost, he decides to cut those losses and set the place ablaze using the last of the Joker's jet fuel.
As the flames rise higher, and the bidders begin leaving, Nightwing is suddenly torn between rescuing his father's costume and rescuing a group of bidders who have become trapped in a room. Reluctantly, he leaves the costume to burn and frees the bidders, getting everyone to safety. Thinking on it, Dick realizes that regardless of how evil the people he had saved were, he could never have put their lives second to that costume.
Later, Dick returns to Damian's gravestone, making a perfunctory speech before admitting that he had loved the boy as a brother. He has since learned that Damian was right about what makes Dick who he is, and that there is no reason to change that. Placing the Swordwalkers game at the foot of the grave, Dick takes his leave.
Afterwards, Dick meets with Sonia at his apartment and tells her of how he lost his brother, and how he has realized that letting her in, and leaning on her might be what he needs. Sonia goes quiet a moment before cautiously warning him that she has something uncomfortable to admit to him. Dick states that she can tell him anything, and after some reassurance, she passes him her laptop, urging him to read the story for himself. He begins reading, and after a moment, his facial expression changes from one of bemusement to one of distress.
Six months ago, she had received an email from her father. Tony Zucco, the man who killed Dick's parents, is still alive.
- Nightwing (Flashback and Main Story)
- Robin (In Flashback Only)
- Sonia Branch
- The Dealer
- Tony Zucco
- Erskima Sticks