DCAU #237: Now You See 'Em

IN THIS ONE... Dick Grayson learns stealth from an invisible South American tribe.

Written by Hillary J. Bader; art by Bo Hampton and Terry Beatty.

REVIEW: Following in Bruce Wayne's footsteps, even though he's rejected him, Dick does the whole world tour as "John Smith", acquiring skills along the way. We catch up to him around the one-year mark, learning capoeira in Brazil, then stealth from a tribe of so-called "invisibles". You could pretty much swap Grayson out for a young Wayne and not tell the difference, but Dick smiles more. Of course, Two-Face's appearance defines the time period... It's also the story's weakest element.

What's Two-Face doing in South America? Even Dick thinks it's weird he would get involved with drug trafficking. His goons' half-masks for the Day of the Dead is a good visual, but Two-Face feels like a square peg jammed into a round hole. Someone like Poison Ivy or Bane already had a stronger connection with South America, and might have been a better fit. And the plot lets Two-Face run his operation for two months while Dick is learning invisibility tricks in the jungle before the young hero finally dismantles it. Sure, the drugs hadn't gotten out yet, but how would Dick know that?

That aside, it's a good tale. The reason Dick fails at stopping Two-Face in the first place is because he gets spotted too easily, reaffirming the need for this particular training. Again, there's fun to be had with the hero not yet having found his costume, spending the climax in a Day of the Dead skeleton costume. I'm not as enamored of the idea that the bird motif Nightwing WILL wear is the invisible tribe's symbol, mostly because I don't think it needed an explanation. I AM enamored of Bo Hampton's art, however, dynamic as ever and managing some fun transitions (for example, from Dick burning his costume to Bruce thinking of him by the fireplace).
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: In the original comics, Nightwing got his name from the Kandorian hero who bore that name (and which had once been Superman's Kandorian identity); post-Crisis, Superman shared the story of a Kryptonian urban legend called Nightwing with young Dick. Nightwing's costume choices stem from the name and does not link back to some tribal totem as it does here.

REREADABILITY: Medium-High - The villain feels forced, but this reminds me of how much I probably prefer Dick Grayson to Batman.


American Hawkman said...

Two-Face's drug op here bears some semblance to his plan in Jason Todd's early career as Robin Pre-CRISIS in South America. Interesting.


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