DCAU #250: Old Wounds

IN THIS ONE... Nightwing recalls how he and Batman parted ways.

CREDITS: Written by Rich Fogel; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: When a story is told in both the television and comics formats, then the televised version is always the preferred one, and in this case, though the episode cover ground surveyed in the previously-reviewed Lost Years mini-series (specifically "Lost Years" and "Graduation Day"), Bader's comics script was based on the as-yet-uncompleted "Old Wounds". And yet, for someone who experienced both show and comics in their actual chronology, there's an annoying sense of deja vu. You know most of the bits, and you miss the ones missing (for me, it's Batgirl much expanded role and Dick more clearly committing to fighting crime even though he quits the Dynamic Duo).

Still, the story has impact. In condensed form, the Joker isn't behind the scenes so much, the Babs-Dick relationship is more romantic, and that punch at the end of the story floors you as much as it does Batman. Wow. And one thing the comic perhaps did badly was suspense. Here, a plane actually starts flying over Gotham as Batgirl tricks the Joker into destroying his radar jammer, a real ticking clock where in the comics, there really never was any visible jeopardy.

To fit it in the New Batman Adventures, there's a frame tale that explores the Dick-Tim relationship further. Dick bails out his replacement and at first, only sees another victim of Batman's manipulations. Tim makes him see he's not all that different from Batman, the old story of the son rejecting the father even as he goes on to take his place. When at the end, Dick finds Connor, a henchman badly treated by Batman in front of his own family, the very moment that made Dick quit, now an employee of Bruce Wayne's, he realizes Batman perhaps played it too close to the vest. That the Batman persona is not truly reflective of who Bruce is. Or that he had more of an effect on the old man than he thought. After all, why would the Bat maintain a team of lighter heroes if not to keep him from falling off the edge. And in that moment, Nightwing finds closure. And the capacity to forgive.

SOUNDS LIKE: Connor is played by recognizable soap actor Ian Buchanan () who doesn't quite manage an American accent all the way through; he was also Dick Tremayne on Twin Peaks.

REWATCHABILITY: High (unless you read the comics first, then Medium-High)
- Irksome deja vu still doesn't take away the story's power, especially once you see it "acted".


Anonymous said...

I consider this a very important episode to show people, even if there are episodes I enjoy more. Critics of Batman always complain "well why doesn't Bruce Wayne do more" and this episode shows us that Bruce Wayne DOES do more.

The question sometimes comes up of whether Bruce Wayne or Batman is the "real" person, and I think the answer is: Bruce Wayne, when he's among confidantes, is the real person. He's the man who uses all his resources as best as he can. Batman is a useful role because he does things that Bruce Wayne the Industrialist, Bruce Wayne the Philanthropist, and Bruce Wayne the Socialite cannot -- all of the above are Bruce Wayne using different skills to address different problems.

And there are those who say that Bruce is obsessed with fighting crime; I say that he's obsessed with fighting human suffering. If you've ever seen a comic where Batman rescued someone from a burning house, you know that his deal is helping people, whether or not the threat is crime. And as we see in this episode, Bruce not only made sure that whatshisname could find employment (and thus an alternative to crime), but also made sure he's got his dignity and be someone his family can be proud of.

Siskoid said...

Good point. Superheroes are usually more than "crime fighters".

LiamKav said...

I get the feeling this is the sort of episode I'd have loved in the 90s, when Dark, Manipulative Batman was still new (ish), but by this point I'm really tired of it. One thing I liked about BTAS was that Batman wasn't just a grim avenger of the night. He could occasionally smile, or do banter with Dick. Here though, he's just a massive arse. And the episode doesn't quite explain his change of temperament from the end of The New Batman & Robin Adventures to Dick quitting. In the old show, it felt like they were partners. Dick was there on his own terms, when he wanted to be (ie, when he wasn't busy with college). He had his own life that sometimes involved being Robin, and sometimes didn't. The bit here where Bruce calls him during his graduation and demands he suit up just feels out of character compared to the old show. Bruce was never this harsh.

Another issue is that the flashback feels too modern. Dick's costume is the only thing faithful to BTAS. The Batmobile, grappling guns, Batman's costume, character design, Bruce Wayne's voice, even Batgirl's costume (surely it would make more sense for Bruce to have given her the black and yellow version)... they're all TNBA rather than BTAS, which seems a shame. (It's been ages since I read the comic version, but I believe there's a slower changeover from old to new looks in that.)

Small points:

- I like Tim being a "Batman and Robin" fanboy. It ties him slightly more into his comic version.

- Anon up there said it better that I could... I really like the whole bit of Bruce making sure the hood had a job. It's an important part of his character, something that Morrison highlighted frequently in his run. I actually disagree slightly with your comment Siskoid that he's more than a "crime fighter". I think that's EXACTLY what Batman is, but the tools he uses to fight crime are varied. Sometimes he fights crime by punching clowns in the face, sometimes he does it by renovating areas of Gotham to create jobs, and sometimes he does it by making sure a guy doesn't end up homeless. It's all to fight crime. Or rather, to stop crime.

- Y'know, this might be my age, but I'm getting really uncomfortable with the mild sexism in this show. In some ways it feels worse than BTAS. It's not that Barbara wears sexy clothes (going to Dick's grad ball in that black number was fine), it's that it's all sexy, all the time. Grad ball... tiny dress. Going to sleep... tiny nightie. Going to see Bruce Wayne because you're concerned about your kinda-boyfriend... tiny skirt. Follow that up with the Joker creeping on her multiple times when she turns up, and a long for the days when all we got was "it's a g...g...g...g...girl!", rather than "Hello Nurse!"


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