*What follows may contain spoilers for Batman if you are not caught up*
recently set to rest a lot of the speculation floating around by revealing that once Bruce Wayne returns Dick Grayson will not be stepping down and we will in fact have 2 Batmen in the DC Universe. Dick Grayson will be Batman in Batman, Batman and Robin, and Detective Comics. Bruce Wayne will take the lead in Batman Inc., The Dark Knight, and (the almost always forgotten by anyone talking about the Batbooks) Batman Confidential. Dick Grayson will remain the protector of Gotham City while Bruce takes a more global approach.
I wrote before about the massive number of books in the Bat Family, and mentioned at the time that I didn’t actually want Bruce Wayne back because I wanted more of Dick as Batman. Well, it seems as though DC has helped to settle my trepidation about that. And honestly, it does solve some of the editorial problems I foresaw as well. I think it will be easier to handle two separate Batmen than the same one in every book.
When I first heard that Bruce Wayne was making his completely expected return so soon I immediately thought, oh god, Dick better not just give up the cowl the second Bruce walks in saying ‘Well that was fun.’ If this past year had been nothing but stories with Dick Grayson bumbling around in his father’s clothes, never really fitting in as the Batman role and not really ever getting things right, then I might buy that kind of a reaction. I would also have been royally pissed off and this blog would be filled with a LOT more rage. But that’s not what happened. It is true that Dick Grayson never wanted to be Batman, and at first he felt awkward in the role (and seemingly ever writer working on the Batbooks got his shot at milking that idea). But he grew into it and made it his own.
Here’s an example. In issue 13 of Batman and Robin Dick is riding in the Batmobile with Commissioner Gordon. Now Gordon isn’t stupid and is well aware that this is a different Batman. He points out that Dick calls him Commissioner Gordon while the “other Batman” had always called him Jim. Dick just smiles and tells him that he’ll keep calling him Commissioner Gordon if that's okay. And then Gordon makes the comment that most of the cops in Gotham LIKE HIS WAY OF DOING THE BATMAN THING BETTER. No, I’m not saying that this means that Dick is better than Bruce and that we have no reason to have Bruce around or anything silly like that. But what I do feel it shows is that Dick is doing a damn fine job as Batman, and that he should be aware of this fact. He can’t play the “No one believes I’m really Batman card” anymore. He is Batman. He is a different Batman than Bruce was, but he is a good one nonetheless. After a comment like that (from one of the most respected men in all of the Batman books) it would make absolutely zero sense to me for Dick to just throw off the cowl without a second thought.
Also, it wouldn’t make sense for Bruce Wayne to come back and not recognize what a freaking awesome job Dick has done, not just with being Batman, but with helping to shape Damian as a person. Little shit that he still is, Damian is loyal to Dick. He is Dick Grayson’s Robin. They have a good thing going there. And Bruce isn’t so single minded as to not be able to see that. Come on, Bruce is a strategist. He should be able to look at the situation and say, “hey things are going pretty well. I’ve still got a job to do, but I can focus my attentions elsewhere now that the kids are holding down the fort in Gotham.”
I personally do not feel that Dick Grayson going back to being Nightwing would be a demotion. Dick proved himself a hero outside of the shadow of the bat. That identity is still his, and I’m sure that somewhere down the line that’s what things will return to. I just don’t want it to happen yet. I want Dick to really think about what being Batman means to him. Yes, we ALL know he initially didn’t want to do it. And Bruce didn’t want him to do it. But in true heroic fashion, Dick saw a need and filled it despite his personal feelings. And now, it will change from being an obligation to being a choice. And I think that it makes sense for Dick now to WANT to keep doing what he is doing. He’s found a rhythm and he’s made the cowl his own.
I’m optimistic about things to come. We get more Dick Grayson Batman and people who only wanted to read about Bruce in the cowl have their books too. Things are new and different and it will be nice to see these ideas explored. And this outcome makes far more sense to me than a lot of others would. I know fans are divided on this new idea, and what new idea doesn’t divide the fan base these days? I have no ill will toward anyone who hates the idea of two Batmen. I don’t think I’m right and they are wrong. I simply hope that we can agree to disagree and keep an open mind until we actually see the stories in action. Then we can all react with praise or rage as required.