Many fans have been waiting ever since it was revealed that Bruce Wayne was displaced in time during Final Crisis #7 for the moment of his return. It’s happening this April with Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne #1 shipping this May. On the flip-side, many other fans have been wondering what will happen to Dick Grayson when Bruce finally returns.
Now, according to the recent Wondercon, Dick Grayson will be part of the Justice League of America as Batman for at least two more years. On top of that, I think that Grant Morrison’s ‘season two’ of Batman and Robin will still be featuring Dick Grayson under the cowl. I’m rather doubtful of James Robinson’s word with regards to the Justice League of America’s roster because the membership has been editorially driven as of late. I think it’s had four major revisions since it’s relaunch in 2006 – that’s a lot if you were wondering.
So as of right now, I’m guessing that we’re getting at least one more year worth of stories with Dick Grayson under the cowl. Supposing his tenure as Batman ends there, what happens next? I share four possible ideas that might play out under the cut. Oh, and please be warned that there will be spoilers for Batman and Robin.
1.) He dies at the end of his run as Batman.
Ah, yes – why not? There are hints of either him or Bruce kicking the bucket in Batman #666, Damian’s ‘Thomas and Martha Wayne’ moment if you will, that convinces him to take up the cowl of the Batman.
Now it’s not the first time his death was pitched. In the pages of Infinite Crisis, he was considered dead until the decision to kill him was met with resistance from DC Editorial and subsequently changed with a last minute revision to add him in a later scene.
But why does he have to die? One of the reasons I thought of was that there was no other place that the character could go anymore. He was created as a sidekick and given the ‘sidekick promise’ of one day replacing Batman. Now that he’s reached the top, I don’t really like the idea of him going back to where he once was. It’d feel like a regression, in a way.
Another reason is that he makes Bruce Wayne look rather old. Bruce seems to be perpetually frozen in his mid- to late-thirties, while Nightwing looks to be slowly yet surely catching up with him. I’ve seen estimates from 22, which is alright, to the late 20’s, which is rather too old.
But to be frank, I’d prefer him alive. It feels rather selfish to kill off a character for your story as it forces an entire shared universe to lose one character. He has ties to almost everyone in the DC Universe and losing a character like Dick makes the DC Universe a little less richer.
Also, I’d imagine that the fan backlash would be tremendous. If you thought Ted Kord’s death caused an uproar, I’d like to see what you call the hell that will be unleashed if they decide to kill Grayson off.
2.) He returns to being Nightwing.
I don’t dislike this idea as much as I dislike killing him off but I don’t really like it either. Sure, Nightwing was a great identity. But I really feel that he’s done it all under this guise. He’s established himself as his own man, protected his own city for awhile, established his rogue’s gallery, and even proved to the rest of the Batclan that he is the only one, right now, capable of filling the gap that Bruce left.
I feel that there’s no good reason for him to go back to the identity. He’s doing perfectly well as Batman right now, sure he’s made his mistakes but he’s handled all of them rather gracefully. The dynamic he has right now is something different, it’s something new. He’s done it before, sure. I’m sure there were plenty of stories before that have him wearing the Batman costume. But those were different. In those stories, he tried to replace Batman and failed just to show that Bruce Wayne is irreplaceable.
This time however, he’s doing it differently. He’s not trying to replace everything Bruce brought to the table, instead he’s filling in the gap that Bruce left by doing his own thing. He doesn’t have Bruce’s mind or detective skills, but he displays fantastic leadership skills and the willingness to cooperate with other people.
It’s just really refreshing to see, so why not just keep him as Batman? But what of Bruce Wayne? This leads me into my third idea.
3.) Dick stays as Batman with Bruce taking on the role of a mentor.
Very Batman Beyond-ish, I know. What can I say? I’m a sucker for nostalgia. This feels rather similar with what Marvel is doing with Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes, hell you could say that the storylines in both Batman and Captain America have been eerily similar lately but that’s another discussion in itself.
I like this idea because it keeps Dick as Batman and lets Bruce do something else. He could, for example, be mentoring Damian, do the ‘detective part’ of the job. There are plenty of ways they could get Bruce to slip into the background for awhile and let us readers get more of what we’re currently enjoying.
Of course, there will still be complaints from the fans who want Bruce back in the cowl. I think the best, and perhaps my favorite idea, to make everyone happy would be:
4.) Batmen and Robin
There’s a panel in ‘Batman in Bethlehem’ that has two Batman costumes and a Robin costume posed together in a trophy case. Of course, this might not mean anything, but it would be very cool if we had two Batman patrolling the night instead of just one.
Bruce could keep Batman and Detective Comics while Dick and Damian continue their dynamic in Batman and Robin. He could even continue making appearances in Justice League of America since he’s more inclined to working with teams. I’d say that everyone wins in this situation. The fans get Bruce back in the cowl and Dick finds a new place in the DC Universe.
Now people might argue that it might ‘cheapen’ the name of Batman if more than one was running around. But with three Flashes running around and five Earth-based Green Lanterns, I’d say that the DC Universe has more than enough room for two Batmen. I’m sure the citizens of Gotham would definitely be pleased.