Comic Conjecture: Nolan’s Nightwing
In the tradition of the Joker Hardcover that was released after Nolan’s second Batman film, Dark Knight, this week’s Comic Conjecture focuses on the possibility of a universe that continues Nolan’s grim and gritty retelling of the Batman story. We all saw the end of Dark Knight Rises and while we may have had mixed feelings, Bruce Wayne is no longer the Batman. His new stand in is Robin Jonathan Blake. With a totally new direction for the films, our only option is a continuation on the glossy.
As for the first story arch of the new series, I would call it Prodigal Son. The first issue would focus on the dissonance between the current Batsuit, and John Blake’s skillset. I imagine it would play out a lot like Batman: Earth One. Petty mistakes, small technical issues, and more passion than tactician would be the order of the series. I mean the the suit was built for a ninja, not a scrappy detective. The difference here would be that John would modify the suit, bit by bit, to fix his own issues with it, a lot like Bruce did throughout the Dark Knight Trilogy.
The larger story will deal with the Court of Owls. For those of you who do not know, the Court of Owls is a secret society of wealthy and influential people who supposedly control Gotham City. They always employ a Talon, or assassin, to carry out their dirty work.
The Bat Computer left to John at the end of the third movie would have a file of open investigations, one of which would be an analysis of many of Bane’s “targets” during his supposed revolution. John would then go check up on some of them, encountering an agent in an owl themed costume, the Talon, destroying information or walking away from the murder of someone. Blake would engage him and lose, but make it out with a jump drive or hard drive with information on it regarding the court. Not knowing exactly how to start looking for a society that is so experienced at hiding, he goes in search of some insight on how assassins and secret societies think.
This leads us to Harleen Quinzel, a highly intelligent new comer to Gotham, working at the rebuilt Arkham Asylum, studying the “Escalation Phenomenon.” She is working with the Bat Rogues trying to understand what about the situation has spawned so many “super villains.” Blake contacts her and begins asking her questions.
Blake and Quinzel start a relationship and in his nightly patrols he meets the Talon again. Once more he loses, but he does better, this time taking a picture of the mask-less talon. Injured he makes his way to Quinzel’s house revealing to her that he is Batman. This intrigues her and makes her even more into him. At the same time, she has been and still is reading the Joker’s notebooks from his brief incarceration in Arkham. The bizarre philosophies of the Joker and her increasing connection to Blake are beginning to weaken her grip on reality. By the third time Blake has met the Talon, his newly modified suit looks more like Nightwing’s and he is holding his own against the assassin.
In a pivotal scene, Blake is discussing with Quinzel that he needs to stop the Court. She says to just let the Talon do his thing, as Gotham worked just fine before Batman showed up, and he wouldn’t be showing up to her house bloody as often. The disagreement begins to highlight the unhinged properties of her mind, and Blake breaks it off. Shortly after, he encounters the Talon again, who leads him on a long chase that ends in the entrance to a marble labyrinth beneath gotham, the Labyrinth of the Owls.
Those of you who have read the Court of Owls story arch in the new 52 know that the labyrinth is a physical and mental challenge that lasts days. It usually defines the new Talon. While Nightwing is hunting the Talon, dire events are happening in the world beyond.
Harleen, broken by being dumped and unhinged from her research seeks solace in what has become her guiding light, her Socrates, the Joker. Having no more notebooks to read, Quinzel heads to the cell he was once held in and finds a catatonic girl in the room, who was abused so heinously by her father that she retreated into catatonia.
Harleen sits and begins talking to the girl, and something happens. The more she talks, the farther her story steps outside the realm of reality. Over several days, she has brought the girl out of her catatonia with the story, which she believes is about herself. Harleen spins a tale of Harvey Dent, the vicious father who wouldn’t recognize the girl as his own, and beats and brutalizes her regularly. Then a shining example of enlightenment and freedom saves her, smiling with his charming smile, and dragging her out of her serious world. Obviously this is the Joker. Finally the batman “kills” Joker. The girl’s healing madness begins to take root in her eyes and we jump back to Nightwing.
The Labyrinth scene reaches climax with Nightwing and the Talon fighting with an audience of the Court itself. Nightwing defeats the Talon and the Court offers him the position as the Talon, helping the Court return order to the streets. Their offer has a tantalizing carrot at the end of the stick:
“How badly do you want to know the truth about your parents.”
Before Blake can answer, the labyrinth begins to rumble, retainers hurry the Court away, and our hero is forced to find his own way out. They come out just beneath the Securitas building in Gotham, which was built in the Narrows to deal with the security around Arkham. The explosion of a fuel truck destroying part of Securitas. The driver is none other than Harleen Quinzel, now fully into her delusion as Harley Quinn.
Nightwing chases her into Arkham, which is now unlocked do to emergency protocols, should the buildings integrity be threatened all doors open as it would be inhumane to let even violent mental patients be buried and burned to death in their cells. Nightwing tries to stem the tide of villains that escape but his main focus is still on Harley. This culminates in a fight between Harley and Blake, then a cheap shot from…you guessed it, the Joker’s Daughter. With the tide turning, Blake is losing but struggling against it and just before he dies, Talon saves him by killing Quinn. His explanation is that he lost to Nightwing before the Court, the only way to get his title back is to defeat Nightwing himself. Another wave of prisoners escapes separating Talon and Nightwing and the Joker’s Daughter escapes in the chaos.
Nightwing successfully closes down the asylum before the majority of the crazies get out, but the few who do are the higher intelligence ones, like Edward Nygma, Oswald Cobblepot, and Dr. Crane. The end of the arch would show Joker’s Daughter walking into a party store with an unsheathed knife, the Talon joining the GPD under a false name, and Blake removing the cowl completely, leaving the symbolism of the Bat behind and fully becoming Nightwing.
So what do you think intrepid readers? Would this be a good continuation of the Dark Knight Trilogy on glossy pages? Let me know in the comments below!