Pretty, Fizzy Paradise

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Saturday, June 03, 2006

Now *this* is gonna get me in trouble!

Okay, so over at Cshiana's blog, she posted this.

Basically at a panel at a convention, Dan Didio said, “I wanted Nightwing dead. Follow Nightwing’s story- he was supposed to die!”

And this is where I piss off EVERYONE
I agree with Dan Didio. Nightwing should have died in Infinite Crisis.

Look, honestly, Dick Grayson has been ruined as a character. He's been ruined for a long time. We all have ideas as to how to fix him.

But in the end, he's been ruined.

Dick was at one point in time, I reckon, one of the most popular characters in the DCU. Girls loved him, Boys wanted to be him...or something like that. He was fun, attractive, brave and competent. But that started to change.

I think the creative staff during Ms. Grayson's run combined with those on Mr. Winick's Outsiders really killed the character.

See, Ms. Grayson's run was polarizing for the character. A lot of people (mostly women) really liked it, liked it better than Dixon's run previously. Which is great. But the problem is, a lot of people started hating it. And really hating the reconception of the character. I'm not going to say which group's right or wrong. I'm not going to try to say Ms. Grayson's run wasn't exciting and well-written, because for all my own problems with it, I did find it so.

But the talent of the writer isn't the issue here. The change in direction for the character actually started in the Dixon run anyway, I think. But regardless, what you have is a character that went from being the character that everyone liked, (even warring Hal and Kyle fans, for example) to being one loved by a small portion of the comic fandom and reviled by the rest.

Usually DC's pretty good about keeping the crossovers compatible. But somehow while Dick Grayson was in the midst of his whole dramatic and traumatic, red suited, teaming with Deathstroke, vaguely mob storyline, he appeared everywhere else as a competent, reasonably settled heroic character. I think that probably says something about the state of mind toward the character at the time.

Winick's Outsiders didn't help either, in fact, it made it worse. While Ms. Grayson tore him apart personally, Winick took apart the one thing Nightwing had going for him. His leadership ability. Dick suddenly went from being a good leader if shaky in his personal life (which I could like, being a Cyclops fan), to being a bad leader as well. Dick in Outsiders was a mess, too caught up in his own pain over Donna to be a good leader and Roy and Anissa suffered for it.

I'm reminded of Dave at Dave's Long Box's about Gambit where he complains that Gambit essentially has "Richard Gere syndrome". Too often written as the perfect lover in chick flicks that men can no longer identify with him as one of the guys. Gambit's whole Rogue tragedy, he argues, basically does the same thing.

And I think between them Winick and Grayson (and their creative teams) managed to do that same thing with poor Dick Grayson. He's no longer really able to be divorced from his angst and pain and victimization. And while that can work for some fans, the majority, I think have been turned off. We all like Dick, but we like the Dick of times past, I think.

And it's only gotten worse OYL. Our options are a whiny incompetent stupid male model and a mercenary who'll pimp Thunder out for World Peace. Joy.

At this point I think Jade is more salvageable.

But anyway, as for Infinite Crisis? Dick *should* have died there.

Seriously, look at his story-arc. He's portrayed as a motivational force for everyone but is largely ineffectual in his own attempts, it's asking about him that keeps Bruce from turning to the dark side. It's Dick Grayson's goodness that even makes Kal-L hesitate in writing the whole Earth-New off the way Alexander Luthor had.

And his death would have created a tremendous impact for the whole DCU. Dick is one of the most loved characters in the universe, if not without anymore. His death would be a meaningful explanation for Bruce softening and trying to reach out to the remaining people around him (Selina, Tim). It'd be a damn good reason for Tim to be batshit crazy and trying to reclone the one lost person he could possibly get back.

Heck, it could even be a more plausible explanation for Cassandra going insane too (though I still don't think that story's what it seems.) She might not have known him as well, but she liked him too, and the ramifications and implications of his tragic line-of-duty loss might have unforeseen effects. Okay, it's a stretch, but it's better than suddenly discovering she had a sister as motivations go.

Now, I've seen people complain about this on message boards too, and the funny thing is, a lot of these folks were complaining that every major death in Infinite Crisis was predictable. You knew by the first issue Conner would kick it. The other deaths were all largely meaningless and without impact. And naturally Kal-L, Superboy and Alexander Luthor were probably going to die, except for whoever would end up the most dangerous, who'd be kept for later use.

But Nightwing's death would have been *shocking*. It would have been horrifying. And it would have been meaningful. He'd be the Barry Allen to Conner's Supergirl. The death that is more mundane in execution (no cradling in Superman/Wonder Girl's arms with screaming grief) but the one that ultimately hits harder, I think.

The fans would grieve for Conner but they'd rage for Nightwing. The turmoil would have been *glorious*.

I'm not surprised that DC didn't have the balls to do it. How in the world could the heroic death of the Sensational Character Find of 1940 *ever* compare in emotion and depth to dozens of dead Titans most of us have long forgotten.

Yeah, the fan fury would be insane. But that would *benefit* the company. Apathetic and disappointed fans stop buying comics, but enraged fans? Enraged fans buy *more*. Enraged fans rant and rave and put up such a fuss that even non-comic readers will peek in and take a look.

And believe me, "They killed Dick Grayson?!" would have gotten them to take a look. The media attention for gay Batwoman would have *nothing* on this shit-storm.

Hey, you gotta give Didio credit for one thing. Like him or hate him. Think he's a genius or completely full of shit...the man has *balls.*

And I can't say I disagree with him: Nightwing should have died.


  • At June 03, 2006 10:47 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said…

    I concur. That would've been frickin' *fantastic.* It would have been one hell of a thing. The effect would've been far-reaching *and* interesting. Too bad they didn't go through with it.

  • At June 03, 2006 11:24 PM, Blogger Centurion said…

    Heh....honestly...I would have absolutely loved to see him dead. Wish he had a great death, like a Klingon in a hopeless battle. That way the death could have meaning, so it could eventually be accepted.

    Yes, everyone would have been totally up in arms over his death. It would have been so fun.

    Then again, they killed Jason Todd off and brought him back. They would have brought Dick back in another 10-20 years in the next crisis anyway...

  • At June 04, 2006 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I absolutely agree. One of the things I always hated about the reactions to IC was that people kept saying how moving and great it was, but then in the same breath said it killed people no one would care about and not create a fuss. As if that was a good thing. As much as it's unfair and coming out of my bitterness toward the whole thing, it's awfully cowardly. It's a cop-out to try to have this big, epic, chaotic scene meant to be really tragic and effecting, yet wuss out by very obviously getting rid of characters who haven't been used much. People will say it's "realistic" because people do get killed without warning... yet demand the popular people like Nightwing get to be protected or have some great meaning. Because, as we all know, death waits for popular people.

    The even more annoying thing is that the rationale for killing those characters is that they are being wasted, useless, badly written. Yet the same criticisms are made about Nightwing and Donna Troy, and they get all the chances in the world. It's just "fame." All thanks to the benefit of being a derivative and "famous." Figures, Johns fights to keep Nightwing alive, puts Kid Devil (Blue Devil's sidekick) and Slade's daughter on the Titans, and kills off Pantha. :P

    Although a good part of that may be my bitterness taking over. But it comes reading message boards from people who say, "Oh it's OK because they were fifth-stringers, but not Dick!" As if popularity (rather, the lack of it) makes bad, lazy, cheap writing OK.

    I need to try and get a better hold on that bitterness...

  • At June 04, 2006 1:23 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    diamondrock: Yeah! And you know, if they really wanted to do extreme 180s to characters, at least this would have the shock value to almost allow it.

    centurion: The chaos would be tremendous! And yeah, a character like Dick...brought back in a Titans arc or something anyway, but still, it'd be awesome.

    jlg: Well, I have to admit, I do think it's better to use lesser knowns for regular cannon fodder (though I'd tirade if one of my favorites died...I'm a hypocrite. :-P). But really so many Titan deaths were a little unnecessary when a single major death would have made as much an impact...

  • At June 04, 2006 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I respectfully disagree.

    "Look, honestly, Dick Grayson has been ruined as a character. He's been ruined for a long time. We all have ideas as to how to fix him. But in the end, he's been ruined."

    No such thing - not in comics. You cannnot ruin a character forever in comics. They can always be salvaged.

    What probably needs to happen with Dick is a hiatus - a LONG hiatus. Cancel the Nightwing book, have him disappear on a self-imposed exile for a few years, wandering the world, finding himself, whatever, then he comes back to a fanbase that is nostalgic for Dick Grayson and a nearly clean slate.

    You could even potentially achieve the same thing by killing him off, but then when the eventual ressurection story comes around (and there WILL be a ressurection - make no mistake), you have to figure out a way to bring him back without mucking about with Batman continuity - writing him out to 'find himself' works much better for Batman characters.

    A few years travelling the world, a few in a monastary, followed by a Gotham-shaking event that puts Bruce in a bad situation that he needs Dick to help him with and bam - instantly redeemed character. The past 10 years of crappy storytelling (Dick Grayson as noir? What the hell are they thinking?) disappears (or at least is conveniently forgotten by the writers and the fans) and people can start telling stories about Robin all growed up, instead of bitter and angry Dick Grayson.

  • At June 04, 2006 1:04 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Before Infinite Crisis, ironically, I would have agreed.

    And actually really, I still do. He can be salvaged, but for now at least he's ruined.

    A sabbatical might work, but honestly, I still thinking killing him off in IC would have made the most sense. And been the most emotionally compelling.

    And it's not like the Titans/Outsiders couldn't do a resurrection story. Dick always did best when more focused in a team book than in Batman's book anyway.

    I suppose in general I'm annoyed that Dick gets to suck and live while Jade who is actually far more easily salvageable is killed. Besides, it'd really piss people off and I think that's what comics need to do sometimes. It proves people still care.

  • At June 04, 2006 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    My reading of Infinite Crisis also made me think Nightwing was a dead duck (that, plus Didio mentioning that Nightwing would have a big role in the IC, and the last time he said that, it was in relation to Ted Kord and the Countdown).

    Having both Superboy and Nightwing die would have given the big three a real reason to reconcile and examine their methods.

    Plus, it makes sense as to why his own comic seems to be the worst of the OYL ones: rushed, badly written, etc.

    On the other hand, I'd rather Nightwing go out in a better written crossover event, if they had to kill him.

    I think he's still salvagable, but they need to get a decent writer on his title. And get him out of the Outsiders.

  • At June 04, 2006 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Kal: A-#@$%-MEN! Hellthey could have even fixed Jason w/ it. It all so would have avoided the HORENDUS MESS the writers caused with the1st OYL panel. Where's my Holy Handgrenade of Antioch, I need to chuck it at whoever "saved" Dick be cause they really did the opposie

  • At June 04, 2006 4:52 PM, Blogger Richard said…

    My rebuttal got so long, I made it into a post at my blog. Fewer people will read it that way, but I felt the need to rant. Not, I hasten to add, at any of the fine people here!

  • At June 04, 2006 6:27 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Vincent: I think it'd definitely have a lot of wide-ranging effects. Everyone knew and liked Dick. His death could do so much...then naturally they could lazarus pit him.

    Honestly, I think even a good writer might have trouble at this point without a clean break. But it'd be a start. And no more Outsiders...if that's him at all.

    Green: I agree. Killing Dick would have let him go out a hero to be resurrected (possibly) later in a big Titans/JLA arc or something. Instead, by keeping him alive they've reduced him *even more*. Which saddens me.

    RAB. It's a good rebuttal, I've replied there. :-)

  • At June 04, 2006 10:04 PM, Blogger notintheface said…

    Kalinara, you overlook one thing: If there are legions of fans who long for a less angsty, more competent Nightwing, there are many writers who feel that way as well. There was a Fabian Nicieza interview where he described Dick as the super-dependable "go-to guy" of the DCU. And he's not alone. People like Johns, Jurgens, Busiek, Kelly, and others could write the Nightwing fans crave if given the chance. In the right hands, few characters are unsalvageable. Just ask Grant Morrison!

  • At June 04, 2006 10:11 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I believe you. And he *is* salvageable. But I still think killing him in IC would have been both awesome (for the series) and ballsy.

    I'm very impressed that Didio had the balls to suggest it, even if they didn't go for it. I don't get the anger some folks feel at him for making a *suggestion*.

  • At June 05, 2006 12:49 AM, Blogger Zaratustra said…

    You know, comic book writers are the only kind of writers I know that actually want to kill their fictional characters, and -brag- about it.

  • At June 05, 2006 12:51 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I dunno, I've seen a lot of fiction writers do the same thing. :-)

    Also TV writers. In interviews, producers of Lost have said that the lead character Jack had been planned to die in the pilot.

    Some creators/writers/producers have more of a sense of humor about it than others, I guess. :-)

  • At June 05, 2006 4:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I still have a grudge against Johns for cracking jokes about the death of you-probably-know-who. :P

    I don't know, I can't think of any fiction writers who joke or brag about the terrible things they do to their characters (at least outside of camp horror). It undermines what you were trying to do, if you meant the scene to be serious. I remember a great teacher once told an anecdote where James Joyce said, about his character Stephen Dedalus, that he might've been to hard on the boy.

  • At June 05, 2006 5:11 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    *shrug* gotta find some humor in your work. :-)

    Besides, a lot of the action shows have a lot of people joking about character death. It's a release of sorts. Really though, it's probably a bad idea to compare something like comics with either literature or other genres, and instead go for something of the same...scope.

    The obvious example would be soap operas, soap operas and comics have a lot in common. Both run over the span of decades, both have a decidedly cavalier attitude toward death.

    Soap Operas, like comics, give the audience a lot more time to get attached to characters that they've in many cases literally seen grow up on the screen.

    But you'll get a lot of interviews with the writers joking about the awful fates of some characters. It's just the way of it. Humor is an emotional relief and tragedy and comedy are very very closely tied together. Doesn't mean they don't care about the characters, but they recognize that in soap operas, like comics, there's an element of surreality that...complicates things.

    Let's compare number of deaths really...Marlena from Days of Our Lives versus Donna Troy.

    Besides, in general, I find I tend to prefer the writers that can joke about their characters. Those that take it too seriously, those that love their characters too much, take it a little too far in my opinion. (That's actually one of my biggest problems with Grayson's run of Nightwing.) The work becomes less about making an enjoyable story and more...self-oriented.

    It's all about the author's enjoyment of the character and it can go...overboard. ((A very exaggerated example could be seen in Mary Sue fanfiction, where the author's love of his or her own creation supercedes everything else to the detriment of the story and every other character.).

    Writers with more distance to the characters, more humor, tend to write better stories I think.

  • At June 05, 2006 7:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I dunno, sometimes it still feels out of place. I mean, I do agree that distance is good, but, alternatively, too much distance just makes it seem almost exploitative and mean-spirited. Not to mention, you lose sight of realistic or sensible character development. Sort of like the recent batch of horror movies like Chaos, Wolf Creek and Hostel, where the line between camp enjoyment and real horror becomes blurry. Characters are there just to be butchered in front of the camera, and there's no pay-off for the viewer, the killer gets away.

    My personal fanboy feelings are probably skewing my opinion, but it just feels like there's a careless, smug attitude towards killing characters that aren't "A-List" that seems particulalry rampant at DC. But there I go again. :)

  • At June 05, 2006 7:44 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    I think they've got a ways to go before they get that far. I don't think even the Pantha jokes are meant to be particularly mean spirited...

    But it does suck for the fans of the character, no question about it.

  • At June 05, 2006 9:53 AM, Blogger joncormier said…

    Man, Dick is just so wasted and yet so full of potential. It's a shame he's been painted into a corner of mediocrity and bad story telling. Yet how do you fix him? Personally I think a bit of a rebirth is in order. Suck it up and start remembering who you are and where you came from - Batman lite. He was the first boy sidekick, in fact the ONLY boy sidekick for most people, so what happens when he grows up? I don't think he'd be where he is. Just me thinking in type form...

  • At June 05, 2006 4:21 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Whoo hoo, this gets long! I ramble)

    *nod* I can't help but think about Sandy the Golden Boy when you say that. Sure Sand's far less exciting a personality (though I think he'd work well as the lead of some supernatural detective/drama type thing that's more about the weirdness of the surroundings than about his own personal drama, except in special occasions). He'll never be loved like Dick Grayson, but he's definitely, to me, a more satisfying character in terms of a promising child character grown into an adult.

    I think I know why too. Both Wesley and Bruce were characters designed to be well...essentually mundane. They're human men that solve problems through wits and will instead of superpowers (Wesley's dreams, as described in the modern DCU, are more of a passive thing and don't really count.) Both are prone to angst, though Bruce much more so, and both are surrounded by the supernatural and remain largely untouched. Instead, it's the darkness of their surroundings that are the greatest danger to them.

    Both Sandy and Robin were the bright, happy sidekicks. Robin got to do more physical tricks, Sandy got to be much more of a help with the detective work. Both however shared their mentors ultimate mundanity.

    Both also took positions as the most experienced members of teams at some point even though they had no powers of their own and little experience with the supernatural.

    Their paths diverged though, Sandman wasn't as popular as Batman, and Robin was much more of an icon. So you have an Earth 1 Batman and Robin. Sandman finally does get brought back, but on his own in the Earth-2 Justice Society.

    Sandy gets his fate told in a two-shot story in the seventies, where upon he's sand-monstered, and then fades completely.

    In a sense though, I think this really helped the character. It might have taken almost 25 years to bring him back, but when they brought him back it was golden. They made Sandy the Golden Boy cool, competent and capable. He wasn't flawless, but his lack of personal confidence was balanced by his utter capability. He is, thanks to his childhood experience, one of the most experienced members of the JSA and it shows. Even in storylines where he doesn't get to say much, he usually manages to be *very* effective battle support.

    The smackdown of Mordru in 79 was one of my favorite fight scenes ever.

    The fascinating thing though is that basically the whole sand-monster thing completely divorces him from what Wesley was. Even though their styles are similarly lowkey, and they share the prophetic dreams, Sand is something much more "other" than the Golden Boy or Wesley was. (For example, much as I love Wesley, I wouldn't ever want him resurrected. It would be counter to the kind of character he is. But Sand can get resurrected any time. He lacks that comfortable humanity/mundanity) But even with the transformation he's still recognizably the same character.

    Now Dick's been around constantly, which well, honestly, makes it a lot harder to change direction of the character. As much as I complain about Ms. Grayson's run, there wasn't any particular moment where Dick Grayson got caught up too much in all the angst and schtick. There isn't any one issue where I could say, "Okay, here's the turning point."

    I blame it on the inability to divorce Dick from Batman's legacy. Dick led the Titans, but in the end, he's always going to be Batman's ward. Which is a fine origin for the character. But they don't seem to be willing to let him move past it. And create very contrived means to keep him there.

    Constant failure of Batman, being fired, incompetence (ultimately even in being a team leader!) all served to keep Dick seperate enough from Bruce to warrant a solo title, but close enough to still be part of the Gotham group.

    I always taught Teen Titans, when they changed Dick from Robin to Nightwing was a really ballsy move. On level with turning the Golden Boy into a monster. But unfortunately I think it was honestly the last truly risky thing they'd ever done with the character. Everything after that seems to be about maintaining a status quo...which despite their efforts starts getting worse and worse.

    He's not Robin grown up, he's Robin stuck in perpetual adolescence. Growing up means changes, it means growing, it means finally drawing a line between the dependent, following child that you were and the independent adult that you've become.

    As a child, Dick had Batman training, Superman-like earnestness, a fun and charismatic personality. Someone with enough genuine warmth and magnetism that three year old Tim Drake imprinted on him on their first meeting. He was a good leader and something of a diplomat, one can imagine, for the surly jerk that is his post-crisis mentor.

    He's supposed to have grown-up, to have begun heroing on his own, to explore his relations to other heroes, to lead a powerful team completely free of his father-figure's shadow.

    Instead we've got a guy that's incompetent, constantly victimized, angsty and depressing, who gets overthrown from leadership of the Outsiders because he's too effected by Donna's death to do his damn job.

    That's *not* who Dick Grayson should be. But unfortunately that's who he is right now.

    I think rebirth is a good idea. Honestly, I think putting him aside for a few years real-time might be best. Send him off to a retreat, have him go to University, hell, let him go be a hero off screen, but leave him alone for a while. Then when he gets brought back, he can be re-imagined into the character he could and should be. The real grown-up Robin.

    One possible solution though that I like is Tom's. Making Dick into the center of that series would be a good way to do something different with him, get him out of the bat shadow, while keeping the core of the character alive. You'd have to scrap the Nightwing book in the process though.

    Just my long, rambling opinion of course. :-)

  • At July 27, 2006 2:14 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    erk. "I always taught" in the diatribe above should have been "I always thought"

    I really need to proofread my comments. :-)

  • At May 10, 2008 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You (and the people who agree with you) make me want to break things.

    That is all.

  • At May 10, 2008 10:26 PM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Heh, then I am oddly gratified. Go break away, little anonymous.


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