Warning! This article contains spoilers for Batman: Beyond The White Knight #2
While Nightwing has long been regarded as Batman’s star pupil, it seems he has fallen from grace in a big way, as Batman Beyond proves that Dick Grayson is actually Bruce Wayne’s worst Robin.
Dick Grayson became Robin after his parents were murdered by a Gotham City mob boss, and Bruce Wayne took him in as his own. Since then, Batman has been Dick’s greatest mentor, training him in the ways of being a superhero throughout his formative years and continued to be there for him after he went off to become his own hero, Nightwing. Not only was Dick Batman’s first Robin, but he proved to be his best and even helped train Damian Wayne after Batman took him in from the League of Assassins. However, in an alternate future within DC Comics, Nightwing completely lost faith in Bruce’s mission of using vigilante justice to clean up Gotham and instead put his faith in another form of justice — and in doing so, proved to be Batman’s greatest disappointment.
In Batman: Beyond The White Knight #2 by Sean Murphy with Dave Stewart, Bruce Wayne has escaped from prison after being locked up for vigilantism when it came out that he was actually Batman. While on the run, Bruce encounters some law enforcement agents of the GTO (Gotham Terrorist Oppression Unit) including the man in charge of the unit, his old ward, Dick Grayson. Even with all of the advanced technology at the GTO’s disposal, Bruce is still able to swiftly defeat Dick in a one-on-one fight. After he beats him, Bruce looks at Dick disappointingly and says, “Sorry, Dick. But you took the wrong lessons from everything I tried to teach you. If you want to protect Gotham, you imprison the criminals… not the entire city.” Batman then leaves Dick lying in the dirt, defeated and broken, to contemplate what could be his final lesson from Batman.
In this dark neo-tech future of Batman Beyond, the GTO have essentially placed Gotham under martial law as crime in the city was deemed too out of control for the police force to handle alone. That means constant surveillance, curfews, and endless suspicion of every single city resident. While crime has gone down, so has the quality of life for everyone living in Gotham, making this new “safer” version of the city an even worse place to live than it was before, and Dick Grayson has become an integral part of this totalitarian system. Under the guise of protecting innocent people, Dick has already condemned them to live in what is basically a city-wide prison, trapping them under the GTO’s control and calling it safety.
There was a time when Nightwing would move outside of the law to do what was right, especially if there was corruption or prejudices present within the legal system. Now, Dick has become the very thing that he and Batman fought so hard against, a dark entity that has completely taken over Gotham City just as any number of supervillains tried to do in the past. The only difference is the GTO has the law on their side, which makes them even more dangerous. Instead of working to take it down and free the people of Gotham from this terrifying fate, he joins them and fights every day for its continued existence, even if that means fighting against the man who tried to train him to be the greatest version of himself.
After selling his soul to a totalitarian entity in the name of peace and safety in the latest Batman Beyond storyline, Nightwing proves that he is Batman’s worst Robin.
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