Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bruce Waynes' lack of Parenting Skills?

I've been hearing arguments on how Bruce should know how to be a good father by now and how he pretty much did a good job with his other sons. Which reminded me of Nightwing Year One (a.k.a. Nighting Vol 1. issues 101-106) This was a retelling of how Dick Grayson became Nightwing and to a lesser extent how Jason Todd became Robin. Taking another look at it you see how truly messed up Bruce Wayne is because he has some serious issues with dealing with the boys. Writer Chuck Dixon even had Bruce doing something to Robin before Frank Miller did!

While the story is mainly told through Dicks' view it's pretty clear to see that Bruce is screwed up. The origin of Nightwing changes on how they broke apart, once because Dick was shot as Robin. Here Bruce is furious because Dick a.) is always busy with the Titans i.e. not acting like a partner/sidekick and b.) he's acting more independent/not always listening. When he fires Dick he adds insult to injury by telling him to leave the new costume Alfred made him behind basically telling him that he can't be Robin anymore. Not surprising or that alarming right?

Well it gets more disturbing. After getting advice from Superman Dick heads to the circus to find himself again. Although he doesn't realize it for a while he's being watched by Deadman, who isn't just looking after his own love ones but apparently spying on Dick for Bruce. Meanwhile Alfred comes down to the cave believing Dick has returned. This is where it gets down right creepy. The post-Crisis Jason Todd origin was basically stealing the tires off the batmobile then Batman stupidly sending him to a school run by criminals. Jason informs him of this and they fight together to take them down. Impressed by the kid Batman decides to take him in. I could see wanting to take Batmans' goof with the school out but at least in that version he sees what Jason is capable of before deciding what to do.

Here Alfred finds a boy tied up and gagged thinking it's Dick only to find a clearly terrified Jason Todd.  (At least Miller didn't have Batman tie Grayson up.) Batman explains the tire snatching, orders Alfred to make sandwiches (yeah that's better than Miller) as he leads a freaked out Jason into the shadows saying their going to talk. The next time we see Jason he's in the Robin suit asking how he looks to a shocked Alfred. Many have taken this scene to mean that Jason took the suit without asking but Bruce is in the cave with him without a mask. He's not surprised. Jason asks if Bruce is his real name which means that Batman didn't tell him before giving him the suit. Since the last time they showed Jason he was scared and now he's happily taking the Robin job without getting any information I can only draw one conclusion: Jason has Stockholm Syndrome. 

Batman makes a freaking tracking device to put into Jasons' Robin belt which even Alfred has to give a snarky reply about Batman working on his trust issues. Alfred is actually pretty clear on his stance that Batman pushes too hard and has impossible standards.

Batman is frankly horrible to the boys as he has Jason study the footage of Nightwing, not bothering to tell him who is behind the mask. Oh Jason knows about Robin/Dick Grayson (one of the few things Batman bothered to inform him of in this story) but he doesn't get the connection to Nightwing until Dick let's it slip that Jason is wearing his old costume. This is how they meet and Dick finds out he's been replaced. Batman had Barbara set Nightwing up to meet the new Robin and since he never bothered explain anything (we never get the whole plan) the boys are understandably annoyed with each other. Jason even assumes that Batman set this up as a test for him to fight Nightwing. (Since it's his first time out that doesn't go too well.) 

What makes it worse is that the plan to test the second Robin has Alfred dressing up as Two-Face. The story reminds us that Dick has bad memories of Two-Face beating the crap out of him and almost hits Alfred because of it. Another fact that isn't stated in this story is that Two-Face killed Jasons' father (he discovered that on the computer because Batman never told him.) Even if his father wasn't killed yet Batman had to have some idea Willis Todd was working with him, so all around it looked like a bad plan to get rises out of the boys. In the end Dick and Jason work together and for all it's flaws it is an enjoyable story. But I can't read it without thinking Bruce has some serious issues. So let's hope he grew some for Damians' sake.


  1. I'm glad that I've never read this. Sheesh!

  2. To be fair it had some great moments with Dick and how he relates to people like Superman, the Titans, and his past. It's one of the few stories that makes you remember why Dicks' such a good character. I also adored his bonding moments with Jason which were adorable. Seriously there's one moment that's my favorite for both Dick and Jason because it's so cute.

    But the stuff showing how obsessed Bruce is and them promoting Babs/Dick while blasting Kory/Dick brings it down.