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Almost Hidden – Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson go on a Date

Even with this large amount of comic books that have been collected in trade paperbacks, there are still a number of great comic books that have never been reprinted (I’d say roughly 60% of them are DC Comics from the 1980s through the mid-1990s). So every day this month I will spotlight a different cool comic book that is only available as a back issue. Here is an archive of the comic books featured so far.

I want you folks to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com with your suggestions for comics that I should feature this month. I’d like to see what you all would like to see get more attention.

Reader Jill S. wanted me to spotlight the bizarrely unreprinted Birds of Prey #8, where Babrara Gordon and Dick Grayson go out on a date together. Written by Chuck Dixon and drawn by Greg Land and Drew Geraci, this was a fun issue.

It certainly helps that the writer of Birds of Prey was also the guy writing Nightwing, so he could do some notable stuff with Dick without worrying about messing up the plans of that Dixon guy over on Nightwing.

The book is all about Dick and Barbara getting together for a date (a non-date date, of course)…

What a striking sequence. First with the well-executed transition from their date to the “bomb” and then with the Joker bit and the realization that it was a joke, all capped by a nice, happy caption.

Drew Geraci is a wonderful inker and he did a bang-up job inking Greg Land on this issue.

This issue is filled with great character moments. Here’s another one…

This eventually leads into the key exchange of the book…

and then THE scene of the book…

You really should pick up the book to see what else happens out there on the trapezees. Also, the framing sequence of the story is notable in the development of the relationship between Oracle and Black Canary.

This is just a really well-developed, well-designed comic book by Chuck Dixon that managed to feel filled with action even though there is nary a villain in the book. Land and Geraci did a good job on the artwork.

This story really should be collected. The single issue sells for over FIFTY dollars on eBay!!! I’m sure DC can find a DC Comics Presents where they could fit this one in!

34 Comments

Neat issue — thanks for featuring it here.

Question: how much of the above is Greg Land? Because, if that’s his stuff above, that’s way better than his work on the X-Men books.

Geraci IS a fine inker, but that really was how Greg Land used to draw. And yeah, it is a marked improvement over his recent work.

Man, DC should go back and reread that “key exchange” between the two of them, pretty much sums up the whole “batgirl vs oracle” argument in one nice little panel

Ronald Jay Kearschner

August 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Fifty bucks! I’ve got to sell my copy! Actually, I love Dixon/Land BIRDS OF PREY. Chuck Dixon is underrated as a writer imho. He shows his characters through dialogue that sounds real and not overwrittten. And he keeps the action moving. See NIGHTWING #25. Dick and Tim Drake have a long conversation on a moving train while fighting thugs blindfolded.

Such a great issue, it truly does need to be reprinted, along with the rest of Dixon’s BoP run. It’s a crime that Dixon seems to be so undervalued, I’d love to see him make a return to one of the Batman books.
Also nice to be reminded of what Greg Land’s art used to look like before the photo tracing swallowed it whole.

WHY is this so expensive? It looks like a really great issue, but it can’t just be that, can it? There’s gotta be some first appearance or something, right? It’s really unusual for a single issue to be really expensive just because it’s really good.

Just looked it up, and don’t want someone to spoil it for anybody by responding to my question. I gotta say, that just doesn’t seem right. The pricing, I mean. It’s a big event and all, but this still seems weird to me.

Simple supply and demand, isn’t it? There is a high demand for an important issue like this (for fans of Babs and Dick, that is) and there is not a large supply (especially since DC has not reprinted it yet). Hence the high price.

Great choice! It is indeed a superb issue and it reminds me of the days when I thought that Greg Land was one of the best new artists. His current style is really not my cup of tea…

Regarding Dixon both runs on Nightwing & BOP are great books and well- worth re-reading. And even if both books remained strong after his departure – they never had the same appeal to me.

@ Addison : I fyllu agree with you on the Batgirl – Oracle topic…

About the price: I guess. But I got my Miracleman issues for less (except for #15, though even that was much, much less than the high-grade copies of this currently available online). Flex Mentallo is cheaper. This is a 1999 issue from a major DC title. I just wouldn’t think of it as being scarce, although it obviously is. I suppose they had lower print-runs by this time. Lonestar does have 11 copies available, though. 11 expensive copies.
This doesn’t seem like the type of thing that’s usually so important to comic readers, either. At least not the kind of important that leads to an issue soaring in value. Makes the whole thing sort of sweet.

I agree, it really is quite cute when you think about it.

As to the Miracleman point, yeah, as you might have guessed, the print runs for Miracleman were considerably greater than that of Birds of Prey at the time. Flex Mentallo had a comparable print run, but Flex Mentallo sold for a premium, too, right? And that was for a much more obscure title than Birds of Prey.

James-

The difference between this issue and the Miracleman and Flex Mentallo issues you mentioned is all about the demand that Brian mentioned. Granted, Flex and Miracleman had lower print runs and are rarer, but the demand is infinitely less. Those are comics the average fan has never heard of, involving characters most people have never heard of. Birds of Prey #8 was the issue where Nightwing and Oracle started dating, so it represents a key event in the lives of two extremely important DC characters with large fanbases. Combine that with A) it’s a damn great issue to read, B) it was still early in a series with no real established readership, so the print run was relatively low for a mainstream DCU title, and C) It has bizarrely never been reprinted, and Wham! All of a sudden you have an issue that a lot of comic readers want.

While I do think Moore’s Miracleman, for example, is an even better comic, there simply aren’t enough readers out there that even know it exists.

Do they ever talk about the difference in their ages? It’s gotta be at least 10 years, right? Dick Grayson was 15-ish when Barbara Gordon debuted as a librarian (25+ easily with graduate school).

So Babs is a cougar. Big whoop.

Yeah, that was a great issue. In fact the majority of Dixon’s Birds of Prey run was. It was a shame that Land didn’t stick around that long. Although on the plus side they did have a great run together on Nightwing after that.

Rob Schmidt — Post-Crisis, I believe writers at DC repeatedly made it clear that Babs Gordon was not yet a librarian in her mid-to-late 20s when she debuted as Batgirl way back in the day. I’m not even sure how often the whole “worked as a librarian” thing comes up in modern continuity, although it may have.

For instance, I haven’t read the “Batgirl: Year One” miniseries, but I’m told that it said Babs was something of a child prodigy who completed a bachelor’s degree before she turned 20, and invented the “Batgirl” role around that time.

With all of the recent Oracle/Batgirl/Barbara talk there was a note in one retrospective that during the timeframe where Batgirl started appearing on TV (in the Batman Adventures I guess) they started de-aging her so that she was not a full grown woman during her Batgirl days, but more robin-ish in her age. Probably mostly for the comercial appeal to the kids/girls so she was more relatable.

I’m thinking, “Why are the faces so inconsistent,” then “ah, Greg Land”.

Photoreferences == fail.

I’m not a fan of Greg Land, even at this stage when he wasn’t quite terrible yet. However, the faces look fairly consistent to me. I am more bothered by how fey and cheesy Dick Grayson’s hair is though.

I guess this is one of the most valuable comics I own, oddly enough. It was already going for ridiculous prices when I snagged a Buy It Now copy for something like $10 (along with a first printing of the first TPB, which is just about as expensive), shipping included, off eBay a couple of years ago.

It pays to check those Watch List notifications first thing in the morning, boys & girls.

randypan the goatboy

August 30, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Its been a number of years since i stopped collecting…and even longer since I stopped dealing. I buy trades so I dont have to worry about the resale value of anything. I always was a big fan of the Dick Grayson barbra Gordon relationship so I would buy this in a trade. but 50 bucks for a single issue is crazy. I only made one real expensive purchase in my life with comics and that was only because i knew my investment would pay off { and it would be crazy to turn down a complete run of silver age marvel] Thinking like this almost makes me miss dealing and conventions. but the big comics implosion in the 90′s nearly ran me away from comics for good. so for almost 20 years i am proud to be just a reader.

I had a comic dealer tell me that the relationship part of the issue at the end wasn’t really promoted, as it might be today as an event comic. It just came out as a typical non advertised issue so there wasn’t really a high print run or demand for it at the time. I just happened to be buying that run at the time and it was excellent. Otherwise I would have missed it. Fans seemed to have discovered it much later in the back issue market.

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That was beautiful.

This issue is now available digitally through comiXology. I know that there are some people who would prefer to have a print version, but you can, at least, appreciate the story now. That, in my mind, is the best thing about digital. Issues such as these don’t have to be “lost” even if they’re not collected.

O finally read this in comixology

So cool

OMG! I love Babs and Dick as couple. That’s so cute <3

This only reminds me what a horrible job Devin Greyson did on this book once she got her hooves into it.

What was the reason that Dixon stopped writing the book anyway?

Devin Grayson never wrote Birds of Prey.

Whoops .. I saw the Greg Land artwork and thought it was Nightwing …

To answer Rob Schmidt’s question, the age gap isn’t nearly high between them. Barbara actually graduated High School when she was sixteen and Gradutaed from college before she was even a legal adult. One of the significant things about her is that she is SUPER smart! That’s why she went through school so quickly and so she probably worked as a librarian when she was eighteen or so. So no, she isn’t a cougar, and most likely she’s about two years older than Richard.

dick Grayson batman robin rightwing

June 16, 2013 at 2:18 pm

This .back in the days when nightwing and bop were the best new comics coming out from dc having the most realistic depiction of a relationship in mainstream comics for a long time…and then devin Grayson happened. Simeone couldn’t save this pairing on her own..it wasnt until batman and robin that dick got his cred back…and now babs is no longer oracle….does dc even care for its fans….!!???!

dick Grayson batman robin rightwing

June 16, 2013 at 2:22 pm

And to answer your questions dc retconned babs s age to where she n dick fall in love at 16….like in the anime..unnecessary as usual from dc…as is their retconning of starfire as a slutty bitch

dick Grayson batman robin rightwing

June 16, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Wow I own this.wont dream of selling it though.is new 52 nightwing any good guys? I stopped q collecting after Grayson’s terrible run..though I do have both black mirror and Morrison s batman and robin…dunno if I can read nightwing again…they destroyed bludhaven and his entire support ing cast..babs is batgirl now(hate)…so I dont see her returning as a love interest (fuck u dc…cant u give ONE of the batguys asome happiness? ?!!) So what im asking is it worth it?…and in ending this couple wwas just S perfect….wish they were back together. .

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