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Left Unresolved – Was Batman Involved in the Murder of the Flying Graysons?

In this feature, I spotlight storylines that have been, well, left unresolved. Click here for an archive of all storylines featured so far.

Today, based on a suggestion by reader Gustav, we look at one heck of a big unresolved Batman cliffhanger…

Judd Winick wrote the opening arc of Dick Grayson’s stint as Batman in the pages of Batman, #687-691. Ed Benes penciled the first issue while Mark Bagley and Rob Hunter did most of the art on the storyline (Hunter inked the whole arc). What’s weird about the storyline is that it makes the Battle for the Cowl pretty superfluous, as Winick does a fine job showing Nightwing struggling with taking over as Batman…which was the whole point of the Battle for the Cowl mini-series.

Anyhow, in the first issue, we see Alfred with TWO cases with costumes in them, dedicated to Jason Todd and Bruce Wayne…

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Later, we see Dick decide to move on from the Batcave and Wayne Manor and open up shop in the Wayne Foundation building…

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The problem is that he left the Batcave just sort of abandoned, and Two-Face managed to break in. Dick discovers this when he responds to a security alarm being triggered…

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Two-Face isn’t really dressed as Batman, by the way. That’s just a hallucination from the drugs Two-Face hit Dick with.

Anyhow, Dick defeats Two-Face (and manages to convince him that he is still the same old Batman). In a rare turn of events, Two-Face survives discovering the Batcave (people who have discovered the Bat-Cave in the past tend to end up dead).

So Dick realizes that they can’t just leave the Batcave unattended, so he and Alfred take the whole thing apart (which, by the way, should really be a MASSIVE undertaking, right? There’s a TON of stuff in that thing).

So Dick begins to move the cases that Jason Todd’s Robin costume and Bruce Wayne’s Batman costume are in, when he discovers something…

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He investigates further and….

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And that’s it. Winick was supposed to return to the book after a short break, but then he ended up getting too busy, so Tony Daniel’s fill-in arc got extended to a full run and that, of course, was halted by the New 52.

So it will probably never be resolved. Winick talked about perhaps returning to do the story before the New 52, but I doubt he’ll do it now. So we’ll never know!

Thanks to Gustav for the suggestion. If anyone else has a good idea for an unresolved comic book story, drop me a line at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

27 Comments

Brian, if possible, please consider featuring “Who was the Red Hood?” from Dan Slott’s Batman Adventures 2003 run. He’s actually told who it was at conventions before so it has an answer, but I’d love to see a write-up about it.

That’s…weird. For one, Batman hides this “data key” is such a spot to make it obvious that there must be something super secret on it, and in the base of Robin’s costume display. Kind of lazy storytelling. And, although I’m not sure where Winnick was going with this, the implication is that Batman murdered the parents so he could get adopt some kid trapeze artist? The local orphanage was lacking in agile enough tykes for Bats to choose from?

Again not sure where this was headed, but the set up was pretty ridiculous. But given the incomprehensible mess that Winnick’s Red Hood arc was, I wouldn’t have real high hopes this was going to be a classic Batman tale.

We could just call this a prelude to Batman & Robin Eternal and be done with it. It…sort of fits.

Turk, I thought it might be “the real secret behind this murder is so horrifying I can’t tell Dick or he’d rush out and get himself killed avenging his folks”—but again, why stick it there? In any case, like you I can’t imagine this would have gone anywhere good.

@Fraser- even then, we have to wonder why whoever killed Dick’s parents would be more dangerous then every other villain Dick’s survived.

I am shocked, yes, shocked at the idea of lazy storytelling from Judd Winnick.

I will be perfectly happy if this story stays unresolved. We don’t need more retcons.

Okay, is this what? The second time Dick Grayson’s turn as Batman gets interrupted because DC decides to clear the slate again? Or am I wrong about that?

@Michael – I don’t think that it’s not that every other villain is more dangerous, but rather that Dick wouldn’t be able to go after them with their head in the game.

I don’t think there’s an implication in the story that Bruce was involved in the Graysons death. He hid the key there probably thinking it would be the last place Dick would look. Dick had sort of come to terms with the death of his parents so Bruce probably did not want to involve him in whatever he had uncovered. I for one enjoyed Judd’s Batfamily storylines. This will probably not be revisited but I agree with Adam, let’s choke it up to Mother or the Court of Owls. Logically, the current Court/Gray-Son storyline would fit into this perfectly.

For me, Winnick is much like Grant Morrison, in that his writing bounces between Damn Good and Dafuq Did I Just Read, with very little falling in between the two extremes. This (thankfully) unresolved story definitely falls into the Dafuq category.

Winnick was bad on Green Lantern and worse on Batman. I imagine this story was like the return of Jason Todd, where Winnnick had a shocking moment he thought would be cool, but never thought of how it happened, where it would go, or how to resolve it.

think winnick was really setting up that bruce was trying to solve who killed dicks parents really ala another joe chill thing and did n’t want to tell dick till he had more proof thus hiding the data key after all batman is known for being a creature of secrets too.

What a misleading article title. Having files investigating the deaths of the Graysons carries no implication that Batman was involved in their murder. It just implies that Batman was investigating their deaths.

Batman hiding the information from Dick isn’t surprising. It is the kind of thing that he’d do. He’s hidden plenty of stuff from plenty of people, often for no reason other than to advance a plot or create a “Can X trust Y” situation.

The only weird bit is that he’d hide the case inside the base for Jason Todd’s outfit. Winnick might have intended to tie Jason Todd (or one of his relatives) into the case in some fashion?

Winnick is one, like Bendis, that I preferred on non-superhero stuff (less Bendis, though I prefer his crime comics to superheroes). Pedro and Me is a great account of his friend and Barry Ween, Boy Genius was fun (ish). Don’t think much of his DC stuff.

@Jedd Nettleton, I would say that Bendis does some really great solo hero books ,like Daredevil and Alias, but give him a team book and he’s like a different, much more horrible writer. It’s hard for me to believe that I hold his DD and Alias stuff in such high esteem, but absolutely loathe his Avengers issues.

@Eich did you just compare Winnick to Morrison? That is high blasphemy. I’d read the phone book written by Morrison. Admittedly, some of his stuff gets a bit too existential at times, but I would never take a chance of missing the next Arkham Asylum, We3, JLA, Swamp Thing, or Animal Man run he might put out.

I’m wondering if Winnick was planning to tease something similar to Adam-Troy Castro’s theory:

http://www.adamtroycastro.com/2012/02/at-last-the-batman-and-robin-murder-mystery-solved/

@turk96
Bendis’ solo hero books have the same problems as his team books. The problems are just hidden a bit better. For example, there are fewer characters around, so you don’t see as easily that dialogue is too often pretty much interchangeable. Fewer well established characters makes it harder to notice when he contradicts either established characterization or continuity, and there is arguably a higher tolerance for such contradiction in a solo title. When a book is established from the start as a lot of talking, you aren’t as likely to complain six issues in that there is no action. Etc.

But if you look at his Daredevil run, or Alias, or Powers, you can see the same problems exist.

I for one think it’s either a. Batman finds new information and either pursues it or lets it go, and hides it, or b. Is indirectly responsible (let go a thug that eventually got them killed or something), feels guilty, and devices to take Dick under his wing

I’ve avoided Winnick best I can; he always disappoints. The worst I last read was some sort of Young Justice / Titans / Outsiders crossover thing a long while back when the YJ team transitioned to Titans. It was unavoidable because I was reading YJ at the time. That was the last time I read his work.

It was my final reminder to myself to follow the writers I like, and not the characters.

The only thing of his that I read that I enjoyed was Barry Ween.

Also, totally misleading headline to this article. Almost click-bait worthy.

Just like with Mother or other Snyder “Bruce looks bad, but then you find out all was for good reason” twists, I’m sure this would have ended up like that.

What’s the worst about this plot point is that I can’t think of any way that would have jived with the classic simple telling of Dick’s origin, which shouldn’t be violated. Zucco, the end.

Thank goodness this got dropped. I despise it when writers strip-mine continuity, trying to add or explain things that don’t need to be added or explained. Less is almost always more.

Billy –

“But if you look at his Daredevil run, or Alias, or Powers, you can see the same problems exist.”

I don’t think so, because they’re not the same kinds of books, and things that can be problematic in genre A are not a problem in genre B. DD, Alias, and Powers are all essentialy crime stories. I think Bendis’s style and dialogue work pretty well for crime stories. The dialogue may be a bit repetitive, but it somehow helps to ground you and pull you in in the next investigation. Also, broad characterization like character A being the quiet one, character B being the sarcastic one, etc., also works well in detective stories, and Bendis is good at revealing new depths to the characters, as long as he is concentrating on only one or two at at time, and he is the only one working with the characters.

“What a misleading article title. Having files investigating the deaths of the Graysons carries no implication that Batman was involved in their murder.”

No, but Dick saying “What were you hiding?” does, at least, carry a small amount of that implication. The way he says that in the story, for instance.

[…] Source: Left Unresolved – Was Batman Involved in the Murder of the Flying Graysons? | Comics Should Be… […]

Haven’t seen that before. The bit where he say ‘the base isn’t completely hollow’ and then takes it apart with an acetylene torch to find that *tiny* key is genuinely hilarious. Next level location skills!

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