In Batman #104, Nightwing recalls to Oracle of the only time he ever saw Ghost-Maker and how that Robin witnessed his only victory against Batman.
Warning! Spoilers to Batman #104 by James Tynion IV with Ryan Benjamin and Guillem March, in stores now!
Nightwing has seen Batman through the best of times and the worst of times. As the original Robin, Dick Grayson witnessed many of Batman’s earliest victories and defeats, remaining a source of knowledge and wisdom for the Robin’s that came after him and later members of the Bat-Family. He’s also witnessed the one time Batman truly lost.
As Gotham and the Bat-Family continue to heal and move on from the events of ‘Joker War’, everyone has been unsettled with the arrival of Ghost-Maker, a resourceful and talented vigilante with ties to Batman’s past. As Ghost-Maker battles his old sparring partner, his obsession to prove himself Batman’s superior and a better guardian of Gotham has Nightwing called in from Bludhaven. While Bruce is stuck in a room in Arkham with Harley Quinn and Clownhunter, Nightwing has Barbara Gordon fill him in on Bruce’s disappearance and Ghost-Maker’s current activities while foiling a bank robbery. On his way to Gotham, Dick reveals to Oracle that not only is he the only member of the Bat-Family to actually see Ghost-Maker in the past but he also witnessed the only time the poorly named vigilante ever defeated his old nemesis.
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In a series of flashbacks drawn by Guillem March, Dick Grayson relays to Barbara Gordon the memory of Batman and Robin were pursuing a gimmicky criminal who was attempting to flee into international waters. Landing at a Wayne International site, Ghost-Maker was standing there in the rain where Dick watched Bruce get out and have a discussion with the mysterious individual. Although he couldn’t hear, Bruce returns to the Batplane and tells them they’ll be returning to Gotham and Ghost-Maker will take over and make sure the villain is captured and returned to face justice but Batman is not happy about it at all.
Tynion IV shows that Dick’s sense of humor was evident even as Robin when Batman angrily smashes something on the Batplane’s console by reminding him that Alfred will surely make him fix it. Dick is then told, from Bruce’s perspective, who Ghost-Maker was and why they used to meet up to fight consistently during Bruce’s training period to become Batman. Although he didn’t admit it as he fought Ghost-Maker in the present, Bruce can’t hide his feelings when Robin reminds him that he’s not weak nor wrong for being upset about losing the collar to Ghost-Maker. The real reason that Ghost-Maker gets Bruce Wayne so angry and upset is that he used to be his friend and he misses that friendship. According to Dick, this was the only time he was ever brought up, leading the young Robin to believe he may have been Bruce’s original partner and once had a desire to meet, fight, and defeat Ghost-Maker to prove himself the better crime-fighter.
It was this original encounter with Ghost-Maker that motivated Nightwing to use his resources to study and learn as much as he could about this mysterious vigilante, making him the expert that the others may need to help find and save Batman from Ghost-Maker’s plans. As Dick Grayson speeds toward Gotham, he and Barbara Gordon are both aware of a rarity in DC Comics. A hero and villain met and there eventually was a winner and a loser decided without throwing a single punch or unsheathing a blade or Batarang. Despite his constant losing streak, Ghost-Maker did actually defeat Batman once in their antagonistic history together and Nightwing can attest it was a small, but victory nonetheless.
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