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Everybody loves to talk about Batman’s rogue gallery, but Dick Grayson has been around for seventy-two years now. Isn’t it about time that the original Boy Wonder got some love? After long consideration, I’ve come up with a list of what I believe to be the biggest thorns in Dick Grayson’s side.
I have painstakingly reviewed every comic book that Dick Grayson has ever headlined. Obviously, I have not had the time to read each one personally, but I have looked at the villains he has most frequently encountered and researched how they have hurt Grayson personally.
This list does not include adventures where Dick Grayson played second fiddle to Batman, but it does include all his solo adventures as Nightwing, Grayson’s adventures as Robin and Nightwing while leading the Teen Titans, and Grayson’s time as Batman following the events of “Battle for the Cowl.” The two most important factors for making the list were number of conflicts with Grayson and amount of personal pain inflicted on Grayson. Stories from all comic book ages were considered, but comics from ages pre-“Crisis on Infinite Earths” were given less weight. On the flip side, villains who have been created in the last ten years were giving more weight based on the assumption that they will continue to give Grayson grief in upcoming years. Legacy characters who share the same name are treated as one individual.
Who Is He?
Tommy Elliot was heir to the Elliot financial empire, and he was a boyhood friend of Bruce Wayne, yet even as a child, Tommy was greedy, and in order to inherit his family’s fortune at an early age, he cut the break line to his neglectful parents’ car. Mr. Elliot was killed in the ensuing crash, but due to Dr. Thomas Wayne’s skills as a surgeon, Mrs. Elliot survived. With his plans thwarted, the young Tommy Elliot feared discovery if he tried murder again, and he resigned himself to waiting for his abusive mother to die of natural causes. As Tommy and Bruce aged, the two grew apart, but Tommy vowed to avenge himself upon the Wayne family who had cost him many years of unmitigated suffering and unquenched greed. As an adult, Thomas Elliot discovered Bruce Wayne’s alter ego, and as the villain Hush, Tommy used his intellect and skills as a surgeon to wage war on Batman. In addition to being a thorn in Bruce’s side, he has also come into occasional conflict with Red Robin.
Why He Made the List
Hush never gave Grayson much trouble in his role as Nightwing, but when Dick took over the role of Batman after Bruce Wayne’s “death,” Hush made lots of trouble for Gotham City’s new dark knight. Surgically altering himself, Hush took on the appearance of Bruce Wayne and tried to fool the Bat Family. Grayson and company quickly saw through Hush’s ploy, but this did not stop Tommy from taking advantage of his appearance by fooling Wayne Industry employees into letting Hush control Wayne Enterprises’ financial resources. After Dick Grayson and Tim Drake managed to thwart Hush once again, Grayson demonstrated that he is the true heir of the Batman mantle by using his brain to stop Hush’s scheming. Grayson stated that Gotham needed Bruce Wayne as a symbol of hope and integrity. Therefore, Hush would be allowed to have access to a small portion of the Wayne fortune in exchange for taking over Bruce’s social responsibilities in Gotham. This worked for a time, but Hush’s greedy nature soon reasserted itself, and Grayson had Tommy committed to Arkham Asylum. Hush’s final blow to Grayson came when he worked alongside a villain named the Architect. Though Hush was duped and nearly killed by the Architect, he still played a role in destroying the Wayne Tower skyscraper which toppled right in front of Grayson’s eyes.
For being a general pain and destroying part of the Wayne legacy on Dick’s watch, Hush is Nightwing’s tenth greatest villain.
Where Is He Now?
After the destruction of Wayne Tower, Tommy gave Grayson some much needed info on the Architect. Presumably, he was returned to Arkham.
Who Are They?
Several different people have gone by the name Ravager. Two of them have had significant conflicts with Nightwing.
Grant Wilson was the first Ravager. He was trained by his father, Deathstroke, to be an excellent fighter, but Deathstroke never intended for Grant to follow in his footsteps. Despite this, he became a menace to Deathstroke and the Teen Titans.
Rose Wilson is the daughter of Deathstroke, a mercenary, and Sweet Lili, a brothel owner. Despite her bizarre home life, Rose had a happy childhood, but she was taught the arts of self-defense. Eventually, she became a menace to Superboy and Nightwing.
Why They Made the List
Grant Wilson slid into villainy after multiple run-ins with the Teen Titans. Starfire crashed through his house while fleeing aliens, and Starfire and Donna Troy beat him up when Grant tried to get rough and intimidate his girlfriend. When the terrorist organization H.I.V.E. offered Grant the chance to get even by giving him superpowers, Grant leaped at the chance, but while in battle against the Teen Titans, Grant’s powers burned out and Grant died. Deathstroke vowed revenge on the Teen Titans and thereby became one of team’s worst villains.
Rose Wilson’s path to villainy put her on an intersect course with Dick Grayson. Rose learned the identity of her father when she was taken as a hostage and tortured in attempt to hurt Deathstroke. Rose survived this event, but her mother had apparently died to save Rose’s life. Without any place to go, the Titans, led by Dick Grayson, offered Rose a place to stay. Rose actually worked as a nanny for Liam, Roy Harper’s daughter, while staying at Titans HQ, but despite many attempts by the Titans to befriend Rose, she kept her distance. Eventually, Rose gained a good foster family, but the family was killed by a villain named Wade DeFarge. Deathstroke appeared to Rose and offered to train her to become a killer. Rose agreed, and as her first act, she killed DeFarge and took his codename as her own, Ravager. She then took a serum which gave her advanced senses and abilities similar to Deathstroke’s. As Ravager, Rose soon fought against the Titans at Deathstroke’s command. After this battle with the Titans went poorly, Deathstroke doubted Ravager’s skills, so to prove her commitment, Rose pulled out one of her eyes so that she would match her father.
Before long, Ravager once again crossed paths with Nightwing. On this occasion, Deathstroke had assigned Ravager a two-fold mission. First, she was supposed to train with Nightwing to improve her skills. Second, she was commanded to seduce Nightwing and turn him into an ally. Nightwing agreed to train Rose, and he pretended to be flirting with the idea of becoming a villain in order to become close to Ravager. Rather than trying to form a romantic relationship with her, Grayson showed Rose the evil of Deathstroke and thwarted Deathstroke’s plan to use Rose and her new Kryptonite eye to kill Superman.
For Grant’s role in creating the enmity between Deathstroke and the Teen Titans and Rose’s betrayal of the Titans and attempt to corrupt Grayson, Ravager earns the slot as Nightwing’s ninth greatest villain.
Where Is He/She Now?
Grant Wilson has been reanimated several times most recently as a Black Lantern.
In the DCNU, Grant Wilson followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming a mercenary. He was recently hired to kill his father, and though he attempted to complete the contract, he was thwarted. In the end, father and son disowned each other and went their separate ways.
Rose Wilson finally left her father after seeing how he endangered Rose’s life by implanting Kryptonite into her eye socket. Rose soon realized the error of villainy and joined the Teen Titans, and she has been a member, more or less, ever since.
In the DCNU, Rose’s past is mysterious. At the moment, she is working for the evil organization N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and appears to be the organization’s chief wetwork operator along with Warblade.
#8 Black Mask
Who is He?
Two villains have worn the Black Mask.
After losing his family business, Janus cosmetics, to a Wayne Industries buyout, Roman Sionis turned to a life of crime. Roman carved a mask out of his father’s casket and soon became a crime lord of Gotham, Black Mask. He has frequently been an enemy of Batman and Catwoman.
Jeremiah Arkham ran Arkham Asylum for many years, and through he worked as a psychiatrist, his grasp on sanity has always seemed questionable.
Why He Made the List
One word, persistence. Black Mask was one of the first villains Nightwing faced when he moved to Bludhaven and truly began his solo career. Much later, Grayson had to fight Black Mask while imprisoned in Blackgate during “No Man’s Land.” Grayson again did battle with the ebony evildoer during the events of “War Games” at which point the Bat Family failed to stop Sionis and he succeeded in taking over the Gotham underworld. While undercover in the mob, Grayson had to figure out how to be a hero while working for Black Mask.
Eventually, Roman Sionis died, and Jeremiah Arkham took over the legacy of Black Mask operating in secrecy for quite some time. Jeremiah’s transformation into Black Mask happened to occur while Dick Grayson was working as the Batman of Gotham City. With his position as head psychiatrist of Arkham Asylum, Jeremiah was able to implant the inmates with chips which allowed him to control them. Consequently, Black Mask was able to influence great control over Gotham, and he became one of Grayson’s greatest challenges during his time as Batman.
For being a consistent pain in Nightwing’s butt, Black Mask earned his place as Nightwing’s eighth greatest villain.
Where Is He Now?
Catwoman killed Roman Sionis.
Dick Grayson eventually discovered Jeremiah Arkham’s alter ego. Black Mask is currently imprisoned in Arkham Asylum.
More To Come
Numbers seven through one are already primed and ready to go, but you have to wait until next week to see the next top ten release. In the meantime, do you agree or disagree with Batwatch? Who do you believe should make the Top Ten list?
For more Bat Family news, reviews, and commentary, check out my new blog BatWatch.
Keep an eye out for Friday’s article, “Is Batwoman’s Sexuality Being Exploited?”