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Comic Book Review: "Nightwing #8: Bloodlines"
Nightwing issue eight, “Bloodlines”, continues Richard Grayson’s crime fighting adventures. In the previous issue, Richard learned that he was the great grandson of William Cobb. Cobb was an assassin known as a Talon for the Court of Owls. He was the first Talon to appear in Gotham to battle Batman. This issue, along with Batman #8, is the Prelude to Night of The Owls, the first major crossover storyline in the New 52. Here, we learn a little history behind Richard’s great grandfather’s life before he became a minion of the Court of Owls.
Issue 8, “Bloodlines”, begins in the past, Gotham City in 1910, a young boy of 9, William Cobb, is thinking about how he is not a real Gotham citizen because his father wasn’t the son of one of the elite members of society like, Alan Wayne, Frederic Cobblepot, Edward Elliot, or Burton Crowne. His father was an ironworker and had died when Cameron Kane’s bridge collapsed. Now William helps support his mother by juggling baseballs on the street corners for pennies (even though she doesn’t approve of begging). One day, while he is performing on the street, a nearby spectator in the crowded street gets robbed. William hears the man yelling as the robber tries to run. William throws one of baseball and hits the thief, knocking him down. The man retrieves his wallet and thanks the boy and asks him if he’d “like a change of revenue”.
In present day Gotham, Nightwing is in the evidence locker at the GCPD. He’s retrieving his escrima stick that was found at the scene of a double murder. Suddenly, he gets a transmission from Alfred Pennyworth, Batman’s butler and Richard’s old patriarch, that the Court of Owls has unleashed an army of Talons (their assassin’s) onto the city in order to kill nearly 40 city leaders. He’s uploaded a list of all the targets. Nightwing runs off to try and save Mayor Hardy, since he is only five minutes away from City Hall.
At City Hall, Mayor Hardy is in a small meeting with Councilman Davis and Deputy Mayor Kavanaugh. While they argue about redistricting the light go out. At first they think that since they are the only one there maybe security just turned them off; thinking everyone was gone for the night. Davis goes to check in with security.
He finds the two decapitate. Behind him in the darkness, a Talon appears and cuts off his head with a sword. The Talon informs Hardy that for his corruption and betrayal the Court of Owls has sentenced him to death. Just before he can execute Hardy, Nightwing crashes through the window and knocks down the attacker. He kicked the Talons knees (which should have snapped the tendons) but he gets up without any sign of pain or damage.
Back in the past, William’s mother has allowed him to join Haly’s Circus. She doesn’t like it, but Money was Money. In his time with the circus, William learned to be a knife thrower and dazzles the crowds with his skills. He grows up, become a respectable member of society and falls in love with Burton Crowne’s daughter, Amelia.
In the present, at City Hall, Nightwing and the Talon are sword fighting. Nightwing is trying to give the mayor time to escape. The Talon manages to disarm Nightwing and, in desperate self-defense, Richard shoves one of his escrima sticks into his eye. Talon falls lifeless on the floor.
Back in the past, William and Amelia are two kids in love and although it seemed so perfect, after they’re bubbling romance had begun, everything began to be stripped away.
Nightwing grabs the Talon’s lifeless body and tells the mayor that he didn’t kill him, he was already dead and he’s just keeping him from regenerating. As Nightwing kicks open the locked hall door. He’s knocked down and three throwing knives are stuck in his chest. Another Talon, William Cobb, back from the dead (see Batman #8) stands above Richard Grayson, His Great Grandson, ready to kill him.
This issue sheds light on the history of William Cobb, Richard Grayson’s great-grandfather. It shows how a tragic turn of events in his family led him down a path of both happiness and despair. Even though this issue doesn’t complete the story of how William became a Talon for the Court of Owls, it does show his humble beginnings. As for the ending of this issue, it is tense setting as William Cobb plans to kill his own great grandson, Richard Grayson. It’s not clear if he doing on orders of the Court of Owls or if he’s doing it on his own accord. Either scenario will be fascinating to see played out in the next issue and the entire Night of the Owls storyline.
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