While Dick Grayson has established how he wants to make Bludhaven a better place for everyone living there and possibly coming to live there his focus is being taken away. The reason for this is because his hometown of Gotham City has been taken over by Scarecrow’s Fear State. With his city in trouble from not just Scarecrow and the Magistrate but also Seer, who has taken control of all of Barbara Gordon’s Oracle technology. With the Batman Family in so much trouble Dick Grayson as Nightwing has returned to Gotham City help however he can. Can Nightwing help turn the tide in what is taking place during Fear State? Let’s Find out with Nightwing #85.
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Barbara Gordon sends messages to the Batgirls (Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain), Black Canary, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and other heroes in her network to not trust any Oracle communication moving forward due to her technology being hacked.
At The Clocktower, Seer appears and says Barbara ruined her fun. Seer mocks Dick Grayson and Barbara about all the information she has at her disposal. Not wasting more time Barbara has Dick in helping her destroy all her Oracle equipment to cut Seer off.
With Seer out of The Clocktower Barbara contacts Tim Drake to meet her and Dick at the Oracle 2 site. Dick asks Barbara what Oracle 2 is. Barbara says it is her back-up system with Tim being one of the few people who has administrator privileges to.
Seeing that Barbara is on edge as she blames herself for what Seer is doing Dick says that it is not all on her. Barbara reminds Dick that she knows what it is like to have her life changed forever as a pawn in someone else’s story (referencing Batman: The Killing Joke without specifically saying Batman or Joker’s names). Dick reminds Barbara that she made what happened to her into her story with how much she has helped the superhero community and saved the world countless times.
Determined to take down Seer, Barbara says she has to take the risks to go out in the field as Batgirl.
As they head out as Batgirl and Nightwing Barbara remembers a time back in Dick’s Robin days that she convinced him to sneak out of Wayne Manor without Bruce’s knowledge so they can team-up together.
Back in the present, as they make their way to Oracle 2’s location Batgirl brings up how she had set up Oracle to have access to every public security camera and many private cameras in case of a major emergency. Nightwing asks Batgirl if she doesn’t see a problem with having access to all cameras. Batgirl says she does but believed when she created Oracle she would not abuse it but now realizes there were big holes in her rationalization.
Batgirl and Nightwing make it to the warehouse where Oracle 2 is at. They spot the Magistrate’s Peacekeeper robots right outside the warehouse.
Nightwing covers the area in smoke. Nightwing and Batgirl then use the smoke to quickly take out all of the Peacekeeper robots.
They then enter the warehouse. As soon as they do the room gets covered in green smoke. Batgirl is the first to feel the effects of the smoke. When Nightwing goes to check on Batgirl he is shot in the head by one of the Peacekeeper robots that came out of nowhere much to Batgirl’s shock.
Holding Nightwing’s dead body in her arms Batgirl’s sorrow is turned into anger. Batgirl then fights the Peacekeeper robot that shot Nightwing.
Red Robin (Tim Drake) suddenly shows up and gives Batgirl and Nightwing an antidote for the Fear Toxin that they were exposed to that caused them both to hallucinate. Extremely relieved to see he is alive Batgirl kisses Nightwing. (And we all share Tim Drake’s centiment here when he says “Oh. Finally.” It’s about time we got this moment.)
Seer appears on the computer screens and comments on how she is disappointed that the Batgirl and Nightwing’s greatest fear is losing each other.
Batgirl has enough of Seer and uses her Oracle 2 tech to hack into Seer’s camera and figure out where she is located. Batgirl figures out that Seer is located in the Magistrate’s Skybase over Gotham City.
Seer compliments Barbara on her skills. Seer goes on to say she expected this which is why she set up a attack. The attack turns out to be that Seer bobby trapped The Clocktower. Seer then shows that Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain just arrived at The Clocktower.
Batgirl, Nightwing, and Red Robin race back to The Clocktower and try to contact Stephanie and Cassandra to leave the building.
Before they can get to Stephanie and Cassandra The Clocktower is blown up by Seer. End of issue.
The Good: The best thing about Nightwing #85 and its previous issue is that Tom Taylor and Robbi Rodriguez know exactly what story they are telling with Fear State as the setting. There is a singular focus on the Seer and Oracle sub-plot established in Batman: Fear State Alpha that makes the entire reading experience better. There isn’t much outside information about everything else going on in the Fear State event to understand what is going on in Nightwing #85. Everything that is important to this story is provided within the pages of the story Taylor and Rodriguez are telling.
Shifting the perspective to Barbara Gordon was a great call by Taylor. We already know from Nightwing #84 what Dick Grayson’s mentality is like going into and during Fear State. There is no need to repeat the motivation of the character. What we haven’t gotten very much of is development for Barbara’s own internal line of thinking since she decided to return to being Oracle.
The shift to providing insight into Barbara’s thought process opened the story involving Seer taking over her Oracle technology to be an even bigger development within Fear State. We get a much better idea of how impactful someone else controlling all the information and technology Oracle truly is. The danger level is felt throughout Nightwing #85 because of how Taylor writes Barbara’s concerns and determination to stop Seer.
It also allows Taylor to examine why this whole plot is even more personal for Barbara in a way that is natural to the story. Seeing that one of the people she cares about most almost get killed because someone else is controlling her Oracle technology taps into painful memories for Barbara. She knows better than anyone what it is like to be treated as nothing more than a pawn in someone else’s story having been through that exact thing in Batman: Killing Joke.
This opens things up so that Taylor can show the reader how well Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson understand each other. There is a strong support system that they have with one another. We saw that with Barbara being a big help for Dick in his plans for Bludhaven. Dick returns the favor by getting Barbara out of being blinded by her anger by reminding her of all the great things she did to turn a tragedy into becoming someone who saved countless lives and brought hope as Oracle. Even though Batman: The Killing Joke can’t be erased we see as they leave The Clocktower that Barbara has a determination as Batgirl and Oracle to take action.
This particular back-and-forth was quick but important in framing how far Barbara and Dick have come in understanding one another. Which makes the kiss we get towards the end of Nightwing #85 a great payoff of everything Taylor has been developing between these two. In a way you have the same reaction that Tim Drake has to Barbara and Dick’s kiss as a moment that many creative teams have been teasing would happen since the start of New 52 over a decade ago.
At the same time, Taylor does a good job in setting up Barbara to have an even greater arc after Fear State is over. Because we see during this Nightwing #85 Dick Grayson bringing up all the controversial things Barbara was doing as Oracle to keeps tabs on everything going on in Gotham City and elsewhere. This development with Seer causing the worst case scenario with the Oracle technology and data bank clearly has been an eye opening experience for Barbara. How this experience with Seer ends up redefining the way Barbara operates as Oracle is the story I am most interested in seeing developed post-Fear State.
All of the things we see Nightwing and Batgirl go through during this issue elevates Seer as a major villain. At every turn Seer was prepared to take advantage anywhere Nightwing and Batgirl would show up. Even when Barbara found where Seer was located she was ready to pull her trump card by distracting Batgirl, Nightwing, and Red Robin to focus on if Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain are alive after the explosion at The Clocktower. This adds even more layers to how personal Seer has made her conflict with the entire Batman Family thus far.
Robbi Rodriguez art style is a great fit for a story in Gotham City like Nightwing #85 is set as being. The art amplified the character moments such as Barbara opening up about how she was triggered when Seer used her Oracle technology against Dick Grayson. By far the best scene that Rodriguez draws in the Fear Toxin scene. The impact of Barbara’s deepest fear of losing Dick to getting shot in the head again got across how this had a multiple meanings beyond the death.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Nightwing #85 is a fantastic tie-in to the Fear State event going on over in the main Batman series. Tom Taylor and Robbi Rodriguez tell a focused story around Batgirl and Nightwing working together to stop Seer from causing more damage with the Oracle technology. In the process we get a lot of great character moments that will make fans of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon very happy.
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