Out of all the Rebirth arcs/overarching stories, the Ric Grayson arc is considered one of the most divisive stories out there. Not only because of the fact that Dick was shot (Batman #55) and lost his memory, but because of his personality. Gone is the charming, light hearted hero with enough conflict to make him a relatable and enjoyable hero that people have come to enjoy. In his place we have a character who doesn’t want to remember who he was with seems to have a chip on his shoulder. All the while, trying to keep a small dose of his original character. And while I certainly agree the the amnesia arc could have been an interesting one, I am among those who didn’t like the Ric arc. Or as I dub it, the Ric Saga (as there are a few smaller arcs with in it). That said, I do enjoy the character of Malcom Hutch, one of the Team Nightwing members.
However, I’m not here to talk about the little things that I found salvageable in the Ric Saga. Rather, I’d like to discuss the one arc that I felt worked: The Talon arc. For those of you who might not know, the Talon arc was Nightwing issues 62 through 69 as well as Annual 2. During these issues, we get to see the return of the Court of Owls through Talon (William Cobb aka Dick’s paternal great grandfather). This was one element from that was well received during the New 52 and brought an interesting addition to Dick’s history.
While these few issues may not have been perfect, they were ones that I enjoyed. I’d also argue that what the Talon arc brought to the Ric Saga at least tried to make sense of his amnesia and his lack of willingness to regain the memories he lost. Was it a stellar explanation? No. Did it at least try to make sense of it? Yes.
William trying to make Dick a Talon also worked. With how intent he was to make his legacy follow his footsteps, it only made sense that William would be the one to try and recruit him. If there was ever a character that the Court of Owls was intent on getting their hands on, it was Dick. William was considered one of, if not the best Talon they had to offer. Do it only makes sense that they would try to capitalize on his lineage.
With that stated, I’d like to go over a few points that I feel help make the Talon arc the Ric saga’s better arc.
Dr. Haas and Hypnotic Suggestion
While the idea of a memory altering and suppressing crystal may sound like an odd way to go about keeping Dick’s memories away from him, I’m going to suspend my disbelief while discussing this. Yes, it’s a weird plot device, but I don’t know if I would call it the weirdest plot device in all of DC Comics. It works with what we were given and I’ll take it.
So, Dr. Haas was officially introduced during this arc in the second annual. Here, we get a look at the medical attention Dick got and the early stages of his memory loss after Batman #55. We see how characters like Barbara, Bruce, and Damian react to the incident and what Bruce is willing to do to try and spark a memory. Dr. Haas acts as Dick’s doctor and communicates with Bruce about his amnesia.
When Bruce’s attempt to spark Dick’s memory fails, and Dick is justifiably upset by being shown the exact moment he was shot, Dick is scared away from wanting to regain it. From there on out, Dr. Haas acts as his doctor/therapist checking in on his memory progress. Low and behold, she in fact works for the Court of Owls, which Dick does not learn until he is able to break free of the goggles that suggested that William had raised Dick to be a Talon (another weird addition, but I digress). The crystal she wore helped keep Dick in check until William was able to make contact and again later when Dick confronts Dr. Haas.
While the dear doctor does end up passing while Dick was trying to get answers (even getting his hands on the crystal), the hypnotic suggestion doesn’t sound like an unnatural way to go about getting Dick on their side. Unorthodox methodology, sure, but plausible.
Capitalizing on Dick’s Memory Loss
As a follow up to the previous point, manipulating amnesia in one’s favor isn’t an uncommon plotline (at least in my experience). With no memory, the amnesiac could be swayed into believing anything someone could say in regards to the missing memories. Once could just as easily tell the amnesiac the truth as someone suggesting a lie (like maybe saying they were a criminal when they weren’t).
With that in mind, capitalizing on Dick’s memory loss makes sense in the Talon arc. The Court of Owls want Dick as a Talon and due to his head injury, which wiped out everything since his parents’ deaths, gave them that. They had the perfect opportunity to get what they wanted. Even if it ultimately didn’t stick.
It Set Dick on the Right Path for His Memories
Even when his memory wasn’t all there, this arc was able to prove that the real Dick Grayson was still there. While, in theory, he could have killed Condor Red, he didn’t. The goggles breaking did help, as well as through his memories in for a “what’s real” loop, but instead of finishing the job he was manipulated into doing he went against Talon instead. Once he was able to defeat Talon, Dick went on a journey to try and piece his memories together.
It Should Have Been the Conclusion to the Ric Arc, and was the Perfect Time to do so
My biggest complaint with the Ric Saga, outside of it’s repetitive nature over Dick stating he doesn’t remember a thing every two second, is that it dragged out for longer than it should have. While people were getting tired with the Ric Saga in general, I feel like it had it could have ended sooner. Like six issues sooner.
I have no qualms with the Joker War Arc in general, but I do feel like it only dragged out a storyline that lost its luster. Not that it had much to begin with. The Talon Arc, in my opinion was the perfect conclusion to the Ric Saga. It had a solid enough story, broke through to Dick’s memories, and could have perfectly concluded the Ric saga in no more than an issue or two of him getting the memory crystal.
Joker using the crystal just felt tacked on and annoying. I think I can safely say that most Nightwing/Dick Grayson fans were done with the Ric Saga. So adding six issues more was bothersome. They still could have done The Joker War, since The Joker War itself was not the problem in my opinion. How The Joker War was executed it was.
While I certainly won’t defend every decision made during the Ric Sage, I do believe that the Talon Arc was one of the few saving graces. It did what it could to address the amnesia in a way that worked with what they got. As well utilizing a villain and villain organization that isn’t used as often that actually ties to Dick Grayson.