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I think one of the reasons I love The Titans and Birds of Prey so much is because of the phenomenal friendships between the characters. They mean so much to each of them and even myself.
God I love them
^THIS. I completely agree. The reason the Classic Titans and the BoP are my favorite teams are because there were such incredibly strong, natural friendships between the characters. And the writers took the time to realistically develop those friendships over the years, too. I love that.
I think the original Young Justice team was great for that reason, too. Incredible friendships between the characters:
Friendship!team books are my favorite. <3
(Also, I love you for using a Titans scene with Garth. Those are far too rare!)
Dick and relationships. It’s a topic I’ve written a lot about on this blog. (With embarrassing obsessiveness, some might say.) And I’ve been accused multiple times of being biased with which parts of his history I give the most weight in terms of how I see Dick.
To which I say… yeah, obviously.
I try to be as fair in my analysis as I can, but I’ll readily admit that I give more weight to some parts of canon than others. I think the way I see Dick is based on the way he’s been most consistently written, but that doesn’t mean every single part of canon is in line with that. The guy’s been around for over 70 years, after all. He’s been written a lot of different ways.
So with that in mind, I’ve compiled a photo-history showing how Dick’s attitude towards relationships has changed over the years. No commentary from me. No analysis. No attempting to fit it all into some larger context. I love some of these scenes, loathe others, am ambivalent towards still others. But they’re all presented here equally, as close to bias-free as I can get.
And let everybody draw their own conclusions - if, in fact, you draw any at all. There isn’t really a point to this post, beyond looking at all the twists and turns in Dick’s character evolution.
One thing is for sure - it’s been one hell of a journey getting to where we are today.
1961: “If Batman can make that kind of sacrifice, I guess I’m man enough to do it, too!”
1963: “It sure would, Betty!”
1967: “She’s ruining all our plans! Besides— she makes terrible puns!”
1976: “Kinda gets you ready for some real action, yes—?”
1977: “Especially not while Lori is here in town with me!”
1977: “I guess I do come on strong sometimes— and I really don’t have any right to!”
1980: “Y-you had to kiss me to do that?”
1981: “Starfire, please… we’ve got work to do.”
1982: “I really need time to sort out my emotions.”
1985: “Lilith was threatening to tell Kory all about my dark, sordid past.”
1987: “You’re still married to Karras. To me, that matters.”
1988: “Love should be between two people.”
1988: “I couldn’t make love to someone I didn’t really love.”
1988: “Though this might sound unhip, I feel strange about living with someone I’m not married to.”
1992: “Dick, you slut!”*
*I’m breaking my “no commentary” rule just this once to point out that Pantha said this in reference to Dick being raped. I felt that needed to be said.
1993: “My morality makes me a one-woman man.”
1997: How do I explain that I just married my work?”
1998: “Every time someone’s even nice to you, you feel this almost pathological need to—”
1998: “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with that.”
1998: “You know, I just sort of fell into all those situations.”
1999: “On the couch.”
1999: “Drop the deflector shields, lady. It’s a figure of speech.”
1999: “Can you give me time?”
2001: “Let’s get dangerous together.”
2001: “I’m just happy and I wanted to share it.”
2001: “If the world’s going to end, I want us to be together.”
2004: “I’d do anything to protect that, anything to protect that connection, to protect you…”
2005: “I know I failed you.”
2005: “I guess I just wanted to feel a little more…. alive.”
2006: “I wasn’t ready. I’m ready now.”
2006: “Work hard, play hard.”
2006: “What can I say? I’ve got a thing for redheads.”
2007: “Is she the reason I’ve never been able to commit?”
2008: “Do you love me?”
2009: “Busting. Relax.”
2012: “Let’s not pretend this is something more than it really is, Dick.”
2012: “Let’s stop over-thinking this and just do what you said.”
2013: “You understand why I can’t think of being close again with… anyone?”
Dafuq, Dick, who are “Miggie” and “Emily”? You were married TWICE?
You`re breaking my heart you know.
Nightwing #25 (1998)
Miggie Webster was a civilian who Dick briefly dated during the 1995 Nightwing miniseries. Their relationship (such as it was) never really went anywhere. (It should be noted that this was shortly after Dick and Kory broke up, so I tend to think he wasn’t really ready for another relationship yet.)
Emily Washburn was a woman Dick married as part of investigating a case in Nightwing Annual #1 (a comic which, in my opinion, looks good only because Nightwing Annual #2 managed to surpass it in mind-boggling awfulness, but I digress…) Basically, she had three husbands who died mysteriously in three years, so Dick suspected that she’d murdered them and married her as a way of finding out. She turned out to be innocent. Their marriage was never legal (Dick had Donna destroy the marriage certificate), and they never had sex or anything, but I just hate the whole thing because it’s so incredibly cruel on Dick’s part to play with Emily’s feelings that way. I mean, seriously? He was trained by the World’s Greatest Detective, for goodness’ sake! He doesn’t need to manipulate a possibly-innocent woman into believing that he truly loves her in order to solve the case. And more to the point, Dick wouldn’t do that, because he (a) has more respect than that for the institution of marriage, and (b) isn’t a jerk.
Anyway, after Emily turned out to be innocent Dick offered to stay with her and make a go as a real couple, but she didn’t want to. (Can’t blame the girl. If someone used me that way, I’d be pretty peeved with them, myself.)
So, that’s Miggie and Emily. If you count what happened with Emily as a real marriage, Dick’s been married once. He and Kory nearly got married, but Raven (who had gone evil at the time - I believe she was possessed by Trigon, unless I’m mis-remembering) sabotaged the wedding. And of course, he and Babs were engaged until that was hastily shoved under the rug post-One Year Later.
It should also be noted that while Nightwing #25 is a favorite issue of mine (Dick and Tim are adorable), that whole exchange is basically a terrible summation of Dick’s romantic history. Kory meant a LOT more to Dick than just “answering a need for affection” - he was head-over-heels in love with her. It’s impossible to read classic New Teen Titans and not understand that those two meant to each other. Dixon has this really annoying tendency to minimize Kory’s importance to Dick in his writing in favor of promoting Dick/Babs, which bugs me because aside from how disrespectful it is to Dick and Kory’s history, speaking as a Dick/Babs shipper there’s absolutely no need to do that. The fact that Dick loved Kory in the past doesn’t take away from the fact that he loves Babs now.
And “Donna and I never really dated, we just… hmmm” makes the whole thing sound unnecessarily complicated when really, it isn’t at all: Dick and Donna are best friends. They’ve never been anything but best friends. Dick’s described her as being like a sister to him. Where is the “hmm” in any of this? It’s just throwing around implications which have nothing to do with the actual reality.
Then we come to Dick describing getting involved with Helena as “dumb”, which… kind of rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I do think Dick and Helena were wrong for each other as a couple, and it probably was a mistake on both of their parts, but… the way he says it here kind of makes it sound like he’s blaming her for it, or saying getting involved with her was a terrible idea because she’s so awful, or something. I’ll admit I might be reading too much into that one, but it just doesn’t sit right with me.
And more generally, “I just fell into those situations”? Seriously?! I cannot even get over how cringe-worthy that line is. What ‘situations’ did you fall into exactly, Dick? Did you ‘fall into’ being Donna’s best friend? Did you ‘fall into’ almost marrying Kory? WTH does that even mean? It makes Dick sound like a complete airhead, who just falls into relationships without ever using his brain. Which is absurd. Even if he looks back on some of this history with regret now (and I would hope that he does regret the way he treated Emily, at any rate), he was an adult who decided to get involved with the people he got involved with. I literally cannot find words to express how utterly stupid I find that line.
What’s interesting is that there’s a similar scene in Nightwing: Secret Files #1, which is (IMO) better in literally every way:
- Dick’s connection to Kory is not minimized. Dick acknowledges that she “woke things up in me” and “taught me so much about myself, so much about love”, which is all completely true. He also admits that he sometimes still wonders if things could have turned out differently if they’d stayed together, which makes sense to me considering that they were together for years and Dick at one point considered her the love of his life.
- For people who didn’t read Nightwing Annual #1, what happened with his ‘marriage’ to Emily is made much clearer: “That was a case, and you know it. We were never really married.”
- Similarly, there are no misleading implications about his relationship with Donna tossed around just for the sake of it. Instead, Dick actually seems rather annoyed by “everyone thinking we were an item”, and what he says about their friendship is (IMO) quite beautiful: “I love her. I’ve probably always loved her. But she’s almost like a sister to me. Someone I somehow always knew rather than someone I discovered. She never made my breath catch, so much as… well, she almost makes it easier to breathe.” Lovely writing, I think. (I also love the detail of Babs commenting on how Dick smiles every time he says Donna’s name.) There are different kinds of love in this world, and Dick absolutely loves Donna deeply. It just isn’t romantic love. And I think what he says about her here is so much more meaningful than waffling that they “never really dated” (which misses the point of their relationship completely).
- Although Dick (as in the Nightwing #25 scene) admits that his fling with Helena was a bad move, he very clearly doesn’t put the blame on her for it - and, in fact, jumps to her defense when Babs makes a disparaging comment about her: “Why is everyone so down on Huntress? I admit now that getting involved with her may have been a mistake, but it’s not because she’s a bad person.” Exactly. Dick and Helena don’t always see eye-to-eye, but he likes and respects her as a person. There’s no need to demonize her just because their relationship didn’t work out.
Nightwing: Secret Files #1 came out a year after Nightwing #25, and the correlation between the two scenes is so striking that I almost have to wonder if the writer of the second scene (Devin Grayson) was similarly bothered by Dixon’s original scene, and decided to write her own version to “fix” it.
In which case, although we all know I’m not always a fan of Ms. Grayson’s work, I have to say: Well done, Devin Grayson. Thanks for setting the record straight.
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