Batman Plus Arsenal (1997) #1
“Adequately? Adequately!? You know, that’s it. I’ve had it! I don’t know what the hell made you superhero guys think you were capable of raising kids, but let me tell you something… Praise doesn’t kill anyone. There’s even this thing called self-esteem that’s considered useful in certain situations. Y’know, I’ve spent my whole life coming in second place to Dick. … But hey, I’m man enough to admit that he can do things I can’t. Plus, I’ve known all along the price he paid was having to deal with you! Hard to imagine the two of you going camping just for the hell of it. Or spending all day playing old B.B. King albums and making chili. Bet you didn’t even miss it! None of it counts anyway, right? We’re just supposed to go on no matter what. That’s the way it is, isn’t it? Isn’t it!?”
“Roy… I miss Ollie, too.”
Honest to god, honest to god, this is one of my favorite moments in comics. Ever. Not just for Bruce (though it’s one of them), not just for Roy (though it’s HIGH up there), I just love this moment so much.
Because this story is not just about Roy and Dick swapping mentors and dealing with the situations being upside down from the dynamics they were raised with and grew accustomed to.
This isn’t just about saving Roy’s ex-lover.
This is a story about the pain of losing a father. This is the story of being faced with the opposite of everything you miss about your parent that you have barely let yourself reflect on before it all comes exploding in your face at once.
And this is about Roy coming to respect the differences not just so he learns to respect Batman more than he already did, but to appreciate that special, almost sacred bond he shared with Oliver through all their ups and downs through the years. It’s about facing that and all of its ugliness and moving on for the present and future family you have.
And it does all of that through a beautiful, understated story with a distracting, bombastic mystery plot, that only underscores its real message in this moment.
That is awesome. And probably one of the most compelling things Devin Grayson wrote while at DC.