How Nightwing’s Kingpin Drove Him to His Own Version of Daredevil’s ‘Born Again’

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Today, we look at how Nightwing went through his own “Born Again” storyline like Daredevil did years earlier.

This is “Just Like the Time Before,” a feature where I examine instances from comic book history where comic book creators did early versions of later, notable comic book characters and plot ideas. Essentially, the “test runs” for later, more famous characters and stories.

It is possible that this Nightwing storyline was a coincidence. It’s not likely, but it IS possible. Sometimes when you’re in the middle of story you sort of lose the forest for the tress, as it were. So this really could just be a coincidence. Even if it was, though, it’s an interesting enough coincidence to spotlight.

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Kingpin then uses this information to systematically tear apart Matt’s life, freezing his assets, having a crooked cop say that Matt did unethical stuff to get him disbarred…

Heck, it is probably a coincidence, but you could even argue that Kingpin had something to do with Matt’s girlfriend dumping him…

Matt is frantic, trying to keep is life together as he knows all of these charges are bogus, but then one day, his townhouse explodes in front of him…

In one of the great comic book endings of all-time, Matt is almost relieved. Up until this point, he just assumed that, well, his life was falling apart. Now he knows that it is a specific conspiracy controlled by the Kingpin. That, in theory, is a lot easier for Matt to deal with in terms of fixing things.

Of course, things don’t quite go that easy.

Kingpin, meanwhile, is monitoring everything and marveling at how well his plan is going

An enraged Matt confronts Kingpin while raging out of control and Kingpin handles him easily and then seems to not only kill him, but frame him for the murder of a cab driver.

The only thing is that Matt escapes. Kingpin repeats, in shock, to himself, “There is no corpse. Thee is no corpse.”

Meanwhile, while Matt has survived the murder attempt, he is in bad shape, just sleeping in alleys like a homeless guy…

Kingpin, meanwhile, is also taking care of loose ends, like the crooked cop that he used to frame Matt…

Don’t worry, though, Daredevil eventually gets out of it (with the help of Karen Page, the woman who sold his identity out!).

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Meanwhile, in Bludhaven, where Nightwing used to live, the “Kingpin” of the city was Roland Desmond, the supervillain formerly known as Blockbuster (due to his super strength. He later gained super-intelligence, as well).

Blockbuster blames Nightwing for the death of his mother (Nightwing accidentally caused a traffic jam and Roland’s mother died while unable to get to a hospital in time) and so when he discovers Dick Grayson’s true identity, he also sets out to systematically destroy his life. First, in Nightwing #87 (by Devin Grayson, Patrick Zircher and Andy Owens) one of his operatives, the Tarantula, helps to get Dick Grayson’s girlfriend, Barbara Gordon, break up with him…

Later, in Nightwing #88 (by Grayson, Shane Davis and Marlo Alquiza), when Dick is visiting the circus that he owns (the same one he worked at as a child), Blockbuster sent Firefly to burn it down…

And while Dick is able to save a lot of lives, there are still some who lost their lives in the fire.

In the next issue (Zircher and Owens return), Nightwing is leaving his building when it explodes…

This was a lot more devastating than the destruction of Matt Murdock’s townhouse, because there were dozens of people inside the building (which Dick owned)…

Like Daredevil, he instantly knew who was to blame for the explosion…

And like Kingpin, Roland was monitoring the whole situation with glee while setting up the next part of his plan (he really planned to put Nightwing through the wringer).

Nightwing then ran a gauntlet of his villains in the next issue before finding the low-level villains who had blown up his building (they didn’t know it was an occupied building). When Nightwing wants to know why Blockbuster wants to hurt him so much they let him know about the whole mother deal….

And later, Roland makes it clear, as well.

Like Matt Murdock, Nightwing has nowhere to go. He is so rattled that he ends up sleeping on a fire escape with newspapers as his blankets…

Like Matt Murdock, he confronts Blockbuster head on…

And Blockbuster brutalizes Nightwing…

This time, it turned out that it was all part of a plan to get his confession on tape, but Tarantula’s brother, a district attorney, destroys the evidence, as he is in the pocket of Blockbuster, as well….

In the next issue, Blockbuster starts taking care of loose ends, like the reporter he hired to prove that Dick was Nightwing…

Things take a whole other turn in the story away from “Born Again,” though, when Nightwing and Blockbuster have another confrontation, only this time, Tarantula decides to side with Dick…

She then shoots and kills Blockbuster, feeling that was the only way to get her freedom…

A distraught Nightwing just shuts down, and Tarantula then uses this opportunity to rape him…

From this point forward, the Nightwing/Tarantula stuff is a whole other type of story, but it is still interesting to see just how close this point in Nightwing’s life was to “Born Again.”

Okay, folks, you MUST have some suggestions for other characters and/or plots that fit into this theme! So drop me a line at brianc@cbr.com for future installments!

KEEP READING: If Superman Gets A Team-Up Series, He’s Required To First Race the Flash

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