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"Only A Place For Dying": Years ago, Batman revealed to his ward Dick Grayson that Tony Zucco had killed his parents using a special acid that burned through the ropes of their trapezes as if they had simp


Quote1 This is the end. Here you are, after everything. Everything you've done, Dick. Right back where you started. On a rope. On the end of a rope. Finished. Quote2
Helena Bertinelli



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Synopsis for "Only A Place For Dying"

Years ago, Batman revealed to his ward Dick Grayson that Tony Zucco had killed his parents using a special acid that burned through the ropes of their trapezes as if they had simply snapped. Dick wondered if Batman would kill Zucco for him, and Batman responded that he doesn't kill. Killing a man removes your responsibility for him, and you don't give up your responsibilities. When Dick became Robin, Batman explained that his costume was bright in order that he would be seen. If he relied on darkness too much, and someone took the darkness away from him, he would fall, like the rope holding him up had been cut. Dick would have to earn the night.

Years later, after transitioning to the role of Nightwing, Dick developed feelings for his partner Batgirl. One night, she warned him that the two of them would never work out. What he wanted, she said, was someone like Batman. Someone sour, dark, and perfect. He didn't want to believe it then, but he knew she was right.

Following the attack by the Crime Syndicate, Dick abandoned his identity and joined the espionage organization known as Spyral, partnered with Helena Bertinelli. On one mission, he caused a rope bridge to snap, and impressed Helena with just how clean the break was - but he chose not to tell her how. She made him promise that if he was ever dying, and she was there, he'd explain his secret.

Later, Helena dragged Dick to a tattoo parlour and forced him to get a tattoo that would identify him as a member of Spyral, explaining that if he were captured, he'd be identified by it and killed. The tattoo is incentive not to get captured. Laughing, Dick realized that Helena was exactly the kind of person Batgirl had been talking about.

On another mission, Helena became enraged when she realized that Dick had taken a killer alive. She warned that if you let a man live, he will remain out there, ready to kill again. He gives up the responsibility for anyone he lets live. She would not give up that responsibility. Later, on yet another mission, Dick found himself held hostage by a crazed gunman, and Helena shot the man through the head, despite Dick's warnings. Knowing he disapproved of killing, Helena collapsed in his arms and explained that she couldn't let the man kill him. She was responsible - and for Dick, she would live with the blood on her hands.

While trapped, dangling precariously from a rope over a tank populated with hungry sharks, Dick warned Helena to go for the knife on his belt, and then burst out laughing. Grumpily, Helena demanded to know why, and Dick explained that he had been reminded of a code the Cluemaster had used. The code had used the first letter of each sentence to spell out a word. Dick had just spelled out "Fart."

Eventually, it became a running joke between the two that they would always meet on the roof to end a mission, and escape in a chopper. However, one time, Helena called Dick to the roof, and found only Helena waiting. She took off her shirt and seduced him. Smirking, Dick suggested that this was just her way of getting him to tell her the secret of the rope trick. She laughed, pointing out that he must think he's about to die, as she kissed him. It wouldn't be long before Helena used the Cluemaster's code to tell him she loved him.

During the war, Dick and Helena offered Spyral's services to the Russian government, which was then being run by Anatoli Knyazev, whom Dick had known as KGBeast during his tenure with Batman. Naturally, he was wary, but Helena ensured that the deal went over well.

In the war, working for Russia, the pair faced an army of Parademons alone, and Helena was sure they were going to die. She insisted that he tell her the secret of the rope trick. Though Dick was sure they weren't going to die, he admitted that he used the very same acid that had killed his parents, which he kept in a jar under his bed in his apartment.

After the battle, they saw the aftermath and realized that there had been women and children among the victims of the attack. Helena spoke to KGBeast about it, and he had assured her that these people were working with the Parademons, and would have killed thousands if they hadn't acted. He had sent Dick and Helena to fight off the Parademons while his own men massacred these people - and now he had decided to declare them heroes.

Despite the intended honour for them, Dick warned that he had to do something to prevent KGBeast from killing more people as he had earlier. Helena begged him to do nothing, reminding that they had sacrificed everything just to get peace and see the war over. Dick insisted, though, that someone would have to be responsible.

At the ceremony, Dick suddenly leapt up and snapped KGBeast's neck, ensuring that it would be left to Helena to punish him with hanging, so long as she remained loyal. He was captured quickly, and he warned Helena that he couldn't let KGBeast go - his hands wouldn't be clean if he did.

Sadly, Helena sent Dick to his death by hanging at the end of a rope - just like he had started. With her final words to him, though, she used the Cluemaster's code to deliver the message: "On the roof," as the acid began burning through the rope.



Notes

  • This book was first published on September 3, 2014.
  • The events of the story are told in reverse order.
  • The story title is a play on the title of storyline A Lonely Place of Dying.

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