"Safety Net": Just hours ago, a little girl named Jen, whom Dick Grayson and his roommates had been babysitting, lost her parents to murder, and when she discovered his dual identity and begged him to bring her with him to search for her parents' killer, he had
- Part of it's a defense mechanism. You don't want to be defined by the terrible thing that happened. You don't want to be hurt anymore. You want to be someone stronger. So you "try on" different people. Until you find the right you.
Synopsis for "Safety Net"
Just hours ago, a little girl named Jen, whom Dick Grayson and his roommates had been babysitting, lost her parents to murder, and when she discovered his dual identity and begged him to bring her with him to search for her parents' killer, he had turned her down. Within minutes, she was gone, determined to find the killer by herself. He had turned her down because it was too dangerous. The killer, after all, was Victor Zsasz. Now that Dick and his friends have realized Jen is missing, he is determined to find her and get her home safe before anything happens.
In a sparse apartment, Mister Zsasz carves two more marks into his arm, to represent Jen's parents. He is startled when he looks to his door and sees young Jen standing there, brandishing Eskrima sticks stolen from Nightwing. As she rushes at him, he merely swats her aside with the back of his hand, knocking her to the floor easily. Though he admires her spirit, he suggests that he's got plenty of room to add another mark for her next to her mom and dad's.
Fortunately, Nightwing soon smashes through Zsasz' window in time to see him put his knife to Jen's throat. He explains that he'd put trackers in his Eskrima sticks, as he sends her hiding under the table, and grabs for one of the sticks to defend himself against Zsasz' sharp blade. Though it is difficult, he manages to land a kick at Zsasz' head, knocking him unconscious.
Afterwards, Dick takes Jen up onto the roof, and explains how when he learned his parents had been murdered, he was consumed by the desire for revenge, but he'd found ways to contain it. As a defence mechanism, he had tried to avoid being defined by his tragedy by becoming someone stronger. For him, that meant trying on other personalities, like that of Robin. That was, until he found the right version of himself, which was Nightwing.
Even though he'd found out who he wanted to be, things didn't turn out as Dick expected. His friends had changed just as much as he had in the time it took to find himself, and he had to wonder, somehow, if their change for the worse had been his fault; if he could have prevented it by doing something differently. It led him to question who he'd become, and what he might have been or should have been. What might have happened if he had been recruited to the Court of Owls, and become a Talon? What might his parents think of what he has done with his life? Would they feel he'd done enough? He had hoped to build a legacy in buying up Amusement Mile, but that opportunity was taken from him, and he had let the people who relied on him down. Tonight, though, he'd promised himself he wouldn't let Jen down.
At last, he explains that the point of his story is that there is no easy path through grief. Things will be hard for her, and he doesn't want to give her false hope by saying it definitely will get easier. All the same, he decides to show her something. He presents the bracelet that he'd bought for his mother on the day she'd died, and asks Jen to hold onto it for him. He tells her that no matter how dark things should get for her, the bracelet should serve as a reminder that things won't always be that way. They can get better, like they did for him. Tearfully, she hugs him, and thanks him. He promises that she can call on him whenever she wants, and she sends her down to have breakfast with Joey before she is sent to her Aunt's. Before heading down, she turns and reminds Dick that his parents would be proud of him.
Given hope by Jen, Dick decides that he can focus on the positive enough to give Sonia Branch another chance, texting her an invitation to dinner while he's visiting Gotham City for a few days. Standing and preparing to make his own way down for breakfast, Dick thinks on his life, and decides that it's not about all the trappings of being a vigilante in the Bat-family. His life, above all, is about catching people when they fall.
Appearing in "Safety Net"
- Nightwing (Flashback and main story)
- Batman (Flashback only)
- Michael Pearson
- Joker (Flashback only)
- Harley Quinn (Flashback only)
- Scarecrow (Flashback only)
- Two-Face (Flashback only)
- Poison Ivy (Flashback only)
- Mr. Freeze (Flashback only)
- Court of Owls (Flashback only)
- Talon (Flashback only)
- Saiko (Dies in flashback)
- Raya Vestri (Flashback only)
- Flying Graysons (Flashback only)
- Gotham City Police Department (Flashback only)
- Sonia Branch
- Forever Evil #1 serves as a partial continuation for this issue.