"South Beach Connection": In Gotham City, Batgirl chases down a shape-shifting thief calling himself Spinebender. He has stolen a cache of microchips which rival those powering the Batsuits. Unfortunately, he escapes her.
- Hey, sometimes it's just a matter of looking at things from the right angle to have them make sense. You'd be surprised at what you might find.
Synopsis for "South Beach Connection"
In Miami, Dick Grayson and Raya Vestri have been sleeping together, and the two of them make pillow talk about the movies they haven't seen. Dick offers that once things slow down, he'll take her out and they'll catch up on all the movies he hasn't seen. Raya lays back in bed disappointedly, knowing that once Dick has figured out the mystery of the assassin called Saiko and Haly's Circus, he'll just end up going back to Gotham, and leaving his circus family behind.
In one of the tents, Jimmy the clown looks over what appears to be a threatening note, when he is interrupted by Marc. The clown tries to hide the note, but before Marc can pry about it, they are surprised by the appearance of Barbara Gordon. She asks after Dick, and they send her on her way. Afterwards, Marc comments that Dick seems to have a type.
Dick tries to arrange a date later with Raya when a knock comes at his door. His response to seeing Barbara standing there is less than excited, given their history. Awkwardly, he introduces Barbara to Raya, and they size each other up. After Raya leaves, Barbara explains that she is in the area because she knows that Spinebender's fence is in Miami, and she hopes to ambush him when he tries to sell the microchips. Playfully, she invites him to come with her, and despite his preoccupation with his own case, he agrees.
Dick feels uncomfortable because while Raya may have been his first major crush while he was in the circus, Barbara is a close second. He and she grew up together under Batman's wing, and he thinks she feels about the same about him as he does about her. However, their friendship has taken a turn since he admitted that he didn't think she was ready to return to being Batgirl.
As Spinebender appears to be late for his appointment, Barbara asks Dick how his own case is going. Unfortunately, Dick hasn't been able to find anybody who Saiko has worked for. Moreover, the assassin now knows that Richard Grayson and Nightwing are one and the same, which could compromise all of his fellow Gotham vigilantes. Barbara begins to pry about Raya, but Dick is clearly uncomfortable, and decides to go in for a closer look to avoid the questions.
On the ground, Dick discovers that Spinebender's fence doesn't know why he's late either. Thinking about it, he realizes that Spinebender knows he's not being tailed. Up on the roof, Barbara hears Nightwing behind her, and turns around in time to see Dick jumping up and grabbing what appears to be his double. Spinebender has assumed his shape in order to get the drop on Batgirl. Grappling with the shape-changer, Dick calls out for Batgirl to hit the thief. Fortunately, she chooses correctly.
Nightwing changes things up by knocking Spinebender down among his fence's men, alerting them to their presence. Amid the gunfire, Nightwing shoves Spinebender into a pool, hoping that that the water will have some effect on him. It doesn't, but Batgirl zaps him with an electrified Batarang, and that turns out to be his weakness. Analyzing the thief's composition, it turns out that he has a high concentration of silica. With this in mind, Nightwing zaps Spinebender with even more electricity, and the reaction causes the silica to become glass, freezing the him in place. As the police arrive, Dick and Barbara make their escape.
After they return to Dick's car on the circus train, Barbara apologizes for prying into his relationship with Raya. She comments that he seems happy, and as such, she should leave it alone. He responds that she looks happy too, and they part ways amicably. In the hall outside the cabin, Raya stops Barbara and asks about the nature of her relationship with Dick. Barbara claims that he is only a close friend, and adds that he seems to really care about Raya, and that she makes him happy. In the end, that should be all that matters. After Barbara has gone, Raya considers knocking on Dick's door, hesitates, and then decides against it.
Afterwards, Dick has a revelation about the cryptic message he was given by Mr. Haly. He had been thinking of it as a metaphor, but perhaps it was a literal direction. Perhaps the answer in the heart of the circus means that the answer really is in the heart of the circus. Dick rushes out to the big top tent and in the main ring, he discovers a wood panel that appears to be more worn than the others. He pulls it away to reveal a book. On each page is a name, but none that he recognizes. On the last page, however, is his own name.
Appearing in "South Beach Connection"
- Spinebender (First appearance)
- Alexander Staunton (Mentioned only)
- Asimov (Single appearance)
- Benjamin Haldman (Mentioned only)
- Henry Ballard (Mentioned only)
- Jimmy Clark
- William Cobb (Mentioned only)
- There are four names that are shown in the book that Grayson doesn't recognize. Of the four, William Cobb is the Talon that attacked Bruce Wayne, Henry Ballard attacked the Birds of Prey, and Alexander Staunton attacked Batwing. The last name, Benjamin Haldman, was never shown attacking any of the heroes.
- In the book of names, Alexander Staunton comes before Henry Ballard, but, according to the Night of the Owls storyline, Ballard was a Talon before Staunton.
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