"Bloodlines": In the year 1910, Gotham City was a different place. For those who were considered children of the city, Gotham was a wonderful place to grow up, but for William Cobb - who was not a child of Gotham - life was harder. To be a child of the city, he
- At the time it felt like the ultimate betrayal. But it would be nothing compared to the betrayal I'll witness here tonight. Because this betrayal takes everything I sacrificed and makes it worthless.
Synopsis for "Bloodlines"
In the year 1910, Gotham City was a different place. For those who were considered children of the city, Gotham was a wonderful place to grow up, but for William Cobb - who was not a child of Gotham - life was harder. To be a child of the city, he would have had to be a member of Gotham's high society, which was represented best by four men: Alan Wayne, Frederic Cobblepot, Edward Elliot and Burton Crowne.
William's father was merely an ironworker, and he spent most of his years constructing bridges for the Gates Brothers, but when Cameron Kane's commissioned bridge collapses during construction, William's father lost his life. So, William took up street performance as a juggler, hoping to earn a few pennies to help he and his mother get by.
William's mother worked at a textile plant, and though they had very little money, she forbade him from begging on the street. He disobeyed, continuing to juggle in secret for Gotham's elite. One day, he had spotted a pickpocket trying to rob someone, and had used one of his juggling balls to knock the man down. As it happened, the victim was the proprietor of Haly's Circus, and he offered William a job.
Now, Nightwing has only just escaped being killed at Haly's Circus by his old friend Raymond McCreary, only to find that the police are seeking him in connection with a murder. Nightwing's escrima sticks became the murder weapon against the Strayhorn brothers - a pair of thugs. Strangely, there has been no media leak about the bat-weapon's connection to the crime, which makes Nightwing suspicious.
While investigating in the Gotham City Police Headquarters evidence room, Nightwing receives a call from Alfred Pennyworth, who urgently announces that the Court of Owls has struck, sending their assassins to kill nearly forty targets across the city. Each of these targets is a prominent leader who shapes Gotham City. The Talons are already en route to their targets, and for some it may be too late. Nightwing assures Alfred that the GCPD can protect Commissioner Gordon well enough, and decides to check in on Mayor Hady at City Hall.
Meanwhile, Mayor Hady is in talks with Councilman Davis and Deputy Mayor Kavanaugh about plans to redistrict the city as a means of preventing Bruce Wayne's attempts to bring about some urban renewal. Suddenly, the lights in the office shut off, and Davis decides to investigate. He is greeted with the sight of three dead security guards, and has mere moments to utter an expletive before the Talon separates his head from his body. The assassin turns to the Mayor, and sentences him to death for corruption and betrayal of Gotham City. Before the Talon can catch the mayor, Nightwing crashes in through the window. The Talon is merely amused to have the Bat's protege come to play.
When Mr. Haly spoke to William's mother, she reluctantly let him go and join the circus, knowing that she could not support them both. Rather than juggling balls, Haly encouraged William to learn to throw and juggle knives - to play a bit harder. City after city, and night after night, William became a spectacular knife-thrower. His reputation grew, and though he had once merely been a child living in Gotham, he soon rose to the status of child of Gotham. His reputation garnered him the interest of Amelia Crowne, daughter of Burton Crowne, and the two of them soon fell in love.
Nightwing attempts to distract the talon long enough to let the Mayor to get out of City Hall by challenging the Talon to a sword fight. Unfortunately, the assassin is a better swordsman than he. The Talon's blade gives Nightwing several nasty cuts, and continues to taunt him, even as Nightwing thrusts his sword through the assassin's chest. The Talon raises his sword high over his head for a killing blow, but suddenly, Nightwing thrusts his escrima stick through the Talon's eye socket and into its brain, preventing him from regenerating its wounds.
William and Amelia were happy from the very beginning of their relationship - but that beginning was the beginning of the end. Even though neither of them knew it, the following months would strip everything away from them. At the time, it had felt like the ultimate betrayal.
Tonight though, William Cobb witnesses the ultimate betrayal, for Richard Grayson's existence as such is a betrayal in itself - one which makes everything he sacrificed worthless.
As Nightwing attempts to usher the Mayor out of the building in what little time they have left, he is suddenly riddled with throwing knives. These are the knives of William Cobb, who has come on this night as a Talon, to murder his own descendant.
Appearing in "Bloodlines"
- Councilman Davis (Dies)
- Deputy Mayor Thomas Kavanaugh
- Amelia Crowne (Flashback only)
- Alan Wayne (Flashback only)
- Frederic Cobblepot (Flashback only)
- Edward Elliot (Flashback only)
- Burton Crowne (Flashback only)
- Gotham City (Flashback and main story)
- This comic book was first published on April 18, 2012.
- This issue is reprinted in Batman: Night of the Owls.