"A Lonely Place of Dying" One of Marv Wolfman's Best Tales
Fifty years ago, an up-and-coming creator named Marv Wolfman turned in his first script, and though no one knew it at the time, the DC Universe was about to be changed forever. Believe it or not, the mind that helped co-create such massive events like CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and THE JUDAS CONTRACT actually started pretty small, all the way back in August of 1968 with a script for an issue of BLACKHAWK, setting into motion a chain of events that would permanently shift the course of superhero comics for better and for always.
To celebrate the anniversary of Marv's monumental contributions to the genre and to DC's rich history, we've compiled a list of some of our favorite Wolfman collaborations from across his fifty-year career.
A Lonely Place of Dying
The formal introduction of Tim Drake, the third Robin, came in BATMAN #440-442 in another Wolfman/Perez joint called “A Lonely Place of Dying.” Shortly after the death of Jason Todd, Tim stepped in to make his impassioned plea to Dick Grayson that "Batman needs a Robin," a moment that would go on to become one of the foundational exchanges for the modern Bat-family.
Shop: Batman #442 December 1989 DC Comics Grade NM
Tim's career as Robin became one of the most prominent threads in Gotham City during most of the ’90s, and it's thanks in part to Marv's work on the script that he got such a great and fondly remembered start.
Tim Drake and Alfred Pennyworth, desperate to help Batman and Nightwing - who have gone missing while on a mission - decide that Tim should don the costume of Robin and help them. As Tim and Alfred drive to the scene, Tim explains that while he never wanted the role of Robin for himself, since Dick refused to return to the role, he will take it up.
Meanwhile, Two-Face wonders whether the voice that has been directing him to kill Batman is coming from within or without. Despite the voice's urging, Two-Face insists on flipping his coin, and decides to detonate his explosives at 2AM. Just as he activates the detonator, Tim arrives dressed as Robin, and warns that he'll make Two-Face pay if Batman or Nightwing are dead.
Tim is inexperienced, and Two-Face wastes little time in beating him down. A horrified Alfred intervenes, wishing for no more death. Fortunately, the distraction proves enough opportunity for Tim to get up and deliver a knock-out punch. While two-face is down, Alfred helps Tim down the building's coal-chute, hoping to find Batman and Nightwing below.
Batman and Nightwing are pinned beneath the crossbeams, but Tim can't move them without clearing the rubble away. After some effort, he finally frees his idols, but Batman immediately removes Tim's mask, angrily stating that there is no more Robin. Batman is even further surprised and indignant to find that Tim knows his secret identity. Despite Alfred's support, Batman states that after one boy had died in the suit, he wouldn't take the risk a third time. Tim explains that while Batman is now a symbol, so too is Robin. Batman is more concerned with tracking Two-Face, which Tim helps with, having placed a tracking device on him during their fight. Batman agrees to let Tim join them, and discuss his future later.
They track Two-Face to a junkyard where Tim's life is immediately in peril, but he escapes using his wits, to Batman's relief. The three soon defeat their enemy, reminding him that neither Batman, nor Nightwing, nor even Robin can be killed. Afterwards, at the Manor, the heroes discuss the future of Robin, and while Bruce is disapproving, he comes to realize the need for a partner. He at least promises to try Tim out.
Elsewhere, the voice that had been controlling Two-Face reveals that it was actually the Joker all the time - and not Harvey Dent's subconscious - controlling everything from his hospital bed.
DC Comics has a list of Six of Marv Wolfman's Best Tales
Cyborg and Starfire search the Titans Tower computers for any trace of Dick Grayson, hoping to tell him about the mysterious boy who had been asking about him. Soon, Donna Troy calls from Dick's abandoned apartment to report that Speedy has arrived at Dick's request, to retrieve files from the Teen Titans. While investigating, Jericho reveals that the apartment has recently been broken into, and they find a safe containing Dick's scrapbook. They discover that a page is missing. The team concludes that whoever broke in must know Dick's secret identity.
Shop: New Teen Titans #60 (1984 2nd Series) November 1989 DC Comics
Meanwhile, at Haly's Circus, Dick returns to his old home, meeting old friends, and realizing that the circus has fallen on hard times. Mr. Haly intimates that there have been a number of accidents at the circus which are driving down attendance numbers, and costing the circus money. As Dick explores, he hears a scream and investigates. The lion tamer angrily berates Harry the clown, who is now a drunk. Harry is accused of sabotaging the circus in order to scare off potential buyers, which he denies. In anger, he throws his flask of alcohol at his friends, but it is caught deftly by Dick.
As the circus show starts, the mysterious boy who has been looking for Dick sits in the audience with his camera, trying to catch a glimpse of his target. During the lion tamer's act, one of the lionesses attacks him, prompting Dick, who has disguised himself as a clown, to leap into action. He uses the trapeze to launch himself into the air, and drops a net over top of the angry lioness. This leads the boy to recognize Dick. Unfortunately, the lion tamer has been killed.
Mr. Haly resigns himself to closing down the circus, but Dick feels there's more to the story. As he wanders outside, he comes across the mysterious boy, who suggests that Harry the clown drugged the cat in order to make her attack and kill the lion tamer. Dick is suspicious and doubtful, but investigates anyway.
In Harry's tent, Samson the strongman and Pedro the dwarf accuse Harry of murdering the lion tamer. However, Pedro lets slip that he knows where the flask used to drug the cat was found. Harry reveals that he is actually Dick in disguise, and subdues Samson. Outside, the mysterious boy has captured Pedro.
Afterwards, Dick becomes the co-owner of Haly's Circus. He questions the boy about his identity, but instead, the boy shows Dick evidence that Two-Face is back in Gotham City. The boy pleads that Batman needs a Robin, revealing that he knows everything about the dynamic duo.
In Gotham, Two-Face watches Batman from his window, ominously.
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