Gotham City: 15 Years Ago
Dick attends his parents' funeral along with the other members of the circus. They leave flowers on the graves and Dick hesitates. The circus strongman, Clayton Williams, nods at him to proceed and after a moment, Dick does so. Afterward, Clayton and Dick sit in the cemetery and Clayton assures Dick that his parents were proud. Dick points out that someone said that the police said that his parents' trapeze rope was burned through with acid. The strongman tells him that it's not his concern and that Bruce wants to take Dick in. Dick doesn't want to stay with anyone else, but Clayton tells him that living with Bruce will change his life.
Dick and Robin take Adamson out the buildings parking lot, and Robin says that his real name is Jason Todd and he's the new Robin. Robin assures Dick that Bruce knows that he's there, and they load the unconscious doctor into Robin's car. As they drive through Chicago, Jason explains that he was out boosting cars and tried to steal the Batmobile's hub caps, and Bruce took him in. He says that he found Dick via the tracker in his arm, and that he has one of his own.
Jason takes Dick to one of Bruce's safehouse and lets them in via the retina scanner. As they take the elevator up, Dick asks why Jason why he's Robin rather than have his own name, and Jason says that being Robin. Dick goes back and brings Adamson up, and Jason asks Dick why he quit. Dick claims that he just couldn't cut it, and goes to the bathroom and cuts the implant out of his arm. Kory calls from the motel and asks where he is, and Dick explains that Adamson's friends tried to kill him. She reports that the Family is all dead and she didn't kill them. Dick moans briefly in pain and says that he's just dealing with something, and tells Kory and the others to join him there at the safe house.
Once he's removed the implant, he tells Jason that he can handle things and Jason should go back to Gotham. Jason notices that he removed the implant, and Dick advises him to remove his as well because they're not animals in Bruce's zoo. Jason doesn't believe it and says that Dick doesn't understand Bruce. Dick tells him that everything Bruce does is in the best interest of Bruce. Jason refuses to go and shows him photos of five dead circus people, and explains that someone sent them to the Gotham PD thinking Dick was still Robin. Someone killed them with hydrochloric acid, just like the Maroni crime family used hydrochloric acid on Harvey Dent. Tony Zucco was working for the Maronis when he killed Dick's parents, but they were all put away years ago. Dick tells Jason that Haley owed the Maronis protection money and he couldn't pay, so the Graysons paid the debt with their lives.
Jason says that the papers have dubbed the killer "The Melting Man" because he melts his victims' faces off. Dick tells him that the man he 's thinking of is dead, and Jason dismisses the cops as either useless or dirty. When they hit dead ends, they came to Batman and Batman sent Jason to find Dick. Dick accesses the Wayne Enterprise computer, having Jason provide him the password, and Dick confirms that Clayton is still alive. He calls Clayton and gets his answering machine, and goes to Clayton's home in Milwaukee to make sure that he's safe. When Jason figures that he's going with him, Dick tells him that it's personal and Jason is Bruce's Robin. Jason says that he's his own Robin, just as a system alert goes off. Kory, Rachel, and Gar are at the entrance.
Dick lets them up and tells them to chill out. Gar and Rachel try to work out how many Robins there are, and Kory has Dick take her to the bathroom where Adamson is tucked away. Dick explains that Adamson said he worked for the "Organization" and they work for Rachel's father. He tells Kory that Jason is his replacement and she figures that it's great. She wonders if Dick wants to be Robin, and Dick says that he's getting used to the idea of being replaced. Dick explains about the murders and says that he needs to check on someone, and Kory tells him to go while she handles Adamson. He says that Jason is coming with him and walks out.
In Milwaukee, Clayton is at home working on a model car and ignoring his phone calls. Clayton then goes down the street to his job, unaware that a man is watching him. The man walks after Clayton.
Dick and Jason arrive in Milwaukee and go to the bar where Clayton works as a bouncer. Jason talks about how his parents died and he went into foster care and then onto the streets. They arrive at the bar and Dick flashes his badge to get in. The doorman checks Jason's fake ID and doesn't fall for it, and Dick tells Jason to stay there.
Clayton is working the door to the VIP lounge, and Dick goes over and greets him. The former strongman doesn't recognize him at first, and then hugs him in greeting. Dick asks if they can talk privately.
Jason waits in the alley and slips in when a man brings the garbage out.
Dick tells Clayton about the murders and how he may be next, and says that everyone went their separate ways after the funeral. He apologizes for not keeping in touch, and Dick assures him that it's fine.
Jason enters the bar's main room and confidently makes his way through the crowd.
Dick and Clayton exchange phone numbers, and Clayton says that he's proud of him. Pondering, Dick says that he used to wonder what his life would have been like if he stayed with Clayton, and Clayton tells him that he would have been bored. The former strongman asks if Dick is happy.
Jason goes to the bar and orders a drink, and flirts with a woman. The woman's boyfriend takes offense, and Dick and Clayton notices. Dick goes over and tells Jason to sit, just as a car explodes outside and the shrapnel shoots through the bar. Dick gets Jason out and tends to the crowd. The stalker calls using Clayton's phone and says that it's good to talk to him, and that Dick know who he is. Dick realizes who it is but says that he's dead, and the caller--Nick Zucco--says that Dick must be thinking of his father. Nick hangs up, and Jason asks who it was.
Gotham City: Two Years Ago
The Feds arrest Tony Zucco, and Dick's Robin watches on TV. Later, Dick meets with a federal agent and watches via the surveillance cameras as Tony meets with his on Nick. The agents says that they can't honor Dick's request to meet with Tony, and admits that they're cutting a deal with Tony to bring down the entire Maroni family. Dick objects, saying that Tony killed his parents, and the agent points out that they can't prove that and Tony will have to go into protective custody once the Maronis find out that Tony snitched on them. The two men go out into the hallway and Dick says that they should lock Tony in a jail cell and let him die. Nick overhears them and Dick sees him before he walks away.
That night, the feds are transferring Tony and Robin drops a smoke grenade in front of the van and drops on top of it. The driver slams the van into a pillar, and when the guards get out Robin takes them out. He then drags Tony out of the back and beats him, and Tony begs for his life. When Robin yells that he wants his parents back, Tony realizes who he is. Robin chokes him and asks why he should spare Tony's life, and then beats him some more. The Maronis arrive and open fire. Tony begs Robin to help him, but Robin refuses and watches as the gunmen kill Tony.
Dick tells Jason that he killed Nick's father, and warns that Bruce turned Dick into his weapon. Nick sends a photo of an unconscious Clayton, and tells him where Dick can meet him if he wants to save his friend. Dick tells Jason that he has to take care of it himself and leaves.
After donning his Robin costume, Dick goes to the address--an old chemical plant--and finds Charlie tied to a pipe with burning acid above him. Nick holds the controls and tells Robin to stop, and Clayton realizes who Robin is. Robin tells Clayton that he'll be okay, but Nick says that they'll both be dead and that the Feds told him what happened. He thanks Robin for what followed: the Feds didn't honor the Zucco's witness protection after Tony died, and the Maronis came after Nick's mother, daughter, and fiancée with hydrofluoric acid. The killers tried to melt him as well, and describes how the acid ate away at his disfigured face. He tells Robin that the acid changed him, and releases a drop of acid onto Clayton's shoulder.
The costumed Jason drops down and attacks Nick, while Dick frees Clayton. Nick shoots Jason in the chest and he goes down, and Dick beats Nick unconscious before he can shoot Jason in the head. Jason is okay because of his bulletproof costume and tells Dick that he did good work. The police sirens sound in the distance and Jason leaves. Dick goes to Clayton, and the police come in and Jason attacks them. He takes them down, all but killing them,. One cop is left, and Jason breaks his hand and takes him down. Dick hears the officer's screams and comes over to stop Jason as he beats the man. Jason says that he can do whatever he wants when he wears the mask, and Batman isn't there to stop him. Dick tells him that one day he'll wake up one day and not know who he is, and Jason says that the real difference between them is that he kicks ass with Batman and loves it, and asks Dick who he is. Jason walks off, kicking the cops as he goes.
Later, Dick binds Clayton's wounds and tells him that he's trying to give up being Robin. Clayton wonders if Bruce knows that Dick works with Batman, and Dick says that he doesn't anymore. He says that Bruce did the best he could and calls Kory. She confirms that Adamson isn't awake yet and Dick says that he's on his way back. Kory asks how many Robins she should expect, and Dick tells her none".
Kory walks over to the unconscious Adamson and kicks him awake. He asks where Rachel is, and Kory tells him that he's not getting anywhere near her. Adamson says that she can kill him if he wants but he's not talking to anyone but Rachel.
Written by Gadfly on Nov 17, 2018