Warning: Spoilers for City Boy (2023) #4 ahead!Nightwing’s departure from Gotham and his mentor marked a particularly turbulent chapter of his history as a solo hero. After another encounter with City Boy, however, proof emerges that he has indelibly become a part of Blüdhaven’s very soul, vindicating his decision to strike out on his own.
Greg Pak, Minkyu Jung, and Sebastian Cheng’s City Boy (2023) #4 follows Cameron Kim to Blüdhaven as he tracks down the memories of his mother from city to city. Almost immediately, he is overwhelmed by the city’s memories of succumbing to nuclear assault during the Final Crisis event; when Nightwing shows up to help him, a panicked Cameron calls upon Blüdhaven for protection and the city manifests as a giant bat made of concrete, streetlamps, and fencing.
Once Cameron recognizes Nightwing, however, the city immediately shrinks down to a more manageable size and greets the hero as an old friend. In fact, Blüdhaven is so attached to Nightwing that when Cameron later orders the city’s avatar to interfere with Nightwing’s pursuit of a fugitive girl, Blüdhaven defies the command and rushes to Nightwing’s defense instead.
Nightwing Is A Part of Blüdhaven’s Very Soul
Blüdhaven is the perfect location for Nightwing and City Boy’s stories to intersect. For Nightwing’s part, he has been entwined with the city since its inception in Chuck Dixon, Scott McDaniel, and Karl Story’s Nightwing (1996) #1. This issue presents Blüdhaven as even more decrepit and corrupt than Gotham, with Nightwing’s efforts to save the city’s soul coming to define his struggle there against local crime kingpin Blockbuster. As for Cameron, his powers were awakened as part of an experiment gone wrong by Darkseid’s Intergang, who have since attempted to capture and use him to remake Earth into a new Apokolips; City Boy (2023) #4 reinforces Blüdhaven’s connection to Darkseid, acknowledging his use of the city as a base during the events of Final Crisis as well as the pre-Flashpoint continuity.
All of this struggle and trauma is vindicated when Blüdhaven manifests before Nightwing in the form of a bat. For more than twenty years, Nightwing has fought for Blüdhaven’s soul, so it is telling that the form it takes bears no sign of Blockbuster, Heartless (his replacement), or Darkseid; rather, it is wholly embodied by the legacy of Batman’s first and greatest student, paying homage to its Gotham origins and its current savior as a literal “Night Wing.”
Blüdhaven today bears little resemblance to the Blüdhaven of 1996. Thanks to Nightwing, the city’s Haven park functions as both community center and outreach for the homeless and disadvantaged, and the blight that was the Blüdhaven prison has been reformed into the new Titan’s Tower. Nightwing’s decision to leave Gotham marked the start of one of the most difficult and painful periods of his life, but through his tireless work to improve the city he has made himself an inseparable part of Blüdhaven’s very soul – a fact which City Boy has now proved beyond a shadow of a doubt.
City Boy (2023) #4 is now available from DC Comics.