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Why The Flash Just Offered to Be Batman’s New Sidekick

In the latest issue of Justice League, the Flash jokingly offers to become the next Nightwing, but there is much more context behind his words.

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers from Justice League #60 by Brian Michael Bendis, David Marquez, Tamra Bonvillain, and Josh Reed, on sale now.

When faced with a threat from an unknown world, Barry Allen has reworked his Cosmic Treadmill to carry his friends and new allies in the Justice League over to the birth dimension of their youngest member, Naomi. But in the process of preparing to send the League through the multiversal barrier, the Flash made a joke to Batman about wanting to be the new Nightwing. While this may seem like a random moment of levity amidst a very tense mission prep, but it carries years worth of context and relevance behind it.

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The reason Barry redesigned the treadmill was so the Justice League could follow their new enemy, Brutus, to his home dimension. As Barry described it, Brutus wasn’t really crossing dimensions so much as tearing through them. It was bad for the environment of both worlds, so Barry’s treadmill would take a gentler approach, sliding its users into the new dimension while he monitored them from the Hall of Justice so he could pull them back.

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When Batman asked if he had double-checked his math, Barry retorted that he triple-checked the math and then did it again. This earned him the Dark Knight’s praise and Barry asked if he could be the new Nightwing. It was a joke, but considering the relationship, the Flash has with Batman and everything that’s been going on in Bruce Wayne’s life lately, this comment says quite more than it seems at first glance.

For starters, Barry chose to ask to be the new Nightwing, not the new Robin. This might have been because the topic of who actually is Robin tends to be a touchy subject these days. Bruce recently had a falling out with his son Damian, who rejected the Robin title, feeling that the mantle and the very idea of Batman were complete failures when it came to protecting people.

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Being rejected by one’s own child is painful, even for someone as emotionally reserved as Batman. With his joke, Barry might have just been trying to show some tact in dealing with his friend by not bringing up the mantle most associated with his estranged son.

There is also the idea that Barry gets what Nightwing means to Batman more clearly than anyone else. In many ways, Wally West is very much Barry Allen’s answer to Nightwing. Both Wally and Dick are young men Barry and Bruce raised to become great men in their own right, men whom their mentors admire greatly. All of this gives great context to something that initially appears to be little more than a simple joke between longtime allies.

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