Nightwing's Ten Greatest Villains #4 - #1

We are finishing up the top ten list of Dick Grayson’s greatest villains.

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To see the previous entries in this series, check out the following.

Nightwing’s Greatest Villains #10 - #8

Nightwing’s Greatest Villains #7 - #5

Many bad guys have already claimed their place in Nightwing’s Rogues Gallery. Before we finish the list, let’s do a quick recap. We have already seen Hush at #10, Ravager at #9, Black Mask at #8, Two-Face at #7, Mayor Hady at #6, and Joker at #5. Why beat out these baddies to make it to the final four? Let’s find out.

#4 Tarantula

Who Is She?

A former FBI agent, Catalina Marie Flores left the Bureau to become a superhero intent on dismantling street gangs and corrupt police precincts. However, she had loose morals and would stop at nothing to reach her goals. Tarantula has most frequently been a villain to Nightwing, but she has also made trouble for Batman. At times, she worked for the Secret Six.

Why She Made the List

Tarantula first encountered Nightwing in Bludhaven where she was using excessive force to apprehend criminals. Nightwing did not approve and told Tarantula to leave the city. Shortly thereafter, Nightwing discovered that in addition to continuing her vigilante activities, Tarantula had actually escalated her violence by killing a corrupt police chief. Nightwing apprehended Tarantula and turned her over to the police, but she was soon released. Angered by what she perceived as Dick’s betrayal and his refusal of her advances, Tarantula partnered with the crime kingpin of Bludhaven, Blockbuster. While working for Blockbuster, she was soon ordered to assassinate Grayson’s girlfriend, Barbara Gordon. Rather than kill Barbara, Tarantula managed to simply break up the couple which suited Blockbuster’s plans equally well.

Tarantula’s relationship with Nightwing changed when Blockbuster became even more aggressive towards Grayson vowing to destroy everyone Dick knew and loved. When Tarantula discovered this, she turned on Blockbuster killing one of his chief assassins, Lady Vic. Grayson fought with Blockbuster until Nightwing was at the point of complete exhaustion. Tarantula then appeared and offered to kill Blockbuster on Dick’s behalf. Nightwing knew he should stop Tarantula, but unable to think of a way to stop Blockbuster’s campaign of misery, Dick allowed Tarantula to shoot Blockbuster in the head and kill him.

Sadly, Tarantula’s crimes did not stop there. Following the death of Blockbuster, Grayson went to the roof of the skyscraper and had an emotional breakdown crying in a ball in a near catatonic state. Despite his obvious frailty, Tarantula pushed her sexual advances onto Grayson on the roof and had sex with the heartsick hero in a move many heroes consider tantamount to rape. Dick was still going through the motions of day to day life when Catalina persuaded him to apply for a marriage license a few days later. If not for Batman summoning Nightwing’s assistance, Tarantula probably would have talked Nightwing into a hasty marriage, but a gang war in Gotham broke Grayson from his monotony. After helping Batman during the events of “War Games,” Dick confessed his crime to Batman, and the lecture from Batman seemed to snap Dick out of his lethargy. Nightwing confronted Tarantula and convinced her to turn herself in for her crimes.

For raping Dick Grayson, corrupting Nightwing’s soul, and being a general manipulative skank, Tarantula has earned her place as Nightwing’s forth greatest villain.

Where Is She Now?

Tarantula was eventually broken free of police custody by the Secret Six who used her on one of their missions. During the Secret Six’s operation, Tarantula sacrificed herself to kill Junior.

#3 Roland Desmond

Who Is He?

Roland Desmond, better known as Blockbuster, was Bludhaven’s number one crime lord.

Why He Made the List

When Grayson moved to Bludhaven and began working as that city’s hero, it did not take long for Roman Desmond to take notice of him. Almost immediately, Blockbuster put a large bounty on Nightwing’s head which causes a seemingly endless string of assassins to constantly threaten Grayson’s life and hamper his crime fighting activities.

Eventually, Blockbuster managed to uncover Nightwing’s secret identity as Dick Grayson, and Desmond soon made all his previous attacks on Nightwing look like child’s play in comparison to the Hell he unleashed on the unsuspecting hero. Knowing that Dick Grayson, always a friendly guy, had formed many close friendships with the other tenants of his apartment complex, Blockbuster blew up the entire building killing almost all of the friends Grayson had made in the past year in one moment of destructive power. Nightwing tracked down Desmond and beat him into submission, but even defeated, Blockbuster continued to taunt Grayson saying that no matter what he did or where he went, Blockbuster would track him down and kill everyone he loved. It was at that point that Tarantula showed up and talked Nightwing into compromising his integrity, but though Tarantula certainly contributed to Dick’s poor decision, it was just as much Blockbuster’s fault for backing Dick into a corner.

Where Is He Now?

Blockbuster was resurrected recently as a Black Lantern.

#2 Saiko

Who Is He?

Saiko was once a childhood friend of Dick Grayson’s named Raymond, but things changed after Grayson’s parents were murdered and Dick left the circus. The Court of Owls took Raymond and trained him to be one of their heartless, unstoppable assassins called Talons. However, after putting Raymond through untold horrors, the Court found him wanting and left him in a forest to die. Unfortunately, Raymond did not die, and he blamed Dick Grayson for his misfortune for Raymond was only selected as a talon candidate because Grayson was unavailable due to his proximity to Bruce Wayne. For years, Saiko’s anger grew as he plotted revenge on the one he believed responsible for his suffering.

Why He Made the List

Saiko finally made his move on Grayson a few months ago attacking him on the street. Grayson managed to slip away and change into his Nightwing costume, and he fought with Saiko, but the battle did not go well, and Grayson would have been killed if not for an electric stun charge he had installed in his suit for emergency situations. Shortly after this, Saiko killed an old friend of Grayson’s, Mr. Haly. Before dying, Saiko tortured Mr. Haly and managed to get him to betray the secret of Dick Grayson’s identity as Nightwing.

In a final series of blows, Saiko started a fire at Haly’s Circus during a show, attacked Grayson, and revealed that his identity as Dick’s childhood friend. While Grayson is still reeling from these attacks, Saiko drops another mental bomb on Nightwing by telling him that Raya, Dick’s lover, was also part of the plot to kill him. After a hard fought battle in the air of Haly’s big top, Nightwing was able to knock Saiko off his perch, but before Saiko could die in the inferno raging below, Nightwing managed to snag him with a grappling hook. In one final move of defiance, Saiko looked up to Nightwing and said, “You don’t get to save me,” before cutting the line and falling, presumably, to his death.

Many others have had more battles with Nightwing and some have done him more damage, but none have done more to hurt Nightwing so quickly than Saiko. Saiko is the closest thing Nightwing has to a shadow self; with his graceful and lithe gymnastic skills, Saiko is like the dark version of everything Dick Grayson could be in a twisted altered reality.

For killing Mr. Haly, uncovering Dick’s secret identity, betraying Grayson’s friendship, and destroying Grayson’s relationship with Raya, Saiko earns his spot as Nightwing’s second greatest villain.

Where Is He Now?

Theoretically, he is dead, but if you think that will last, you must be new to reading comics.

#1 Deathstroke

Who Is He?

Slade Wilson was a soldier in the military that was genetically altered to be the perfect soldier, but when he went against orders to rescue a friend trapped behind enemy lines, he was discharged from the military. Instead of retiring or finding another career, Slade used his skills to become a ruthless and cunning mercenary, Deathstroke. By most people’s count, he is the most dangerous assassin on Earth.

Why He Made the List

The competition for top spot on this list was not even close. In some ways, Deathstroke has done far more to hurt Dick Grayson than every other person on this list combined.

Slade has a very long history with Dick Grayson dating back to the classic days of the Teen Titans. Slade’s son, Ravager, took a contract to kill the Teen Titans, but Ravager failed and was killed when his own body could not take the stress of the serum which gave him his powers. When Deathstroke found out about this, he swore that he would complete the contract in his son’s stead. Thus was born one of the Teen Titan’s worst enemies.

When Deathstroke found that even he was not powerful enough to complete this task alone, he implanted a girl named Terra into the Teen Titans. After Terra had fed Deathstroke detailed information about the team’s strengths and weaknesses, Deathstroke acted on the information successfully capturing the entire team save Grayson. With the help of his new ally Jericho, Grayson managed to rescue the Titans and apprehend Deathstroke, but Terra revealed her true colors in the battle and died by the misuse of her own powers. Though Deathstroke did not kill any of the Teen Titans himself, he did do emotional damage which resonated for years by arranging for Terra to betray the Titans.

Deathstroke again struck a painful blow against Grayson’s team of Titans by killing Dick’s friend, Jericho. Admittedly, it was at Jericho’s own request for he was being controlled by an evil psychic presence, but it still deeply hurt Grayson and the team.

Shortly after this, Deathstroke reformed his ways, and the Nightwing and Deathstroke were actually allies for a time, but it would not last. When Jericho’s spirit tried to come back to the land of the living several years later, Deathstroke tried to exorcise him rather than free him. Continuing to do more damage to the Titans and his own children, Deathstroke turned his daughter, Rose Wilson, away from the Titans and turned her to the dark side. Once more, one of Grayson’s friends was lost because of Slade. Deathstroke later attempted to turn Grayson through Rose, but Nightwing managed to turn the tables on Slade and sew some seeds of hope and charity in Rose’s heart. When Deathstroke realized what Dick was doing, he struck a deal with Nightwing. Nightwing promised to leave Rose alone if Deathstroke would stay out of Bludhaven, but though Deathstroke agreed to this deal, he violated his word less than forty-eight hours later in the most dramatic of ways.

Deathstroke dropped a nuclear powered super villain called Chemo on Bludhaven which caused the equivalent of a nuclear explosion in Bludhaven’s most populated area. In the course of seconds, Deathstroke killed over 100,000 innocent men, women, and children under Nightwing’s protection.

As if anything else were needed for Deathstroke to earn this position, he also corrupted the legacy of the Teen Titans. Not long ago, Cyborg tried to restart the Titans under the leadership of Nightwing, but though the team operated for a time, Dick eventually had to leave the group to attend to his new duties as Batman. Not long after, Deathstroke essentially seized the team and turned it into a group of mercenaries that operated as villains for hire thus tainting the name of the Titans

For being a frequent enemy of Teen Titans, planting distrust among Dick’s teammates, killing Dick’s friend, betraying Grayson’s friendship, turning Rose into a villain, corrupting the legacy of the Titans, and wiping out the city Nightwing vowed to protect, Deathstroke is Nightwing’s number one villain.

Where Is He Now?

Recently, Deathstroke worked with another two mercenaries in a team called Harmory, but after they completed the job, Deathstroke killed the other two. After this, Deathstroke was attacked by a series of assassins all calling themselves Legacy. Deathstroke eventually discovered that it was the parents of one of the members of the Harmory who kept hiring these assassins. The final Legacy assassin was revealed to be Deathstroke’s son, Wade, but though the two Slades injured each other, they both lived. However, the parents who hired the Legacy assassins were not so lucky.

Now that I have finished the list, I feel completely free to discuss the reasons certain characters did not make the cut. If anybody wants to talk to me about who they feel I should have included, I would love to talk about it.

Also, Keep an eye out for Friday’s commentary article, “Four Untraditional Theories about ‘The Death of the Family.’”

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