With Scarecrow's Fear State finally hitting Gotham City, the Bat-Family are working together to stop his new reign of terror. Among the members of the Bat-Family coming together once again is the iconic duo of Nightwing and Batgirl. Though Barbara Gordon has recently returned to her role as Oracle, she has no problem with putting on the cape and cowl on exceptional occasions to protect her home and her family.
While the joy of Dick and Babs's latest team-up may be overshadowed by Scarecrow's grip on the city, this duo has been through weirder adventures together. In fact, their very first team-up was one of the most bizarre in Bat-Family history, and it paved the way for a chapter in Gotham's history far darker than Fear State.
Their first partnership took place in the Batman Family Giant #1 story "The Invader from Hell" (by Elliot S. Maggin and Mike Grell) back in 1975 when Dick was still Robin. The Boy Wonder had been asked by Barbara to assist her at a congressional hearing in preparation for the country's Bicentennial celebrations, but the hearing was soon invaded by the ghost of Benedict Arnold.
Oddly enough, the infamous traitor of the American Revolution returned from hell to wreak havoc on the United States, backed up by a ghostly army from the past, all armed with demonic weapons. The duo's teamwork and trust for each other foiled Arnold in the end, and the traitor's demon patron wasn't happy. Infuriated that he couldn't claim the heroes' souls, the demon returned to hell, dragging Arnold back with him.
This historical and demonic misadventure paved the way for another strange Batman storyline in "Dark Knight, Dark City" by Peter Milligan and Kieron Dwyer. In this tale, it was revealed that a cult that included yet another American colonial figure - founding father Thomas Jefferson - tried to summon the bat demon Barbatos in 1765. The future president of the United States took part in a ritual that would have had him sacrificing a young girl to transform her into a living bat. Although the demon was summoned, when Jefferson refused to kill the girl, Barbatos grew angry and attacked. Jefferson and his fellow cultists fled, sealing their exit behind them and thus leaving the girl to die at the hands of the demon.
Years later, the Riddler learned of what Jefferson did and planned to replicate the actions of the founding father in a much more vicious way. He decided that Batman would be his living bat and created a series of riddle-based deathtraps that would each act as a step in the ritual. These steps included bathing in human blood and slitting the throat of an unbaptized child. Putting children in danger is way beyond anything the Riddler had done before and the entire story depicted him as more dark and sinister than ever.
If that wasn't enough, "Dark Knight, Dark City" also introduced the bat god Barbatos to the DC Universe, who would become a major part of Grant Morrison's Batman run. Its prominence then would lead Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo to explore the mythic Barbatos in greater detail in Dark Nights: Metal, which unleashed the horrors of the Dark Multiverse on the DCU.
It's amazing to see how some of the darkest and most twisted stories in the DCU spawned from Dick and Barbara's first team-up. Of all the stories that could have paved the way for such darkness, Benedict Arnold fighting Batgirl and Robin for the fate of the U.S. is not one anybody would have expected.
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