The Social Media Nightmare in Nightwing 45

by Michael DeLaney 

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

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I try to ignore how attached I am to social media, my smart phone and the like, because the reality of the matter is both frightening and depressing. Benjamin Percy taps into that real fear in Nightwing 45 with his villain Wyrm. Wyrm is literally a computer virus, but what he represents may be the targeted marketing and social media manipulation.

Wyrm’s plan to hack all of Bludhaven’s personal information comes in the mass delivery of a VR device known as Phantasm. With Phantasm, Wyrm will gather data on a person’s life — including bank and financial info, but also their secrets. The underlying threat of Wyrm’s virus is that of identity theft, extortion and blackmail. But the immediate/more interesting threat that Percy and Christopher Mooneyham craft for Dick Grayson is how he begins to question his own reality.

Wyrm’s malware has been uploaded into Dick’s brain and is altering his reality as it slowly downloads his “data.” He forgets that he was attacked by his Phantasm device and appears to be the victim of a wicked hangover. He also wakes up in bed with Barbara Gordon, or the virus disguised as Babs. Wyrm poses as Babs as a way to distract Dick from realizing that his brain is being hacked. It has given him “everything he ever wanted.”

Dick reminds us that he has been trying to go analog after the distraction of “too many screens” — opting for something simpler. With our eyeballs glued to Facebook or Twitter however, we get lost down a rabbit hole of conflict and controversy — the kind of which social media literally thrives on. Is Dick’s “perfect life” with Babs an exaggerated example of the feeling you get from a “like” or a retweet? Is it ultimately ironic that you’re reading this on a screen? Yes…but hey, good issue right?

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The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?

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