Nightwing (Golden child or Prodigal son?)

By  Phil Perich for Before the Bat: The Gotham Podcast


Hey now everyone!  Why am I so excited?  I finally found an excuse to write this week’s (and maybe next week’s) blog about the character I’ve been wanting to talk about since the beginning of this blog.  The character that’s tied with Batman (maybe even beats him) as my favorite--Nightwing!  By the time you read this, I will have been on Lilith Hellfire’s Podcast Channel 52, where she discusses everything DC comics.  We are going to discuss all things Nightwing, so I thought this week’s blog would help get some of my thoughts in order.  Once again as with every week, for those of you not familiar with DC comics, Nightwing is Richard John “Dick” Grayson.  He was the first, original Robin.  He first appeared in Detective Comics #38, April 1940.  


Next Year will be 75 years since that issue.  I can’t believe I’m so into a character that’s been around since even before my parents were born!  Dick was a circus acrobat, who along with his parents, were known as the Flying Graysons.  I think it was said in one issue (I forget which one) that when Dick learned to walk, it was on a tightrope.  A mobster who was trying to extort money from the circus sabotaged the ropes his parents were swinging on, causing Dick’s parents to fall to their deaths right on front of him.  Bruce Wayne, who was in the crowd at the circus that night, took young Dick in and made him his ward (some writers decades later would retcon this to say Bruce Wayne actually adopted Dick, it depends who is telling the story).  Having watched his own parents die right before his eyes, Bruce decided to make Dick his crime fighting partner, to help him channel the sadness and rage that had been such a burden on young Bruce.  That’s the first advantage Dick Grayson has over Bruce Wayne.  Dick doesn’t let the pain of his loss turn him cold and dark and aloof like Bruce Wayne did.  The team of Batman and Robin fought crime in Gotham for years until Dick Grayson started to go to college and wasn’t around as much.  Add to this he started hanging out and eventually started a team with other kids sidekicks, the Teen Titans.  Dick Grayson was their leader first as Robin, and then when he and Batman disagreed about how Dick was handling his “job” as Robin (once again, depending who’s telling the story at the time, the circumstances and timing differ), Dick Grayson took on the identity of Nightwing and started working exclusively with the Teen Titans, leaving Gotham.  Dick first appeared as Nightwing in Tales of the New Teen Titans #44 (July, 1984).


Yes that first costume was pretty bad, looking like something out of a Las Vegas show.  Dick stayed mostly out of Gotham (with a few exceptions, the death of his successor, the second Robin, Jason Todd, who got “better” years later. We’ll get to him another week, I promise, and helping Batman pick his third Robin, Tim Drake, who we‘ll get to also), until the end of the Knightfall saga.  Bruce Wayne’s back had been broken by Bane and he pick new hero Azrael to replace him.  Azrael eventually went crazy, breaking criminals and even letting one die.  Nightwing came back to Gotham and helped Bruce Wayne reclaim the Batman identity.

Once Azrael was defeated, Bruce Wayne decided to take some time off (it was later revealed he was setting up emergency “satellite” Batcaves all over Gotham and coming up with a new Bat suit).

While Bruce Wayne was away, Dick filled in as Batman.

Dick faced and defeated some bat-villains he hadn’t faced before (Killer Croc, Ventriloquist and Scarface, Ratcatcher, and the Tally Man), while giving Tim Drake pointers on being Robin.  When Bruce Wayne returned, Dick confronted him in the Batcave about…oops, that’s all the time we have this week, come back next week for the conclusion of Nightwing’s story and a lot more of my personal thoughts on the character.  And once again any thoughts can be sent to the following:


Until next week, be good. Remember, in true comic book fashion, this one is…

To be continued...


Posted on August 3, 2014 .