NIghtwing: Dark Beginnings
by Phil Perich for the Legends of DC Blog
Nightwing is one of the most honest, heroic, and most trusted heroes of the DC Universe. That’s why it is so surprising that different portions of his origin contain such darkness to them, probably more darkness than Batman’s origin. So is NIghtwing the better man, better hero than Batman that he can overcome a great level of tragedy and still come out the man, hero, and friend that he is?
While Batman and Nightwing came from hugely different families, their original motivations were the same, to stop crime so that no one else would suffer the way they did. Unlike Bruce Wayne who came from a very wealthy family, Richard “Dick” Grayson was the son of circus acrobats John and Mary Grayson who performed for the Haly Circus. Dick’s parents were murdered by mobster Tony Zucco who wanted to prove to the Circus owners that they needed to pay for Zucco’s “protection”. Bruce Wayne, who had been in the audience for that night’s performance saw everything and not only took pity on Dick for suffering a similar loss to his own, but also took him and trained him to be his first partner, his first Robin. The pair would capture Zucco and send him to prison where years later he was believed to have been murdered.
Dark Road Not Taken
Many years later, after DC Comics New 52 continuity reboot, Batman and his allies discovered a group named the Court of Owls had been influencing events in Gotham City behind the scenes for hundreds of years, since the city’s beginnings. After reuniting with childhood friends at the Haly Circus, Dick discovers the circus had a long hidden secret, that it had been a training ground for assassins. Dick had originally been meant to become a Talon, an assassin for the Court of Owls. After Batman took in Dick and disrupted those plans, one of Dick’s friends had been given to the Owls. After an investigation, Batman reveals to Dick that his ties to the Court ran even deeper. The Court had a process to slow the aging of their assassins so the information Batman had discovered was believable: that the current Talon, William Cobb, was Dick’s great-grandfather.
Out of the Shadows
After the events set in motion by the Court of Owls and a later attack by the Joker, Haly’s Circus is decimated. Dick decides to rebuild the circus with help from Sonia Branch, who Dick starts to develop feelings for. But after Sonia reveals thather father is Tony Zucco and Zucco is alive and well living with a new family in Chicago, Dick drops everything and sets up shop in Chicago with only one task in mind: Find Zucco and bring his parents’ killer to justice.
After a period when the world thought Dick Grayson and NIghtwing were dead, Dick returned to his role as Nightwing in an attempt to take down the Parliament of Owls, the bigger, deadlier organization that the Court of Owls had evolved into. Originally planning to tackle them on his own, Nightwing was aided by a mysterious figure calling himself Raptor. Not sure he could trust Raptor at first, Raptor is eventually able to convince Dick of his intentions. After Raptor kidnaps Bruce Wayne, he reveals his origins to Dick. Raptor reveals that he grew up in the circus and fell in love with Dick’s mother Mary when the pair would rob from the rich and powerful during their time in Paris. Raptor wanted Bruce dead, believing it dishonored Mary’s memory for the rich man to have raised and trained Dick for years. Dick eventually rescued Bruce and captured Raptor.
So there you have it, a man that came from dark origins to become one of the greatest heroes and lights of the DC Universe. What are YOUR thoughts on NIghtwing? Let me know!
@Nightwingpdp @BeforetheBatPod & @NIghtwingDC on Twitter.
You can hear me and my friends discuss all thing Batman on the Before the Bat podcast and all things DC on the Legends of DC (@LegendsOfDCPod) and Channel 52 podcasts (@channel52pod). I also write another blog, the True Believers Blog, on all things Marvel. You can find all of my podcasts and blogs and those of others at www.southgatemediagroup.com and all of my creative endeavors at www.philperich.wordpress.com.