Nightwing… He’s not just a former sidekick.

Posted September 16, 2013 by Robert Steltenpohl in Nerdy Bits

I grew up in a household that one side (father) told me to focus on sports and girls and the other side (mother) that told me to read literature till my eyes bleed. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my love for reading until after high-school. So, I actually didn’t begin reading comics or anything really till I was 18. I did however grow up watching Xmen, Spider-Man, and Batman: Animated series (greatest cartoon ever). I was a closet nerd. I put on the jock persona at school, but when I was home I read books, poetry, and wrote my own stories of heroes. Then when I broke off from the high school social paradigm, I became the well rounded geek that I am today. Which leads me into today’s topic: Nightwing, my favorite character.

My first exposure to Dick Grayson was in the animated series as Robin. I didn’t understand at the time how such a cold vigilante could desire to put a kid in the line of fire. So I thought it was because he was like a prodigy or awesomeness. Plus his name, Robin sounded a lot like Robby, so I fell in love immediately. I watched this character grow up under the Dark Knight just as I was growing. I then saw him rebel and become his own man. His desire was to grow out of Batman’s shadow. It was more than a desire; it was a need. So the show introduced me to this young man trained for greatness, while he tried to break away from what he was told to do and become more than a sidekick. It was great to follow.
Then came the comics.
I knew of comics because of my friends and their collections, but I never really got into them. Then I turned 18 and I bought my first Nightwing comic from a thrift market in Jacksonville. It was Nightwing #43. At the time, I had little knowledge about art, dialogue, and action being such a huge part of comics. So to me this was epic! That began my quest to own all of Nightwing’s books, which after 10 years of searching, I finally have them all. Yay!
Now for Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson.
Dick grew up in Haley circus with his high flying trapeze artist mom and dad forming the Flying Graysons. He was a tremendous acrobatist, agile, and fearless. Then one horrible night while performing, his parents were shot down and murdered in front of Dick. Now the who did this portion has changed numerous times but the most recent rendition is that a mafia boss, Tony Zuocco, that wanted money from the circus runner, Mr Haley, sabatoged the whole thing. It definitely wasn’t Tommy Lee Jone’s poorly played Two Face.
From there Bruce Wayne, Batman, adopts this young boy. I still don’t understand that premise of a complete stranger adopting a boy on the spot, but no need to nit pick. I mean how can an entire universe not see that this man called Superman is trying to fake everyone out with glasses. I mean really? Again, I digress.
So Batman takes this kid in and he sees that this young boy can be an asset to him and his cause. Again, depending on which story you hear, it changes between Dick figuring it out Bruce is Batman or Batman recruiting him initially. Either way, he becomes Batman’s sidekick. From here Dick Grayson’s life turns into a roller coaster of hard work and greatness. Many people debate it but I believe that Dick was a much better gymnast than Bruce. Mainly because his was from straight God given ability. (Funny to use God given on a fictional character) Bruce was trained by the best of the best and then was able to teach an amazing athlete what he had learned. I can’t compare the two and say which is better, but I can say that Dick evolved Bruce’s fighting style. I mean Batman was trained to be the greatest ninja ever and to show those skills to probably the best athlete in their respective universe was amazing. So they were a team. They were THE team. Batman and Robin. Side note: Alfred came up with the name of Robin because of the grace and joy that Dick had while flying in the air on rooftops. For years, they were the dynamic duo. Then Robin began to grow up and learned that he didn’t agree with everything Batman did. So what does all teens do once they don’t like something? They rebel. Dick didn’t see the need in being so heartless towards every one. He brought a certain joy to the job of superhero and it balanced out Batman. He didn’t agree with the notion that you had to be shut out from the entire world to provide justice. He also was tired of being in the shadow of Batman. He wanted to make his own decisions and couldn’t under Batman.
So he decided to break off from the Bats and become his own hero … Nightwing.
He moved to Bludhaven and began saving the city on his rules. The name Nightwing was chosen by Dick because of a Kryptonian crime fighter. Superman had Jimmy Olsen, originally, dress as “Nightwing” while they acted as vigilantes in the city of Kandor. I believe that leaving Batman was the best thing to happen to him. He has battled tons of villains including Ravager, Prankster, and his biggest most notorious villain Deathstroke. Countless villains and attacks on this once boy wonder, but he never loses what made Dick Grayson amazing. He was also the only one that was capable to fully take over the mantle of Batman. What I love most about him is his ability to see the good in people and have hope in any situation. He always seems to enjoy himself while being shot at. It’s rare to see.
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Since becoming a his own, Nightwing has had an incredible run.
1) He helped save the multiverse from extinction in Infinite Crisis.
2) He has lead the Teen Titans, The Outsiders and The Justice League.
3) He has been Batman for a couple years during Batman’s “death.” He did a great job I might add.
4) He had to be the conscience of Batman on multiple occasions.
5) He has never backed down from a fight, even when he is overpowered or outgunned.
He is kind, generous, and loyal. Dick Grayson came out of the loss of his family, the shadow of Batman, and all pre-existing expectations to become a true leader in the DC Universe. He is not Batman, He is not Robin, and he is not Batman’s replacement. He is Nightwing and a darn good super hero.


About the Author

Robert Steltenpohl

I'm a teacher from Georgia. I love sports, video games, comics, and movies. I think the Bioshock series tells the best story ever in video games.