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Nightwing

Alias: Dick Grayson
Formerly: Robin, Batman

Joined: Brave and the Bold #60 [1965]
Related Links: BatmanRobin II (Jason Todd)Robin III (Tim Drake)
StarfireBludhavenBlockbusterBridget ClancyAmy RohrbachTarantula II

Nightwing Quick Bio: When Dick Grayson’s trapeze-artist parents were murdered, he was taken in by the Batman and became his junior partner: Robin, the Boy Wonder. As leader of the Teen Titans, Dick emerged from the shadow of his mentor and adopted the costumed identity of Nightwing.

Recent File Photo:


Archived File Photos (in chronological order):

Hero History


The Grayson’s Last Flight

The only child of the Flying Graysons, the star aerialists of Haly’s Circus, Dick Grayson was trained in the family business and participated with them in the center ring by the time he was 12 years old. He had only just joined the act when his parents were killed by Gotham City mobster Tony Zucco, who was seeking to extort payment from the circus in his protection racket. The owner refused, and that night Dick watched in horror as his parents’ high wire snapped, sending his parents hurtling to their deaths.

Shortly after the tragedy, a distant Bruce Wayne rescued Dick from an uncaring juvenile services system. Frustrated by the lack of attention from his new guardian and the mystery still surrounding his parents’ death, Dick snuck out of Wayne Manor one evening to solve the crime on his own – only to stumble into Batman, who was also investigating the murder. Seeing a reflection of himself in Dick, Batman not only revealed his identity as Bruce Wayne to the boy, but also decided to train him to be his protege.

A talented and eager pupil, Dick made his debut as Robin the Boy Wonder a few short months later when he aided Batman in finally solving the murder of the Flying Graysons by bringing Zucco to justice.

ABOVE: Robin’s first appearance from DETECTIVE COMICS #38 [1940].
BELOW: Robin faces Two-Face’s deadly “double-gallows” trap, as retold in ROBIN: YEAR ONE.

The Boy Wonder

After months of grueling physical and mental training to become a highly skilled martial artist and detective, Dick Grayson underwent his “final exam” to become the Batman’s partner. Dick had to elude the Dark Knight on the streets of Gotham for one night –  from sundown to sunset – without any outside help. Dick not only succeeded and ran this gauntlet, but simultaneously brought Gotham gangster Joe Minette to justice as well.

Robin enjoyed his high-flying adventures until a confrontation with Two Face served as a rude awakening for the young hero. A fatal error of judgment on Robin’s part led to the death of an innocent judge and a near-fatal beating at the hands of Two-Face while trying to spare Batman from hanging in a diabolical “double-gallows” death-trap. Eventually Batman was able to free himself and apprehend Two-Face, but this event scarred the young crime-fighter, and continued to haunt him for years.

PRE-TEEN TITANS: Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad team up for the first time in
BRAVE AND THE BOLD #54 [1964]

Teen Wonder

A short time later, Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad joined forces to stop the menacing Mr. Twister from enslaving the children of Hatton Corners. It was the first time the sidekicks joined forces.

When the Justice League inexplicably turned to crime, their young sidekicks – Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, Speedy and Wonder Girl – teamed up in an effort to solve this mystery. The teen team eventually learned the evil entity known as the Antithesis had used its powers to manipulate the minds of the Justice League. The five resourceful teenagers joined together, stopping their possessed mentors and expelling the Antithesis back into limbo. Spurred by their success, the group decided to make their partnership permanent, and the Teen Titans were officially formed. Although the sidekicks would continue to operate alongside their mentors, they discovered newfound confidence fighting crime with their peers in the Teen Titans.

ABOVE: The origin of the Teen Titans is retold in SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL #3 [1989].
BELOW: Robin joins the Teen Titans with Batman’s initial approval
in BRAVE AND THE BOLD #60 [1965]. 

Dick Grayson soon left Wayne Manor to attend Hudson University, where he also operated as Robin, and solved various campus-related crimes. Dick began to date a lovely co-ed named Lori Elton, but his heart belonged to another; Robin regularly teamed up with Batgirl, and began to develop strong feelings for the Dominoed Daredoll, although she failed to return his affections. Wonder Girl eventually persuaded Robin to rejoin the reorganized Teen Titans, now creating a makeshift headquarters in a Long Island discotheque. After a case involving Titans West, this incarnation of the team disbanded and Dick continued his semester at Hudson University.

Robin’s solo adventures, coupled with his success as Teen Titans’ leader, caused him to drift apart from Batman. This led to a harsh falling out when Robin suffered a near fatal gunshot wound at the hands of the Joker. Dick then dropped out of college after only one semester, much to mentor Bruce Wayne’s vocal disappointment.

ABOVE: Alfred and Bruce say goodbye to Dick Grayson, as
he heads off to college in BATMAN #217 [1969].
BELOW: At Hudson University, the Robin and Batgirl team is born
in BATMAN FAMILY #1 [1975]. 

Out Of The Shadow

Dick rediscovered his self-worth among the Teen Titans, when Raven gathered a new team to combat the threat of her demonic father, Trigon. Robin again resumed leadership, and moved out of the shadow of the Batman. Robin realized at that point that he had grown up: He no longer relied on Batman and, in fact, he and the Dark Knight disagreed on crime-fighting methodology.

Dick also found love in the arms of the passionate alien princess, Starfire, a fellow member of the Titans. Initially denying his feelings, Robin realized how much he loved Starfire when her life was threatened during an outer-space adventure. The couple proved a perfect match, as Starfire’s uninhibited personality offered a fitting contrast to Robin’s cool demeanor.

ABOVE: Raven gathers the New Teen Titans to defeat her evil father
in NEW TEEN TITANS #1 [1980].
BELOW: A classic kiss in NEW TEEN TITANS #2 [1980]. 

By this time, Dick had relocated to New York City, where the Titans were based, splitting time between duties with the Titans and offering backup to Batman in Gotham City during times of need. The Dark Knight, however, was less than pleased. He informed Dick that if he no longer wanted to be Batman’s full-time partner, then he would have to retire the Robin name altogether. Furious and confused, eighteen year old Dick Grayson relinquished his identity as the Boy Wonder and took a brief leave of absence from the Titans to sort out his life.

But when all his teammates were captured by Deathstroke and delivered to the H.I.V.E., Dick was forced into action. Having done much soul searching, Dick adopted a new guise inspired by two of his childhood mentors. To remain a creature of the night like the Dark Knight, Dick became Nightwing. The name was recommended by Superman, a role model for Dick, after a mysterious hero of Kryptonian legend. As Nightwing, Dick teamed with Deathstroke’s heroic son Jericho to defeat the mercenary and free his fellow Titans from captivity by the H.I.V.E.

ABOVE: Batman forces Dick Grayson to relinquish his Robin identity,
as retold in NIGHTING #101 [2005].

BELOW: Dick Grayson gives up the mantle of Robin in NEW TEEN TITANS #39 [1984].

Turbulence During Flight

Nightwing had finally moved out of the shadow of the Bat, and would lead the Titans through some hard times. When Starfire was forced into a marriage of state to save her people, it shattered her once-happy relationship with Nightwing. After she elected to remain on her home planet of Tamaran, Nightwing split from the team during a huge argument with Wonder Girl. The group ultimately galvanized their forces to bring down Brother Blood’s cult, as Dick Grayson rejoined his allies. Starfire returned to earth once her Tamaranean duties were fulfilled, and Dick was pleased to learn that she did not take the traditional Tamaranean wedding vows. The couple then strengthened their relationship by moving in together.

While his romantic life improved, Dick’s relationship with his mentor remained strained. In Gotham City, Dick was distressed to learn that Batman trained a new Robin – a young street orphan named Jason Todd – who was seemingly killed at the hands of the Joker. After deducing Batman and Nightwing’s secret identities, a young teen named Timothy Drake succeeded in helping the estranged dynamic duo foil Two-Face. Tim convinced the Dark Knight, still guilt-stricken over the death of Jason Todd, that he should be trained for duty as the third Robin. Nightwing aided in Tim’s tutelage, and the two swiftly bonded as brothers.

Robin becomes Nightwing in the 
now-classic TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44 [1984].

As the Titans celebrated the anniversary of their team’s formation, individual members were hunted and captured by the mysterious Wildebeest Society. Deathstroke, Nightwing, Troia, Pantha, Phantasm, Arella and Red Star joined forces to track them down. Upon locating the captured Titans, the heroes were shocked to learn the identity of the Wildebeest leader was their own teammate, Jericho, who was now corrupted by Trigon’s demonic energies. During the final showdown with the Wildebeest Society, Jericho and Raven were seemingly slain, while Arella and Danny Chase died and merged with the purged souls of Azarath to become the new Phantasm.

The group entered into tumultuous times after mourning their fallen , as members came and went while others suffered great personal losses. Even Dick’s once-solid relationship with Starfire became strained as problems in Gotham demanded his attention. Impulsively, Dick proposed marriage to the tempestuous Tamaranean, desperately hoping to mend their relationship. The two almost wed, but the ceremony was interrupted by Raven, now reborn as an evil avatar of her father, Trigon. Starfire was implanted with a demon “seed” by Raven, which caused her to leave Earth and go on a spiritual journey.

The Evil Raven disrupts Kory and Dick’s wedding plans in New Titans #100 [1993].

Nightwing then returned to Gotham City to aid Bruce Wayne in regaining the mantle of the Dark Knight from the crazed Jean Paul Valley, Bruce’s appointed replacement following paralyzing injuries inflicted by Bane. Still recovering from his broken back, Bruce asked Dick to substitute for him as Batman. Though wearing the costume of Batman only briefly, Dick defeated Two-Face, his most feared foe, and came to grips with the painful memories of his “double-gallows” defeat years earlier. And at last, Batman and Nightwing begin to heal their strained relationship, as Bruce’s respect for Dick was at last obvious.

Nightwing returned to the Titans and found the team had changed in his absence. The government had interceded, placing Arsenal as leader of the team. Seeing it as a natural progression, Dick stepped aside and left the Titans in Arsenal’s trusted care.

Nightwing substitutes for Batman in “Prodigal”
(Batman #512-514, Shadow of The Bat #32-34,
Detective Comics #679-681, Robin #11-13 [1994])

A Knight In Bludhaven

At Batman’s request, Nightwing journeyed to nearby Bludhaven – a broken-down former whaling town just south of Gotham – to ferret out the true culprit behind murders linked to a Gotham City gangster. Nightwing instead found a city racked by police corruption and in the grips of organized crime consolidated by Roland Desmond, the gargantuan genius  known as Blockbuster. In light of this, Dick decided to make Bludhaven his new base of operations, setting up shop as the city’s protector.

Nightwing worked closely with Barbara Gordon – now the information broker known as Oracle – in an effort to clean up the crime-ridden city. And once discovering the depth of dirty dealings within its police force, Dick enrolled in the Bludhaven Police Academy in an effort to bring down the entire engine of corruption.

Nightwing relocates in Bludhaven in NIGHTWING #3 [1996].

On one occasion, Nightwing was asked to patrol Gotham City while Batman briefly attended to other matters out of state. While investigating the murder of a prostitute and a mobster falsely accused of the crime, Nightwing teamed with the violent Huntress. Realizing a growing attraction, the two lonely heroes shared a night of passion. Eventually, they solved the case and parted ways, knowing their crime-fighting ideologies would interfere with any hope of a true relationship.

In the far reaches of space, an alien threat loomed – one that would soon reunite the Titans of past and present. Having collected a planet-size assortment of technological debris, Victor Stone journeyed to Earth to turn its moon into a new Technis world and populate it with his Titans allies. The JLA and the Titans first clashed, then united, eventually freeing Victor from alien influence. Following this encounter, the original five Titans decided to reorganize the team, inviting five other members to join as well.

REUNITED: The five original Titans bond in JLA/TITANS #3 [1999].

Meanwhile, Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon’s once flirtatious Robin/Batgirl relationship threatened to blossom into something more. When Gotham was quarantined from the rest of the United States and became a virtual No Man’s Land, Nightwing was sent to secure Blackgate Prison. Exhausted and injured from this ordeal, Dick recuperated at Barbara’s clock tower, and the two grew even closer. Finally expressing their feelings for each other, Dick and Barbara entered into a romantic relationship.

When a rogue Superman android seemingly killed Lilith Clay and Donna Troy, it tore apart both Young Justice and the Titans. A few months later, Arsenal persuaded the reluctant Nightwing to join a new proactive group of clandestine crime-fighters known as the Outsiders. And later, the Outsiders – along with the newly formed Teen Titans – eventually rescued the resurrected Donna Troy on New Chronus.

Amy Rohrbach is assigned to rookie cop Dick Grayson in NIGHTWING #48 [2000].

Meanwhile, Blockbuster’s vengeance campaign escalated as he wrongfully blamed Nightwing for the death of his mother. The criminal kingpin bombed Dick Grayson’s apartment complex, killing most of its residents, including Dick’s Romanian grandfather. The war was now more personal than ever, as far as Nightwing was concerned. The desperate young crimefighter even enlisted the help of Bludhaven’s newest vigilante, the amoral female Tarantula. Dick’s relationship with Barbara also dissolved after she grew increasingly concerned over his mental well-being.

When every legal attempt to bring in Blockbuster failed, Nightwing felt utterly defeated. And as Tarantula shot Blockbuster dead at point blank range, Nightwing neglected to stop her. His inaction in that moment became a source of tremendous guilt for the young hero. Eventually, Nightwing emerged from his depression and took matters into his own hands by arresting Tarantula himself. But despite her questionable methods, Tarantula’s act did succeed in freeing Bludhaven from Blockbuster’s grasp.

Nightwing’s inaction leads to Blockbuster’s death at the hands of Tarantula,
as seen in NIGHTWING #93 [2004].

Nightwing aided the other heroes when the Infinite Crisis threatened the entire universe. During the Crisis, the Society of Super Villains bombed Bludhaven with the radioactive creature known as Chemo, leaving the city a ravaged wasteland. Facing near-death, Nightwing proposed marriage to Barbara Gordon, who initially accepted his proposal. The averted Crisis led to further introspection, however. Barbara then returned her engagement ring to Dick, insisting he travel the world and sort out his life. Dick complied, but he left the ring behind in case Barbara ever changed her mind.

Winging It

Left without a home, Dick Grayson traveled the globe with Bruce Wayne and Tim Drake for almost a year. Upon returning, Nightwing began to build a new life for himself in New York City. Setting himself up as the museum curator of the famous Cloisters, Nightwing took advantage of the isolated landmark and converted the roof into a high-tech headquarters with a vantage view of the entire city.

Dick then reunited with old friends when the Titans members were attacked by an unseen evil force. Raven, sensing Trigon’s presence once again, called upon her former Titans allies to defeat her fiendish father. But after investigating, the Titans learned the bestial assaults were actually orchestrated by Raven’s demonic half brothers. Working together as a team, the Titans thwarted the Sons of Trigon and prevented Trigon’s invasion plan. Following this adventure, Nightwing decided to join his former colleagues – and the Titans were together as a team once more.

The reunion proved short lived, as personal problems forced each member to drift away from the team. When Bruce Wayne was seemingly slain during the so-called Final Crisis, Dick Grayson assumed the mantle of the bat in honor of his fallen mentor. Partnering with Wayne’s reckless son Damien as his new Robin, Grayson took to the streets of Gotham as Batman to ensure the legacy of the Dark Knight. As Batman, Dick Grayson also joined the newly reorganized Justice League.

Batman’s proteges later discovered Bruce Wayne was still alive, lost in the timestream. Once rescued and returned to the present, Wayne established a worldwide network of Caped Crusaders known as Batman, Inc., maintaining Grayson as Gotham’s Dark Knight defender.

 Powers & Weapons


Although Nightwing has no super-human abilities, he is a highly skilled natural athlete, trained from birth as an acrobat. He was further trained in all forms of unarmed combat by one of the greatest combatants in the world, Batman. His skills as a detective are also superlative. Also, Nightwing’s new costume has a number of weapons hidden in it. Among them are escrima sticks, clawed fingers on each hand and a grappling hook.

A 2003 commission from Nick Cardy. 

Essential Reading


Detective Comics #38 [1940]: First appearance and origin of Robin.
Brave & The Bold #54 [1964]: Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad are asked by the teenagers of Hatton Corners to resolve a generation gap dispute; The young heroes defeat a villain called Mr. Twister. First unofficial appearance of the Teen Titans.
Brave & The Bold #60 [1965]: Now organized as the Teen Titans, Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl respond to a call for help from the teenagers of Midville. First ‘Donna Troy’ Wonder Girl. First official appearance of the Teen Titans.
Teen Titans #1 [1966]: The Teen Titans join the Peace Corps in order to help volunteer workers in the South American country of Xochatan who are being menaced by a giant robot which the native believe to be an ancient deity come to life.
Teen Titans #14 [1968]: The Gargoyle, a former Teen Titans foe who claims he was unjustly imprisoned by the team, sows the seeds of doubt in the minds of all but Robin, enabling him to banish them to the dimension of Limbo by means of his mystic ring.
Teen Titans #53 [1978]: The origin of the Teen Titans is revealed in flashback as an Untold Tale from the Teen Titans Casebook: the story of how Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Speedy met and formally organized and named the Teen Titans team, between the events of The Brave and the Bold #54 and 60. First mention of Speedy as a founding member.
Batman #217: Dick Grayson heads to college

DC Comics Presents #26 [1980]: featuring a 16-page preview to New Teen Titans! The mysterious empath Raven invades Dick Grayson’s dreams and shows him a glimpse of his near-future as part of the Teen Titans.
New Teen Titans #1-6 [1980]: After invading his dreams, the mysterious empath Raven incites Dick Grayson to form the New Teen Titans for the eventual purpose of defeating her demonic father, Trigon.
New Teen Titans #23-25, New Teen Titans Annual #1 [1982]: Princess Koriand’r's evil sister, Komand’r, captures Starfire and takes the name “Blackfire;” Blackfire seizes control of the Citadel and attempts to usurp control of Tamaran and the Vegan system. The two sisters battle on Tamaran, and the Titans team up with the Omega Men to bring Starfire back to Earth. Robin confesses his love for Starfire.
New Teen Titans #38 [1984]: Dick Grayson works to help Donna Troy discover the truth about her past.
New Teen Titans #39 [1984]: Dick Grayson gives up his Robin identity, turning Titan leadership over to Wonder Girl. Last appearance of Dick Grayson as Robin. Kid Flash leaves the team.
Tales of the Teen Titans #50 [1984]: The wedding of Donna Troy and Terry Long.
New Teen Titans (second series) #15-18 [1985-1086]:Komand’r has incited civil war on Tamaran, and King Myand’r tells Starfire that she must marry the Prince of Tamaran’s southern continent in order to stop this mayhem; Starfire marries Karras and Nightwing leaves her on Tamaran.
Batman #408 [1987]: As Batman and Robin battle the Joker, Robin is shot and almost fatally wounded. Rather than see Dick be further endangered, Batman “fires” his partner, sidelining the Boy Wonder for a time. Months later while in Crime Alley, Jason Todd literally runs into the Batman.
Batman #436-439 [1989]: Featured a Year Three storyline. This featured a flashback, retelling how Dick Grayson became Robin.
Secret Origins Annual #3 [1989]: Dick Grayson’s dream are invaded by the Antithesis, who seeks to break Dick’s spirit so that he will remain in Limbo; Dick survives with the help of old and new Titans alike. The Special gives a post-Crisis history of the Titans, including some revamps and revisions.

New Titans #100 [1993]: Nightwing and Starfire’s wedding is interrupted by the return of Raven, now a villainous avatar of Trigon. Starfire is viciously attacked and implanted with a demon “seed” by Raven, as Dick Grayson watches helplessly. Evil Raven is assisted by the corrupted Deathwing and Judge & Jury. Sarge Steel begins his plans to assume control of Titans.
Robin #0 [1994]: The details of the Two-Face ‘double gallows trap’ incident revealed.
Batman #512-514, Shadow of The Bat #32-34, Detective Comics #679-681, Robin #11-13 [1994]: ”The Prodigal”: Dick assumes the role of Gotham City’s Dark Knight defender once again at the behest of Bruce Wayne. Though wearing the costume of Batman only briefly, Dick defeats Two-Face, his most feared foe, and comes to grips with the painful memories of his “double-gallows” defeat. Dick confronts Bruce about choosing Jean Paul Valley as Batman’s successor.
Robin Annual #4 [1995]: Year One Annual retelling Robin’s Origin

Nightwing #1-3 [1996]: When the bodies of dead gangbangers begin to float upriver from Bludhaven, Batman sends Nightwing to investigate. Nightwing settles in Bludhaven as its new protector.
JLA/Titans: the Technis Imperative #1-3 [December 1998 to February 1999]: Former Titan Vic Stone threatened to carry out his Technis Imperative and turn the earth’s moon into a new Technis world. The JLA and Titans first clash, then unite to save the earth and Vic Stone. The mini series was designed as a primer to restart the Titans series with the five original members (Nightwing, Troia, Flash, Arsenal and Tempest) as the core.
Nightwing Secret Files #1 [1999]: Nightwing’s origin from his first days as Robin right up to “No Man’s Land!” The Definitive Dick Grayson History.
Titans #1-2 [1999]: Following close on the heels of the events in the JLA/TITANS miniseries, the original Titans decide to set up shop, rebuilding their headquarters (a new Titans Tower) and enlisting a second, non-core group of Titans to help them.
Nightwing #38-39 [1999]: Exhausted and injured from his experience at Blackgate Prison, Dick recuperates at Barbara’s’ clock tower, and the two grow closer. Nightwing and Oracle kiss and become an item. Their romantic moment is shattered by the arrival of Pettit and Huntress.
Robin: Year One #1-4 [2000-2001]: During his first year as Robin, Dick comes face-to-face with Mr. Freeze, must rescue some kidnapped children, struggles in school, and is tricked by Two-Face into allowing an innocent to die.
Graduation Day #1-3 [2003]: After Troia and Lilith are seemingly killed at the hands of a rogue Superman android, Nightwing disbands the Titans.
Nightwing #93 [2004]: Blockbuster is killed at the hands of Tarantula as Nightwing watches.
Nightwing #101-106 [2005]: ”Nightwing: Year One” reveals the details of Dick Grayson’s final days as Robin and transformation into Nightwing.
Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #1, Outsiders #1 [2003]: Nightwing and Arsenal gather the Outsiders team.
Nightwing Annual #2 [2007]: One year ago, Dick Grayson pledged his heart to Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. Oracle, then nearly surrendered his life during the INFINITE CRISIS. Now, learn the full comeback story of Nightwing as it brings to light the story of DC’s most star-crossed couple.
Titans #1-4 [2008]: After Cyborg’s Titans East team is brutally massacred by an unseen evil force, Titans members are attacked by demonic entities around the globe. Raven, sensing Trigon’s presence once again, calls upon her former Titans allies to defeat her fiendish father. But the Titans discover that the bestial assaults were actually orchestrated by Raven’s three demon half brothers – Jacob, Jared and Jesse. Using Raven as a doorway, the Sons of Trigon open a portal to the desolate realm where a weakened Trigon awaited. The brothers then betray their own father by siphoning whatever small power was left within him. In the wake of this battle, the Titans – Nightwing, Troia, Flash, Red Arrow, Raven, Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy – decide to become a team again.

A 2004 commission from George Pérez.

How Robin Became Nightwing


[George Pérez Interview -Amazing Heroes #50, 1984]

The story of Nightwing is one of the unique tales in the annals of the super-hero and an exciting new chapter in the life of one of DC’s founding characters. It transformed one of comicdom’s original kid sidekicks into an adult leader, changing the original Boy Wonder into an even more formidable young man. Gone is the pain-in-the-cape of the Burt Ward TV days, and with it is gone the confused methods of handling the character even while The Batman received massive narrative re-investment from the likes of O’Neil, Adams, Englehart. and Rogers.

From the first appearance of the New Titans, the dynamic change in Dick Grayson’s character has been a high point of the series, It’s a miracle which Wolfman and Pérez have accomplished in an especially unique fashion.

Most of the time with the super-hero, no matter what the identity, it’s the super-hero which comes first and the human being identity which comes second. Understandable when one remembers the super-hero is basically a dream projection of our fondest aspirations, an image of who and what we wish to be.

With Dick Grayson, the original Robin since his debut in Detective #38 over 40 years ago, this process has been wondrously reversed. The attention has been focused on the person behind the mask, showing that the costume he wears is a basic outpouring of the man, Instead of an escape from his humanity.

A George Pérez commission from 1984.

“Dick Grayson had no identity other than being the other part of Robin, and Robin was nothing but the bottom half of Batman, The biggest problem, as far as the Titans were concerned, was taking Dick Grayson, because much of what we wanted to do with the Titans couldn’t be done since Robin couldn’t be altered. So we were playing with Dick Grayson. Since he was never defined, it didn’t matter what we did with him. We couldn’t do the same thing with his alter-ego, because Robin had to appear with Batman.

“Gerry Conway, who was handling the Batman series at the time, had priority over Robin. Since he was the leader of the Teen Titans, it put us in a compromising position. Marv was being complimented on his characterization, I was being complimented on making Robin look like an adult at last. Yet we couldn’t do anything more than just maintain a certain facade; we’d just make a very virile Robin. but couldn’t do anything with his personality or his basic character. That was all the responsibility of whoever was writing Batman.

“It wasn’t until Gerry Conway said that he had no intentions of using Robin that we were given carte blanche. Then, there was talk that they wanted to give Batman a new kid sidekick, in order to bring back the father image of the character. I was called into a meeting, Doug Moench, Marv Wolfman, Len Web, myself, and Dick Giordano all sat down and talked about the new sidekick.

The one thing we suggested, but never thought we’d get, was to simply make Jason Todd become Robin. Give him the costume, make him the new Robin and just let Dick Grayson become someone else. We didn’t think they would really accept that; [laughs] at least, not readily, because Dick Grayson had been Robin for almost 43 years! Dick Giordano said ‘Let’s go with it!’ Since Dick Grayson has been established as being 19, and Batman has been established as 29 (the way Superman and all the other male characters are). suddenly the man-boy relationships between men 29 and 19 did not work; they were two men.

Robin becomes Nightwing in the 
now-classic TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44 [1984].

“They wanted to bring back the old formula. Doug was anxious to try the idea of the original Batman and Robin team again. The only suggestion I had was to establish Jason Todd as a blonde or a redhead; obviously, they’ve written their way around that [laughs]! But they gave up, they said okay.

“Dick Grayson, since he had no real identity before we got to him, now belongs to us. We’re even listed now as the creators of the character. Now he’s become Nightwing, a name that’s been used before, but not in the same character at all. I want to make him a swashbuckler, an acrobat, an incredibly good fighter. In many ways, he’s the Titans’ answer to Captain America.

“I want to make him happy-go-lucky, bring back the enjoyment of adventure that he had. One thing I liked that Marv did in issue #39 was how openly Dick speaks his affection to Koriand’r now, calling her ‘m’Iove’ and everything, making passes at her right in front of everybody with absolutely no worries anymore. The hang-ups are disappearing. He’s not going to be that morose character he had been in trying to find his identity. Now he’s found it. Now we’re going to use Dick Grayson the way we want to use him, utilizing both his detective and acrobatic skills.”

A seminal turning point in the Grayson affair was captured by Wolfman and Mike W. Barr in the Titans’ crossover with Batman and the Outsiders last year. ”It established that Dick is a very good leader. Batman is not a born leader; he’s never had to lead men. But Dick Grayson is a born leader. He has full control over the Titans, which Batman does not have over the Outsiders. That was a very good point which they’d brought out, what makes Dick Grayson different. As Nightwing, we’re going to have fun with Dick now. He’s definitely become a character independent and mature.”

 Nightwing Model Sheet by George Pérez.

Nightwing & Flamebird


Superman as Nightwing, Jimmy Olsen as Flamebird

First Appearance: Superman as Nightwing, Jimmy Olsen as Flamebird: SUPERMAN #158

When some citizens of the bottle-city of Kandor enlarged themselves and stole certain elements Superman and Jimmy Olsen entered the bottle-city to investigate. There, a friend of Jor-El’s, Nor-Kann, warned them of danger. It seems same Kandorians believed Superman had away of enlarging the city and had wIthheld it from them.

Forced to hide as a fugitive, Superman decided he and Jimmy should adapt disguises like those of Batman and Robin. Nor provided them with a secret cave, now called the Nightcave. Since there are no bats or robins among Kandor’s Kryptonian wildlife, they modeled their outfits on those of two Kryptonian birds, nightwing and flamebird. When Superman, trying to pass himself off as his look-alike, Van-Zee [a Kryptonian scientist], was captured, Van dressed as the first time as Nightwing to rescue him.

Twice more, Superman and Jimmy battled menaces In Kandor as Nightwing and Flamebird, the second time with Batman and Robin along. It was this experience that inspired Dick Grayson, some time later, to adopt the identity of Earth’s Nightwing when he gave up his Robin ID.

Superman and Jimmy Olsen 
as Nightwing and Flamebird.

Van-Zee as Nightwing, Ak-Var as Flamebird

First Appearance: Van-Zee as Nightwing, Ak-Var as Flamebird: SUPERMAN FAMILY #183
Appeared as back-up strip in SUPERMAN FAMILY from #183-194

Ak-Var was a young thief sentenced to the Phantom Zone as punishment. Freed by Superman when his sentence was up, he wanted to live in Kandor and married Van-Zee’s niece Thara. He also went to work as Van-Zee’s lab assistant. The duo assumed the Nightwing and Flamebird identities and began battling crime. Once, when Superman and Jimmy were in the bottle-city, the two Nightwlng-Flamebird teams worked together.

Neither team had super-powers, as Superman, lost his while in the bottle, but all four are superb athletes and skilled at hand-to-hand combat. They also have their Night-mobile, their jets, and special utility bolts fitted with various scientific devices. Generally, however, they prefer to use their own fists to subdue criminals.

Superman inspires Dick Grayson’s new identity with a tale from Krypton – as 
seen in NIGHTWING SECRET FILES AND ORIGINS #1 [1999].

Nightwing, the Kryptonian hero of legend

First Appearance: Nightwing Secret Files #1

In Pre-Crisis continuity, Dick Grayson chose the name Nightwing as a partial tribute to Superman, who used the identity in the bottled city of Kandor. With that bit of continuity wiped after Post-Crisis, the origin of the Nightwing name remained a mystery for years.

Finally, in 1999, Nightwing Secret Files and Origins #1 featured a flashback story that took place just after Batman has ‘fired’ Dick Grayson as Robin. In soul searching, Dick Grayson encountered Superman, who related the tale of a Legendary Kryptonian hero.

“There was a man on my homeworld many centuries before my birth who was cast out of his family as you were,” explained the Man of Steel. “He dreamt of justice. He dreamt of helping the weak. He dreamt of showing his family that he was better than they gave him credit for. He used his talents and his skills to fight for those who couldn’t fight for themselves. He became a legend. No one knew his real name. He was called only – Nightwing.”

So inspired by the story, Dick Grayson later adopted the name as his own. But one slight mystery remained: Where did Bette Kane acquire the name Flamebird?

In 2001, Superman traveled back in time to Krypton in a 4 part story called “Return to Krypton.” In part three, [Superman: The Man of Steel #111] A powerless Clark Kent and Lois Lane – now fugitives – adopt the identity of Kryptonian heroes Nightwing and Flamebird to survive. This story establishes Flamebird as part of the current continuity Nightwing Kryptonian lore.

A Kandorian refers to Nightwing & Flamebird as “great Kandorian heroes of myth.” And Superman explains to Lois, “Nightwing and Flamebird – my earthly associates – took their names from Kryptonian tales I related.”

A 1993 commission by George Pérez, from the collection of Brett Tolino.

 Titans In Love: Dick Grayson & Starfire


It started with a (now-classic) kiss in the pages of New Teen Titans #2 [1980]. In an attempt to learn English, Starfire absorbed the language by planting a wet one on the Boy Wonder. Initially denying his feelings, Robin realized how much he loved Starfire when her life was threatened by Blackfire during an outer-space adventure ( New Teen Titans #23-25, New Teen Titans Annual #1 [1982]). In the heat of the battle, Robin’s burgeoning feelings for Starfire became obvious. The couple proved a perfect match, as Starfire’s uninhibited personality offered a fitting contrast to Robin’s cool demeanor.

The pair remained a solid couple, even as Dick grappled with his own identity issues. Eventually finding his own path as Nightwing, his relationship with Starfire deepened. But the couple faced their greatest challenge when Starfire was forced into an arranged marriage to quell a Tamaranean civil uprising. While Starfire saw this as a marriage of state, Dick felt betrayed and left his alien love on Tamaran (New Teen Titans (second series) #15-18 [1986]). Stafire eventually returned to earth, and reconciled with Dick once he learned she did not take the traditional Tamaranean wedding vows (New Teen Titans (second series) #39 [1988]).

Robin starts to sort out his feelings in NEW TEEN TITANS #26 [1983].

The Titans were soon shaken to the core when the evil Wildebeest Society launched a savage Titans Hunt. As tensions grew, the shape-shifter Mirage even kidnapped and impersonated Starfire, causing strain in her relationship with Nightwing. Impulsively, Dick proposed marriage to the tempestuous Tamaranean, desperately hoping to mend their relationship. The two almost wed, but the ceremony was interrupted by Raven, now reborn as an evil avatar of her father, Trigon (New Titans #99-100 [1993]). Starfire was implanted with a demon “seed” by Raven, which caused her to leave Earth and go on a spiritual journey (New Titans #114 [1994] and Showcase ’94 #11 [1994]). Thus, the long-standing relationship of Nightwing and Starfire was at an end, with neither party acquiring much closure.

Starfire found brief happiness in a marriage to the binary-powered alien known as Ph’yzzon (New Titans #127-130 [1995]). But after Ph’yzzon died while trying to protect New Tamaran from the Sun Eater (Final Night Preview [1996]), Starfire found herself single again. Reunited with Nightwing in JLA/Titans #1-3 [1998], the pair agreed to be good friends. Starfire joined the newly reformed Titans for a time, before finally returning to her people in Titans #17-19 [2000]. In Titans #19, Starfire and Nightwing finally say goodbye in a poignant scene that puts a cap on their relationship.

Starfire supports Robin in NEW TEEN TITANS #39 [1984].

Starfire and Nightwing became allies again on several teams, including the Outsiders [2004], the Titans [2008] and the JLA [2010]. Although they have succumbed to old passions more than once, the pair have decided to remain good friends above all else.

The classic Robin-Starfire was extremely popular in its time, and for good reason. Like any good romance in fiction, the relationship led to character growth for both parties. Both challenged each other, as Kory learned to act less impulsively while Dick opened up emotionally. It was a thrill to discover the different sides of these characters as their love deepened.

Romantic Reads:
New Teen Titans [1980] #2, 16, 23-26, Annual #1, 39
New Teen Titans [1984] #15-18, 39, 99-100, 114
JLA/Titans #1-3 [1998]
Titans [2000] #17-19

A 2005 commission from Phil Jimenez.

 

 Creators on Dick Grayson


George Pérez: “Robin/Nightwing, I like him a lot because of his history, he’s been around so long, and there’s a certain sleek sexuality about the character. He’s got a certain sense of everyman, a young swashbuckler type., he’s probably the only character to have developed a rabid following. That I find incredible, particularly because he came out as a sidekick – that he’s got the strongest following of any character really makes me feel good about Nightwing. He’s the only Titan who made the CBG poll, and it was great, you know. The fact that he’s still fresh after all these years.”

“And the one that was the biggest challenge, by not putting any highlights on, was to differentiate Robin from Kid Flash. Before, they tended to have the same exact face-I was guilty of it, when I started. I made a point of suddenly drawing in Kid Flash’s cheeks-making him angular. If you look at a lot of pictures of Mikhail Barishnykov, to give him that very slender look. And, of course, very, very strong legs. The fact is that I’m trying to draw his arms less bulky but keep his legs very muscular. That man must have calves like iron. And Robin’s face is more round; Dick Giordano set the standard for what Robin should look like, because he corrects all the artwork (Howell laughs), so-Burt Ward had the perfect face, even though he was a mite on the old side. That roundish face, with that hairstyle. ”

Marv Wolfman: “The only two that I have trouble separating are Wonder Girl and Robin. The only way to make them sound different is what they say, as opposed to how they say it. I see them as very similar people. Very much Donny and Marie. All the others I hear in my head what their speech patterns are. I don’t know how it comes across on paper since I’m so intimate with the characters, but the only two I feel are hard to separate are Robin and Wonder Girl. Fortunately, the type of dialogue they are given, for the most part, is clear enough apart. Wonder Girl will talk in much more romantic terms when she has to. She’s not as uptight as Robin is. Robin, having been raised by the Batman, would be very uptight about everything. He’s Just learning to break free from that. Wonder Girl’s never had any of those problems whatsoever. When they’re dealing with superior stuff, I haven’t figured out how to tell them apart.”

“One of the comments made in issue 25 by Robin is that while the Batman was created by a very emotional event, the Batman today has taught Robin to think with his head and not his heart. Yet, the Batman’s whole reason for being was because of his heart, not his head. We’re hoping to get more control over the characters as we learn to use them. Issue eight was the first issue where we thought we understood them.”

Chuck Dixon: “He’s reached a point in his career where he’s proven himself,” says Nightwing writer Chuck Dixon, “He’s been Batman, he’s been the Teen Titans’ leader. He knows how good he is, and is more at ease with himself. Now he’s trying to find a place for Dick Grayson, to carve out a life for himself, not just as Batman’s ex-partner. That’s why he’s adopted Bludhaven.”

And, unlike some children who grow up to repeat their parents’ mistakes, Dixon adds that Dick’s hardly a carbon copy of his mentor. “Nightwing’s not so grim, and is capable of having a life as Dick Grayson,” he says. “Nightwing became the happy-go-lucky Robin almost in contrast to Batman. It was his way of saying, ‘I don’t want to be like this guy.”‘

Devin Grayson: “Dick’s dealing with an ever-increasing roster of responsibilities. Where as there was a time in his life where a lot of his motivation stemmed from trying to prove that he was as good as Bruce, now a lot of it really has more to do with exploring the ways in which he’s completely different from Bruce. So he’s starting to examine all of these different elements law, relationships, and especially the concept of teamwork and family, which is where the Titans come in for him.”

Jay Faerber: “Unable to go into full details of his solo gig on Titans, Faerber was more than willing to give some insight into the characters, beginning with his personal favorite. “I guess I ‘d have to say Nightwing but if you ask me the same question tomorrow, my answer would probably be different. I just like the fact that Dick has absolutely no superpowers, and yet he’s the one these super-powered people look for guidance and respect more than anyone.”

“Dick is the unquestioned leader. The Titans may bicker now and then, but when it comes down to it, they know Dick calls the shots, and we’ll be seeing demonstrations of that in upcoming issues. Dick’s closest to Donna and Roy, has a lot in common with Jesse (since they’re both workaholics), and doesn’t know Toni very well. He’s never been super-close to Garth, but he’s certainly one of Dick’s better friends.”



Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Series, DC Who’s Who Binder Series, The Official Teen Titans Index [published by ICG in 1985], The New Titans Sourcebook [Mayfair Games, 1990], DC Universe Role-Playing Games: Sourcebooks and Manuals [ West End Games], DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com


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