74 Years of Dick Grayson

DETECTIVE-COMICS-878

by Jeremy DeFatta

Good day, everyone!  I want to give you a brief rundown of the character of Dick Grayson in the years since he stopped being Robin. For most comics readers under the age of 40, Grayson has always been Nightwing, a moniker (oddly enough) originally associated with Superman in the form of a Kryptonian street vigilante in the Bottled City of Kandor (pre-Crisis). Again, weirdness thrived in the Silver Age.

Originally drawing on interactions with Superman (it gets convoluted), Dick Grayson served as Nightwing pretty much continuously from 1984 (pre-Crisis)/1985 (post-Crisis) until 2009 during the Death of Bruce Wayne storyline. (Please check the links if you’d like a rundown of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths story that sought to collapse many of DC’s various eras and parallel earths into a single, cohesive continuity; it is far too complicated not to give it its own series of blog posts).

The reasons for Grayson becoming estranged from his adoptive father are varied and depend on the writer telling the story. The old animated series provides a look into an older teenage Grayson becoming a little too protective of Barbara Gordon (then Batgirl) and having it out with Batman when she is injured on a mission. Regardless of the reason for the departure, Dick Grayson grows too old to be a sidekick.

As Nightwing, Grayson eventually moves to the neighboring fictional city of Blüdhaven, where he engages in his own adventures while still sometimes acting as a member of Batman’s inner circle. His story becomes fairly different from Batman’s at this point; he is far more sociable, becomes a police officer for awhile, and uses his signature charm and wit to get himself into and out of various tight situations.

In a darker turn, though, during this era, Grayson becomes one of the only male superheroes to experience some form of rape (See item #2 on this list for details). This is a shocking moment in comics that a lot of fans tend to ignore, and it is a shame it has factored so little into his later development.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Grayson also served as Batman for over a year (2009-2010), when the entire world believed Bruce Wayne to be dead after a final showdown with Darkseid in the pages of Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis.

**END SPOILERS**

The Morrison-penned Grayson era of Batman is a fun ride—new technologies are introduced to the endless war on crime, new villains appear in Gotham, Grayson adopts different methods for fighting crime, and Damian Wayne serves as Robin.

I also recommend reading Scott Snyder’s run on Detective Comics during this period. Snyder (the current writer on Detective Comics 878 jokerBatman) puts together a wonderful murder mystery as a challenge for a newer, younger Batman who is determined to step out of the original’s shadow. Even if it’s not your cup of tea, you can’t deny those issues have some of the best covers that year.

Following the onset of the New 52, Grayson returned to being Nightwing and Bruce Wayne worked at expanding Batman, Inc. which he established immediately after his apparent return from the dead. More on Batman, Inc. next week.

Following the recent events of Forever Evil, Dick Grayson has been outed globally as Nightwing and is believed dead after going underground. This July, DC will premiere a new series starring the character simply called Grayson, in which he becomes a secret agent and attempts to put his life back together. Expect to hear more about this over the summer. I dig spy stories, so I’m definitely giving this one a shot.

I hope you all have enjoyed my posts on Dick Grayson. As you can see, the character has grown and changed quite a bit over the past 74 years, and I hope that continues for decades more to come. Again, you can find the stories I mention here and many others featuring the character at your local comic shops, so go out and support them. Let me know your thoughts below, and tweet me @quaintjeremy.

 Comic picks for this week:

Batman #30

Batman: Eternal #2

Justice League #29

Sinestro #1 (review forthcoming!)

Thor: God of Thunder #21

 Batman/Orca image from Detective Comics #878, via It’s Dan’s World. Joker image from Detective Comics #878 cover via Serious Issues. We believe all the art is by Jock.

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