GOTHAM TRIBUNE: Why I’ll Miss Nightwing

Nightwing #30 comes out this week, wrapping up, at least for now, Dick Grayson’s 30-year journey as metaphor for burgeoning adulthood.

 

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Nightwing has long been an important part of my comics life? Why?

Because Nightwing is me. Or anyone who’s ever tried to build their own life away from the family they grew up in. Or anyone simply trying to figure out how to be an adult.

And boy did he dress well!

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Nightwing really was the perfect hero for a 17-year-old boy, which is what I was in 1984, when Dick finally decided it was time to put away the short pants and put on the disco collar.

Batman, of course, is my favorite character. In fact, I’m not sure I even need to point that out if you read this site with any regularity.

But it was Robin, or more precisely, Dick Grayson, with whom I identified when I was an adolescent.

In the ’70s, I followed his adventures in the late, lamented Batman Family (and then Detective Comics) with a special avidness. Having left Wayne Manor, he went to school in New Carthage, a college town not dissimilar from my own and, like me, he fell in love with Batgirl, the sexy girl who was just out of his (our) reach.

From Batman Family #13

From Batman Family #13. Art by the awesomely underrated Don Newton.

 

When bored in math class at Highland Park Middle School, I’d daydream I was Dick, waiting for the bell to ring so I could hurdle myself toward some exciting adventure.

By the time I was 13, my favorite book was The New Teen Titans, Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s reboot of DC’s junior superhero franchise. Dick became even more independent, got a new girl and lived a life any teen would want.

But all the while, he also seemed to be outgrowing his clothes, just as I was. In Batman Family (and the main Batman title itself), DC would publish fans’ designs for updated — read: more “adult” — threads.

Batman #259. I like the one in the top row, second from left.

Batman #259. I like the one in the top row, second from left, by Brian Madigan.

 

And in Detective Comics #481 (which had just merged with Batman Family), fans’ designs were incorporated into a story in which Dick himself openly wonders how much longer he could run around in a short cape and pixie boots.

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Several years later, Wolfman and Perez took that step for good. Dick would get a new set of clothes — but more importantly, he got a new name, a new look, a new color scheme.

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This was one of the most exciting moments of my young comics life and to this day, I remember just how monumental it felt.

Of course, the years went on and I grew older while Dick remained roughly the same age. He changed his clothes, sometimes for the worse, sometimes for the better, like all fashion. (His last costume was one of my favorites.)

So now, I feel like the parent, seeing my younger self move on, and it’s bittersweet. I’m not really sure what DC’s driving at here by turning Dick into a younger, presumably more optimistic version of Nick Fury. (I don’t like seeing him with guns, by the way.)

And I’ll check out his book more out of curiosity than interest:

Art by MIkel Janin

Art by MIkel Janin

 

Dick Grayson will remain, it’s clear. But I will miss Nightwing.

Because I’m Nightwing.

BATBOOK OF THE WEEK: Um. Nightwing #30, obvs. But there is Batman #31, the latest in Zero Year, which I gotta tell you feels like it’s been going on FOREVER. And Batman Eternal #8. And Catwoman #31. But the other book that has my attention is Secret Origins #2. I have no idea what they’ll be bringing to the table with this one, but I can’t wait to find out!

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Oh, and for all you retrophiles like me, there’s the hardcover Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino, featuring Batwork by one of my all-time favorite artists — and one who helped define the look of Batman in my mind. I mean, check out the cover! That image is, without putting too fine a point on it, one of the most iconic in Batlore!

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Author: Dan Greenfield

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4 Comments

  1. I’m also about ready for Zero Year to wrap up, though I’ve enjoyed it quite a lot. It’s done in a couple of issues so there isn’t much longer to wait–but it feels like it’s been a year already! I’m also curious to see what Grayson is about…trying not to assume too much at this point

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  2. very well said. i think one of the reasons Nightwing is so popular is because of that sentiment exactly. a lot of us still reading grew up with Nightwing. we read/watched him grow from Robin to Nightwing. we all can identify with the growing up/out of childhood ways.

    we all are Nightwing.

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