Brace yourself. I am going to reveal one of those opinions that may rock your world. You may brand me as blasphemous or completely out of touch with reality. But here it is anyway.
I like Nightwing better than Batman.
Those of you who are not comic book fans or only have the most casual interest and limited experience with comics, are probably asking "who?" right now. "Who the Hell is Nightwing?"
Comic book fans are surely crying foul, especially since Batman is one of the most loved super heroes in the history of comics, revered in the grand pantheon of stars alongside the likes of Superman and Spider-Man.
And yet, there, I said it. Let me qualify a bit. As a character, I prefer Nightwing. I cannot argue against Batman's superiority with many of the aspects one would use to make such a judgment of heroic quality. Batman's story is one of the very best in all of comics. Batman has cool gadgets. Batman has had rigorous training. Batman suffers and has compelling pathos (though one could argue for pathos as worthy with Nightwing, Spider-Man, the Punisher, and a host of others).
Batman has also been written dozens of different ways. So, the assessment of his character must include a choice of which Batman to compare with Nightwing (or anyone). In my opinion, many writers have failed Batman. Some writers forget about Bruce Wayne. Since the Dark Knight Returns and Batman Year One era, many writers have made Batman too grim and gritty, too one-dimensional. It's always the same thing with him: he drives himself too hard, he doesn't eat right, he is inflexible, he is silent and deadly, he is not a family guy. Others who have taken on the stewardship of Batman have worked to round out his character by focusing a fair amount of attention on Bruce Wayne and telling stories that involve Batman's relationships with the people around him. And I do not mean the revolving cast of romantic interests since each new writer/artist team feels the need to invent some new woman for Bruce and/or the Bat. I mean the family: Alfred; all the Robins, which includes Nightwing; Jim Gordon, Batgirl/Oracle/Barbara Gordon, Helena Wayne, Talia, Catwoman, etc.
And this is one of the strengths of Nightwing: relationships. Nightwing has also had to struggle to define himself as he has forever been in Batman's shadow. Nightwing is more human, more caring, more imperfect than Batman.
I could write volumes about Nightwing and why I love him, but again, shortish though long for the blog.
Who is Nightwing?
As the original Robin character, Richard "Dick" Grayson burst onto the comic scene in 1940. After being Batman's sidekick for many years, Dick Grayson/Robin broke away from the Dynamic Duo to pursue his own life and lead the Teen Titans. Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams defined this era of Dick's life with stories involving him attending Hudson University with separate stories that ran in Detective Comics. Dick led the Teen Titans in the original set of ground breaking comics about young heroes published by DC from 1966-1976, which featured great stories by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy. These stories (both the Robin at college and the Teen Titans stories) are among my favorites in the history of comics.
But it was the revival comic, The New Teen Titans (1980), by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez that truly defined my love for this character. I loved him first as Robin and later when he quit being the boy wonder and assumed the name Nightwing. His new name was later explained as a Kryptonian urban legend, the name reflects Dick Grayson's dual homage to Superman and Batman. Though Nightwing was not featured in his own series until 1996, he was a main character on the DC landscape since changing his name in 1985 the class New Teen Titans issue pictured here. (And also one of my favorite sequences in comics as Dick strips off his Robin gear).
I followed all of Dick Grayson's various incarnations closely since the 1960s. In the late 1980s, I joined a fan organization that published an APA known as Titan Talk. An APA (Amateur Press Association) is periodical created by fans. Similar to fanzines, with an APA, members produce their own copies and pay a nominal fee to a collator, who assembles the book-sized periodicals, often multiple volumes, that are distributed to fans on a regular schedule, sometimes monthly or six times a year, whatever the fans wish. APAs and fanzines served the role of the Internet before the Internet existed. These publications were our chat boards and outlets for fan art, fan fiction, and fan revelry. In the late '80s and early '90s, I wrote a great deal of fan fiction, some of which went unfinished, that primarily featured my favorite character: Dick Grayson/Nightwing. My favorite such story was a "what if" type tale about Dick Grayson married to Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) and loosely based on a holiday episode of the TV show thirtysomething. I was what we call in the fan community a "Wingnut," IE a fan of Nightwing.
I am still a Wingnut and wear my Nightwing shirt with pride.
Some Nightwing resources follow.
Nightwing on Wikipedia
Nightwing: DC Comics Database
Dick Grayson on Wikipedia
Teen Titans on Wikipedia
The Many Costumes of Dick Grayson
Thoughts About Dick Grayson Tumblr
Nightwing Fan Page Facebook
Titans' Tower on Facebook
Nightwing Fan Fiction
The Nightwing Fan Club
- chris "Wingnut" tower - 1305.22 - 11:49
PS: Apparently, the movie that may spin off from The Dark Knight Rises (2012) may be about Nightwing.
PPS: Postscript note written 1310.27: Somehow I made a numbering error and so the T-shirt number in the URL for this entry is not accurate. But this is entry #62.
|recent issue of Nightwing - April 2013|