Hello cosplayers and comic book junkies! As this is the month of the beloved San Diego Comic Con (which I have not yet been to, but would very much so like to one day go! I have this vision where I’m actually on a panel for this super hero book I have in my head, but we won’t get into that.) I thought I would talk a bit about my favorite superhero, and Batman’s first Robin, Nightwing!
Ah, Nightwing. Gotham cop by day and superhero by night, he met Batman –and was adopted by him– after his parents were murdered by Boss Zucco. Before he became Nightwing, and the Robin to Bruce Wayne’s Batman, he was Richard Grayson of the Flying Graysons! That’s right, people. He was born and raised in the circus as a trapeze artist.
Whether or not you’re an avid comic book reader, or DC reader, or Batman reader for that matter, I’m sure it won’t surprise you when I say Dick Grayson didn’t get his own comics for forty-five years. It wasn’t until 1984 that the Teen Titans assembled with Robin/Nightwing/Dickie Bird Grayson as the leader. (Anyone remember the original cartoon network series Teen Titans?)
Dick Grayson became the oldest of four adopted (mostly) brothers. Jason Todd, the second Robin and later Red Hood; Tim Drake, the third Robin and later Red Robin; and Damien Wayne (gasp!) the final Robin. He is perhaps the goofiest and most parental of the other Robins, which is natural as the eldest sibling. Later in the series, Dickie Bird (as Jason Todd calls him) takes on the ultimate role, becoming Batman after Bruce Wayne is presumed dead.
Let’s talk a bit about the title “Robin,” shall we? I’m sure we’ve all, at some point in our lives, wondered why it was Batman and Robin. A spring bird and a bat…yeah, sure, ok. But Robin doesn’t get his name from the bird, oh no, Robin the Boy Wonder gets his title from none other than Robin Hood, the English character who steals from the rich and gives to the poor. (A bit ironic considering his adoptive father’s wealth). But his heroic title couldn’t have been better prophesied, and no, I’m not alluding to Oracle/Batgirl/ Barbara “Babs” Gorden, I’m talking about none other than Dick Grayson’s mother. As Dickie Bird was born on the first day of spring, his mother called him “little Robin” and he often reminded her of a bird when he flew on the trapeze.
At the age of seventeen Grayson was shot in the shoulder by the Joker. This scared Bruce into ending Grayson’s career, however, this event made Grayson realize how much he had grown up. This incident, along with their disagreements on torture (Batman used torture and Dickie Bird didn’t like it) led Dick to leading the Teen Titans full time until Batman told Dick to retire as Robin. Unsure of who to be, and what to do, Dick left the Titans, turning it over to Wonder Girl. The only person Dick felt he could go to with all of his troubles was none other than Superman, and boy did Superman give Dickie Bird some good advice. After telling Grayson of a man on Kypton known only as Nightwing, Grayson took on heroism as his own man, casting aside any name-affiliation with Batman, and became Nightwing.
Big brother Dickie Bird. Nightwing, leader of The Titans (they can’t be teens forever). If you’re interested in Grayson’s story, but unsure of where to start, I recommend Nightwing: Rebirth. That pickup of Grayson’s story is an easier one to begin with, I believe. We are on top of eighty years of Batman and Robin, I don’t blame you if you’re unsure of where to start, or a little afraid to do so! If Nightwing doesn’t interest you, or you’d like to know more about the other Robins, I recommend Jason Todd. His story is –in my opinion– similar to Deadpool’s. So if you’re a Marvel fan thinking of heading into DC waters, a comic book fan looking for lesser-known heroes, or someone interested in comics, you can’t go wrong picking up one of the birds.
Thanks for reading!
For those of you headed to Comic Con have so much fun!
*Featured image is not mine, all rights go to the artist