I LOVE DICK!
No I haven’t decided to use my blog as a mouthpiece to come out of the closet. I just want to talk all things Richard John Grayson. Trapeze artist, Robin, Nightwing, Titan, Agent of Spyral he has lived a colourful live on the comic page. He is one of my favourite characters of all time and that is not an easy list to make as I am predominantly a Marvel guy.
I don’t know when my love for Dick Grayson began but I am certainly proof that Bill Finger and Bob Kane were onto something. Very few if any readers of Batman/Detective Comics could relate to a billionaire playboy who dressed up as a bat to avenge his parents death. Instead they took one look at Robin and thought ‘that could be me.’ When I was young my first exposure would have been clips of Burt Ward, I don’t think I ever saw a full episode of Batman 66. So real long lasting exposure would have been Batman The Animated Series The legalities and normalcy of being a billionaires ward who fought crime at night never crossed my mind. Then I saw ‘Christmas With The Joker’ and thought “Ah poor kid.” BTAS is often cited as the definitive version of the Dark Knight, its portrayal of The Boy Wonder can’t be far behind. What made him cool in BTAS? The hot pants and pixie boots were gone! He was decked out in an outfit closer to Neal Adams redesign for Tim Drake in the comics at the time. I loved how the cape was yellow on the inside in homage to his originals duds. He always seemed a level headed character. He could balance his duty to Batman whilst attending and doing well at college. He rocked a tank top, was tech savy and wooed Barbara Gordon.
Any of the later episodes that had Nightwing in them instantly became my favourites and though they were fleeting they blew my mind. A particular highlight is the episode ‘You Scratch My Back’ What better way to step out of Batmans shadow than by flirting with his one true love Catwoman. There is a comic titles ‘Batman Adventures The Lost Years.’ I’m frantically searching for it online. Basically it retells his appearances from those later episodes and expands on them too. Bridging the gap between ‘Old Wounds’ and ‘Sins of The Father’. I read once there was plans for a Nightwing animated spin off! I mean that would have been the only show that would be better than BTAS. Loren Lester is and will forever be Dick Grayson, he is the voice I hear when I read Nightwing comics. Some time in the mid 90’s I collected coupons to get a free Batman figure. I got a Nightwing from the Legends of Batman series. I had no idea who Nightwing was at the time and the back of the box described how Dick had grown too old for the Robin mantle and gone out alone. Wow! The figure was a modernized version of what is now referred to as ‘Disco Nightwing’ and it came with a rocket launcher! Coincidently I still have the trading card that came with it and use it as my book mark.
Also last month in a move of nostalgia I purchased the figure of BTAS style Nightwing. Its the best toy on the market with a mullet. In 1995 everything Robin related changed. To a twelve year old me Chris O’ Donnell was the coolest person in the world. If I was a true comics fan I would have known at 25 he was way too old to be Robin. But I got a kick out of his portrayal. I was easier to please back then! Things like calling Alfred ‘Al’ and drying his clothes the way he did. Plus when he suggests the name Nightwing I swear a little pee came out. Giving the character a knowledge of motorcycles made him cool. All the coolest characters ever ride motorcycles. We can all agree Batman Forever and Batman and Robin aren’t the greatest comic book movies but Chris O’ Donnell as Robin is the highlight.
I got into comics after the release of the first X-Men movie but I started out reading anything I could get my hands on. One of my favourite haunts for picking up graphic novels and it still is today is the local library. I would often gravitate towards Batman books and skim through them looking for an appearance of either Robin or Nightwing. Part of the appeal for me about Dick Grayson is that he realistically grew up and out grew side-kick status. He stepped from the shadow of the Bat but now has the responsibility of being a tutor to new Robins. I’ve always liked stories that focus on the extended Bat family and Dick is a big reason for this. As I got deeper into the comics I discovered that not only did he become Nightwing he also left Gotham for Bludhaven. Now I can’t give too much BS and say I have read a lot of Nightwing comics. I’m in the process of hunting down Teen Titans trades.
The Titans represent probably the highest point in Dick’s career and from what I’ve heard they are some of the best comics around. But being a Marvel guy it is just about finding the time and extra funds to go after another character. His time in Titans under the creative talents of Marv Wolfman and George Perez brought him a whole new generation of fans. People no longer saw him as The Boy Wonder. When DC launched the New52 it was a perfect chance for me to rectify my lack of Nightwing reading. Kyle Higgins wrote 28 of the 30 issues. Its a solid run on the character. Most of note was moving the action to Chicago and taking away the billionaires ward element. I wasn’t overly keen on changing the black and blue outfit to black and red. But a minor complaint. Higgins done a great job of syncing his series up with the big stories Scott Snyder was doing on Batman.
With both writers being friends it made it easy for synergy between Nightwing and Batman in ‘Court of Owls’ and ‘Death of The Family.’ There is a moment where Higgins has Dick sucker punch Bruce in the face. It is a call back to ‘Old Wounds’ an episode of BTAS Higgins has gone on record of saying he likes. Higgins is from the generation of writers who are directly influenced by BTAS. The series dives deep into Nightwing history with Dick becoming the owner of Haley’s Circus, his parents killers daughter turning up as a love interest and a showdown with Lady Shiva. #18 which deals with Dicks reaction to the death of Damien Wayne is beautiful. #8-#9 which tie into ‘Night of Owls’ put a whole new spin on the history of Dick, but I won’t spoil it here its a retcon that works and hopefully sticks around in continuity.
So I’ve declared my love for Dick. I would say Nightwing and Dicks time as Robin definitely has a hardcore following. But at times he does feel underrated and under used. There have been so many Robins maybe he’s lost his impact. I’m sure people forget he has been around for nearly as long as Batman himself. This is most probably why DC have always fought against killing him off whenever the subject raises its ugly head. Yes he is popular but he could be huge. When you think of the amount of characters that can’t hold a ongoing series Nightwing has always managed it. He is a character with great depth but as the recent Grayson series has shown there is still room for growth and change. With a Nightwing movie in development and Teen Titans coming to a streaming service soon things are looking up for the former Boy Wonder. This is all stuff for the hardcore fans to be more than happy about. Hopefully there will be a surge in his popularity and maybe that BTAS spin off can be put on the table again! Okay maybe a feature length at least. More people should be declaring their love of Dick…
About Ian Wells
Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
About Language of Bromance
Together Richard and Shawn formed the podcast The Language of Bromance and from there it has been nothing but fun. The duo laugh about things they go through, stories in the news and even getting serious discussing net neutrality along with other issues. Every so often their friendship turns to a bitter rivalry with their nerdiest creation the draft episodes. An original take on a best of or a top 10 list. The draft episodes are done like an NFL Draft 7 rounds where Richard and Shawn flip-flop picks on various topics.
To become a LOBarmy Contributed
If you are interested in writing an article for the LOBarmy Intelligent Reports please contact Richard and Shawn at EatTheBeaver@LanguageOfBromance.Com or reach out to us via twitter @LanguageOfBro.