Many stories have told how Dick Grayson broke away from Batman, but “Nightwing: Year One” is easily the best version of this tale.
Out of all the Robins, Dick Grayson has probably had the most successful solo career. Becoming Nightwing, Dick has thrived as his own superhero. There are many different stories explaining exactly how Dick broke away from Batman. Over the years, the best version of this tale has remained “Nightwing: Year One.”
Recounted in the pages of Nightwing #101-106, by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, “Nightwing: Year One” began at the tail end of Dick Grayson’s Robin career. Robin was supposed to meet Batman so they could take down Clayface, but The Boy Wonder showed up late. Consequently, The Dynamic Duo began to argue about Robin’s tardiness, leading to a rather messy fight with Clayface.
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Indeed, the villain nearly killed Robin and ultimately got away through the sewage pipes. Upon their return to the Batcave, Batman fired Robin, and Dick left Wayne Manor. Unsure of his next move, Dick went to Metropolis to visit Superman. Dick teamed with The Man of Steel to stop a group of terrorists before seeking Clark’s advice. The former Boy Wonder expressed his uncertainty about his future before Superman told him the story of Nightwing. This legendary Kryptonian hero was cast out of his family, much like Grayson. Inspired by this tale, Dick decided to move forward.
Dick returned to his roots at Haly’s Circus, becoming an acrobat for a brief time. When a lion broke loose of its cage, Dick stopped the savage beast and saved everyone in the circus tent. Dick also met Boston Brand, aka Deadman, who told Grayson that his father would be proud. Getting a taste of heroism, Dick created a prototype Nightwing outfit, based on his father’s old leotard. Nightwing headed out to Gotham, where he announced his arrival to Commissioner Gordon. When Gordon’s daughter, Batgirl, overheard, she teamed with Nightwing to go on a crime-fighting spree. Nightwing and Batgirl went after criminals such as the Joker and the Penguin, beginning Dick’s new solo career with a bang.
Later, Dick ran into the new Robin: Jason Todd. At first, the two Robins clashed, since Dick was surprised that he’d been replaced so quickly. Jason’s attitude also brought him into conflict with his predecessor. Yet Dick and Jason set aside their differences when Batman was injured and Alfred was captured by a gang of criminals. Nightwing and Robin rushed to rescue Alfred, who was held captive by Killer Croc. Together, Dick and Jason saved Alfred and defeated Croc, before going their separate ways. After recording a final message for Bruce, Dick received his first official Nightwing costume from Alfred. From there, a legend was born, and Nightwing went on to fight evil alongside his fellow Teen Titans.
“Nightwing: Year One” is the perfect example for the character’s upcoming “Infinite Frontier” creative team. For one thing, “Year One” demonstrates the major differences between Nightwing and Batman. Unlike Bruce, Dick takes advantage of connections across the DC Universe. Whether seeking help from Superman or receiving approval from Deadman, Dick Grayson is probably the friendliest guy in the DC Universe. Batman has plenty of connections as well, but he certainly doesn’t reach out to others the same way that Nightwing does. Nightwing is also the heart of the Bat-Family. Between his on-again/off-again relationship with Barbara Gordon and mentoring his fellow Robins, Dick maintains positive relationships with the entire Bat-Family. Moreover, Dick is far more emotionally reliable than Batman.
“Year One” also takes Dick back to his roots at the circus. Indeed, when Dick returns to Haly’s Circus, it’s a reminder that he’s more than just an orphan that Batman rescued. Dick is a circus kid and an acrobat, a trait that greatly fleshes out his backstory. By giving Nightwing a childhood before his time as Robin, Dick Grayson stands out as his own man, separate from the Dark Knight. This circus background also explains Grayson’s freewheeling personality, which stands in stark contrast to Batman. Overall, “Nightwing: Year One” is the definitive Dick Grayson origin, showing how Nightwing stands on his own two feet.
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