Dick Grayson was the first Robin, the first person to be a junior partner to Batman. But then he changed as he grew up, becoming Nightwing and earning the respect of other big-time superheroes. For ages now, his loved ones thought he was dead. This week, they find out he’s not.
DC Comics changed their continuity (again) a while back with the New 52 reboot, which re-jiggered the backstories of some of the characters. This much stayed the same: the kid who was the first Robin grew up to create the NIghtwing persona, becoming a hero in his own right. But, then life got complicated for the guy who’s Batman’s oldest “son.” The events of a big villain-centric crossover saw his secret identity get outed and it looked like Nightwing died during the Forever Evil storyline.
He wasn’t really dead, of course, and Batman used this opportunity to have Dick infiltrate super-spy organization Spyral, which was trying to out the secret identities of all the major superheroes. During this period of time, Batman and Dick had regular check-ins. Sometimes, the Dark Knight even chuckled at the pair’s shared history.
But all of that went away. Batman had his own presumed-dead experience and when Bruce Wayne came back, he didn’t remember he was Batman. In this week’s Grayson #12, Dick comes home to Gotham for the first time in ages. His reunion with Bruce is oddly poignant, filled with things he can’t say. After losing his memory, the man who raised him has found peace because Alfred hasn’t told him that he was Batman.
But the other parts of his visit don’t go so well. What happens when you’re a superhero that everybody thinks is dead and you come back to say hello to your family? They get pissed.
Grayson’s been an intriguing title in the DC Comics line-up because it fuses superhero and spycraft tropes together. The creators have highlighted the similarities of each genre in entertaining fashion. Operatives and superheroes both use secret identities, fancy gadgets, and mind-blowing bases of operations. But there’s one big difference: spies kill. Much of Grayson’s tension has come from the title character’s dedication to the no-killing code Batman instilled in him.
And while we’ve seen spycraft’s necessary deceptions weigh heavy on him, there’s one big lie that he hasn’t had to face up to yet: letting his Bat-family believe he was dead.
This title has had Dick adrift in a sea of grey morality. He’s lied, stolen and played allies and enemies against each other while juggling agendas. So, it’s refreshing to see him find some kind of center again by reconnecting with the roots of his do-gooder vocation. He may not be Robin or Nightwing anymore but Dick Grayson will never stop being a good guy.
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