Why I Like Nightwing
By Louise Freeman Davis
Ok, it should be obvious to any long-time FANZING reader out there that
I like Nightwing. Really, really, like Nightwing. Not only do I
like reading about Nightwing, I like writing about Nightwing. If I could
draw, I'd probably like drawing Nightwing, but since I can't that's pretty
much a moot point.
So, why do I like Nightwing.
Well, I always related more to the non-powered heroes to the super-powered
ones, and to the kid sidekicks more so than the adult counterpart. Since
Dick Grayson, as Robin, was a prototypical example of both, it's very
natural that I would be drawn to them. And my great re-introduction to
comics came when I was in my early twenties, in graduate school, in Berkeley
(or as I prefer to call it, Bazerkeley, California. For the first time
in my life, I had the time, freedom and even a slight bit of cash in my
pocket, and so, one day, on a fluke, I decided to go in a browse this
"comic book store" which I had walked by every day for a year
or so. Believe it or not, despite being a long-time bibliophile and sci-fi/fantasy/Star
Trek fan, this was the first time I had ever entered a store that
specialized in just comics. Chew on that, all you distributors
who are counting on the direct market to carry the industry into the 21st
century. But I digress.
Anyhow, I dimly recalled
a comic that I had read once as a kid
The Teen Titans I think
And the really neat thing about it was that it featured just
no grown-ups along at all. I decided to see if it was
and lo and behold, it still was
Called the New
Teen Titans now but hey, it had been 20 years or so
I picked it up, and found
it virtually incomprehensible. With the exception of Wonder Girl, I recognized
none of the characters as sidekicks at all. OK, maybe the guy in blue,
named Nightwing. I remembered seeing a time magazine blurb a few years
before about DC killing off Robin with the aide of a 1-900-number publicity
stunt, and it mentioning something about the dead Robin not being the
original Dick Grayson Robin, since that one had grown up and changed his
names. And from the Silver Age comics I used to read in my Grandma's attic,
I knew "Nightwing" was a Batman-like identity Superman used
when he served as a non-powered hero in Kandor. Even in this incomprehensible
Titans comic, it was soon clear to me that this was my beloved
Dick Grayson, if for no other reason, because his teammates called him
"Dick." Think about that, all you Bat-editors who are
determined to forbid that these days. But again, I digress.
Fortunately, I made my
way from the current releases to the "quarter bins" where I
found a bunch more of Titans comics to fill me in on the details I had
missed, including several issues of the now-famous Judas Contract series.
There, I got to finally see Dick Grayson shed the Robin mantle of childhood
and take on the Nightwing mantle of adulthood. And I was even right about
the Kandorian origin of the name. Maybe I wasn't hopelessly ignorant about
this whole comics universe thing after all.
So, I started an economical-graduate
student program of collecting
aka, scouring the quarter bins of every
comics store in Berkeley. I came across a copy of the Judas Contract
TPB in a used bookstore. I splurged one week and bought a complete bagged
set of Crisis on Infinite Earths for $20, little suspecting that
this investment would save me $100 in 1999. Through it all, I got to see
Dick Grayson struggle with not being a kid anymore. Since I was in a similar
life-phase myself at the time, I guess that cemented my love for the character.
At last, I had a true superhero I could relate to.
For me, what makes Dick
Grayson so much fun to write about is his versatility. Like Donna Troy,
I've always seen him as the ultimate big brother/best friend type of character,
though he can certainly function as well as a romantic lead (ask Starfire,
or better yet, Marilee Stephens.) He can be a bratty kid, a rebellious
teenager, and a embittered young adult at times (particularly when Batman
gives him grief, which has happened way too much in previous years) but
when push comes to shove, he'll always be th loyal soldier and faithful
son. He can function as a lone warrior in the very "earthy"
setting of Blüdhaven, as an adult partner to Batman in Gotham City, or
as the unquestioned team leader of the Titans. He can be equally at home
in a dingy apartment, a stately manor or a glittering T-shaped tower.
And despite what certain Bat-editors would decree, the same character
can travel to demonic dimensions, to distant planets and even sustain
a long-term love affair with a golden-skinned alien princess, all without
giving up one iota of his humanity. And because Dick Grayson can do it,
the rest of us non-powered working stiffs, students, writers and yes,
even mommies, come just slightly closer to living out our superheroic
dreams, as well.
That's why I really, really like Nightwing.
Fanzing artist Kevin A. Voith blew us away with this picture of Nightwing
in action. Click on it to see the rich detail of the full size version!
could anyone not like this man? He's like Batman but with less obsesive
brooding angst and a bit more charm and hair. Not to mention the snazzy
black and blue costume (NOT THE DISCO ERA ONE!). But the real reason
I like Nightwing is as follows: Like most fanboys I am of a timid sort
that often uses comic books as an excape into another world. But unlike
many other superheroes Nightwing has helped me in the real world. Namely,
he got me to dance with a girl. How did that happen? Well it was last
Halloween, my friends and I went as comic characters to a costume ball.
And having long dark hair and being a longtime Batman fan I chose to
go as Nightwing. Now normaly at any party I would cling to the wall
and hope nobody would notice, and I have to admit, with his ninja like
attire I could have easy slipped into the shadows and never been seen.
But everybody's got their Bane. Mine just happens to be women. My normal
reaction which is to panic and be filled with self doubt until I flee.
There's something about the mask though. Instead I watched this one
girl that caught my eye, and thought to myself
I should ask her to
how could she say no? I'm Nightwing after all
. that and
Batman's already dancing with some other lady. By the way, when I asked
her she said 'Sure'.
Brian of The Brothers Grinn