08 March 2008

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Nightwing

Many a character has donned the name, but there only one Nightwing - Dick Grayson. As Dick grew older and spent more time as the leader of the Teen Titans, he decided to drop Robin and take on the identity of Nightwing to assert his independence. Robin became Nightwing in 1984, and has since appeared in Batman: The Animated Series, Teen Titans, and The Batman in animated form. He is yet to make his theatrical debut.

Nightwing was an alias used by Superman in an adventures in the city of Kandor, a Kryptonian city that was shrunken and preserved in a bottle. When Dick Grayson later gave up his role as Robin in 1984, he recalled the Kandorian adventure and renamed himself Nightwing, in homage to both Batman and Superman. After the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths re-boot the DC continuity, Superman no longer had knowledge of Kandor; instead, he remembered Nightwing as an urban legend of Krypton, which he shared with a young Dick Grayson. Grayson, who considered Superman his favorite superhero, took the identity in his honor.

Nightwing patrols Gotham City's neighboring municipality of Blüdhaven. This allows him to be close enough to Gotham to be part of the Batman Family, and far enough as well to have his own city, adventures and enemies. He worked for a few years on the police force, as well as a bartender to provide him with information and rumors of criminal activity.

At Batman's request, Dick journeys to this former whaling town-turned-industrial center to investigate a number of murders linked to Gotham City gangster Black Mask. Instead, he finds a city racked by police corruption and in the grips of organized crime consolidated by Roland Desmond, the gargantuan genius Blockbuster.

With a defenseless city to call his own, Nightwing decides to remain in Blüdhaven until Blockbuster's cartel is broken. He takes a job as a bartender to keep his ear to the ground and works closely with Oracle (Barbara Gordon) in an effort to clean up the town. Blockbuster places a sizable contract on Nightwing's head shortly thereafter, while Grayson plies the unscrupulous Blüdhaven Police Inspector Dudley Soames for information on the kingpin's dealings.

At this time, Nightwing had to deal with Nite-Wing. In Blüdhaven, a sociopath named Tad Ryerstad became a superhero, inspired by the retired hero Tarantula. He took his name, Nite-Wing, from an all-night deli specializing in chicken wings. Unstable, Nite-Wing beat people for minor offenses. Nite-Wing was shot on his first night out and Dick Grayson, as Blüdhaven's protector Nightwing, defended him from Blockbuster's gang, who thought it was Nightwing who has been injured. After Nite-Wing was released from the hospital, he killed the gang who put him there. Not realizing how violent Ryerstad was, Grayson agreed to train him. The two attacked Blockbuster's organization but were captured and separated. After an undercover FBI agent freed Nite-Wing, Ryerstad beat him to death, and when he realized what he had done, Ryerstad fled. Nightwing tracked him down and incarcerated Nite-Wing.

After Nightwing settles in Blüdhaven, a galactic threat comes to Earth, reuniting former members of the Titans together to save their friend Cyborg, and prevent him from putting the Earth in jeopardy. They enter into conflict with their mentors and friends in the Justice League, but are able to come to a truce and save Cyborg while preserving the safety of the planet. After this adventure, the group decides to re-form, with Nightwing returning to the role of leader.

Meanwhile, Dick joins the Blüdhaven Police Department in efforts to rid the city of its corruption from the inside. On the personal side, Dick and Barbara's once flirtatious Robin/Batgirl relationship is changing. When Gotham is quarantined from the rest of the United States and becomes a virtual "No Man's Land", Nightwing is sent to secure Blackgate Prison. Afterwards, Dick recuperates at Barbara's clock tower, and the two grow even closer, entering into a romantic relationship.

Some time after "No Man's Land" ends, the JLA disappears on a mission to locate Aquaman and Atlantis. Before they vanish, Batman instigates a contingency plan, in which a handful of heroes would be assembled to create a new JLA, consisting of Nightwing, Green Arrow, the Atom, Hawkgirl, Major Disaster, Faith, Firestorm and Jason Blood. Nightwing is chosen to be leader until the original JLA are found, and Dick returns to the reserve list.

For several years, Nightwing leads various incarnations of the Titans and becomes the most respected former sidekick in the DC Universe. However, eventually, a rogue Superman android kills Lilith and Troia, an event that tears apart both Young Justice and the Titans. At Troia's funeral, Dick declares he is tired of seeing friends die and disbands the team, officially ending the Titans. A few months later, Arsenal persuades Nightwing to join a new pro-active crime-fighting team: the Outsiders, who would hunt villains, acting as co-workers rather than an extended family. He reluctantly accepts.

Dick plays a key role in exposing the corruption in the Blüdhaven Police Department. Despite reaching his original goals, Dick continues as a police officer during the day while spending nights as Nightwing, pushing himself to his limits and straining his relationships. The line between his police work and as vigilantism began to blur, and ultimately Amy Rohrbach (his friend and superior officer, who knew his secret identity) fires him rather than let him continue using questionable methods.

Wrongfully blaming Nightwing for the death of his mother, the mob boss Blockbuster bombs Dick Grayson's apartment complex and promises to kill anyone in Dick’s life. When the vigilante Tarantula arrives, Nightwing chooses not to stop her when she shoots the villain dead. At length, Nightwing shakes himself from his depression and takes responsibility for his inaction. He tries to apprehend Tarantula and turns himself in to the police. However, Amy Rohrbach feels the world needs Nightwing free and prevents him from being charged.

Dick has destroyed the police corruption and removed the greater part of organized crime from this city, but his role in Blockbuster's death is still a source of tremendous guilt for him. He retires from crimefighting, with Tim Drake and Cassandra Cain as his replacements.

Grayson moves to New York, where he works closely with the Outsiders. However, after "insiders" threaten both the Outsiders and the newest incarnation of Teen Titans, Nightwing realizes that the team has gotten "too personal" and quits.... but he may be rejoining the Titans soon.

The Dark Knight returns in 139 days!

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