Nightwing is a comic book series published by DC Comics as part of the DC Rebirth branding initiative. Originally published semi-monthly, the series was launched in 2016 with Tim Seeley as writer and Javier Fernandez and Marcus To as the two main artists on rotation. It picks up where Grayson left off, with the title character Dick Grayson recovering his identity donning the familiar black and blue suit of Nightwing.
The first arc deals with the fallout from Robin War, in which Nightwing infiltrates the international Parliament of Owls to bring it down from the inside. Following that, he returns to the city of Blüdhaven – which had been his home prior to the New 52 continuity reboot – to once again set up shop as the city's protector.
Tim Seeley's run on the title concluded at the end of 2017 with issue #34 as he took over as writer of Green Lanterns; writer Sam Humphries in turn moved from Green Lanterns to Nightwing, although he only remained for the seven-part story arc "The Untouchable". In May 2018, Benjamin Percy took over as writer from issue #44 and the series also switched to a monthly schedule.
Then Nightwing was shot in the head in Batman (Tom King) and everything changed. Percy was out, replaced as writer by Scott Lobdell. Starting from issue #50, Dick's brain injury left him with no memory of his time as a superhero and no desire to associate with the Bat-family or return to being Nightwing: now calling himself "Ric Grayson", he returned to Blüdhaven to take a job as a cab driver and started a relationship with new love interest Bea Bennett. Meanwhile, three police officers and a firefighter – Sap, Hutch, and siblings Colleen and Zak – appropriated some of Nightwing's old superhero suits and began working together as Blüdhaven's new team of Nightwings. But despite not wanting to be Nightwing again, "Ric Grayson" can't help but step in to protect the city and its people.
The "Ric Grayson" plot lasted for two whole years, with Dan Jurgens taking over as writer from issue #59 onwards. It featured multiple instances of people twisting Nightwing's mind and memories to their own ends, including the return of the Owls and later the Joker. Dick's memories and identity were eventually fully restored as part of the storyline "The Joker War". Shortly afterwards, the series was soft-relaunched as part of DC Infinite Frontier: for what came next, see Nightwing (Infinite Frontier).
Character page here.
Contains examples of:
- Action Girl: A mild example. Shawn Tsang, once she's freed, takes part in the ensuing fight against the dollotrons, and even gets in a Groin Attack on Professor Pyg.
- Affably Evil: Blockbuster is shown to be much friendlier than in previous canons, even having a drink with Nightwing after the latter narrowly escaped a Death Trap set up by the former.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Minos is the main antagonist of the Blockbuster arc. When his programming is corrupted by a worm, he asks Dick what awaits him after death. The hero replies that no one knows, but solemnly kneels before him as his body disintegrates.
- Ambiguously Human: Pigeon's species is deliberately made ambiguous to the reader. Though she appears to be a winged meta-human, her eyes suddenly turn pitch-black when she rambles about being connected to the goddess Ishtar, implying that she may actually be some sort of supernatural being. Her true nature would only be revealed years after the series concluded: In the 2021 series Suicide Squad: King Shark, Pigeon is retconned into being the last godkiller, an ancient avatar of defilement bent on destroying all beings who were ever worshipped, as well as their symbols.
- Amicable Exes: Both Barbara and Kori are friendly with Dick, and are supportive of his new relationship with Shawn Tsang. Shawn herself, in Seeley's last issue, makes it clear that she wants Dick to be happy, and their final break-up is ultimately down to things in their lives making a working relationship too difficult, rather than an issue with one-another.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: From #50, after Dick got amnesia from being shot in Batman (Tom King) #55. Ric Grayson has been told he was Nightwing, but doesn't feel any connection to his past life. This turns out to be a gambit by the Court of Owls to finally turn "the Gray Son of Gotham" into a Talon.
- Anti-Climax: After Batman says that Lincoln March must be toppled in order to dismantle the Court of Owls, said villain is shown delivering a dramatic speech to the rest of the organization... only to be immediately killed by Raptor, who goes on to become the central antagonist of the first arc.
- Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: In #10, Dick decides to have a quiet night in at his new apartment. We see a montage beginning at 8:31 with him reading a Robin Hood novel, then watching a TV show version of The Warlord (DC), then reading a Robin Hood Rebirth comic, then back to watching The Warlord, then phoning Roy Harper, and finally lying on the floor looking bored as it's revealed that it's only 8:40.
- Bat Family Crossover: "Night of the Monster Men", which began in late September and ended in early October, running through rotating issues of Batman (Tom King), Nightwing, and Detective Comics (Rebirth), in that order. The cast of all the books join forces to battle Dr. Hugo Strange and an army of kaiju threatening Gotham during a massive storm.
- Bittersweet Ending: The first run by Tim Seeley ends with Grayson finally defeating most of the criminal leaders of Bludhaven and Raptor (who passes away due to injuries), and outsmarting Blockbuster. However, his relationship with Shawn is over with her specifically telling Dick that "he can call the Defacer [for help], but cannot call Shawn" with the rest of the Run-Off now having a less-than positive opinion of Dick due to the death of one of their members. Add to that the man Dick is named after became a treacherous criminal and passed away after their final battle.
- Bland-Name Product: Damian is seeing reading through comments on "Chirper" on his phone.
- Breather Episode: Issue 21 is a standalone story that's basically just Dick Grayson and Wally West hanging out.
- Butt-Monkey: While the team of replacement Nightwings are active, poor Zak gets injured and hospitalised three times.
- Casual Kink: Shawn, who mentions off-handedly she likes to be spanked when disappointed that Dick was leaving their date to go 'spank' crime. Dick is all for it when he comes back.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In Grayson, Mr. Minos is revealed to be three different androids who take turns posing as the leader of Spyral. Two of them are destroyed by Matron and Agent Zero, while the third one vanishes without a trace and is seemingly forgotten about. After Dick and Helena leave the organization, he subdues Tiger and takes over Spyral, setting in motion the events that would culminate in him becoming the main antagonist of the "Blockbuster" arc.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Raptor has betrayed nearly every partner or employer he's worked with. Though he betrays Dick, he shows remorse for it having to happen and appears to legitimately want to build a lasting working relationship with him.
- Continuity Nod:
- Dating Catwoman: Lampshaded by Dick, who finds himself inexplicably attracted to Shawn Tsang (aka Defacer) moreso when she's in her supervillain costume. Also downplayed, as Shawn is reformed, and was only guilty of vandalism as a teenager.
- Disc-One Final Boss: The Parliament of Owls is dispatched two-thirds of the way through the first arc. The actual Big Bad turns out to be Raptor.
- Evil Counterpart:
- Raptor is one to Nightwing, as a charismatic globetrotting costumed adventurer with a Robin Hood complex. Only Raptor is willing to betray and kill those in his way.
- The first arc draws a parallel between Raptor and Batman, being Crazy-Prepared animal-themed costumed Badass Normals, who follow a strict moral code and act as mentors to Dick. However, Raptor's code differs from Batman's, and instead of being a rich man who uses his wealth to fight street crime, the former is from a poor background and fights the one-percent.
- Evil Mentor: Raptor tries to mentor Dick and bring him around to his way of thinking. However, he's pretty bad at it, and does very little actual mentoring; he's more concerned with undoing what Bruce taught Dick.
- Fake Memories: Dick's therapist, actually a member of the Court of Owls, uses a crystal to implant memories of Dick being raised by the Court and becoming their Talon. It doesn't quite overcome his Thous Shall Not Kill beliefs, but it gets close. Then this plot gets hijacked by Joker, who makes Dick believe he raised him as "Dicky-Boy", as part of The Joker War.
- Groin Attack: Shawn defeats Professor Pyg in issue #18 by kicking him in the balls.
- Guest-Star Party Member: Issue 21 features Dick hanging out with Wally West.
- Heel–Face Door-Slam: In Seeley's final issue, Raptor argues that Blüdhaven is a corrupt city, but Nightwing counters by saying it's actually a place for redemption, citing how the Run-Offs are former supervillains who became Blüdhaven's protectors. The protagonist then says it's not too late for Raptor to follow the same path, but while the villain contemplates the possibility of finally becoming a hero, Blockbuster ambushes and mortally wounds him.
- Improvised Weapon: Nightwing uses a pair of horseshoe crabs as clubs to bludgeon a mook's head.
- Kinky Spanking: In #16, while making out with Shawn, Dick gets a call on his radio about a crime, and makes a joke that he has to go "Spank some badguys". Shawn then remarks "I've been bad, too", making Dick promise to save some for her when he get's back. Of course we don't get to see this.
- Legacy Character: When Deathwing slashes Dick with a knife, suddenly all previous Dick Grayson incarnations in DC Comics appear before him. Damian hits his head and sees them too.
- Let's You and Him Fight: Lampshaded. Raptor attacks Nightwing in the first issue, but in the second, he says he's trying to relate to him, since this is how superhero first meetings tend to go anyway.Raptor: Hey, wait! I was just trying to relate to you on your level. Isn't that how it works in the superhero crowd? Fight, then team up?
Nightwing: (Inner Monologue) Sigh. But then again, Batman has fought every friend and ally at least once... his and Superman's fights are their versions of getting a beer and talking about sports.
- Like a Son to Me: Implied by Raptor, who's desire to become Dick's Evil Mentor takes on new light once we learn that he used to be in-love with Dick's mother and would have taken him under his wing had Bruce not adopted him. While he still fights Dick, it shows his Pet the Dog moments and admiration towards him is genuine. Taken to its tragic conclusion with the revelation that Mary named her son after Raptor, whose real name is Richard.
- Literal Money Metaphor: At two separate times, a company is targetted by criminals because they heard about its "blue blood". Turns out that the firm was only transporting horseshoe crab blood, a bright blue fluid with many medical applications.
- Mr. Fanservice: Downplayed compared to Grayson, but it's more present in the Blüdhaven arc, which focuses more on his personal life (and his romances). Also, because he's drawn by Marcus To, who likes making his characters very pretty. This doesn't stop when Seeley leaves, as Dick finds a job as a personal trainer (and thus, has more time showing him exercising), and at one point pretends to be a male stripper in order to get past security.
- Ms. Fanservice: Shawn, to a lesser extent than Dick, when the two start dating. Though she's initially presented as a cute tomboy, once the two are together there's many scenes of her in her underwear or casual short-shorts, and she begins donning a new Defacer costume, one that's a leotard that shows off her figure more.
- Mythology Gag:
- Shawn Tsang's former criminal boss is Pigeon, a villain that has only appeared in a Hostess ad of a comic book.
- The Run-Offs are all based on minor villains originally created by Chuck Dixon. Only here, they're all part of a reformed ex-villain support group.
- Dick offhandedly mentions tangling with a "blonde British lady with kukris", a nod to the Chuck Dixon-created Lady Vic.
- The title of the third arc, "Nightwing Must Die!", isn't just a generic title. It's a callback to "Batman and Robin Must Die!", the final arc of Grant Morrison's run on Batman and Robin, which "Nightwing Must Die" borrows heavily from.
- Doubling as a Take That!, Deathwing wears Dick's New 52 red-and-black Nightwing outfit.
- The Power of Friendship: The series has brought in a number of guest stars, all of whom have mostly positive relationships with Nightwing, including Batman, Superman, Damian Wayne, Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, Starfire, Wally West, Midnighter, and many others.
- Relationship Upgrade: Dick and Shawn enter a relationship at the end of the Blüdhaven arc.
- The Resenter: Raptor towards Bruce Wayne, due to him being a one-percenter and for adopting Dick and raising him in wealth, away from Dick's culture with the Romani circus, when Raptor planned to take care of him himself.
- Run the Gauntlet: In issue 24, Dick falls for Blockbuster's trap and has to make his way out of a ship while fighting off an army of supervillains, including Superman-level threats like Kid Amazo, Snakepit, Magog and Skyhook, as well as most of the rogues gallery from Green Arrow (Rebirth).
- Sequel Series: For Grayson, and also Batman (Grant Morrison), in that it addresses the parting of ways between Dick and Damian, and how it affects them, as well as following up on a few of the villains from that run.
- Spoiler Cover: The surprising return of Dr. Hurt given away by the cover of a later issue.
- Stalker with a Crush: Raptor kept following Mary Grayson (Dick's mother) after their romance ended. His attachment to her creeped Dick's father out.
- Straight Gay: Stallion of the Run-Offs, who after lashing out at Dick, admits his Hair-Trigger Temper is born from his troubled acceptance of his sexuality and he's trying to work on accepting himself instead of taking it out on people.
- Take That Executives: Batwoman is one of the heroes that assists Nightwing in the "Battle for Blüdhaven's Heart" arc, during which she has a tense encounter with her former fiancée, Maggie Sawyer. When Nightwing asks her what's up between them, Batwoman says that they were engaged, and that she ended up not going through with it due to "A mixture of stubbornness, stupidity, and fear." While that does describe the in-story, out-of-character circumstances for why Kate broke up with Maggie, it's also a veiled insult to the Executive Meddling during the New 52 that prevented marriages between major characters, which Batwoman was caught up in to the point that the initial creative team on her solo series left in protest.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: There's considerable Ship Tease between Dick and Barbara. It's temporarily sunk, however.
- Wacky Racing: The storyline "In Harm's Way" has Dick enter a motorbike race on an Irish island riddled with dimensional tunnels, the prize being to ask one question of Cimialcinnus, Celtic god of pathways. The competitors are a range of aliens, humans, and costumes, mostly with appropriate Themecycles.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Two Big Bads fall into this category, with Raptor waging a war on the 1%, and Mr. Nice murdering corrupt city officials.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Barbara gives one to Dick after he goes off-grid and allies himself with the Ambiguously Evil Raptor.
- Would Hurt a Child: Deathwing murders a Damian Wayne Dominotron.