Celebrating 34 Years of Nightwing

by Blaise Tassone

136999_88c66be2212f08b70c3d04fbb1097437d472e83a-194x300 Celebrating 34 Years of Nightwing

DC Universe is getting ready to launch. Advertised as being a content hosting and live-streaming web service, kind of like Netflix and Marvel Unlimited rolled into one, it sounds very appealing. As part of their subscription deal, new subscribers will have access to both classic DC print and media content as well as original programing. The latter includes a live action ‘Titans’ series and the third season of the excellent ‘Young Justice’ animated series, among others. One thing both the Titans and Young Justice have in common is the inclusion of the fan favorite character of Nightwing in both groups.

Nightwing, of course, is Dick Grayson who was given a makeover in the 1980s. After being Robin, Batman’s sidekick in green underwear, for the better part of 40 years, Marv Wolfman and George Perez decided it was time for Grayson to grow up. So, grow up he did. The Nightwing persona was adopted during the celebrated ‘Judas Contract’ story arc in the New Teen Titans (a criminally undervalued 1980s DC series) in 1984.

In this post, I want to look at Nightwing’s key issues. Currently, judging from pre-release photos of costume and what we know of plot details, it appears that Dick Grayson, who will be played by ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ actor Brenton Thwaites, will be portrayed as both Robin and Nightwing on ‘Titans’. This means the show may feature the potential plot development retracing how Grayson develops and slowly distances himself from Batman to become Nightwing. If it follows the 1980s New Teen Titans stories, it should be worth watching. While I’m waiting and hoping that the new Titans series will be good, even if it isn’t, after 34 years, it looks like Nightwing has finally arrived and is starting to make his mark outside of the loyal circle of DC comic readers who have enjoyed the character up till now.

Tales of the Teen Titans #44 (July 1984) – First Appearance of Nightwing

The 1980s were a strange time. Geek culture was starting to become mainstream but comics were definitely still not cool, unless you were very young. I read “The Judas Contract” in the 1980s, as it came out. I was twelve. I had to buy the issues from newsstands which meant I’d occasionally miss an issue, a very unpleasant fact in those pre-internet days. Thankfully there were flea markets and garage sales, but even then it was very hit and miss. I was pleased when, by the late eighties, comic book specialty stores started cropping up in large numbers. In any case, already before “The Judas Contract” was released Marv Wolfman was my favorite writer, George Perez my favorite artist, and the New Teen Titans my favorite comic. When Robin became Nightwing, I loved it. The costume, the story arc. This was an organic development of the character who had been Batman’s sidekick forever. He had grown up after becoming leader of the Titans and the resulting transformation into Nightwing was long overdue. Tales of the New Teen Titans #44 is Nightwing’s first appearance. It is part three of the Judas Contract (which if you haven’t read, you should). 9.8 copies of this modern key can be found for just under $300.00. Returns have been mixed, but in the long run this should maintain and increase its value: Nightwing is too popular a character for it not to.

Nightwing #1 (Sept. 1995) – First Nightwing Solo Series

“The Judas Contract” was the beginning of the end for the classic New Teen Titans. The book continued on after that, but Perez left and the series was split into two ongoing titles. There was the prestige format New Teen Titans (vol. 2), and Tales of the Teen Titans , which after a year began reprinting the prestige format stories (sort of like how Classic X-Men was reprinting earlier Uncanny X-Men stories around the same time). By the 1990’s Nightwing had gotten an updated uniform, a shakeup of his on again off again relationship with alien firebrand and Tamaranian princess Koriand’r (Starfire) and his own comic. This was the first issue of the limited run first Nightwing solo series, he would see several more over the years. Easy to find in lower grades, a 9.8 CGC copy can be had for under $100.00 but best returns have been on 9.6 grades.

Birds of Prey #8 (August 1999) – Start of Batgirl/Nightwing Relationship

As his career progressed Nightwing moved to Blüdhaven, changed his costume yet again, joined the Outsiders and the Justice League, but also had several relationships. A fan favorite in the relationship department was his romantic involvement with Barbara Gordon (Oracle/Batgirl). In Birds of Prey #8, Nightwing and Batgirl kiss for the first time as their relationship matures. A great issue and also a currently affordable key. 9.8 CGC copies are averaging $120.00 in price.

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