In DC Comics, Batman is famous for his ever-growing family of vigilantes, with Dick Grayson, the original Robin turned eventual Nightwing, acting as The Dark Knight’s first sidekick in a long line of them. Fighting crime since he was young, Dick has been in his fair share of wild situations, all of which helped him to prepare for a life full of superheroic triumphs and soul-crushing defeats.
From his humble beginnings as a Flying Grayson to his formative years as Robin to his solo adventures as Nightwing, Dick is shown a lot of love and respect from his fellow superhero colleagues, with their feelings for him shared by fans around the world. In honor of this iconic character, here are fifteen important moments from Dick Grayson’s history that define him as one of the greatest heroes in the DC Universe.
15 Dick Grayson's Parents Are Murdered
The harrowing incident that started it all, Dick Grayson, the youngest member of the acrobatic circus team known as the Flying Graysons, watched as his parents fell to their deaths in 1940’s Detective Comics #38, by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Wanting to extort money from the owners of the circus, a local mob boss named Tony Zucco makes sure this is the Graysons’ final act, effectively putting Dick on the path to becoming Batman’s very first sidekick.
14 Dick Becomes Robin the Boy Wonder
Legally becoming Bruce Wayne’s ward and Batman’s trusted confidant in the same issue his parents died in (and only a few panels later, too), Dick donning a bright red, yellow, and green costume and taking the crime-fighting name of Robin was the first step in his eventual transition to Nightwing. For decades to come, Dick fights the good fight by Batman’s side, solidifying him as an integral and original member of the Bat-Family.
13 Robin Helps Form the Teen Titans
Forming a pseudo-Teen Titans team with Kid Flash and Aqualad in 1964’s The Brave and the Bold #54, it wasn’t until The Brave and the Bold #60, by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani, that the team officially debuts as a cohesive unit. Adding Wonder Woman’s Donna Troy character to their ranks, the team takes on the disgusting Separated Man and proves that Dick is not only capable of leading a group of heroes on his own but considering that the team is still protecting the DC Universe today as the Titans, knows how to make their crime-fighting mission last.
12 Robin Meets Batgirl
Meeting Batgirl during her first appearance in 1967’s Detective Comics #359, Dick’s relationship with Barbara didn’t start off all that well, as his condescending attitude towards her held none of the sparks their later interactions would be known for. Still, this was the first time the two crossed paths, setting up an eventual multiversal-spanning love, with Nightwing and Batgirl finally getting married just before the climax of 2020’s Dark Nights: Death Metal event.
11 Robin Meets Starfire
Relaunching Dick’s superhero team in 1980’s DC Comics Presents #26, the Teen Titans received their own series by Marc Wolfman and George Perez only a month later in The New Teen Titans, introducing the powerful, orange-skinned Tamaranean known as Starfire. Acting as a trusted teammate and on-again-off-again romantic partner, Koriand’r has fought alongside Dick countless times over the years, making her one of the most important and coveted relationships Dick currently holds.
10 Dick Becomes Nightwing
Fed up with Batman’s stringent ways and wanting to make a name for himself, Dick became Nightwing in the pages of 1984’s Tales of the Teen Titans #44, a new persona created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Wearing a blue and yellow costume that admittedly comes across as a relic of its time, Dick’s transition into Nightwing marks his official leap into the superhero community as a solo act, eventually becoming a character that rivals even Batman in popularity.
9 Nightwing Makes Blüdhaven His City
Getting an ongoing series in 1996’s Nightwing, by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel, Dick relocates to Gotham’s neighboring city of Blüdhaven, a town that’s just as violent and crime-ridden as his former home. Making it his mission to protect his city at all costs, Nightwing will never forget being unable to save 100,000 people when the villain known as Chemo was dropped on the skyline, binding Nightwing further to a place that needs him just as much as he needs it.
8 Nightwing's Rivalry With Blockbuster Begins
Piggy-backing on Nightwing making Blüdhaven his home, Roland Desmond aka Blockbuster, was a big reason why Nightwing decided he needed to help his city. Shortly after his solo series began, Dick crosses paths with a crime boss character who quickly becomes Nightwing’s number-one enemy until Blockbuster’s death, a fate that Nightwing allowed to happen. Blockbuster has since returned to continuity in DC’s Rebirth initiative, forcing Nightwing back into confrontation with this incredibly smart and powerful foe once again.
7 Dick Becomes Batman (Twice)
Standing in for Batman for a brief period post-Knightfall, Nightwing donned the cape and cowl in 1994’s Batman: Prodigal, by Doug Moench, Alan Grant, and Chuck Dixon, but only held the mantle until Bruce was ready to return to the role full-time. Then, after the death of Batman in 2008’s Final Crisis, Dick formally took the job intending to keep it, leading him to mentor Bruce’s biological son, Damian, as the new Batman and Robin, respectively, even getting an acclaimed series of the same name by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Eventually, Bruce returned, much to the relief of a man who realizes he just wants to be his own hero. Fans had long speculated that Dick would eventually become Batman after Bruce Wayne hung up the cape, but Nightwing's most iconic time as the Dark Knight confirmed that while that may once have been his destiny, he was now his own hero as Nightwing.
6 Nightwing Mentors Damian Wayne
Though Dick has mentored more than a few heroes in his time - Tim Drake, Jon Kent's Superman, the students of the Titans Academy - his closest bond is with Bruce Wayne's son Damian. While Damian initially considered Dick his rival as Batman's heir, the two have developed a brotherly relationship that has changed both their lives. Indeed, Nightwing's relationship with Damian's Robin is close to his own original relationship with Batman. Dick helped Damian discover his heroic potential and remains a rock in the young hero's life. Because of their time together as Batman and Robin (when Bruce was thought dead), Damian became a major figure in Dick's life and vice versa, and their relationship also focused on Nightwing's role as a mentor for the next generation of heroes - something that's clearer than ever as he trains the new Superman to use his powers effectively, as requested by Clark Kent himself.
5 Nightwing Is Unmasked and "Killed" In Forever Evil
After being captured and his identity revealed by the evil Crime Syndicate in 2013’s Forever Evil, by Geoff Johns and David Finch, Nightwing is subsequently killed by Lex Luthor to stop an explosion linked to Dick’s heartbeat that would destroy everything around it. Successfully reviving him shortly after (and luckily just before Batman could get his hands on Luthor), Nightwing’s “death” led him into a new phase of his heroic journey, one that left his Bat-Family persona behind entirely.
4 Dick Grayson Joins Spyral
With his identity revealed but his death as Nightwing still a thing, Dick, at the behest of Batman, uses this opportunity to go undercover at a covert espionage organization called Spyral. Getting a new series titled Grayson in 2014, written by Tim Seeley and Tom King, Dick is designated Agent 37 and dives into the world of spycraft in his attempt to foil the group’s plans to spy on superheroes and generally do shady and unacceptable things, all masterminded by the original Batwoman, Kathy Kane.
3 Nightwing Becomes A Multiversal Constant
Revealed in 2017’s Nightwing #9, by Tim Seeley and Marcio Takara, that Nightwing's goodness is a “multiversal constant” consistent across nearly all parallel earths, this hopeful trait defines the character almost as much as Superman’s “boy scout” depiction in comics. Also seen as being the best version of himself in 2005’s Infinite Crisis event, these qualities are the most imperative parts of who Nightwing is at his core, making him a distinct hero second to none.
2 Nightwing Becomes a Billionaire
Following the tragic death of Alfred Pennyworth at the hands of Bane, Nightwing and the rest of the Bat-Family are still reeling from the loss of a man who was inarguably the heart and soul of the team, as well as a father figure to practically everyone involved. Revealing in 2021’s Nightwing #78, by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, that Alfred has given Nightwing his billion-dollar fortune because he believes in Dick and his power to be a “problem solver” in a world “full of problems,” this marks the moment where Dick puts his money where his mouth is and pours his newly acquired funds into the resuscitation and reinvention of his home city of Blüdhaven.
1 Nightwing's Titans Replace the Justice League
Nightwing’s most recent character-defining moment is probably one of his biggest, as in the pages of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, by Joshua Williams and Daniel Sampere, Dick not only triumphed over Deathstroke and Pariah’s Dark Army but was asked to replace the Justice League with his Titans team once the League realizes they are no longer needed. This is the ultimate achievement for any sidekick turned solo hero, as Dick started from the bottom of the superhero hierarchy only to come out on top as the one person leading them all.
Of course, with Dick being part of the DC Universe for as long as he has, there are far more than fifteen moments that define his character, with these simply being some of his best. Nightwing’s role in the superhero community is on the rise as of late, so fans can surely expect more iconic moments for this integral Bat-Family member to come!