When Nightwing was unmasked in Forever Evil issue one, many fans cried “foul play,” others have became concerned this is a sign our hero will die by the end of the story. Fans who are less concurned that Dick Grayson will die claim, “Since Nightwing is no longer the DC lynch pin, his unmasking isn’t impactful” or apathetically expect Nigthwing’s unmasking will eventually be reversed. I not only disagree with these claims, but applaud DC’s decision to unmask Nightwing. Not only was this a good move by DC, but I argue that it had to happen. In two pages, DC was able to show everything that makes “The new 52” a great decision and made Nightwing an even more interesting character.
From B-list villians back to A-listers
This is the Crime Syndicate’s first appearance in “The new 52” and they came with a boot ready for ass kicking. They had to. One of the reasons DC did the new 52 was to breath new life into characters fans had written off. Vibe, who has been a joke, is now on the Justice League of America, Riddler is going to carry a key role in ‘Batman Year Zero,’ and Aquaman’s title has remained a top selling book since the relaunch. Before the new 52 the Crime Syndicate had become just another evil version of the Justice League. Their first appearance in the new 52 has shot gunned the team to top of DC’s ‘big bad’ list.
Nightwing is solidified as an A-lister in the DCU
Dick Grayson is by far not only my favorite DC character, but one of my favorite comic book characters of all time (I go back and forth between him and Peter Parker). In my eyes Nightwing is, and always has been, an A-list hero in the DCU. Unfortunately, there are many fans and editors who do not agree. I have seen Nightwing lead the Justice League in one comic book and a month later I’ll see him used as cannon fodder. Many creators disagree on how to use Nightwing and this plays out in the comic books he appears in. Some villians see Nightwing as a threat and others see him as a joke.
In Forever Evil, when the Crime Syndicate of America first appear among the villians, claiming they killed the Justice League, many of the villian’s aren’t buying it. Once it is revealed they have defeated Nightwing, any doubt the villians had was removed. In the new 52 there are drastically less heroes in the world. Before the relaunch if the CSA held up Nightwing, the other villains would just say, “What about Plastic Man and Donna Troy?” After the Justice League, there aren’t many heroes who can hold their own against Lex luthor or Cheetah. While we, as readers, have not read many adventures of Nightwing working with the Justice League, the message we get from the villians is “Nightwing has been a major threat. If the CSA can defeat him, they can defeat the Justice League.”
No powers Mo’ Problems
Nightwing doesn’t have any powers. “Duh Vincent, we know Nightwing doesn’t have any powers,” well when a woman who can control plants knows where you live, not having powers is a very bad thing. Nightwing can’t fly off to a fortress in the North Pole or swim to the bottom of the ocean to get away from his enemies. He lives in an apartment. Nightwing’s problems now range from Two-Face shooting a missile into his bedroom to random people on the street asking to become his sidekick. A whole new world of stories is now possible with Nightwing….
Same Villians new threats
…Or new takes on classic stories/villians can now be done. Like I just said above if Poison Ivy knows where Dick Grayson lives, the ways she can threaten Nightwing are drastically different then before. You can have a story where Poison Ivy turns all of Dick Grayson’s neighbors against him, or Clayface can change into Dick’s parents during a fight scene to distract him. Imagine the stories current Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins has planned now that the Zucco Family know Dick Grayson grew up to become Nightwing? I’m excited!
Nightwing isn’t just another Robin
In the new 52, DC has done a great job of making each Robin unique. Each Robin has their own relationship to Batman and own set of problems. Jason Todd was created by the Joker, Damien was the Son of Batman and Talia, Tim Drake is attempting to build his own super-hero team, and now Nightwing’s identity is public.
Nighwing isn’t “Batman light”
We have all heard fans and creators say, “Nightwing is Batman light. Why would you read Nightwing if you can read Batman.” Nightwing now faces a new layer of problems that Batman will not encounter. I cannot think of any main stream comic book heroes who has a public identity but has no powers. Daredevil and Steve Rodgers may both have public identies in Marvel, but they also still have powers. Daredevil can literally hear a villain coming from a mile away and Steve Rodgers has an apartment with super security in it. Nightwing doesn’t even have a dog. The stories we will be reading from Nightwing will be stories entirely new to the industry.
Nighwing isn’t the DC lynch pin, and that makes things worse for him
Several fans have made the argument that Nightwing’s unmasking would have been more impactful during the pre-new 52 time-period because he had a strong super-hero social circle. While it’s true that his unmasking would have impacted other heroes, I’m not sure it would carry a greater impact. Remember, pre new 52 means there are more heroes and more people with powers. He had at least five sorcerers on speed dial. He could ask Booster Gold to do him a solid and take him back in time. Worst-case scenario, Nightwing could just move into Titans Tower. Without his huge social circle, having his identity public sucks in a big away. There also aren’t a whole lot of heroes that are going to be rushing to save him from his recent defeat at the hands of the CSA.
The new 52 doesn’t allow for “one more day”
Like I said before, the new 52 doesn’t have the plethora of mages or time travelers the old DCU had. Writing a way to reverse Dick Grayson’s unmasking could have been done without a bat of the eye. In the new 52, with no Hourman, Booster Gold, or Dr. Fate, the options for reversing Nightwing’s identity unmasking are very limited….
DC has show they are sticking to their guns, whether we like it or not
…And more to the point, it’s unlikely to happen. DC has been sticking to their guns for the most part. Sure they have stumbled over their own feet (such as originally stating the current team of Titans had not been the first) but DC has not budged on many editorial choices, no matter how popular or unpopular they are. Wally West has not returned, Superman’s personality is still not the Boy Scout he once was, and Joker still has no face. If we look at the track record, it’s unlikely DC will be reversing Dick Grayon’s unmasking anytime soon, if at all….
Anything can happen in the new 52
…if for no other reason then to prove that anything can happen in “The new 52.” DC is trying to drill this into our heads. DC wants fans to be shocked and surprised without feeling cheated when major twists hit. The universe is still very young. If DC reverses a character death now, or mind-wipes their casts, it will leave a sour taste in the mouths of their readers they can’t afford to give. 5 years from now will Nightwing’s identity be a secret? Who knows. But if they keep his identity public for that long, DC deserves a pat on the back. Most of the time the big publishers can’t even wait a year or two before sending things back to how they where.