LinkExchange FORWARD
by the Wingnuts

This is a lot like our first article…except that we gave the Nightwing fans their own place to play!

Why I Like Nightwing
By Louise Freeman Davis

Ok, it should be obvious to any long-time FANZING reader out there that I like Nightwing. Really, really, like Nightwing. Not only do I like reading about Nightwing, I like writing about Nightwing. If I could draw, I'd probably like drawing Nightwing, but since I can't that's pretty much a moot point.

So, why do I like Nightwing. Well, I always related more to the non-powered heroes to the super-powered ones, and to the kid sidekicks more so than the adult counterpart. Since Dick Grayson, as Robin, was a prototypical example of both, it's very natural that I would be drawn to them. And my great re-introduction to comics came when I was in my early twenties, in graduate school, in Berkeley (or as I prefer to call it, Bazerkeley, California. For the first time in my life, I had the time, freedom and even a slight bit of cash in my pocket, and so, one day, on a fluke, I decided to go in a browse this "comic book store" which I had walked by every day for a year or so. Believe it or not, despite being a long-time bibliophile and sci-fi/fantasy/Star Trek fan, this was the first time I had ever entered a store that specialized in just comics. Chew on that, all you distributors who are counting on the direct market to carry the industry into the 21st century. But I digress.

Anyhow, I dimly recalled a comic that I had read once as a kid… The Teen Titans I think it was… And the really neat thing about it was that it featured just the sidekicks…no grown-ups along at all. I decided to see if it was still published… and lo and behold, it still was… Called the New Teen Titans now but hey, it had been 20 years or so….

I picked it up, and found it virtually incomprehensible. With the exception of Wonder Girl, I recognized none of the characters as sidekicks at all. OK, maybe the guy in blue, named Nightwing. I remembered seeing a time magazine blurb a few years before about DC killing off Robin with the aide of a 1-900-number publicity stunt, and it mentioning something about the dead Robin not being the original Dick Grayson Robin, since that one had grown up and changed his names. And from the Silver Age comics I used to read in my Grandma's attic, I knew "Nightwing" was a Batman-like identity Superman used when he served as a non-powered hero in Kandor. Even in this incomprehensible Titans comic, it was soon clear to me that this was my beloved Dick Grayson, if for no other reason, because his teammates called him "Dick." Think about that, all you Bat-editors who are determined to forbid that these days. But again, I digress.

Fortunately, I made my way from the current releases to the "quarter bins" where I found a bunch more of Titans comics to fill me in on the details I had missed, including several issues of the now-famous Judas Contract series. There, I got to finally see Dick Grayson shed the Robin mantle of childhood and take on the Nightwing mantle of adulthood. And I was even right about the Kandorian origin of the name. Maybe I wasn't hopelessly ignorant about this whole comics universe thing after all.

So, I started an economical-graduate student program of collecting… aka, scouring the quarter bins of every comics store in Berkeley. I came across a copy of the Judas Contract TPB in a used bookstore. I splurged one week and bought a complete bagged set of Crisis on Infinite Earths for $20, little suspecting that this investment would save me $100 in 1999. Through it all, I got to see Dick Grayson struggle with not being a kid anymore. Since I was in a similar life-phase myself at the time, I guess that cemented my love for the character. At last, I had a true superhero I could relate to.

For me, what makes Dick Grayson so much fun to write about is his versatility. Like Donna Troy, I've always seen him as the ultimate big brother/best friend type of character, though he can certainly function as well as a romantic lead (ask Starfire, or better yet, Marilee Stephens.) He can be a bratty kid, a rebellious teenager, and a embittered young adult at times (particularly when Batman gives him grief, which has happened way too much in previous years) but when push comes to shove, he'll always be th loyal soldier and faithful son. He can function as a lone warrior in the very "earthy" setting of Blüdhaven, as an adult partner to Batman in Gotham City, or as the unquestioned team leader of the Titans. He can be equally at home in a dingy apartment, a stately manor or a glittering T-shaped tower. And despite what certain Bat-editors would decree, the same character can travel to demonic dimensions, to distant planets and even sustain a long-term love affair with a golden-skinned alien princess, all without giving up one iota of his humanity. And because Dick Grayson can do it, the rest of us non-powered working stiffs, students, writers and yes, even mommies, come just slightly closer to living out our superheroic dreams, as well.

That's why I really, really like Nightwing.

Click here for the full picture Fanzing Newcomer Kevin A. Voith blew us away with this picture of Nightwing in action. Click on it to see the rich detail of the full size version!

You'll be happy to know that Kevin has also contributed an awesome cover for next month's Fanzing!

Nightwing…how could anyone not like this man? He's like Batman but with less obsesive brooding angst and a bit more charm and hair. Not to mention the snazzy black and blue costume (NOT THE DISCO ERA ONE!). But the real reason I like Nightwing is as follows: Like most fanboys I am of a timid sort that often uses comic books as an excape into another world. But unlike many other superheroes Nightwing has helped me in the real world. Namely, he got me to dance with a girl. How did that happen? Well it was last Halloween, my friends and I went as comic characters to a costume ball. And having long dark hair and being a longtime Batman fan I chose to go as Nightwing. Now normaly at any party I would cling to the wall and hope nobody would notice, and I have to admit, with his ninja like attire I could have easy slipped into the shadows and never been seen. But everybody's got their Bane. Mine just happens to be women. My normal reaction which is to panic and be filled with self doubt until I flee. There's something about the mask though. Instead I watched this one girl that caught my eye, and thought to myself… I should ask her to dance… how could she say no? I'm Nightwing after all…. that and Batman's already dancing with some other lady. By the way, when I asked her she said 'Sure'.

Brian of The Brothers Grinn

All characters are ™ DC Comics
This column is © 1999 by Louise Freeman Davis and Brian "Grinn".
Picture is © 1999 by K.A.V.E. illustrations