DC Comics’ superhero known as Nightwing is having a moment. Since coming on as writer with Nightwing #78, Tom Taylor—joined by a bevy of talented artists, including Bruno Redondo—Dick Grayson, the high-flying member of the Batman family of characters, has taken a well-deserved place in the spotlight as one of DC’s premiere heroes. The title has accomplished this feat by embracing a three-tiered approach: acknowledging the past and not sweeping it wholesale under the rug; building a new status quo that is given the opportunity to stretch its legs and become fully fleshed-out; and placing foundational blocks in place for the future of the former Boy Wonder. From setting up Nightwing in his former home of Bludhaven and contending with a new antagonist to moving his “will they/won’t they” relationship with Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle forward to establishing Nightwing as the future of the DC Universe, the love for Dick Grayson from the creative team is so evident and shines through in every page.
Nightwing the comic recently celebrated its 100th issue. Among the many touchstones in this landmark issue is a graveside conversation with his former superhero partner and adopted father Bruce Wayne, the caped crusader known as Batman. It’s the first time they’ve had a real conversation together since the death of their friend and de facto father, the stalwart and loving Alfred Pennyworth. The two have a cathartic talk in which they acknowledge the impact Alfred had on them as individuals and on their relationship with one another. In the course of the conversation, Bruce apologizes to Dick for the mistakes he made raising Dick, how he often pushed Dick away, and the emotional hurt he inflicted on Dick over the years.
Much has been made of the significance of the scene, and rightly so. Bruce is more verbal than he’s ever been; Bruce is traditionally a closed book, so much so that it’s become a trope of the Batman comics to the point that it’s often become a punchline. However, this scene removes the comedy and addresses that closed-off nature in a serious way, and the fact that Bruce is more open—and more authentically so, I would argue, than ever portrayed in past stories—than he’s ever been. Nightwing reassures Bruce that he’s never done wrong by him and that he’s grateful for having him in his life. Dick notes that Bruce was hurting, and yet opened Dick into his house without flinching. He lets Bruce know how much he means to Dick, and that Bruce made Dick the man he became.
I’m welling up just writing about it. The panels say it all.
“I love you, Dad.” It’s always understood that Bruce loves Dick, but I can’t think of a more impactful scene which that is expressed than we’ve seen here. In a perfect issue with action brimming over and emotional highs abounding, Taylor and company deliver a pitch-perfect scene that will not only linger for days later, but helps forge a healthier Bat-family and, importantly, a stronger connection between Dick and Bruce than we’ve seen in years.
Father’s Day is coming up. I hope you have the relationship with your father—whoever that may be and whatever form that father takes—that Dick now has with Bruce.
Nightwing #100 is on sale now from DC Comics.