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'Nightwing: Year One' Retro Review

Comic Books

‘Nightwing: Year One’ Retro Review

As the live action Titans show brings Nightwing to the screen, let’s relive his Year One.

Right now, you most likely have some time to get caught up with new things in pop culture and also revisit old favorites in your collection.  Now that comic books have started to gain more popularity and attention, we are continuing to see our characters leave the four color pages and make the leap to screens both small and big. Luckily, Nightwing and the Titans have been given a show on the DC Universe app, and with season 2 we have seen some changes.


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Dick Grayson finally became Nightwing.  I know that is not a major spoiler to some of us, but it was entertaining to see it happen in a different medium. After watching episode 213 (“Nightwing”), I was compelled to revisit Year One from the Nightwing comic book series issues #101 – #106. 

'Nightwing: Year One' Retro Review
Nightwing #101. DC Comics

Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing is a major growth for the character and a memorable moment in the DC Universe. The first time I met the character he was already Nightwing, and most of his adventures were taking place in the form of guest-starring in Batman comics.  Luckily, outside of the comics we also had Batman: The Animated Series and when the show moved from Fox to Kids WB, Nightwing was added to the mix.

Nightwing was a pretty popular character in the late ’90s, getting his own comic book series and making appearances in animated series and movies.  “Year One” has a historical connotation within DC Comics, as it is their way of presenting an origin story with extra adventure added to it. The time had finally come for Nightwing to have a Year One of his own.

Writers Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty did a fantastic job of taking elements from pre and post- Crisis DC Universes along with things established from The Animated Series. The story starts out very harsh, with Batman and Robin’s relationship full of anger as the two men are struggling with each other. Batman is attempting to remain in control but challenged by Robin (Grayson) starting to be his own man.  The story arc does a great job of showing what causes the split between the two and why Dick Grayson leaves; plus, this puts him on an adventure that shows why Grayson is a friend to everyone in the DCU as there are plenty of guest stars in each issue.  I enjoyed the connection with Deadman as they were both circus acrobats and also the conversation with Superman, which leads to the inspiration for becoming Nightwing.  I’m very happy with Chuck Dixon returning to Nightwing and also bringing along Scott Beatty as those two did a terrific job on Robin: Year One and clearly understand the character of Dick Grayson. 

'Nightwing: Year One' Retro Review
DC Comics

The art was handled perfectly by Scott McDaniel and inker Andy Owens.  They have created a dynamic style that has great movement, which is perfect for a character who was with the circus.  Odds are most of the Nightwing art you saw from the ’90s to early 2000s was probably from Scott McDaniel. I do appreciate the “proto-Nightwing” costume that is made here before we get the original one designed by George Perez.  I enjoy the use of color in the adventures, too — it’s bright overall, but still has that darkness since it is Bat-family book.  It was very exciting to see Jason Todd as Robin and Batgirl work with Nightwing to save Batman.

'Nightwing: Year One' Retro Review
DC Comics

The trade paperback edition of this story arc will be pricy if you look on the secondary market, but you might get lucky as there is a Deluxe Edition in the future that might cause collectors to drop their price.  I would recommend, if you can, getting the back issues as it is fun to read the story and also see the ads and “what’s happening” of that era.  So if you enjoyed the Titans show’s story of how Dick became Nightwing, I would recommend this story as a fine complement to further your appreciation of the character’s transformation.

'Nightwing: Year One' Retro Review
Nightwing: Year One
Is it good?
A fantastic escape into comics and the growing pains of Dick Grayson. In this tale of growth, we see Dick's transformation into Nightwing and some fantastic guest stars showing how they helped Grayson on his journey. A fun read with beautiful art that will help you pass the time. If you're a Titans show fan, this will add to your knowledge of Nightwing.
Great adaptation of how Nightwing came to be; takes lots of elements from pre- and post-'Crisis' DC along with items from 'The Animated Series'
The story arc stands the test of time
Fluid art that has dynamic position and gives an upbeat, positive feel

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