When people ask me who my favourite comic book character is I immediately answer Jean Grey, without a shadow of a doubt but if I am given time to think about it the answer is always a draw. Alongside the power house that is Jean Grey my other favourite character couldn’t be more of the opposite if I tried!
Whilst Jean uses her mutant abilities to defeat super-villains this character instead relies on years of training and his natural ability as an acrobat to fight crime, I am of course talking about Nightwing or Dick Grayson as he is more famously known. The first Robin is friendly, jovial as well as being liked and respected by everyone he knows or comes into contact with. It’s most probably his habit of wearing his heart on his sleeve that draws me and many a fan to him like a moth to a flame.
After deciding to leave Batman’s side as Robin due to him feeling he has outlived and outgrown his role as the caped crusaders side kick, Dick joins up with his Teen Titan team mate’s full time and shows off his new costume and identity for the entire World to see. I wanted to highlight a few stories which I feel show Dick at his best and most heroic, so let’s start with the previously mentioned story that started it all!
Possibly one of the most respected and notable stories of the 1980s comic book era, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a masterpiece of storytelling. The Titans arch enemy Deathstroke takes on a contract to destroy the Titans after his son Ravager dies whilst attempting to complete the assassination. This leads to Deathstroke using his 15 year old lover Terra into joining the Titans and betray the team all the while spying on and passing on secret information to Deathstroke.
The story features many first for the team as not only did Dick make his first appearance as Nightwing but it also saw Wally West give up his Kid Flash identity and quit the Titans as well as serving as an introduction of new member Jericho; the other son of Deathstroke. The team of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez proved to be a winner and imbues The Judas Contract with many twists and turns as well as featuring some truly stunning art from Perez. It’s such an essential story that the Teen Titans animated series did its own version of the story arc featuring the introduction, revealing twist and death of Terras story in only a few episodes. She later re appears in the comedic sequel to the series: Teen Titans Go!
Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale: Batman; Dark Victory is a fantastic 14 part story which is the sequel to the brilliant The Long Halloween. It also features a modern re-telling of the origins of Dick Grayson / Robin and showing his first proper night out on the job. It’s fast paced, punchy and helps to bring the origin story from the 40’s right up to date, Sales striking art whilst being stunning also cleverly shows the height and weight difference between Batman and the Boy Wonder.