Dick Grayson is dead.
Long live…Ric Grayson?
Since his introduction to the Batman comics in the 1940s as Robin, The Boy Wonder, Dick has been an integral part of the Dark Knight’s legend as his true heir. An accomplished acrobat, master detective, an expert in a dozen fighting styles. He’s a founding member of the Teen Titans, one of the first sidekicks to shed his first costumed persona to become Nightwing, established himself in his own solo series in the town of Bludhaven, and even took on the role of Batman when Bruce was thought to be dead. He’s proven himself as much a son to Bruce Wayne as any blood relation, despite the many clashes over methodology over the years.
All that was changed with a single sniper bullet to the head in Batman #50 at the hands of the KGBeast. Although his life was saved, his memories were not. Now a fractured shadow of his former self, this is a bold move delivered by new Nightwing by writer Ben Percy that is being continued by incoming scribes Fabian Nicieza and Scott Lobdell of Marvel’s X-Men fame. Dick’s decision to change his name to Ric symbolizes that he has no real emotional connection to his old life,
“It might be hard to find a bigger fan of Dick Grayson on this planet than me, “ Nicieza digresses, “but the entire concept of this storyline is incredibly interesting, and if done right, it will allow us to explore different facets of Dick Grayson while discovering who Ric Grayson is. Any idea can generate a long-term exploration of a character/concept that can surprise fans and creators alike in its durability.”
Lobdell quickly adds, “For example, Barbara Gordon’s character evolved from being Batgirl to surviving a trauma and becoming something new – Oracle – which lasted for 20 years. Now, I won’t write Nightwing forever [but] while I am, I’m determined to make Ric as fully fleshed out and as interesting a character as Dick.”
Ric Grayson is another facet of DC’s attempt to create new dimensions with their roster to inspire new readership. The limited series, Heroes in Crisis, for example, has already killed off Green Arrow’s former partner, Roy Harper aka Arsenal. In Titans, which focuses on the exploits of the adult founding members of the Teen Titans, former flame Donna Troy, now the acting leader, is descending into alcoholism as the result of this tragedy. The team is further affected by what has happened to Dick. To him, The Titans, The Bat-Family, Bludhaven, all of what he’s been through are like traces of a dream. Scott sums it up with this question: “[If] you woke up one morning and a bunch of strangers said you’d spent the last decade or so of your life dressing up in different identities and risking your life for strangers until you took a bullet to your brain [,would] you be, like ‘Awesome! Sign me up for that?’ Or would you think ‘Um that’s what my adoptive father thought was a good idea? Yeah, uhm, I’m going to be over here in Bludhaven, but thanks for the offer?”
As to the mind of Ric Grayson as opposed to Dick’s, Lobdell points out a very sharp deviation. “His memories pretty much only go as far as the last traumatic thing that ever happened to him – the night his parents were murdered. So we’re going to see a Ric Grayson whose personality was developed during his knockabout years in the circus. He’s a born showman. [That] doesn’t mean Ric suffers from arrested development. [He] knows some 16 different languages and his muscle memory has every self-defense move Batman ever taught him ingrained in his instincts. But personality-wise he’s a circus guy at heart. He may not go from town to town every night, but he’s rarely going to sleep in the same bed more than a few nights in a row.”
Nicieza adds that Ric “ironically enough [is] truer to who he would have been had his parents not been killed than the Dick Grayson who was saved by Bruce Wayne ever was.”
In closing, as to what to expect in the coming months on the book, Lobdell offers, “Let’s just say we’ll not only be following Ric on his hero’s journey, we’re going to be examining the impact Ric’s trauma has had on the entire concept of what makes a Nightwing.”
The current issue of Nightwing is on the stands and online.