Born to a family of acrobats, Dick Grayson began his life with an exciting childhood growing up in the circus. With his parents, John and Mary Grayson, his family forms “The Flying Graysons,” famed trapeze artists and acrobats.
These happy times soon take a turn for the worse, as the mafia begins targeting the circus. At eight years old, Dick witnesses mob boss Anthony Zucco threatens the circus owner, demanding insurance for the safety of his performers. The owner vehemently refuses the extortion and Dick goes along his way. Unfortunately, Zucco decides to use the headlining act, which happens to be The Flying Graysons, as an example.
As the Graysons plummet to earth, hundreds of spectators watch in horror. Among them are billionaire Bruce Wayne (also known as Batman). Feeling empathy for the boy’s loss, Bruce decides to take the boy in as his legal ward, as none of Dick’s family wanted him. The major difference between Bruce and Dick is that while Bruce’s swore vengeance on his parents’ grave, Dick Grayson swore justice, which helped him cope with the death better then Bruce had his own parents.
After a short while, Dick realizes what his mentor is doing all these late nights, and eventually chooses the same life as well. Bruce decides that with the boy’s extensive training in acrobatics and his sense of justice, he has just what’s needed to become the Batman’s partner. After rigorous training from Bruce, Robin, the Boy Wonder, is christened.
Dick Grayson first appeared as Robin in Detective Comics #38 in 1940, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and illustrated by Jerry Robinson. He was made so that Batman would appeal to younger readers and lighten the tone of the Batman stories. Robin’s name was inspired by Robin Hood; it was indicated in Detective Comics #38, on the lower right-hand corner: “And thus Dick Grayson, by the hand of fate, is transformed into that astonishing phenomon that young Robin Hood of today — ROBIN THE BOY WONDER“. In the later years it was stated that Robin’s name was taken from the robin bird, not Robin Hood. In another version it’s mentioned that the name “Robin” is inspired by Dick’s nickname “little robin” which his mother gave him.
The Nightwing persona was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, and debuted in Tales of the Teen Titans #44 in 1984.
Dick enjoys his first year as Robin describing it as an adventure; he battles villains such as Mad Hatter, Penguin, Joker, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow and Blockbuster. However, his so-called adventure quickly turns into a hellish nightmare when Two-Face kidnaps both the new District Attorney and Batman, suspending them both from a hangman’s noose in a double gallows death trap. Batman instructs Robin to prioritize saving the D.A. He follows his orders by throwing a batarang at the noose, freeing the D.A. and therefore saving his life. Unfortunately, Two-Face’s trap is a two-parter, and the false floor below the noose gives out before Robin can get to him. Robin jumps into the water after the D.A., but Two-Face pulls him out and beats him savagely while a restrained Batman watches in horror. Batman eventually frees himself and stops Two-Face, but not before Dick is permanently scarred. This frightens Batman so much that he temporarily suspends Dick, and the event continues to haunt Dick for many years afterwards. When Dick eventually returns to crime fighting, he is much stronger and smarter than before. He later studies law at Hudson University but drops out after one term due to his responsibilities as Robin.
After several years of fighting by Batman’s side, Robin decides he’s ready to fight with others his own age. Dick joins forces with Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy, forming the Teen Titans. Although Robin is one of the few members of the team without traditional superpowers, he emerges as the group’s natural leader due to his experience and intelligence.
Dick’s new found independence and duties with the Titans leave him with less time for his former commitments in Gotham City. Dick feels that he rediscovers his self-worth among the Teen Titans Batman, however, is less than pleased. He informs Dick that if he no longer wants to be his partner, he’ll have to retire as Robin. Furious, hurt, and confused, eighteen year old Dick Grayson leaves Wayne Manor after this fallout. Helping him through this difficult time are his fellow Titans, including Starfire, a beautiful alien with whom Dick had fallen in love with. Dick ultimately decides to hand over leadership of the Titans to Wonder Girl.
In the original story, Dick realizes that he’s grown up and doesn’t need Batman anymore to help him. He decides that in order to discover who he is and his place in the world, he must leave Batman’s side. Dick decides to drop his role as Robin and as the leader of the New Teen Titans. After retiring for a time from the hero business, he is attacked not as Robin but as Dick Grayson by Deathstroke the Terminator, who was hunting the Titans. Dick manages to escape and meets the ex-wife of Deathstroke (Adeline Kane) and his son Joseph (Jericho). Dick takes the name of Nightwing, as well as a completely new costume. He chose the name to honor another hero by the same name after being told the story of the Kryptonian hero by Superman. After saving his teammates and defeating Terra and Deathstroke (thanks in great part to Jericho) Nightwing once again becomes the leader of the New Teen Titans.
Although the story of Dick as Robin wasn’t greatly changed after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, his origin to become Nightwing was drastically changed. In the redone origin, Dick decides to leave the cave and his role as Robin after a mission against Two-Face goes terribly wrong and Batman almost dies. After that, Dick embarks on a journey to find himself, which leads him to Metropolis where he meets Superman. Asking for an outside opinion on what he should do next with his life, Superman relays the story of a hero from Krypton who had been cast out by his family only to become a great hero. This hero’s name was Nightwing. After a short stint in Haly’s circus to clear his head, Dick takes on the name Nightwing and begins establishing a reputation for himself in Gotham.
Dick and Bruce do manage to mend things. When Batman’s back is broken by Bane, Jean-Paul Valley, Azrael, is given the mantle of the Bat. He proved to be unstable due to his training and mental conditioning from The Sacred Order of Saint Dumas. Dick later confronts Bruce as to why he didn’t ask him to become the next Batman. Bruce simply tells him that he didn’t think Dick would want to do it as he was his own person now. Dick tells Bruce that while he didn’t want to be Batman, he would have done anything he was asked. In a defining moment of Nightwing’s history, Bruce admits that these sort of arguments are what occurs between “fathers and sons”. Bruce later asks Dick to fill in for him briefly as he recovers from his back injury.
Following the events of Knightfall, Bruce realizes the mistake he had made, and leaves the mantle of Batman to Dick as he finishes rebuilding his skills to become Batman. During his early days as Batman he began to round up the remaining Arkham escapees alongside Robin, with the two quickly catching Killer Croc, The Ventriloquist and Ratcatcher. However, the two would face their biggest challenge as the new Dynamic Duo when Two-Face is released by a computer glitch in place of Harvey Kent, and sets out to cripple the Gotham justice system through their dependence on computers. Dick eventually defeats Two-Face while also saving Robin and Harvey Kent from death, while at the same time rectifying his greatest mistake as Robin.
With Two-Face recaptured, he then sets out to restore the status quo of Gotham, capturing the three worst killers in Gotham’s “War Zone” area. He’s soon captured by the Tally Man, who believe him to be the same Batman as Jean Paul Valley and seeks to avenge his torture. However Dick using a combination of his intelligence and the Tally Man’s emotional issues frees himself and brings him in. Following an unsuccessful case in which he believes Jean-Paul Valley to be the killer, he returns to the Batcave to find a returned Bruce there. The two finally discuss issues stemming from the end of their partnership and Wayne’s choice of Valley over Dick, with the two working through it and becoming closer than they had been in years.
By the 1990s, Nightwing had become one of DC’s most popular characters. With Robin already having a successful solo series, the powers-that-be decided to test the waters with Nightwing. In 1995, DC launched a 4-issue Nightwing mini-series starring the former Boy Wonder. Written by Dennis O’Neil with art by Greg Land, the mini was a sales hit. When DC awarded Nightwing an ongoing series in 1996, they enlisted writer Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel. Dixon immediately set Nightwing apart from his mentor by giving him his own city: the corrupt, decaying harbor town known as Blüdhaven, which lay just north of Gotham. It allowed him to be close enough to Gotham to stay part of the Batman Family, as well as have his own city and series of adventures. Visually, McDaniel’s kinetic art was a perfect vehicle to convey Dick Grayson’s acrobatic prowess.
Dick Grayson decides that he should leave Gotham and move to Blüdhaven when he finds that twenty-two dead men have floated into Gotham’s south harbor. Nightwing decides to move to the city and quickly sees that Blüdhaven is what Gotham was before Batman arrived, brimming with corruption to the highest levels of power. It seemed to be that whatever was too coarse or too awful for Gotham, would end up there. He quickly finds that all the corruption in the city leads directly to the crime lord Blockbuster. Now living in Blüdhaven, Dick rents an apartment as a base of operations, as well as taking a job as a bartender in order to better keep track of both the crime and corruption in the city. Dick frequently battles Blockbuster’s minions following putting a large bounty on Nightwing, attracting the attention of Dick’s most reoccurring enemies, Stallion, Lady Vic, Brutale, and Shrike, all who attempt to claim the bounty. After several months of being alone in Blüdhaven, he begins training another enthusiastic young man named Nite-Wing who is determined to make a difference, but his brutal methods soon lead him to unknowingly murder an undercover FBI agent, with Nightwing defeating him and sending him to jail shortly afterwards. Dick soon begins to renew his childhood crush on Barbara Gordon, which she finally reciprocates leading to the two vigilantes to begin a relationship.
Dick accompanies Bruce and Tim when they attempt to stop Ra’s al Ghul from unearthing the wheel of plagues. However, the plan doesn’t work out, and Dick is shot during the attempt and separated from Batman and Robin, falling down a hole where he spies upon Bane, Talia and Ra’s with the wheel. He attempts to stop their departure, where he enters in a one on one battle with Ra’s, getting the better of the villain until he takes advantage by hitting Dick in his gunshot wound, and leaving him to drown as the cavern fills with water while Batman and Robin pursue. Dick manages to climb up to the top, and is patched up by Alfred as he and Robin leave for Paris to stop Ra’s plague from being released. Once in Paris, Tim seeks out the aid of Henri Ducard, and the three manage to stop the League of Assassin from releasing the plague before heading back to Gotham to stop the final plague release.
While Batman has his rematch with Bane, Nightwing leads Huntress and Robin against Ra’s himself to destroy his computer records of the plague. They, however, are caught sneaking aboard the ship, with Huntress and Nightwing forced to battle his assassins as Tim links Ra’s systems with Oracle, who erases all traces of the virus shortly before the ship blows up, supposedly killing Talia al Ghul.
Bane, shortly after awakening, floated out to sea from the aftermath of his battle with Batman, takes over a ship which generates nuclear power, plotting to cause a meltdown and finish Ra’s plan to destroy Gotham. Nightwing is the first to respond to the disturbance but is captured by Bane. However upon awakening he promptly escapes meeting up with Batman and Robin. Nightwing and Robin then attempt to stop the reactor from melting down, as Batman and Bane battle once again, Nightwing and Robin however manage to stop Bane’s men from making the reactor meltdown.
When word reaches the criminal element that Batman is gone, Gotham is engulfed in chaos. Nightwing gathers a number of heroes that have relations with the bat-family, named ‘The Network’ to stop the chaos and destruction that has occurred. The bat family and their allies do their best to put out the fires by setting up the Network to counter the violence. Robin and Squire tracked a group of robbers but before they could take them down some else does, Robin and Squire do not see the person but he leaves a note saying ” I AM BATMAN”. Dick eventually enters the imposters lair, following Tim Drake wearing a old Batman costume, following Dick’s refusal to don the mantle. Dick was pre-occupied with saving Damian Wayne from the Hands of Poison Ivy and Killer Croc when Tim was ambushed by Jason Todd in the lair. Grayson then battles Jason Todd defeating him and taking up the mantle of Batman. Bruce’s son, Damian Wayne, also takes on the mantle of robin for a short moment in the story to act as Dick’s partner.
Dick Grayson’s first big decision as Batman is to give the mantle of Robin to Damian Wayne so he could keep a eye on him. He does this without consulting Tim Drake, who was Robin up until this point. Dick views Tim as his equal and, so he couldn’t have him work under him. Before they can fully discuss things, Damian shows up causing a fight, which leads Tim to walk out on Dick.
Another important decision Dick makes is to leave the Batcave because that doesn’t fit his style. He creates a bunker beneath Wayne Tower, their new base of operations. While crusading as Batman, Dick has to deal with Damian Wayne’s anger, Huntress (Helena Bertilini) wanting to get back together, and new/old villains.
In this crossover event, Dick and Damian try to control Gotham’s panic. They go to the grave of the unmarked Bruce Wayne, to find the grave ransacked. They also find out that Thomas & Martha Wayne’s bones have been stolen.
In this legendary crossover, we see Dick Grayson with his parents in the Flying Graysons trapeze act. In this world they are part of a traveling circus trying to avoid the world-crippling war between the Amazonians and the Atlanteans. Little did they know that one of their acts “Helm of Fate” featured an Amazonian artifact known to the Amazonians as the Helm of Nabu. The Amazonians attack, during this assault they kill both of Dick’s parents, Boston Brand (Deadman), and Kent Nelson (Doctor Fate) these events inspire Dick to put on the Helm of Fate and becomes the new Doctor Fate. As Doctor Fate, Dick joins the growing resistance to the war.
Nightwing is back in Gotham to drop off Mr. Zsasz, he states that he will soon return to Chicago after finishing the job. However, Dick witnesses a figure ripping of the doors to Arkham Asylum and attempts to engage in combat, the figure is later revealed to have been Superwoman of the Crime Syndicate of America. He is then ambushed from behind by a shadowed figure with glowing white eyes whom he mistakes as Batman. Dick is then beaten and gets captured.
Dick is later brought to the fallen remains of the Justice League watchtower, where the Crime Syndicate has gathered up many of the villains of the world and proclaim that they have killed the Justice League. Dick is then brought out to the group and the Crime Syndicate proceed to reveal his identity by taking off his mask, and broadcasting it to the entire world.
The shadowed figure who helped capture Nightwing is revealed to be Owlman and he states to Dick that on his world, they were both still partners and offers him a chance to join with him in stopping the rest of Crime Syndicate (specifically Ultraman) from gaining complete control over the world and Dick, seemingly with no other option, reluctantly agrees. However, Superwoman had been secretly listening to their entire conversation and had Dick moved into the Murder Machine, which was specifically designed to hold Doomsday. When Batman, Catwoman, Lex Luthor, and Bizarro find Dick, the room gets sealed off, a timer begins counting down with the room being rigged to explode unless Dick’s heart is stopped. Batman attempts to disarm the bomb but finds himself unable to do so. Luthor makes the choice to attack Batman from behind and seemingly kill Dick instead to stop the room from exploding and seemingly succeeds in suffocating him and stopping the bomb from exploding. Although Batman frantically goes to attack Luthor in retaliation for Dick’s death, Luthor reveals that he had given him a Cardioplegia pill to make his heart stop and fool the machine into thinking he was dead but then reviving him with as shot of adrenaline shortly afterwards.
It would later be revealed that after the events of Forever Evil, Dick would fake his own death – even among those close to him in the Bat-Family such as Barbara Gordon, Alfred, Tim Drake.
Currently Dick stars in his own new series Grayson, where he works as a secret super-spy, Agent 37, as he is called now, for the international Spyral agency. Dick maintains a regular contact with Batman. In their secret transmissions, Batman refers to Dick with the code name “Birdwatcher”.
Dick is teaming up with Helena Bertinelli in the series. In their first mission shown in the series, the pair have been tasked with bringing in a Russian man named Ninel Dubov. Dubov has a bio-weapon implanted in his body and the two need to bring him back to Spyral in order to remove the technology. Dick is able to remove his target from a train and, after an encounter with Midnighter (who is also after Dubov), manages to complete the mission.
Another human implanted with technology is found by Spyral, this time a woman named Poppy Ashemoore who is able to move at superhuman speeds due to a stomach which speeds up metabolism. It is because of this that she eats people in order to retain her youth. Dick and Helena travel to England where they eventually find the target but they both want different things: Grayson thinks Ashemoore should be arrested for her cannibalistic crimes but Bertinelli wishes to recruit her. Like in many cases, the woman wins the argument (via an electric shock) and Ashemoore is taken in.
In the Earth-2 world in the new 52, Dick is married to Barbara (presumably the Earth-2 version of Barbara Gordon, though she is only referred to as Barbara Grasyson) and is not a superhero. Instead he is a former reporter, who forms a non-powered look at the invasion of the world through the refugee camps.
During Endgame, the Joker had returned to terrorize Gotham and Batman for one last time. Agent 37 also had made a return to Gotham, unknowingly to Spyral, in order to aid Batman. Dick donned the cowl once more in order to deceive Joker while Batman searches for another means to stopping him. while pretending to be Batman, Dick led a direct attack on Joker in the heart of Gotham with a group comprising of the Bat Family and criminals opposing The Joker. Dick left Gotham to return to Spyral before Endgame had played out and the revelation of Batman’s death.
Dick returns to being Nightwing in Rebirth, and he will use his new skills and expertise in espionage moving forward.