Nightwing: Year One review

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While reading Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty's Bat-Family "Year One" stories, I can't help but consider the rumor I've heard that the writers have one more story — a fourth to their "trilogy" — still in the planning. Given that we've had a Dick Grayson-Robin: Year One, a Barbara Gordon-Batgirl: Year One, and a Dick Grayson-Nightwing: Year One, one could speculate that the next in line is a much-deserved Oracle: Year One. But I found in reading Nightwing: Year One that the story is as much about Nightwing's origins, ultimately, as it is about Jason Todd's — making this as much Nightwing: Year One as it could be the precursor to the year one story of Robin II.

In Nightwing: Year One, Dick Grayson returns to Batman's side, presumably from between the pages of New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, only to have Batman fire him for Dick's divided attention between Batman and the Teen Titans. Dick embarks on a trip to find himself, encountering Superman and Deadman, before teaming with Batgirl as the new Nightwing — while Batman meets a young Jason Todd stealing tires off the Batmobile. Batman conspires to have Dick and Jason meet during Batman's "Gauntlet" test — but when Alfred is kidnapped by Killer Croc, the former and new Robins have to work together to save him.

Though Nightwing: Year One is enjoyable overall, little of what's established here is new — nor, at least, is it necessarily attributable to modern continuity. Much of what we see here — Dick Grayson's firing, his first meeting with Jason Todd — never actually happened, or at least, it happened entirely differently (and more amicably) pre-Crisis, and post-Crisis, it didn't "happen" so much as it was related in flashback. So, for instance, while you can wedge this story between the pages of New Teen Titans, it very barely lines up with Batman. There are, of course, nice moments — we get more scenes of the mainly undefined Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon relationship, as well as a new "first appearance" of Killer Croc — an origin reconned out of mainstream continuity when Jason Todd lost his first, circus-based origin after Crisis on Infinite Earths. And it's a nice touch that, like Ma Kent, Alfred still made Dick's first Nightwing costume, even after he's left the 'Cave.

The appeal of Jason Todd — at least, in theory — would be that he would be Robin, but that he would be tougher and more complicated than the clean, mostly do-right Dick Grayson. Here, the writers demonstrate that appeal well, but not blithely — over the final two chapters, they turn Jason Todd from a smart-mouthed kid to a flawed promising Robin, altering the readers' perceptions by slowly altering Dick Grayson's perceptions. Once Dick begins to see himself in Jason, he can't help but laugh at the sheer audacity of anyone trying to steal the tires from the Batmobile — and it allows him to see what benefits Jason might have as Robin. There's interesting work here, made all the more interesting — or perhaps tragic — in its posthumous nature.

[Contains full covers, a (somewhat questionable) Nigtwing timeline.]

I read Nightwing: Year One as it contained Nightwing #101-106; I'm now to continue with Nightwing issue-wise with Mobbed Up. From there, Flash: Rogue War, and then on to Villains United and some space-faring adventures. Come join!

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