Review: Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy trade paperback (DC Comics)

I admit I was wary of Dan Jurgens taking over the Nightwing title, piggybacking on the "Ric Grayson" storyline started by Scott Lobdell, but I've been impressed so far. Jurgens takes this ill-advised, weirdo plot and makes something palatable, even going so far in Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy to try and make plausible the idea that this was planned all along. It most assuredly was not, and that particular plot thread turns on Batman being a terrible detective, but at least we have a how and why now beyond just giving Dick Grayson amnesia for shock value. I'd very much like some glimmer that all of this is not for naught — that, as soon as another writer takes over, this all won't disappear faster than Wonder Woman's brother — but it's entertaining enough until DC decides what exactly they want to be doing with the Nightwing character.

[Review contains spoilers]

It is not as though any elements of Dan Jurgens' Nightwing are particularly complicated or intricate. The amnesic Dick Grayson leads a team of "Nightwings" wearing his old costumes, including a fire fighter and three police officers, including a brother and sister. Whereas in Nightwing: Burnback they did fight a villain related to the past of the fire fighter, Malcolm Hutch, in general these Nightwings are not very different personality-wise (or, at least, stereotypically, the older guy is wise, the young guy takes risks, etc.). Nor, aside from what we saw in Burnback, do they have any interior lives, families that we ever see, independent plotlines, or anything to say about their new roles as vigilantes aside from dutifully fighting the bad guys. Neither does "Ric"'s new girlfriend Bea seem to have anything going on beside vaguely tending bar and worrying over Ric's well-being, which seems to be the whole basis of their romantic connection.

That said, Jurgens manages to make it all work. I don't typically go for action over plot, but Jurgens keeps this one moving swiftly. Between Bludhaven in flames, people rioting, some shocking violence (Jurgens credibly makes it seem like one of the Nightwings might die), and "Year of the Villain" prominently in the background, I was engaged the whole time. Despite that the Nightwings are nondescript, Jurgens makes them likable, with funny banter between them and a welcome lack of angst — the flip side of their really having no personalities is that they just blanket like and support one another, and that's refreshing and unique among team titles today. There's a good amount here that delves into Dick Grayson's continuity-murky past, so we're treated to things like a brand new "young Robin" costume, a classic shot of the New Teen Titans, and a splash page of Nightwing's villains. Artist Ronan Cliquet offers bright, bubbly artwork throughout.

The conceit revealed here is that Dick's amnesia was not caused by the KGBeast's bullet (which, it would then seem, had barely any effect at all), but rather by the machinations of the Court of Owls, hoping to lure the "Gray Son" (back) to the fold. Again, though I'm skeptical that was the original explanation (if any) for the amnesia, it at least makes this all retroactively plausible, a supervillains-versus-superheroes plot rather than just a soap opera turn of trope. (One might think that revelation ought bring about the end of the storyline, but apparently not.) The one snag is that the expert doctor that Bruce Wayne specifically flies in to treat Dick is a member of the Court of Owls, a mistake that for me stretches believability — maybe the Court of Owls got over on Batman in the beginning, but at this point you'd think Batman has ways of figuring out membership (also I thought the Court was more or less done for after Dark Nights: Metal, too).

That the Nightwings are so self-contained and Bea so unremarkable leads me to believe when Dick Grayson is inevitably Nightwing again, all of them will likely go away. It is not as though anyone's still talking about Dick's previous girlfriend, Shawn "Defacer" Tsang, but here the emphemeralness seems even more obvious; it's terribly unlikely the Bat-office wants four extra Nightwings running around in perpetuity. Yes, I'd read a Nightwings miniseries — first responders turned vigilantes, instead of the other way around — but quite aside from their blandness, it's hard to feel too emotionally vested in the Nightwings when none of them strikes me as the character find of the 2020s (nor even do I see one Nightwing who might later serve as Dick Grayson's sidekick).

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy

I won't spoil the title of the volume that follows Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy, coming in November, though it does have a certain air of finality to it. That's fine, about time to wrap this up, though if such a thing is happening, I've missed the big headlines about it on the interwebs. On occasion I find Dan Jurgens' characters have a hip slanginess that feels forced and I worry how his Nightwing would change if it was Dick rather than Ric; no one else seems to be stepping up to the job, however, so if Jurgens kept on the title awhile, I'd be curious to see how it goes.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Collected Editions
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy
Author Rating
3.5 (scale of 1 to 5)


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