Friday, July 4, 2014
Here comes Greyson
This month brings the first issue of Greyson, the next chapter in the exploits of Dick Greyson, the first person to don the Robin suit and fight alongside the Dark Knight against crime in Gotham City. It's a major turning point for this character, and one of the major changes in the DC Universe as a result of the events of Forever Evil. SPOILER ALERT - Dick, in his guise as Nightwing, was captured and unmasked to the world by the Crime Syndicate in the first issue of Forever Evil. From there he was connected to a device called the murder machine, which was hooked up to heart and set to blow unless his heart stopped. Lex Luthor did the deed, and stopped the machine, but in such a way that Dick would survive. One shot with an adrenaline needle later Dick was revived. But to the world he was still dead. Never one to miss taking advantage of an opportunity, Batman harbored him at the Batcave and set him on a new course. A secret organization called Spyral had been trying to uncover the identities of Gotham's vigilantes, and Bruce saw this as a chance to get someone on the inside. Dick was charged with resurfacing in such a way that would get Spyral's attention and earn his initiation into the group. In the final issue of Nightwing we see him being picked up by Spyral and welcomed into the group.
This is a huge change for a lot of fans, myself included. Like a lot people my age I grew up on Dick Grayson as Robin, and then as Nightwing. There were teases of what future lay ahead for him in the many times he filled in as Batman when Bruce Wayne was unavailable for whatever reason. When the New 52 started he was firmly entrenched as Nightwing again, and was going pretty strong up through the beginning of Forever Evil. And that's when the unmasking happened. For a lot of us that was like a punch in the face. In a series like Forever Evil you try to let it be known early that anything is possible, and Dick's capture and immediate unmasking was just that kind of moment. I immediately figured he was a goner, and as the series went on it sure looked that way. The will-he-or-won't-he die subplot was one of the major subplots to the series, and the resolution was both a relief and a realization that an era was coming to an end, at least for now. No more Dick Grayson as the best of the Bat associates; now he would continue as either a private citizen or in some other guise. As Forever Evil wrapped up, and no one outside the collective that teamed up to win the battle knew Dick was still alive, it was clear that whatever work his character wold be doing would be totally off the grid.
Grayson has always been more popular with fans than the writers, who reportedly have wanted to kill him off since Infinite Crisis. Save for the times he filled in for Batman, he often wasn't given much to do. Tim Drake, aka Red Robin went on to lead the Teen Titans. Damian Wayne was given a prominent role as the new, ruthless Robin until his untimely demise. Jason Todd came back as the Red Hood. Dick was always around as the reliable old standby, but someone that was often kinda just there. But us fans always gave him more props than that. When Bruce was sent back to prehistoric times at the end of Final Crisis, and Dick had an extended run as Batman, I really do think they could have left him in that role for good. But they punted and put Bruce back in place. When the New 52 kicked off Dick got his own series as Nightwing and it was quite good. He got to do his own thing outside of Gotham and still interact with the rest of the crew. All was good with the world. And it's for that reason that I'm more than a bit unsettled about what comes next. I'm a big New 52 fan, and I embraced the changes they've made so far but....this is a tough one because of how big it is and who they're doing this to. I'm sure I speak for a lot of people when I say his character didn't need any kind of fix or reboot. We liked his story the way it was, and there was plenty more to tell in my book.
But life is about rolling with the punches, both in our real everyday lives and the things we choose for entertainment. Us uneasy as I am, I'm going to give the new series a chance. If the writers do a good job, I'm sure it will be fine. I have my fingers crossed.