NOTE: This article contains SPOILERS for Nightwing #16
He may have begun his career as the second fiddle to the Dark Knight, but Nightwing has achieved unheard of levels of success in his solo career (the Beyoncé of superheroes, one might say). When the DC Rebirth stormed the comic industry sales charts, there was a reason that Dick Grayson's new solo series ranked behind only the Justice League and his mentor, Batman. That Nightwing love will likely help drive his own solo movie, but for fans of Grayson, the story being told in his current DC title may be one for the ages.
The pages of Nightwing since the Rebirth relaunch have seen Dick reclaim his former superhero identity, meet a mentor who believed himself to be "better than Batman," and took a new step forward by recognizing his family's past, and seeking to make a future of his own. That future came in the form of a trip to Blüdhaven: the city he called home prior to the New 52 reboot of the entire DC Universe. What he found there was a community to join, a purpose to pursue, and a woman to love... and now, a new generation of Grayson may be on the way.
That's right: Dick Grayson is about to be a father. But first he'll have to save the love of his life.
Shawn Tsang, The Girl Nightwing's Been Waiting For
The fan base might argue that Dick Grayson runs into available women wherever he goes, but his arrival in Blüdhaven brought several surprises. In both his professional and vigilante lives, as a matter of fact. To make a long story short (since plenty of readers will want to return to the beginning once they see what comes next), Dick found a job working in community outreach, focusing his skills as a social worker and quintessential bleeding heart on a group of youths in trouble - a group referring to themselves as the Run-Offs.
As time went by, Dick found himself crossing paths with the kids in and out of the costume, as these Run-Offs were actually run out of Gotham City, seeking a second chances. Intrigue and wrongful suspicion soon followed, but it all brought Dick closer to the head of the community center: Shawn Tsang, a girl Dick had met when he was still fighting besides Batman to bring criminals to justice. Criminals like Shawn, then a teenage activist known as 'The Defacer.' At the time, Dick wondered if they were all that different, or a pair of outcasts with varying luck.
Either way, Shawn had put that life behind her, devoting her time to helping other delinquents and former Gotham goons make a new start. And Dick was instantly smitten.
As the rest of the story played out, Shawn showed she was a match for Dick in every department, eventually revealing that she knew Dick Grayson and Nightwing were one and the same, just as he had been the young Robin who caught her eye so many years ago. Romance struck, and as is shown in Issue #15, the idea of Dick Grayson finding happiness is something that the entire DC Universe can get behind... has possibly even been waiting to see happen. And as the likes of Wally West, Jason Todd, and Starfire inquire as to Dick's change in attitude, it becomes clear this is no ordinary romance.
The same goes for Shawn (big surprise), but the creative team of Tim Seeley and artists Minkyu Jung, Marcus To, and Chris Sotomayor drive the point home scene after scene. Even Barbara Gordon, his long smoldering flame gives her blessing, but it's to his mentor and father figure Bruce Wayne that Dick confesses he's finally found 'the one.' He's in love with Shawn, and for the first time in... well, maybe ever, this lifelong wanderer is set on building a life and family of his own.
Dick Grayson is Going to Be a Daddy
Naturally oblivious to anyone's life or problems but his own, Damian Wayne soon pays Dick a visit following the news proclaiming Nightwing as the obvious successor to Batman - even nicknaming him 'The Batman of Blüdhaven.' As the boy who once stood as the Robin to Dick's Batman (while Bruce Wayne was lost and presumed dead), it's only right that Damian should have a front row seat when one of Dick Grayson's biggest life moments arrives. After months of dating, even - GASP - arranging to attend friends' weddings close to a year in advance, Shawn has something on her mind. Something she can only bring herself to reveal over the phone - while Dick and Damian were foiling a robbery, leaving Nightwing to process the news on his own: Shawn is likely pregnant, which means Dick Grayson is on his way to becoming a father.
Heading to Shawn's apartment immediately, the thoughts running through Dick's mind will be... familiar to many. Realizing the last time he considering pregnancy was amidst panic in his teenage years (a playful nod to Starfire, his Teen Titans flame), and that Bruce wasn't that much older than he is when Damian was born... getting ahead of himself is in his nature. Especially since, unlike the readers, he didn't see the shadow creeping up behind Shawn after leaving that voicemail message in the previous issue.
There's No Future Without Re-living The Past...
Ever one to ignore orders, Damian arrives to find Dick collapsed on the floor, having found an empty apartment, Shawn's phone, and her latest painting scrawled over with the mocking graffiti "daddy." Any hope of some mistake is erased by the other item left behind: a book starring his favorite hero, Robin Hood, marked with the coordinates for Richard the Lionheart's grave. That's King Richard I, often included in Robin Hood tales... and a king with no heir.
Without another word, Dick Grayson has no choice but to play the game that Shawn, his love and mother of his child has been thrust into. Damian is tagging along for the ride to Paris, and judging by what's been teased of the coming issues, he'll need all the help he can get. The figure behind the entire horrible plan is still a mystery, but Dick will be forced to face the likes of Talon, the immortal assassin of the Court of Owls (who is actually Dick's great, great grandfather), Professor Pyg, the twisted surgeon he and Damian faced as Batman and Robin, and even Deathwing, Dick's evil, future self from the early 1990s.
It's a parade of villains reminding Dick of the various stages of his life, each one having to be defeated before he can hope to start a new chapter with Shawn. And whether he succeeds or not, the way this story, "Nightwing Must Die" plays out... things won't ever be the same for Dick Grayson. Will YOU be reading along?
Nightwing #16 is available now.
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