Warning: SPOILERS for Nightwing #52
Nightwing is dead, but a whole army of replacements has risen to fill his absence in Bludhaven. Dick Grayson has been out of commission since the first and most famous Robin was shot in the head by KGBeast. While Dick Grayson’s body miraculously survived the assassination attempt, his memories of his life as Nightwing were lost. For now, he's been reborn as "Ric Grayson" - but what about his superhero alter ego?
Even if Dick doesn’t want to do the job, Bludhaven and the DC Universe needs a Nightwing. A Bludhaven detective has become the new Nightwing (a gun-toting type, at that), but he doesn’t want to do the Nightwing job alone. The BPD detective has decided to recruit his co-workers to be other Nightwings turning the vigilante identity into an unofficial branch of the police department.
The story of the Nightwings actually begins before Nightwing #52. It’s baked into the origins of Sapienza taking on the iconic domino mask for himself. Although Sapienza is wearing the classic black and blue Nightwing duds, he has evidently kept all the different looks of the hero. It’s these costumes that he presents to his fellow officers to wear as other new Nightwings. Sapienza's reasoning is that Bludhaven is in bad shape without Nightwing, and together the group of them might just bring the city to its former (relative) stability. Nightwing #52 doesn’t exactly show how the other cops respond to Sapienza’s proposal, but DC Comics has been open in the solicits and covers for future Nightwing issues that there will be multiple versions of Bludhaven’s hero running around. Sapienza will inspire or convince his co-workers the police can’t protect their city alone and will need to rely on Nightwing’s legacy.
The only real question is how long this team of Nightwing substitutes will last, and what the endgame is for this type of story. Nightwing’s assassination attempt and subsequent memory loss was thrust on the solo series due to the ongoing Batman and Bane feud in Batman’s solo comic series. Dick becoming Ric interrupted a rather complicated and long tale of Nightwing on the hunt for a self-aware and malicious computer virus. Yet there’s still a chance that DC Comics could use the Nightwings and Ric to tell an interesting Dick Grayson story.
The fact is, while Ric doesn’t remember most of his life as Dick, his heroic side can't stop re-asserting itself. Ric still feels a need to rush into danger and protect people. These moments confirm that DC Comics isn’t pretending that Dick turning into a Nightwing-less Ric is a permanent transition. Ric will be Nightwing sooner rather than later. The Nightwings and Ric finding his way back to his proper identity could serve as a nice mediation and exploration of who Nightwing is as a character. DC already told a similar story with the infamously temporary death of Superman where the Man of Steel was replaced with various supermen who eventually grew to be iconic characters in their own right like Cyborg Superman and Steel.
Could a similar future be in store for Sapienza and his fellow cops? Only time will tell.
Nightwing #52 is available now from DC Comics.