SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1, on sale now.
It’s easy to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but one of the more recent revamps of the DC Universe — the “Grayson” series by Tim Seeley, Tom King and Mikel Janin — was a huge critical success. It will certainly be a relief for fans of that series to discover that Seeley and Yanick Paquette build on past glories in “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1, reintroducing familiar concepts and faces to old and new readers alike.
“Nightwing: Rebirth” #1 shows its stripes right at the beginning, recounting the fact that Nightwing took his code name from one of the legendary heroes of Krypton. And if you find yourself thinking that this means that the friendship between Dick Grayson and Superman that existed pre-Crisis is back in continuity, you’re right. It no doubt takes a different form, as seen in “Justice League” #51 where Dick as a young Robin helps out the League, but nonetheless it’s another example of the Rebirth specials quietly adding back in some of the character and emotional elements that readers have missed.
Next up on the hit parade is another recognition, that some of the events of “Batman R.I.P.” and “Final Crisis” still occurred. Specifically, that there was a time period where Bruce Wayne was dead, and Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne served together as Batman and Robin. That setup took place primarily in “Batman and Robin” #1-26 (although it was also reflected in the other Bat-Family comics), and stood out in part for how well first Grant Morrison and then the following writers gave Dick and Damian a relationship that grew over time into one that was nurturing and full of growing respect. That’s on display here, with the two interacting in a casual, friendly manner that still contains its share of ribbing. Hopefully we’ll see more of the two together in “Nightwing,” because what we get here is begging for a return of the Dick-and-Damian pairing.
Seeley also tackles more recent developments in “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1. He wraps up Nightwing’s association with Spyral — the covert agency created by Morrison and Chris Burnham in “Batman Incorporated” and which Dick worked for in “Grayson” — and reaffirms that the organization is no longer as nefarious as it had become in recent years. In doing so, Seeley releases Helena Bertinelli from Spyral, setting her up to be this world’s Huntress in the upcoming “Batgirl and the Birds of Prey” series. Similarly, Seeley revisits the ongoing team-ups between Dick Grayson and Midnighter and their fun, somewhat flirty friendship. Again, it’s the sort of pairing of characters that works wonderfully, and gives readers hope that we’ll see more of them together before long.
Finally, and most importantly, the one-shot addresses the Parliament of Owls, a thorn in the sides of Gotham’s protectors since their introduction by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo in “Batman” #1. “Nightwing: Rebirth” follows on from their last appearance in “Robin War,” both in terms of fixing a deadly surprise left behind for Damian during that time period, as well as reiterating their desire to make Dick Grayson one of their own. Seeley takes advantage of “Nightwing: Rebirth” to give the Parliament a mini-rebirth of their own; with a new set of masks and a new leader to bring the group forward where Lincoln March has repeatedly failed, Seeley is throwing the virtual gauntlet on the floor so readers know that we’ll see them in the “Nightwing” ongoing before long.
“Nightwing: Rebirth” #1 is slightly different from many of the other Rebirth specials, in that it’s less making big changes to the character, and more reminding us of all of the successes we’ve seen with the Dick Grayson character. I suspect that the one really big change — Dick reclaiming the Nightwing name and costume — will go over well with fans, even as we’re reminded about just how good it’s been overall for Dick over the past few years. “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1 celebrates the strength of Dick Grayson, both in the past and also moving into the future.