The events of Batman #55 left a mark on DC fans, and on the man born Richard Grayson... and we don't just mean the mark on his skull. After taking a bullet to the head, courtesy of KGBeast, Grayson is a changed man. He's lost most of his memory and his personality has changed. No longer does he go by the name of Dick Grayson, but rather chooses to be known as Ric.
It's really not as big a deal as some fans have made it out to be. In fact, you'd struggle to find anyone named Richard who prefers to be called Dick instead of Rick (or Ric) nowadays. Those kids on the playground can be particularly cruel when they figure out double entendres.
Perhaps the biggest reason that many people have been so opposed to this "change" is because Ric is oddly reminiscent of Chris O'Donnell's Dick Grayson from Batman Forever. From his shaved hair to his affinity for leather jackets, as well as the over-the-top rebelliousness and too-cool-for-school attitude, there's a pungent stench of the '90s all over Ric.
While there's nothing wrong with O'Donnell's portrayal of the character, it is dated. Batman Forever might not be as bad as Batman & Robin, but the shoddy writing and weak character development were already present. We'd like to think that we've seen Grayson develop into a well-rounded character in the comics, rather than be the stereotypical bad boy trope of that era. Sadly, Ric feels like an unwelcome blast from the past.
Since his split from Batman, Grayson has successfully carved out his own niche in the DC Universe as Nightwing. He has put on the cape and cowl when Bruce Wayne was unavailable, and even acted as a father figure to Damian when it was suspected that Bruce was dead. More impressively, he was an international man of mystery for Spiral, as well as the leader of Titans.
Those are no small feats. Compared to all he's achieved in recent history, this identity crisis storyline lacks any real gusto at the moment. It's as if the idea could've been conceived in the Days of Our Lives writers' room…
That said, it isn't like Nightwing has produced game-changing narratives since the launch of DC Rebirth, either. While the title has been far from the worst, it hasn't drastically moved the needle for the company in terms of sales or storytelling. The former Boy Wonder needed something to change, and Ric Grayson may be the answer... for now.
Maybe -- just maybe -- this shift in direction is the recalibration that the Nightwing series so desperately needed. Who knows, Ric might be temporary, or he could have lasting repercussions for the hero and the DC Universe.
In September, Dan DiDio assured us that Nightwing plays a pivotal role in the future of the DC Universe. "What's going on behind the scenes that you don't see is a level of conversation about creating the infrastructure of the DC Universe – reexamining the villain bases, reexamining the hero bases and their interactions," he said.
"And what we're doing is examining 'What don't we have? What are we missing?' That was the thought behind the New Age of Heroes books. 'What types of stories aren't we telling? What's happening in the world that we aren't addressing?' [Nightwing] is a book that is at the heart of that."
With Heroes in Crisis being the main focus of the publisher right now, it's inevitable that Grayson will feature in some way. Unfortunately, history has shown that DiDio isn't the biggest Nightwing fan and voted for him to perish in Infinite Crisis, only for Geoff Johns to oppose the decision. Does this mean that he could finally meet the grim reaper in the latest Crisis event?
Whichever way everything shakes out, Ric Grayson will certainly be a talking point for years to come. Let's hope that his lasting impression won't involve a nipple-festooned suit and bad ice puns like O'Donnell's Robin.