by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor
Dick Grayson is once again donning his black and blue Nightwing tights, and has found himself in the talons of the Parliament of Owls.
“Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman” is a part of the DC Universe Rebirth, in which all the stories in the DC comic universe make a shift to take the heroes back to their core traits and roots. Rebirths happen in the comic realm every several years to keep the heroes and their stories fresh and true.
For Dick Grayson, former Robin and sidekick of Batman, that means being Nightwing again. The previous, most recent iteration of Nightwing replaced the blue eye mask and bluebird on his chest with red ones. I was not a fan, because that small blue detail is what made Nightwing my favorite ex-Robin.
After a couple of years of printing the red Nightwing, DC comics turned Dick Grayson into Agent 37 of Spyral, a spy with a superhero background, but no longer really a superhero. I wasn’t really a fan of this Grayson storyline either, because much of the essence of Nightwing had been lost in the espionage.
But the rebirth gave DC comics a chance to change this, and I’m so glad they did. The comic begins with Grayson going to the Batcave with Damian Wayne, the current Robin and son of Bruce Wayne.
Batman comes out of nowhere (as per usual) and immediately sends Damian away so he can talk to Dick. Bruce asks Dick if he’s sure he’s ready to go back out, and Dick answers with, “I could do it as Robin, or Batman, or Agent 37. But the Owls didn’t try to take those names and make them their own.” And Dick leaves the Batcave… as Nightwing.
The Parliament of Owls is a European extension of the Court of Owls that thinks they practically own Nightwing. They think they have leverage over him, but Nightwing is flipping the tables on them and trying to take them down from the inside. It was going relatively smoothly until the Owls “partnered” Nightwing with a new face, Raptor.
Raptor is a wise cracking anti-hero in an orange-and-tan suit and mask, accompanied by “Suyolak,” a raptor-like, mechanical glove that has claws and a grapple, can dispense gas, and contains some of Raptor’s blood. At one point in the comic, Raptor confesses to not ever planning anything and having to be prepared for everything.
After a brief altercation, Nightwing and Raptor team up for a mission, and Dick finds that his and Raptor’s goals, and even past, may align more than he first assumed. At one point, it is revealed that Raptor is tied to Dick’s past in the circus. At the end of the comic, it is revealed that Raptor has a disease that will make the reader rethink all of the fight scenes in the story.
Batgirl also makes an appearance, which means that Barbara Gordon is no longer paraplegic. After the Joker shot Barbara, son of Commissioner Gordon, in the back, she was no longer able to prowl the rooftops as Batgirl. But the DC Rebirth has reversed this, and it fills me with joy.
There’s a lot of conflict and mystery throughout the comic. The appearance of the new anti-hero Raptor, along with Batman, Robin, and Batgirl make for an awesome Nightwing story.
I give “Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman” 4.5 out of 5 stars.