What would you do if you woke up and found out you were a billionaire?
That’s the question Dick Grayson is wrestling with in Nightwing Vol. 1: Leaping into the Light, the just released hardcover collection of Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s debut Nightwing storyline. Dick is shocked to discover that Alfred set aside over one billion dollars for him before he died. The money comes at an interesting time in Dick’s life, and causes him to contemplate his ultimate legacy.
You don’t have to be a superhero to worry about your legacy. We all wonder what kind of mark we’ll leave on the world in our lifetimes. For Dick Grayson, the question became more real after spending months of his life as an amnesiac cab driver named Ric. Although Dick was ultimately able to regain his memories, the experience had a lasting effect on him. He saw everything about Dick Grayson disappear, and it made him wonder who he truly is and what sort of impact he’ll have on the world.
Babs, always the voice of reason, reminds Dick that he’s saved the world on multiple occasions, but the former Boy Wonder is looking for an answer more personal. Saving lives is one thing, but what will Dick leave behind if he ever disappears again? What will his legacy be? Now that he’s a billionaire, he has the opportunity to create one, but he isn’t sure where to start.
In many ways Dick Grayson has always been about legacy. When he became Nightwing in Tales of the Teen Titans #44, he spoke about how his new identity was chosen as a tribute to Batman and Superman. As the original Boy Wonder and founder of the Teen Titans, Dick seems to be leaving multiple legacies wherever he goes. So why isn’t it enough? Why does he feel like he needs to be doing more?
At first glance, Dick’s concern over his legacy might seem silly, until you remind yourself what kind of a person he is. Dick is a hero, and for heroes there is always more work to be done. This is emphasized in a flashback during the first chapter, where a young Dick Grayson tells Alfred, “I just want to help.” Alfred proudly looks at Dick and replies, “You seem to live by those words.”
Years later, Alfred echoes this sentiment in the goodbye letter he had prepared for Dick: “I believe in the man who just wants to help.”
The death of a father figure and a near death experience of your own will cause a person to ask some hard questions, so it’s understandable that legacy is weighing on Dick’s mind. But where some might handle these questions of mortality by buying a sports car or dating people younger than them, Nightwing has other ideas. Dick launches the Alfred Pennyworth Foundation, aiming to combat homelessness, poverty and corruption in Blüdhaven. This is meant to be not only his legacy, but Alfred’s as well.
Leaping into the Light is a celebration of Nightwing’s legacy, with plenty of callbacks and Easter eggs that longtime fans will enjoy. Dick Grayson has been around for over eighty years, so honoring his legacy is not a light task, but Taylor and Redondo understand the assignment. The Flying Graysons poster from the end of the first chapter is taken directly from 1995’s Robin Annual #4. At one point, Dick and Tim go train surfing, dodging tunnels along the way, paying homage to 1998’s Nightwing #25. When Nightwing sends out a maritime SOS, each vessel that answers is named after former Nightwing writers and artists, like Devin Grayson, Dan Jurgens, Tim Seeley and more. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Marv and George’s Pizza, named after Marv Wolfman and George Perez.
As we talk about Dick Grayson and legacy, it’s hard not to think about George Perez, who is credited at the beginning of each issue as Nightwing’s co-creator. Working alongside writer Marv Wolfman, Perez helped evolve Dick Grayson into Nightwing during their historic run on The New Teen Titans. If it wasn’t for the incredible work that George did, it’s safe to say we wouldn’t be reading Nightwing today. Perez recently announced that he’s been diagnosed with stage three pancreatic cancer, and the outpouring of love and support from his fans has been tremendous. In social media posts, Perez and his fans have reflected on his legacy, and everything that he has given to the DC Universe.
Taylor and Redondo’s legacy will be this awesome run, Alfred’s legacy is Dick Grayson, and Dick’s legacy is the Alfred Penyworth Foundation. As for George Perez, I think a significant part of his professional legacy is Nightwing himself. It’s hard to imagine a finer one.
Nightwing Vol. 1: Leaping Into the Light by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo is now available in bookstores, comic shops, libraries and as a digital graphic novel.
Joshua Lapin-Bertone writes about TV, movies and comics for DCComics.com, is a regular contributor to the Couch Club and writes our monthly Batman column, "Gotham Gazette." Follow him on Twitter at @TBUJosh.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Joshua Lapin-Bertone and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.