Dick Grayson’s new Nightwing costume changes the way he acts as a protector of Dishaven, endowing him with new “abilities” that enhance his attempts to cheer up the underprivileged. Now an amazing piece of art from Jamal Campbell shows how the costume subtly reinterprets the name “Nightwing”.
Nightwing’s new suit was created by Mr. Awesome and Flash, two brilliant engineers and scientists who were able to pack an amazing amount of protection into his simple avenger suit. Nightwing’s suit is now bulletproof (within reasonable limits) and can be used as a wingsuit for hovering around the city. While he may lack protection for Dick’s head (it’s hard to believe that Flash could have made such a gaffe after Nightwing was recently shot by Russian assassin KGBeast), the suit represents a huge upgrade he needs, as his civilian identity has become a target for those who want the corruption of Newhaven to continue.
In epic art Jamal Campbell, recently published by League of Comic Geeks, Nightwing takes off with his new “wings” under his arms. What’s interesting about this image is how it characterizes Nightwing compared to his past, and especially compared to Batman. Surrounded by birds and jumping into flight, there is a certain bird theme here, just as Batman is often depicted surrounded by bats. This is important because in the DC canon, the name of the superhero Dick is not taken from any reference to birds, but rather from a Kryptonian hero whose story was told to Nightwing by Superman shortly after Dick violently broke up with Batman. An unusual part of Nightwing’s personal canon has always been that he got his name from Superman, but the imagery used here suggests DC thematically leaves that behind by remaking Dick as a hero of air and light. The image will appear on selected copies of “Nightwing #97” by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo.
This shift comes as DC continues its new era for the hero—one in which he is treated not as a continuation of the Gotham bat family, but more like a hero from the best list (which, as Taylor stated, is his intention in writing Dick.) Emphasis was placed on the idea that, although Batman is a warrior of darkness, Nightwing’s optimism and empathy make him a hero of light. Images of birds are a great way to convey this, portraying him as a noble defender hovering over the city, and not as another avenger hunting in city alleys and abandoned buildings. For the former acrobat, the idea that Dick can fly like a hero also suggests the image of Nightwing as his best self.
Nightwing is loved by fans and other heroes, and he has had many titles of his own in the past. However, his famous new era best portrays him as a lone hero with his own mission and status quo. For this to continue, Nightwing needs its own aesthetics and images that heroes like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman have accumulated over the decades, and Jamal Campbell’s cover is a great example of exactly what Nightwing needs to thrive. While it’s unlikely that DC is interested in giving up the role of Superman in the Nightwing title, using his bird theme with bird images and his new “power” of flight costume is a fantastic way to keep Dick Grayson as one of Earth’s greatest heroes and not just Batman’s adult sidekick.