In many ways, Nightwing is DC’s version of Spider-Man. Like Peter Parker, Dick Grayson’s crime-fighting career was born out of a family tragedy and he suited up as a youngster to take on foes twice his age and size. Furthermore, they’re both acrobatic fighters who enjoy quips and verbal sparring with their opponents, being the lights of their respective dark worlds.
Look, we’re not comparing them in terms of powers, though, since Spidey obviously has the radioactive advantage here, while Nightwing has made due with his resources, intellect, and superior training. What we’re saying is, they’re birds of a feather.
Despite the obvious similarities, Nightwing has surpassed Spider-Man as a hero in recent years. Now, before the trolls get animated in the comments section, take note of the ‘recent years’ part since we’re all aware that Spidey is one of the – if not the – most popular superheroes in the world. So, let us explain our reasoning…
Dick Grayson has been around for decades now, and we’ve seen him evolve from the Boy Wonder, to the leader of Teen Titans, Nightwing, Grayson the spy, the occasional Batman, and now as the leader of Titans. There’s been a natural progression to his arc, showing shrewd character and story development. In other words, Nightwing isn’t boring.
Parker, on the other hand, has struggled, as he’s in the never-ending loop of Spider-Man. Yes, we’ve seen him grow from a teenager to a man, join the Avengers, get married, etc., but has the character basis of Spider-Man evolved? In fact, when you consider the best Spidey arcs of recent times, you tend to look to Miles Morales and not Parker.
Have you noticed the number of times that Spider-Man has been rebooted in film? Well, it’s not much better in the comic book world, either. Unfortunately, Spidey’s origin and few years after are the most important periods of his life, while the rest leaves a lot to be desired. The mere fact that Dan Slott’s most important run was Superior Spider-Man, which had Otto Octavius take over the mantle, speaks volumes about how far Parker’s stock has fallen.
Nightwing doesn’t suffer from this problem. Even when DC resets its universes, he always appears with a fresh arc or new take. If the character had been at Marvel, we’d probably still see him and the Dark Knight teaming up as Batman and Robin every few years instead of letting him develop.
If Spider-Man is the most popular Marvel character, why isn’t he at the front and centre of the Avengers? It’s because Peter has never established himself as a true leader. He’s a notorious loner, and this works against him in terms of the success of team-up books.
When you look at Nightwing, though, he’s proven his credentials on more than one occasion, leading by example and even becoming Batman. His best arcs might be his solo runs, but he can easily handle a team with ease. Recently, we even suggested that he should be the leader of the Justice League by now.
Looking at the above points, it’s easy to say that the fault lies in the handling and writing of Spider-Man, which is possibly valid. But explain how Dick Grayson has remained interesting and relevant for so many years then? Even with his weaker arcs, he still stands out – and this isn’t purely by accident.