While it might not seem obvious at first, Dick Grayson has quietly become one of the world’s most famous superheroes. During his countless adventures as Batman’s first Robin, Grayson set the standard for superhero sidekicks as part of the world’s most famous superhero pairing, the Dynamic Duo. Through his time with the Teen Titans and as the solo hero Nightwing, Grayson proved that he could stand as a compelling leader on his own. With leading roles in DC Entertainment’s upcoming streaming series Titans and the feature film Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, Grayson’s set to have a big year outside of Batman’s shadow. But while Batman might get credit for being the peak of human accomplishment, Grayson is just as human as his partner.
Now, CBR is taking a look at some of the weirdest things about Nightwing’s body. From his most mind-boggling feats and impressive features to his most embarrassing moments, this list will pull from every era of Grayson’s 78-year history. We’ll be looking at his time as Robin, Nightwing, Batman and one of Spyral’s secret agents. In addition to his regular comic adventures, we’ll also be mentioning some versions of Grayson from DC’s alternate realities and TV shows.
NIGHTWING’S (ALMOST) SUPERHUMAN AGILITY
Even though Nightwing doesn’t technically have any superpowers, his agility and speed are practically at a superhuman level. As a child prodigy, he performed as a circus acrobat with his parents as part of the Flying Graysons at Haly’s Circus. Thanks to years of additional training with Batman, Dick Grayson is arguably the best acrobat in the DC Universe. While he’s never been as strong as Batman, Grayson’s usually faster, and he’s even impressed speedsters like the Flash.
As Marv Wolfman and Jim Aparo revealed in 1989’s Batman #441, Nightwing is also one of the only four people alive who can do a quadruple somersault. Long before he became the third Robin, a young Tim Drake saw Grayson perform that move in person at Haley’s Circus. Years later, Tim saw Robin make the same maneuver on TV and was able to figure out Batman and Robin’s secret identities.
THE TALON TOOTH
In 2011, Batman discovered the existence of the Court of Owls, a secret society that ruled Gotham City from the shadows. To preserve their wealth and influence, the Court used ruthless, almost immortal secret agents called Talons. In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman #7, Dick Grayson learned that he was supposed to be a Talon after Batman found a secret message on one of his teeth.
The Court chose a young Grayson to be their new Talon after seeing him perform at Haley’s Circus, one of their regular recruiting grounds. Before he went to live with Bruce Wayne and avoided that fate, the Court even put their concealed logo on a filling in one of Grayson’s molar teeth. After Grayson learned the truth about his tooth, he eventually joined the Court to take it down from the inside.
NIGHTWING’S LAST LEAP
After a particularly trying battle with Two-Face, Nightwing relaxed in the most extreme way imaginable. In 2009’s Nightwing #151, by Peter Tomasi, Doug Mahnke and Shawn Moll, Grayson skydived to Earth from the edge of space. By making the jump from the stratosphere, Grayson pushed his body to unimaginable lengths and broke several world records.
To make “The Great Leap,” as he called it, Grayson had to jump longer, faster and farther than any non-powered person in DC’s history. After taking a balloon about 132,000 ft up in the air, Grayson withstood temperatures that were 75 degrees below zero and ultra-thin air in nothing but a thin pressurized flight suit. During his 15-minute trip down to Earth, he broke the sound barrier with a top speed of about 930 mph. By the time he reached the ground, Grayson had broken four world records for altitude and endurance.
MARTIAL ARTS EXPERT
Like his mentor Batman, Nightwing has studied an extensive number of martial arts to create his unique “jazz-like” fighting style. Under teachers like the Dark Knight and Richard Dragon, Grayson studied a wide variety of styles including Aikido, Escrima, Boxing, Capoeira, Hapkido, Judo, Ninjutsu, Savate, Kung Fu, Jeet Kune Do and various forms of armed combat. By combing techniques from these various styles with his natural agility, Nightwing has become a formidable fighter who defeated Ra’s al Ghul and tied Deathstroke in one-on-one combat.
Nightwing is especially proficient with Escrima sticks. As Chuck Dixon, Scott Beatty, Javier Pulido and Marcos Martin revealed in 2001’s Robin: Year One #4, Grayson first used these baton-like weapons during his early days as Robin. After he became Nightwing, he used the sticks as his primary weapons. In video games like Injustice: Gods Among Us, he used modified sticks that carried a Taser-like electrical charge.
GRAYSON GREW UP
Since he was created by Bill Finger, Jerry Robinson and Bob Kane in 1940’s Detective Comics #37, Dick Grayson has grown up a lot. When he was introduced, Grayson was only eight years old when he started working with Batman. While age is always fickle in comics, Dick eventually grew into adulthood in the alternate reality Earth-Two, where he became the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa.
In later retellings of Robin’s origin, Dick was 12 when he became Robin. Once he was a little older, he joined the age-appropriate Teen Titans. By most accounts, Dick was 19 when he quit being Robin and briefly attended college. After he established himself as Nightwing in his early 20s, he took on Batman’s identity for a while in his mid-20s. After DC’s New 52 reboot compressed this timeline, he became Robin at 16 and is currently in his early 20s.
GRAYSON’S STRANGE TRANSFORMATIONS
Throughout his superhero career, Dick Grayson has undergone several bizarre physical transformations. Even though that doesn’t happen as much as it used to, Dick’s had a few noteworthy transformations in recent years. During 2016’s “Night of the Monster Men” crossover, Nightwing briefly turned into a beastly creature after getting covered in monster goo in Detective Comics #941, by Steve Orlando, James Tynion IV and Andy MacDonald.
On a lighter but equally unsettling note, Robin turned into a giant avocado monster. In the 2017 Teen Titans Go! episode “The Avogodo,” Robin became obsessed with avocados, which gave him superpowers. After falling into a stack of avocados, he turned into the Avogodo, a giant monster who wanted to replace all of the world’s crops with avocados. In keeping with the show’s gleefully absurd tone, the Avogodo changed back into Robin after the other Titans made him eat some spicy guacamole.
LEX LUTHOR SAVED HIS LIFE
In the 2013 crossover Forever Evil, the Crime Syndicate, an evil alternate reality version of the Justice League, invaded the DC Universe and took over the world. To announce their presence to the rest of the world, the villains revealed that Nightwing was Dick Grayson on a global televised broadcast. As if that wasn’t enough, they also hooked Grayson up to a device that would explode unless his heart stopped beating.
In 2014’s Forever Evil #6, by Geoff Johns and David Finch, Batman couldn’t disarm the device in time, so Lex Luthor stopped Grayson’s heart. As he revealed in Forever Evil #7, he gave Grayson a “cardioplegia pill” that temporarily paralyzed the muscles around his heart. After dismantling the device, Luthor gave Grayson a shot of adrenaline that jumpstarted his heart and resuscitated him.
GRAYSON’S HYPNOS IMPLANTS
Once Grayson’s identity was revealed to the world, he couldn’t go back to being Nightwing. On Batman’s orders, he infiltrated Spyral, a secret organization that protected the world by any means necessary. After joining the agency, Grayson received Hypnos, hi-tech contact lens-esque devices that gave him a number of abilities suited to the world of espionage.
As Tom King, Tim Seeley and Mikel Janin revealed in 2014’s Grayson #1, Grayson could essentially use the Hypnos as a form of artificial telepathy. He could hypnotize untrained minds or make his targets hallucinate. The implants also masked Grayson’s identity by making his face look like a swirl on any kind of electronic recording and in people’s memories. The Hypnos, which every Spyral agent wore, could also be used to upload information, including live feeds from other agents, directly into their users’ minds.
GRAYSON’S TWO-BRAIN SCRAMBLE
While Grayson’s Hypnos gave him fantastic abilities, they also made him susceptible to some particularly unsettling weaknesses. As Grayson explained, overuse or misuse of the Hypnos could result in the ominous -sounding “two-brain scramble.” They could also give their users memory gaps or result in “post-mental interrogation trauma” after being used to pry secrets from someone’s mind. Hypnos could even be used to take control of someone wearing them.
In Grayson #20, by Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly and Roge Antonio, they Hypnos’ vulnerabilities actually saved Grayson’s life. Doctor Dedalus, who was also Spyral’s founder Otto Netz, injected his consciousness into Grayson’s body. After a fight inside Grayson’s mind, he whispered “tsuchigomo,” a secret codeword that caused the Hypnos to shock his brain into unconsciousness. After this brain scramble vaporized Dedalus, Grayson recovered, had his Hypnos removed and returned to superheroics as Nightwing.
Even though he’s one of the world’s best athletes, Dick Grayson has spent a decent amount of time on the sidelines after particularly nasty injuries. In Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s Batman #5, Robin got his first major injury, a concussion that required surgery, in 1941. In Batman #408, by Max Allan Collins and Chris Warner, the Joker injured Dick’s shoulder, which Grayson used as a reason to put away his Robin identity.
After he became Nightwing, Grayson’s crime-fighting career got even more dangerous. After his body began to show the scars from a lifetime of fights, Nightwing took a massive blast of extra-dimensional energy in 2006’s Infinite Crisis #7, by Geoff Johns, Phil Jimenez, George Perez, Ivan Reis and Joe Bennett. After healing in a medically-induced coma for a month, Grayson was out of commission as Nightwing for a year during his lengthy rehabilitation and recovery process.
ROBIN’S ARTIFICIAL AGE
Even though he’s come a long way since his days as the Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson is still partially defined by his youthful spirit. Unsurprisingly, Dick has had his youth taken away on a few occasions. In 1955’s Detective Comics #215, by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff, Batman and Robin switched ages. In a story called “Batman, Junior and Robin, Senior,” the criminal scientist Wilton Winders exposed Robin to an experimental gas that made him a decade older. With Batman transformed into a child, Robin led the effort to capture Winders and restore their rightful ages.
On Teen Titans, Robin went through a similar experience in the 2004 episode, “Revolution.” Jealous of the Titans’ youth, the Mad Mod used a device to de-age himself by turning Robin into an elderly man. After the Titans learned a valuable lesson about compromise and teamwork, Robin was able to reverse the process.
THE SHAPE-SHIFTING BOY WONDER
In the world of Frank Miller’s iconic Batman tale, The Dark Knight Returns, Dick Grayson’s life took a tragic turn. As revealed in Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder, Batman was especially harsh towards Dick after taking him in. While Grayson didn’t play a role in DKR, he was the primary villain in that comic’s 2001 sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
After Batman fired him for his incompetence as Robin, Grayson took part in a gene-altering experiment that gave him shape-shifting abilities and a powerful healing factor. Unfortunately, these treatments also drove Grayson mad. Operating as the second Joker, Grayson finished off a few heroes like the Martian Manhunter and the Creeper. After a long final battle, Batman defeated his former protégé by throwing him into a lava pit, where he disappeared.
FLASH FIXED NIGHTWING’S BRAIN
As part of the massive ongoing DC Rebirth storyline, someone wiped out a decade of the DC Universe’s history. Since those missing years were so formative for Nightwing and the other Teen Titans, they were some of the first characters to realize that something was wrong in the 2015 miniseries Titans Hunt. After Wally West’s Flash, a former Teen Titan, re-emerged in the DC Universe after falling outside of time, he was able to fill in the gaps in the Titans’ collective memory.
In 2016’s Titans: Rebirth #1, by Dan Abnett and Brett Booth, Wally shocked Dick Grayson to restore his memories. Using a jolt of electricity from the extra-dimensional Speed Force, the Flash literally changed the makeup of Nightwing’s brain. As the Titans’ telepath Lilith confirmed, the electrical signals in Nightwing’s brain were altered after the Flash exposed him to the somewhat nebulous Speed Force.
ROBIN’S TIME HYPNOSIS
In his earliest years as Robin, Dick Grayson had a surprising number of adventures with Batman in the distant past or the far-off future. These time-traveling tales usually involved the eccentric scientist Professor Carter Nichols. In 1944’s Batman #24, by Joseph Samachson and Dick Sprang, Professor Nichols used hypnosis to send Batman and Robin’s minds back in time while their bodies sat in a trance, occasionally muttering, in the present day.
Through this bizarre form of astral projection, Batman and Robin could still interact with objects and people in the past. Even though Nichols’ “Time Hypnosis” operated on a dubious scientific basis, Batman still suspected that they could suffer actual bodily harm in their travels. After their first adventure took them into the Roman Empire, Nichols’ hypnotic approach to time travel was eventually phased out in favor of a slightly more realistic time machine.
NIGHTWING HAD A MULLET
When Dick Grayson established his Nightwing identity, he wore a striking blue-and-gold costume that was inspired by a circus acrobat’s outfit. In 1992, Nightwing added another bold component to that look by cutting his hair into a mullet. In Marv Wolfman, Len Wein and Tom Grummett’s New Titans #88, Starfire, who was dating Nightwing, cut his hair into the infamous hairstyle because “it’s the 1990s out there.”
For the next few years, Nightwing kept the mullet, which he also started tying into an unnaturally long ponytail that almost reached his waist. Thankfully, a member of the False Face Society, a gang run by the criminal Black Mask, cut off Nightwing’s ponytail during a fight in 1996’s Nightwing #1, by Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel. While Nightwing still sports a full head of hair, his mullet hasn’t made a reappearance.
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