Pre-Crisis Robin’s first appearance
First Appearance:DETECTIVE COMICS #38, 1940 (as Dick Grayson/Robin); TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44, 1984 (as Nightwing)
As the first Robin, the first kid sidekick in comic books and the first leader of the Teen Titans, Dick Grayson has always been a trailblazer. Since his introduction in 1940, Dick has been the physical manifestation of “light” to Batman’s “darkness,” always ready with a quip and a smile to balance out the Dark Knight’s grim single-mindedness.
Growing up, Dick traveled the country with his mother, Mary, and father, John, as “the Flying Graysons,” a world-famous trapeze troupe that performed with Haly’s Circus—until a cruel twist of fate intervened. When the circus was set to perform in Gotham, a mobster named Tony Zucco attempted to extort Mr. Haly for protection money. When Haly refused to pay, Zucco had his thugs sabotage the circus’ trapeze with acid. When John and Mary began their act, the wires snapped and sent them plummeting to their deaths—all while Dick watched helplessly.
Fortunately, Bruce Wayne happened to be in attendance that night, and quickly sprang into action as Batman while the big top erupted into chaos. Knowing all too well the trauma of being suddenly, violently orphaned, Bruce decided to take Dick under his wing so they could set about avenging the Graysons’ murders.
After a regimen of intense training, Dick set about crafting a costume and a superhero identity for himself. He chose the name “Robin” after both his mother’s favorite bird and his favorite mythical hero, Robin Hood, and he officially became Batman’s sidekick (and Bruce Wayne’s ward). The Dynamic Duo was born.
As Dick grew up, however, a rift began to form between him and Batman. With the aid of some fellow sidekicks, Dick formed the Teen Titans, a teenage answer to the Justice League, which forced Dick to split his time between Gotham and the team’s base of operations in New York. Not one to accept any half measures, and increasingly impatient with Dick’s distraction in the field, Batman wound up “firing” him from his job as a sidekick.
It was a brutal blow, but it would eventually work out for the better. After seeking some advice from Superman, Dick decided to adopt a new identity—“Nightwing,” after a hero from Kryptonian legend—and returned to the Teen Titans with an all-new look and a renewed sense of purpose.
It would take time for Bruce and Dick to repair their relationship in earnest, but eventually Dick’s independence would pave the way for an even stronger bond between them. When, from time to time, Bruce has found himself unable to do his job, Dick has stepped in as a temporary Batman.