Man Of The Year: Celebrating Dick Grayson’s Handsomest Moments
In his 75-year career as a superhero, Dick Grayson has been a lot of things. He's been a circus acrobat, Robin, Nightwing, Batman, a Teen Titan, a member of the Justice League, Batman again, and he's been a world-traveling super-spy charged with bringing down some of the strangest threats that the DC Universe. But more than that, today's Dick Grayson is something else. Something more. Something that inspires us all in a way that few other super-heroes do. He is an exceptionally good-looking man.
That, more than anything else, came to define him over the past year, and now, before we move inexorably into the future, we look back at how Dick Grayson had the handsomest year ever.
It's worth noting that while Tim Seeley, Tom King, Mikel Janin, Alvaro Martinez Bueno and Stephen Mooney have brought it to the forefront in the pages of Grayson --- and while Babs Tarr took his bedroom eyes to new heights in the pages of Batgirl with an appearance that made previously theoretical levels of hair-tousling a reality --- it's not exactly anything new. Dick's status as one of the DCU's foremost hunks has been a part of his character for a long time, going back to when he first ditched the Robin costume and started popping his collar as Nightwing in the pages of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's Teen Titans.
The romantic soap-opera elements that blended with superheroics in that title may not have always hit their mark --- take a look at Terry Long if you want to see just how far off the rails that stuff can go --- but in Dick's case, it worked, and it laid the groundwork for how the character would evolve over the next two decades.
It made sense that it would go this way, too --- Dick is, after all, one of the few characters who's always been drawn for high action and acrobatics, with a winning smile and seemingly infinite flexibility. Plus, while he his history makes him the heir apparent to Batman, he has one thing that his mentor has never really been allowed to develop: A consistent and seemingly effortless charm.
I think it's fair to say that in the years before his butt took over as his primary super-power, friendship and compassion were Grayson's defining characteristics. He's built ties to almost everyone --- he was the best man at the Flash's wedding! --- and that makes him a character who's very easy to drop into a romance in a way that makes him sympathetic. That love and affection is already there. It might seem obvious just from reading the comics, but it's true: In the DC Universe, everyone loves Dick.
These days, though, it's pretty much all about the butt.
I'm not sure that there's any body part in the history of superhero comics, up to and including adamantium bones, that has gotten the attention that Dick Grayson's butt has received this year. It has literally been at the center --- well, the rear, but you know what I mean --- of two separate storylines that have had real, emotional consequences for the characters involved.
Take, for instance, Dick's long-awaited reunion with Barbara Gordon. Before he showed up in her window all piercing eyes and super-tight t-shirt, the reunion between the two characters was teased in the pages of Batgirl Annual #3.
See, after his identity was revealed to the world in the events of Forever Evil, Dick faked his death to go undercover as a member of Spyral, an international espionage organization that caused no small amount of trouble in Batman Incorporated. The upside to that is that he has a fancy piece of technology called the Hypnos Implant that can disguise his identity by making him appear to be someone else, usually by obscuring his features as --- wait for it --- a spiral.
Babs, however, is not one to be fooled so easily, and thus:
We learn that Dick's is truly a butt that won't quit... revealing his secret identity to those closest to him.
The Hypnos implant also provided one of the single best moments in the character's considerable history, in this year's Grayson Annual, which saw Dick teaming up with Superman. The relationship between those characters has always been an interesting one, mainly because for a guy raised by Batman, Superman ends up being your cool uncle. Superman even handed down the "Nightwing" name from back in the day when he used to go into the Bottle City of Kandor to fight crime with Jimmy Olsen. Here, though, we get to see them as very different characters.
Dick, of course, is a super-spy, but Superman --- in true Cool Uncle fashion --- is unemployed and riding around on a motorcycle that he probably didn't pay for and getting into fistfights. In this case, the fistfights are against a sect of cultists called the Fist of Cain that were previously defeated by the power of friendship (no, seriously, it's in Grayson #8 and it's amazing) but are now trying to blow up a reasonable portion of Gotham City. What's important here is that even Superman can't stop them alone, but the one thing that gives them pause is... the face.
It's the "Hi there" that really makes it work.
And that might actually be my favorite thing about it. It's not just that this is a comic that has canonized the idea that Dick Grayson's butt is so perfectly sculpted that it can identify him just as surely as a fingerprint, it's taken it all a step further. He's literally fighting crime with the power of weaponized handsomeness at this point, and that's great. It's taken a fun undercurrent of sexuality that ran through the book and made it something that's in focus, something that's shown as being a part of Dick's life that gives him a universal appeal to pretty much everyone in the book regardless of gender.
That alone is a rare quality for creators to get an opportunity to explore with a character who has Dick's prominence and history, but that it's done so well, treated as something that can be fun and romantic and definitive for him across the board makes it truly fantastic.
Clearly, 2015 was Dick's year to shine. Here's hoping for another year!