Nightwing Gets FFFFFFF’D In ‘Forever Evil’ #1 [Spoilers]
In the weeks since the release of the teaser graphic above there have been all kinds of rumors and guesses as to the fate of Nightwing in Forever Evil, the latest DC Comics event series in which the villains succeed in taking over the world. Written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by David Finch and on sale now, issue #1 reveals at least one significant part of Nightwing's fate in the crossover and presumably in the broader narrative of the DC Universe going forward.
SPOILER WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for both Forever Evil and Trinity War.
The end of last month's event series Trinity War saw the arrival of the Crime Syndicate -- evil doppelgangers of the Justice League from an alternate universe -- who came with designs on conquering the mainline DC Universe. Forever Evil #1 follows those events, with the Syndicate freeing superpowered villains in various prisons and asylums around the world. Nightwing happens to arrive at Arkham Asylum just as Superwoman (the evil Wonder Woman) is breaking in to free its inmates, and in trying to stop her he's immediately ambushed and defeated by Superwoman and Owlman. Later, when the Crime Syndicate gathers on a stage to address the entire planet via satellite, they bring the captured Nightwing before them and Superwoman removes his mask on camera, revealing Nightwing's secret identity: Richard Grayson, adopted son of Bruce Wayne.
This is obviously a significant moment, but more so with Nightwing than it would have been with any other character save for Batman and Superman themselves. As the first Robin -- as the first sidekick to any DC Comics hero -- Grayson is one of the central figures of the DC Universe, with connections to nearly every major hero in the publisher's canon. And while those connections don't run quite as deep as they once did now that the DC Universe is only meant to be five years old (and no longer includes former Kid Flash Wally West and former Wonder Girl Donna Troy, Dick's best friends from his now presumably nonexistent Teen Titans days), Nightwing's status as a central figure remains largely intact, as stated explicitly by Superwoman when she tells the gathered villains, "Grayson has many friends and many places he calls home."
Outing a hero's secret identity on television is a move somewhat reminiscent of Peter Parker revealing himself as Spider-Man in the pages of Marvel's 2007 event Civil War. That was a different scenario, of course; Spider-Man's reveal was voluntary. And within the context of their respective universes, the reveal of Nightwing's identity has graver implications for his fellow heroes -- Peter Parker doesn't have the level of familial connections within the Marvel universe that Dick Grayson does in DC's.
Of course, Parker's outing was eventually reversed. If kept in place, the impact of Nightwing's reveal will be interesting to watch because it could affect the narrative of the entire DC universe line, most immediately the Bat-family of titles, with the world knowing half the answer to the question of "Who are Batman and Robin?" It's also worth noting that Nightwing's solo title is one of the few in the New 52 line to have the same writer, Kyle Higgins, since its launch in 2011, giving the book a sense of narrative cohesion that will probably change in light of these events. That is, assuming the solo title continues -- we still don't know whether Nightwing will actually survive to the end of Forever Evil.