Fake news! The media is bad! Nightwing leaves Blüdhaven and heads to Gotham to fight his techno-baddies, with an assist from Batgirl and Batman’s ex-girlfriend. 

Nightwing Annual 1
Written by Benjamin Percy 
Art by Otto Schmidt

I was a big fan of Benjamin Percy’s run on Green Arrow, which was a very politically-themed book. But Oliver Queen is a character that has been established as a lefty activist for decades now. It works for Green Arrow, and will likely continue to define his character. Bringing modern political concepts into a book starring Nightwing, though, just doesn’t feel right. 

Batman’s first partner has never really been a political animal. He’s the bright light coming from the Bat-family, the counter-balance to Bruce Wayne’s scowling nature. He’s the Spider-Man of the DC Comics Universe: bring down bad guys with a quip and a smile, getting into some romantic entanglements along the way. 

This is probably why I haven’t been able to get into Percy’s Nightwing run so far. In fact, I really only picked up this annual because it was a fifth Wednesday and very few books were available from my publisher of choice.

And as a guy who’s worked in the news media for 15 years now, I’m really tired of the term “FAKE NEWS” and portraying the media as the enemy. Here, Nightwing continues to fight against a cyber-threat manipulating the news and creating false narratives throughout Gotham. But when his opponent declares that the news media is now the best way of tearing people apart and sewing the seeds of dissent, our hero doesn’t really argue, he just tries to shut down the bad guy’s plan. 

That was a little disappointing, honestly. 

Nightwing is called to Gotham by news reporter and former girlfriend of Bruce Wayne, Vicki Vale. She wants his help to stop all the media manipulation. Nightwing spends most of the first half of the 40-page story flirting with his mentor and adoptive father’s ex-girlfriend, which is only weird if you think about it. 

Besides, with all the retcons and reboots, Dick Grayson isn’t all that much younger than Bruce Wayne at this point. Pretty soon, he’s going to need a completely new origin. Percy’s already updated Roy Harper’s relationship with Oliver Queen, so he may as well modernize Grayson’s connection to Bruce Wayne. 

What I did enjoy out of this issue, though, was Nightwing’s relationship with Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. I’m a big fan of these two being together, and Percy adds to the growing list of issues that seem to be building to a Nightwing-Batgirl romantic partnership. Hell, it makes more sense than Batman marrying Catwoman. 

Despite flirting with Vicki Vale – a lot – in the annual, Nightwing makes it clear how important Babs is to him. And she, in return, makes him a mobile Batcave in a giant Bat-Winnebago and makes him a new motorcycle. Hopefully, we see their relationship develop more as we go forward, and maybe we can get a wedding for the 80th anniversary of Grayson’s creation in 2020…