Despite being a Bat Family, it turns out that Nightwing and Batgirl’s first team-up was kept secret from Batman years before they became sidekicks.
Warning! Spoilers for Nightwing #78
Despite being a Bat Family, it turns out that Nightwing and Batgirl’s first team-up was kept secret from Batman. Though fans are familiar with Nightwing and Batgirl’s many collaborations as superheroes, a new comic reveals that the two joined forces long before anyone thought.
Although Nightwing and Batgirl are often a superhero power couple in DC Comics, it’s rare that readers have a chance to revisit their pasts. For the most part, fans have assumed the two sidekicks of Gotham’s Dark Knight got their start as vigilantes fighting crime alongside one another. Past comics such as Batgirl: Year One have explored their history together, long before Robin matured into Nightwing. However, Nightwing #78 has expanded on their collective backstory. The series is
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In Nightwing #78 from writer Tom Taylor and artist Bruno Redondo, it’s revealed that when the two sidekicks were kids, the future Batgirl Barbara Gordon and then-Robin Dick Grayson teamed up to fight back against school bullies. However, their teamwork was kept a secret by Alfred, who never informed Bruce as Dick had been brought back home to Wayne Manor by police. Obviously Dick and Barbara have always had a strong connection, whether it be in crimefighting or in their romantic life over the years. This reveal that Nightwing’s war on bullying predates his war on crime expands his relationship to Barbara. Even if they were never superheroes, this implies there’s a good chance they would have found each other eventually.
On top of this, the way that Alfred responds to a young Dick Grayson solidifies trust between them. Just as Bruce is Dick’s surrogate father, Alfred is depicted like a kindly grandfather who wants to earn his grandson’s friendship. Before, it would have been easy for Dick to see their butler as being on Bruce’s side of things, reluctant to hold back any information. The fact that he’s willing to keep a secret for Robin, especially when it involves something that is bound to be misunderstood, establishes a good relationship between the two of them that readers know will carry into the future.
Often, when it’s revealed that characters have met earlier than audiences realize, it can cheapen a relationship and come off as fan service. In this case, it actually makes sense to explore such backstory and unveil that readers don’t know everything they assumed. It’s also reassuring to reflect on these past moments, as it exemplifies that these superheroes go beyond their costumed personas. This retrospective shows that Batman’s influence on Dick, and Commissioner Jim Gordon’s influence on his daughter Barbara, played a huge part in bringing them together. Without both the Dark Knight or Gordon’s inspiration to stand up for what’s right, it’s questionable whether Nightwing and Batgirl would work as well together as they do.
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