Every comic book reader, as well as many among the general public, know that Batman’s first Robin, Dick Grayson, eventually became the hero Nightwing. But now, after the shocking unmasking of Dick as Nightwing by the hands of the Crime Syndicate in the first issue of the “Forever Evil” miniseries by writer Geoff Johns and artist David Finch, the entire world of the DC universe now knows the identity of one of the world’s most prominent superheroes. There are numerous ramifications yet to result from the unmasking that will not only affect Dick’s life, but also his supporting cast and the world writer Kyle Higgins has established in the current “Nightwing” title. Many complications and story ideas can be mined from this revelation and opens up a relatively rare concept in the DC universe: the world now knows, without his consent, the identity of one of the world’s heroes.
The first question that will come to the minds of the DC universe’s shocked populace would be, “Are there superheroes living around me?” This will open up a proverbial can of worms, with people trying to deduce who among them is secretly a superhero. No superhero will be safe. Amateur sleuths will make it a hobby to discover who is the man or woman behind a particular hero or heroine’s mask. We know it’s possible for heroes to be discovered because Tim Drake, the third Robin, obtained his superheroic position by deducing, as a teenager, that Bruce Wayne was Batman and Dick Grayson was the first Robin. The population will begin to wonder if there should be heroes and if they have too much unchecked power. The most frightening ramification for Nightwing, as well as for any other hero that happens to be unmasked, would be the safety of his or her loved ones. Now that his identity is known, Dick must make sure his new roommates in Chicago are safe, as well as any person he has been in a relationship with, romantic or otherwise.
Those among the Bat-family are the ones most susceptible to harm due to this revelation, especially Bruce Wayne. He was the one who adopted Dick when his parents were murdered by Tony Zucco. As part of The Flying Graysons circus act, Dick’s acrobatic skills were a perfect template to mold a sidekick. Those with minimal detecting skills could see the connection, as Tim did, between Bruce and Batman and figure out that they are one and the same. From there, a domino effect could occur where every one of Bruce’s allies could be unmasked, from Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) to the other Robins. Even non-masked allies and family, such as Alfred, could be kidnapped, tortured, or even killed by past rogues of the Bat-family. Bruce, however, being the greatest detective in the world, could easily find a way to deflect, as he did in “Batman, Incorporated”, any sign of heroics that could be traced to him or the remaining Bat-family. With Batman, there’s always a way. Except now he can’t protect his former protégé because Bruce is dead (for now). Dick, along with Barbara, Tim, and Jason Todd, are truly alone. A death in the family has occurred, not of the family.
Harm to those he loves is not the only result of Nightwing’s unmasking. His superhero identity could clearly derail Dick’s life permanently. He could be arrested for vigilantism, which is a crime that every superhero could realistically and easily be charged with. Staying free from prison would be a hard proposition, unless he went on the run and gave up the Dick Grayson identity forever. He could possibly hide out in the Batcave with Alfred and work from there as a new masked vigilante. Or, even more tantalizing to think about, he could take up the mantle of the Bat now that Bruce has been declared dead by the Crime Syndicate. He already made an excellent replacement Batman when Bruce “died” in the past, and he could surely do it again. Being Batman, however, would most assuredly be temporary, or otherwise Kyle Higgins would be out of a job. Bruce coming back is a definite given.
Speaking of Kyle Higgins, he clearly has a revelation that could open up his storytelling to endless possibilities. In his title, Dick has moved to Chicago in order to find Tony Zucco. In the current storyline, Zucco has been unmasked as being alive and living under an alias. Quite possibly, but improbably, Zucco and Dick could go on the run together, making one of the oddest odd couples. Tony truly seems to be attempting to live a better life, even though he has lied to his wife and child about his sordid past. A story of redemption could occur, with Zucco helping the child of the parents he murdered. Another possible story twist for Higgins to mine would be having Dick’s new roommates in Chicago harbor a known superhero fugitive and thus become his new family. After his unmasking, they would see a side of the mysterious Dick Grayson that would inspire them to help a hero. So many other stories could be told in the aftermath of this revelation and “Forever Evil.” This will drastically change and promote growth in the character’s personality and day-to-day life.
No matter the outcome of this shocking unmasking that is reportedly the status quo for the character of Nightwing, great story possibilities are most assuredly in the making. Nothing like this has ever happened in the new DC Universe. A hero has never been unmasked against his will. Geoff Johns and Kyle Higgins will have a new wrinkle in the life of Dick Grayson that can add much to the character. Maybe this will be a good thing for Dick and he’ll be allowed to live openly as a hero without repercussions. Or it could turn out horribly for him. We’ll find out within the next six months, but one thing is for certain: the always-optimistic and down to earth Dick will prevail. He’s gone through a lot, what with the revelations during the Court of Owls storyline and the death of Damian Wayne. Heroes always triumph and Dick is one of the greatest.