Nightwing #76 forces Dick Grayson to learn Batman’s most painful lesson – one Alfred Pennyworth hoped he would never have to learn.
This article contains spoilers for Nightwing #76, by Dan Jurgens, Ronald Cliquet, and Nick Filardi.
Nightwing has finally learned Batman‘s most painful lesson. Alfred Pennyworth, father-figure to countless vigilantes, always felt he had failed Bruce Wayne. Alfred has wished in vain that his master could find a way to balance his vigilante lifestyle with the human need for intimacy and acceptance, that Bruce could somehow find a Happily Ever After. Any chance of that has passed now, with Bruce having lost his fortune and Gotham losing trust in the Dark Knight. Batman and Catwoman have been forced to part for a year, while each focuses on their own concerns.
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Alfred had always hoped Dick Grayson would be different. Where Batman has been consumed by tragedy, Dick has overcome it. And in Nightwing #76, Dick Grayson decides just how different he really is to Batman. He is presented with the opportunity to have his superhero lifestyle and a relationship with a woman he loves, Bea, at long last. And he has to make the choice whether to embrace this or not.
In Nightwing #76, Dick Grayson decides Batman is right, and Alfred was wrong. He is taught this painful lesson when the KGBeast returns to Gotham to target him once again, and instead takes Bea hostage. Nightwing is able to defeat KGBeast with astounding ease, demonstrating that the skilled assassin can never claim to be a match for him. But Nightwing realizes this is a preview of the kind of life he will be fating Bea for, one in which she is always a target. He decides he cannot force her to suffer that fate, and so he lies to her about his feelings and breaks up with her.
Dick Grayson has finally learned Batman’s most painful lesson; that there is a cost to being a hero, a price that must be paid. He cannot protect Gotham as a vigilante while simultaneously finding peace and lasting happiness in his private life. Sooner or later, those two worlds will collide, and he must choose one or the other. The reality is that there is no real choice here, because there is no way Dick Grayson could ever stand in the shadows and watch as Gotham City descends into chaos. He will always be a vigilante at heart.
This is a moment that will change Nightwing forever. He has accepted his role as a vigilante, and he has finally given up on his dreams of peace and happiness. Nightwing finally knows there will be no Happily Ever After for any member of the Bat-family – not even him.
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