Believe it or not, there was a time when Batman smiled, and one of the things you just knew made him the proudest (amidst the grief of watching the closest thing he has to a son move on) was seeing Dick Grayson grow into his own man, at least, Pre-Crisis. And indeed, one of the things that puts Nightwing at #9 on my Top-Ten is Graysons rich history. Be it as a vital member of the “Flying Graysons” that he took so much joy in, to the bright eyed lad that faithfully fought crime for years at Batman’s side as Robin, to his role as Nightwing and leader of the Teen Titans and beyond, Grayson is one of the most pivotal, well respected, and experienced figures in the DCU and he managed to “graduate” into the big leagues by unassumingly being one of the best there is.
Like Batman, Dick Grayson is one of the most skilled combatants in the DCU, but also like his former mentor, he rounds out his fighting skill with a fierce intellect and a wisdom beyond his years. He’s a master strategist/tactician, detective, escape artist, is proficient in multiple languages and is hailed as the world’s greatest acrobat (which plays well to his unique fighting style). A weapons and tech expert, Nightwing utilizes his signature escrima sticks to great effect and dons a uniform containing useful equipment (e.g. night vision, lockpicks, antidotes, wing-dings, etc.) along with the ability to blend with the shadows and gluide through the air.
Likewise, to a degree that I don’t know even Batman can claim, Grayson is one of the DCU’s most capable leaders and has seen successful tenures with The Teen Titans, Titans, and Outsiders. Of course, I grew up with Batman and Robin in the comics and on TV and have been on the edge of my seat for so many of their adventures over the years. I just really enjoy the entire journey that has led a young boy who suffered a terrible tragedy with the loss of his parents on that fateful day, to become the crime-fighting half of the Dynamic Duo, into the well-adjusted hero who yearns for adventure, and for a world better than the one that created the Batman, and later, himself. Additionally, it’s great to see Nightwing’s influence working so strongly within Tim Drake, another character who is quickly rising on my list of favorites in no small part thanks to what Grayson has helped him become.