Nightwing's Origin Story Gets a Joker Twist

For DC Comics fans the origin story for Dick Grayson/Nightwing is one that is almost as well-known as that of Batman himself. It’s a story with some deep parallels to Bruce’s own tragic origin story, which is part of what makes it so compelling. The youngest of a family of acrobats known as the "Flying Graysons", young Richard "Dick" Grayson sees mafia boss Tony Zucco kill his parents and Bruce Wayne/Batman ends up taking in Dick as his ward, training him to become Robin and, later, Nightwing. But in this week's Nightwing #71, the amnesiac hero gets a new origin of sorts thanks to the Joker.

In the issue Dick -- who is still suffering from memory loss thanks to being shot in the head by KGBeast in Batman #55 from 2018 and thus going by "Ric" -- the Joker shows up at Prodigal Bar and threatens Ric's girlfriend, Bea. The villain claims that he's there to help Dick recover his memories, but when Ric refuses, Joker threatens to kill Bea with a crowbar just as he once did to Jason Todd. However, it's not just the threat that Joker has up his sleeve. Joker pulls out the memory crystal Doctor Haas created that contains the Dick Grayson memories/persona and uses it to "rewrite" Dick's origin story by making himself the man who took Dick in upon the death of his parents.

nightwing 71 joker
(Photo: DC Entertainment)

"Let me tell you about a little boy whose parents died in the circus," Joker says. "But their deaths didn't make the little boy sad. He was thrilled because a very nice man with green hair and white skin came to take that boy in and raise him as his own. Allow me to tell you about his life."

On the one hand, it looks like the "Ric" situation may finally be at its end -- Joker declares "no one likes that name" and then dubs Dick "Dicky Boy" -- but the idea of Batman's biggest and most personal villain warping the mind and history of the Dark Knight's arguably closest ally is a brutal twist as we head toward the upcoming "Joker War" crossover. It will be interesting to see just how this warped new origin twists Nightwing -- and to see how long Joker's manipulation lasts.

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Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.