Nightwing's Still Using His Sexuality to Make Comics More Progressive

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We’re getting to a point in Dick Grayson’s career where he’s spent more time galavanting around the world as a world-renowned spy than he has as Bruce Wayne’s successor to the cowl. But one of the things writers like Gail Simone and Grayson’s Tim Seeley (who also writes the current Nightwing Rebirth series) made a very big point of highlighting about their takes o the former boy wonder is his sex appeal as an adult.

In this week’s Nightwing, writer Sam Humphries and illustrators Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo kept up in the now established tradition of framing Grayson as something of a sex icon by sending him rather deep undercover.


For the past few issues of Nightwing, Grayson’s been locked in a deadly game of wits with the Judge—a criminal mastermind who the vigilante failed to capture during his early days at Batman’s sidekick. Unlike most of the terrorists Robin faced over the years, the Judge made a point of destroying Blüdhaven’s burgeoning casino scene, which he saw as a blight on society. The Judge’s resurfacing after all of his years away reawakens Robin’s desire to settle the old score. But the villain’s fondness for convincing regular citizens to become involved in his intricate schemes forces Nightwing to operate as Dick Grayson in order to get close enough to take him out.

When Grayson learns that the Judge has holed himself up in a fortified casino where he’s orchestrating Nightwing’s assassination, the hero realizes that his best bet to get inside is to tag along with a friend from CrossFit who happens to do a bit of exotic dancing. Rather than taking Batman up on an offer for assistance, Grayson uses his own guile and charm and to go-go dance his way into enemy territory—exactly where he wants to be.


Like any former (?) spy worth his salt, Grayson immediately knows how to blend in with his surroundings and it just so happens that this one involves him working at a bachelorette party. In terms of Nightwing’s plot, the development doesn’t exactly have much importance.


But it’s a purposeful acknowledgement of this part of the character’s popularity with fans and very much a sort of appreciation of Grayson’s sex appeal similar to the way Casino Royale made a point of making James Bond the object of desire as opposed to the Bond girl. Depicting the male body in comics as something to be admired and desired rather than just aspired to from afar is an important, sex-positive message to champion, and an acknowledgement that some of the people who read comics just so happen to be attracted to guys, as well.

Keep doing what you’re doing, Nightwing. Do it for the people; do it for the culture. But above all, just keep doing it.