Secret Origins launched back in April 2014 with three origin stories: Superman, Supergirl, and the first Robin, Dick Grayson. This last was penned by Kyle Higgins, who had already given us his take on the New 52 origin of Robin in Nightwing #0. His Secret Origin story — which I found to be poignant and lovely — turned out to be an expansion of that, in a way; continuing the #0 issue, while also correcting some of the problems readers had with it.
So I was surprised to see that Dick Grayson would getting a second go-around in Secret Origins, this time in issue #8. Ostensibly, this story is meant to be the origin of Dick as a secret agent for Spyral. In actuality, it’s more of a “stock-take” for Dick Grayson in the New 52. Written by Tim Seeley (who has yet to write a comic I have disliked – I hope he takes the lead on more Grayson stories in the coming months) and illustrated by Stephen Mooney, the conceit of this particular “secret origin” is that it’s a history of the character re-told by Helena Bertinelli to her boss at the secret spy agency Spyral.
Given that the Batfamily timelines are a bit of a mess in the reboot DC universe, getting us up to speed is no bad thing. Read on to see what we learned (and/or confirmed) in Secret Origins #8.
1. Romani Descent
Devin Grayson was the first to establish Dick’s Romani heritage, back in the early 2000s (see Gotham Knights #20 & #21). It’s been mostly ignored ever since, perhaps partly because there are awkward connotations all around when you take it together with Dick’s circus background.
The New 52 Court of Owls arc established that Dick’s great-grandparents were two very white individuals, William Cobb and Amelia Crowne, but there’s no reason for this to negate Dick having Romani blood through his maternal grandmother or even his mother.
So kudos to Tim Seeley for bringing that part of Dick Grayon’s history back into the fold. He does have a solid track record of promoting diversity in comics; once again I’m terribly glad he is involved in Grayson!
Some might say it was just a throwaway line, but indeed, there was much excitement over on Tumblr even even for this “throwaway line”.
2. Bruce Wayne’s Ward
Nightwing #0 had Dick staying at a Wayne Care Centre, with a part-time job at Wayne Manor. Secret Origins #1 and Batman & Robin Annual #2 both implied that Dick was adopted after all, and Secret Origins #8 is the first instance reconciling both scenarios. Dick not staying at stately Wayne Manor with Bruce and Alfred just seems wrong, so I’m glad this has been cleared up.
3. Discowing/Teen Titans No More
As originally stated by Scott Lobdell, we have further confirmation here Dick Grayson in the New 52 was never a part of the Teen Titans (which he co-founded way back in the ’60s). However, he did indeed team up informally with teen heroes like Arsenal and Starfire. The “Discowing” costume we’ve only ever seen in Red Hood and the Outlaws in association with this time period also makes an appearance. It’s interesting that these two tidbits, which have only ever been seen in RHatO, have now been acknowledged by, well, an actual Dick Grayson comic.
4. Boy To Man
Here’s one I was happy to see: Bruce and Dick did not have a major fight leading to Dick becoming Nightwing. Rather, Dick retired Robin of his own volition to become Nightwing — and apparently stayed in Gotham to continue fighting crime there. This has already been implied by Kyle Higgins previously, but it’s nice to see it outright stated as well.
There have been many takes on how Dick became Nightwing, each seeming to get more violent and bitter than the last, so it’s nice to see a return to the original Pre-Crisis version where Dick had simply moved on without a bitter break-up from Batman.
5. Spyral Recruit
Helena chooses Dick to be her new partner. New 52 Helena is still a bit of a blank spot. Is she still from Gotham, for one thing? Did she feel some connection to Dick because of that?
Mr. Minos, her boss, does also mention this interesting tidbit below. Could this be a reference to the events of Batman Incorporated, which where we first encountered Spyral to begin with? I’ve been wondering if Kathy Kane will make an appearance in Grayson. Not yet, so far, but here’s hoping they’re just saving her for a big bang appearance…