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NIGHTWING: A KNIGHT IN BLUDHAVEN (1998)

Written by Chuch Dixon, Illustrated by Scott McDaniel

Dick Grayson has a long and colorful history in the DC Universe. Starting out as the original Robin, Batman's sidekick, he grew into a leadership role with the Teen Titans, later striking out on his own with the new codename Nightwing. Still, he was never fully realized as a character, always standing in Batman's shadow or playing with superpowered heroes in the Titans -- until he left Gotham behind to work in the nearby city of Bludhaven.

Charles Dixon made Nightwing a force to be reckoned with in the eight issues of Nightwing, first published in 1996-97 and collected in 1998. Batman asks Dick to investigate 21 corpses which floated upriver to Gotham from its dark, depressed sister city to the south, and Nightwing soon finds himself acting as Bludhaven's sole guardian.

This isn't Gotham, where Batman has a staunch ally in Commissioner Gordan, nor is it Metropolis, where the crusading reporters of the Daily Planet act as a secondary police force and keep Superman on his toes. Bludhaven is corrupt from top to bottom, and Nightwing has a big job ahead of him.

The art by Scott McDaniel tends toward the dark, with kinetic action and lots of closeups for an effective presentation of the tale.

The storyline started by Dixon introduces us to corrupt Police Chief Redhorn, the enigmatic Inspector Dudley Soames and the massive crimelord Roland "Blockbuster" Desmond, as well as an array of minor thugs, bad cops, masked villains and an extremely cute building superintendent. There are cameo appearances by Barbara "Oracle" Gordon and Tim "Robin" Drake, and of course the shadow of Batman looms over Dick's every move.

But this is where Dick really cut the cord and became a hero in his own right. Read A Knight in Bludhaven to see where it all began.