If you were a fan of Batman in the 1990s, you read many stories by Chuck Dixon. At one point in time or another he was writing 1/3 of the Batman related titles that were published, including other titles for DC and for many, he is considered one of three definitive voices for the Dark Knight for the 1990s (Alan Grant and Doug Moench winding out that incredible triumvirate of writers).
As great of a Batman writer as he was, his true gift was his ability to turn second tier characters, forgot ideas and literal scraps left by other writers into engaging stories, titles and characters… often all occupying the same space at the same time. His run on the first Robin series is definitive Tim Drake, he created Stephanie Brown/Spoiler, and boosted Oracle’s profile while giving her a leadership role in the Birds of Prey franchise. For me though, his crowning achievement is the work he did with Dick Grayson aka Nightwing.
This little Curated: Dick Grayson by Chuck Dixon is my recommendations for anyone looking to get into this character and really enjoy some incredible stories featuring this rich character!
Robin: Year One
This four issue co-written by Chuck Dixon & Scott Beatty with Javier Pulido on pencilling duties is nothing short of beautiful. It captures an often referenced period in the Dick Grayson’s time as Robin in greater detail. Robin is faced with his own challenges as a solo hero as well as sidekick to the Caped Crusader. The ending of this mini-series dovetails beautifully with Batgirl: Year One, sharing a pivotal scene between the two books.
The world’s first superhero side-kick finally gets his own series after some 60 years playing second fiddle, and it’s this groundbreaking series by Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel take the the former Boy Wonder to the utterly corrupt whaling/industrial town of Bludhaven to fight crime and discover himself (sounds just like the angsty Gen-X fueled 90s). Chuck Dixon spends a lot of time on developing Dick Grayson/Nightwing as a complex, nuanced character trapped between his desires to be his own man, and also his acknowledgement that he will always live in someone’s shadow. This collection gives you the first miniseries as well as the first eight issues of that solo series in Bludhaven.
NIghtwing: Year One
Re-united on the Nightwing title in the middle 00s for a six-issue retrospective, Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel give us a detailed look at Dick Grayson’s transitional year from losing the mantle of Robin to striking out on his own, with quite a few surprising guest-stars on the way. This is honestly, my all-time favourite Nightwing storyline, and it’s recently been collected again!
Nightwing: The Target (optional)
Before Dixon and McDaniel reunited on the title, they did a mini-reunion in the early 00s with Nightwing: the Target. It’s more of a Dick Grayson than Nightwing tale, the story itself is fairly boilerplate, but if you can find a cheap copy, it’s a pleasant albeit quick read, or…
Nightwing (Vol. 1) 25 (1998)
… save up a few extra bucks and look for this single issue Nightwing/Tim Drake as Robin team-up. It has an inventive main plot device that enables Scott McDaniel to truly cut-loose with the art, but enabled Dixon room to really breathe life into a special brotherly bond that these two characters at one time possessed. This is probably my single favourite issue of Nightwing written.
And that, gives you an incredible weekend of reading!