Pretty much everyone who reads comics knows that Dick Grayson was the first Robin, and that he is now Nightwing. This is a change that happened at least three times now. Once pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, again post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, and it obviously happened in the DCnU. I will be focusing on the post-COIE version, as told in Batman #408 (1987), and the retcon that happened later in Nightwing #101 (2005).
That’s the work of Max Allan Collins in the ’80s versus Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon in ‘05, for those keeping score at home.
How and Why Dick Grayson Stopped Being Robin
In Batman 408, Dick is shot by the Joker.
Batman freaks out, and tries to go to Robin’s aid. But he also has to subdue the Joker…
…which, given that Robin was rapidly losing blood from a shoulder wound, may have taken too long! At least, that’s what the journalists in the observing news ‘copter think may have happened. They run a story on the news speculating that Robin was killed.
In contrast, in Nightwing 101…
Well… Robin was on a mission with the Teen Titans and was late getting to Gotham to help Batman in subduing and bringing in Clayface (Matt Hagan). Yeah.
Also, he gives Batman some “attitude” and disobeys an order — instead of taking the kid and leaving Clayface to Batman, Robin runs off after Clayface alone. Ooh!
(Batman leaves the kid in the car and goes chasing after Robin and Clayface, and it turns out that the two of them have to work together to beat Clayface. Batman pitches a fit about this the whole drive back home…)
Back in Batman 408, Bruce has decided that since the media seems keen on the idea of Robin being dead, that Robin should “stay dead” and Dick can no longer be his partner.
Understandably offended, Dick initially protests (especially being called a child). Bruce reassures Dick that his decision has nothing to do with Dick not measuring up to standard, and Dick agrees to abide by it…
…but we all know that even if he’s not Robin, he’ll still be a crime-fighter. Because that’s what Bruce raised him to be. The two men agree to an end to the partnership, and do so amicably.
…Things don’t go nearly as well in Nightwing 101.
Bruce yells about how Dick is never around anymore and this is a war and serious business. Like Dick was off partying or something, not saving people from Brother Blood with his team. He doesn’t listen to anything that Dick has to say and busts out with an ultimatum of “You’re fired!”
Yeah. Yeah, this retcon really improves things, huh folks? -_-