Comics/Graphic Novels

Nightwing Is the Worst-Dressed Superhero, Actually

A few months back, my fellow Rioter Eileen Gonzalez wrote an article called “Iron Man Is the Worst-Dressed Superhero and I Can Prove It.” I respect Eileen deeply, and so it is with a heavy heart that I am obligated to point out just how very wrong she is. Tony Stark is a wretched dresser, of course. But Nightwing, AKA Dick Grayson, AKA the original Robin, is the worst dresser in comics. And I have the receipts.

Now, like Eileen, I’m only focusing on Dick’s civilian fashion sense, as his early sartorial efforts as Nightwing have already been thoroughly dunked on (including by me). Like Tony, Dick has enough money to afford to dress well. And yet he reaches into his closet every morning and chooses violence.

Dick spent most of the Golden and Silver Age wearing pretty much the same red sweater over a white collared shirt, and I have no complaints there. It’s only when he hit adolescence and started hanging out with his friends that things got…concerning. Like, here’s what the Titans chose to wear when they found out about hippies in Teen Titans #15:

One panel from Teen Titans #15. The Titans approach a redheaded hippie with a full beard and a beaded necklace. Robin is wearing a green mumu, a string of beads down to his ankles, and a shaggy black wig with feathers stuck in it. Kid Flash is wearing a yellow shirt, dark red pants, a brown panama hat, and a brown fur best. Wonder Girl is wearing a red piece of cloth draped loosely around her like a dress. Aqualad is wearing a black pageboy wig, cutoff denim shorts, and a blue T-shirt with the word "LOVE" on it.

Narration Box: Two lovebirds fly across the city sky...what of the Titans four? Do they know this score?
Hippie: Four way-out cats approaching...? Advance and be recognized, groovers! Eddie the Guru, that's me!
Dick: Greetings, Guru! I'm Feathers...this is Paradise Baby...Feet...and Wet and Wild!
Get ready for an absolute CAVALCADE of terrible wigs.

That’s Dick on the left, followed by Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and Aqualad. Now, these are costumes for blending in undercover (uh…good luck), but it’s still an indication that once freed from the confines of his red sweater, Dick might not quite know what to do with himself.

One panel from New Teen Titans #26. Starfire and Dick are walking arm in arm. Starfire is wearing a white wrap dress with a pink ruffle around the neckline and sunglasses. Dick is wearing a green three-piece suit and a red and black striped tie and holding tickets.

Starfire: And I can't believe we're finally on a real date.
Dick: What do you mean? We've been going out for weeks now.
Kory, of course, looks fabulous.

Sure enough, when Dick needs to wear a suit in New Teen Titans #26, he’s still leaning on those Robin colors for help. Can you imagine seeing a guy in a bright green three-piece suit and red tie and he’s not working at Santa’s kiosk at the mall? And we haven’t even gotten started yet!

One panel from New Teen Titans #29. Dick is in a gym, hitting a punching bag. He is wearing hot pink briefs and matching ballet slippers. Wonder Girl is watching in the foreground.

Wonder Girl: You're determined to hurt yourself, aren't you?
Dick: I'm doing just fine, Donna. No problems.
He looks fine to me, Donna.

Dick’s a little more relaxed when it comes to working out a couple issues later, in that he apparently wears hot pink briefs and little matching slippers. Hey, if you got it, flaunt it. (And he does: Dick spends much of New Teen Titans in a Speedo. Thank you, George Perez.)

But the ’90s was really Dick’s time to shine. And by “shine,” I mean he still apparently hears the words “civilian disguise” and absolutely panics:

Two panels from New Titans #94. Dick is standing in a bedroom looking in a mirror. He is wearing a white button down shirt, a red vest, blue jeans, and a bright red wig and fake mustache.

Narration Box: Dayton's Mansion.
Dick (thinking): Mirage is right. This disguise really is dumb-looking.
“Welcome to Lowe’s! Can I help you find anything?”

Yes, that’s Dick, who wore this particular wig + mustache combo on multiple occasions. Starfire is such a forgiving girlfriend.

Two panels from different pages of New Titans #95.

Panel 1: Starfire and Dick are in a convertible. She is wearing a bra as a shirt. He is wearing an enormous, patterned green blazer, a white mock turtleneck that appears to have pleats down the front, and his hair is pulled back in a ponytail.

Starfire: ...Thinking of how we were there...and how everybody loved me thinking. I'm mad at Mirage, too, for the stunts she pulled, but she seems to really care for you, Dick. Isn't this trick we're playing on her too cruel?

Panel 2: Dick is climbing a fire escape.

Dick: Car will keep in the parking garage for a while...and my civvies'll be safe on the roof.
Yes, Kory is wearing a bra as a shirt. Yes, she’s still the better dressed person here.

Sometimes, though, he went out as himself…and when he did, he wore a hideously patterned blazer two sizes too big and a little rattail. Also, what is going on with that shirt?

One panel from New Titans #102. Starfire is on a bed in a nightshirt, clearly distressed and ripping a pillow in half. Dick and Flash are running towards her. Dick is wearing a yellow tee shirt with a green plaid flannel over it with the sleeves ripped off, blue jeans with holes in the knees, and black shoes. We can't see much of Flash but he's wearing a ripped up white tank top.

Starfire: Get away from me, Raven! Get away! Don't - don't!
Dick: Kory! Stop! Raven's not here!
Flash: Dick, she doesn't hear you...
Just because your marriage is a shambles and your life is directionless is no reason not to distress all of your clothes for the aesthetic.

Then I guess he got really into grunge? Honestly it’s the dress shoes (I think?) that really make and/or ruin this outfit for me. Business on the toes, party on the clothes.

One panel from New Titans #114. Dick is wearing burgundy plaid boxers over green bike shorts and holding his Nightwing costume. He looks frazzled.

Dick (thinking): Okaaay! There's nothing better than a little Nightwing action to help me take my mind off my problems.
This feels like the polar opposite of those tiny pink shorts from before.

How many pairs of shorts at a time is too many? Asking for a friend (the friend is Dick).

And then, of course, there is the most infamous Nightwing outfit of all, from his first solo miniseries:

One page from Nightwing #2 (1995 series). Dick is standing in the foreground. His shirt is an oversized short sleeved white button down covered in red, blue, and green polka dots. His jeans are light blue and very tightly belted very high up on his waist. He is wearing loafers and his hair is in mullet cut that falls to his shoulders.
Dick’s outfit is sponsored by Dippin’ Dots (the ice cream of the future!).

Dick doesn’t want anyone to forget he was raised in the circus, and he’s succeeding at that goal. I’ll give him this: the mullet is, you know, a mullet, but it’s extremely lustrous. However, I think it’s important that you all know that literally like a page later he manages to do this to it:

One page from Nightwing #2. Dick is in the Batcave and wearing his classic Nightwing costume with the blue V across the chest. His hair is pulled back in a tight ponytail that snakes inexplicably back and forth behind him. If it was straight, it would probably fall to below his knees.

Dick: Way awesome.
No, Dick. No, it is not way awesome.

I know I said I wouldn’t talk about costumes, but hair is fair game! Apparently when it compresses in volume it grows in length? Although sometimes it’s shorter than it’s shown here, so maybe it’s retractable. I don’t want to think about this anymore.

Finally, I’d like to present little feature I like to call “Don’t Invite Dick Grayson to Your Wedding Because He Will Look Ridiculous and Also Either the Wedding or Subsequent Marriage Will Inevitably Go Horribly Awry”:

One panel from Tales of the Teen Titans #50. Dick walks Donna down the aisle at her wedding. She is wearing a white gown with long sleeves. He is wearing a bright blue tux with black trim and a very ruffly white shirt.
I guess theoretically we could blame this one on Donna.

Here he is giving Donna Troy away at her wedding. It’s a sweet moment, even though Donna’s groom is an awful person who she eventually divorced. But those ruffled cuffs are something.

Three panels from New Titans #100. Starfire approaches Dick at the altar at their wedding. She is wearing a white gown with long sleeves. He is wearing a simple black tux. His mullet is shoulder length and extremely spiky. In panel 2, Starfire whispers "I love you, Dick."
Probably for the best that it ended so poorly. I mean, think of the wedding photos!

This is the best tux Dick has ever worn to a wedding but the mullet is at its most unforgivable. (Also like three pages later an evil Raven attacks the wedding and incinerates the minister with hellfire.)

Part of a page from Nightwing Annual #1. Dick is wearing a black tux with light pink trim, a light pink vest, and a darker pink bow tie. His bride, a blonde woman, is wearing a white suit. They look unenthused.
They look so into it, don’t they?

The mullet was “better” and the tux was much worse at Dick’s second wedding…to a woman he was trying to prove had murdered her previous husbands. Shockingly, this marriage didn’t end well, either.

One panel from Flash #142. Wally is in the extreme foreground looking at Dick. Dick is wearing a regular suit and a ill-fitting blond curly mullet wig with some of his own hair sticking out from under it.

Wally: Hi, Batboy. Nice wig.
Dick: And it itches. This, I do for you. Appreciate me. Too risky to let Dick Grayson get noticed at a super-hero's wedding, true?
This is not a favor, Dick. This is an imposition.

And finally, we get a one-two punch for Dick’s turn as Wally West’s best man: we have both a hideous wedding look and a panicky civilian disguise! Not to mention being four for four with disastrous weddings after an evil wizard makes everyone forget the bride ever existed. (Don’t worry, Wally eventually found her again and he and Linda are still going strong. Love wins! For people other than Dick Grayson, at least!)

I wanted to close out with an example of a recent, widely hated development in Dick’s life: that time he got shot in the head, got amnesia, and started calling himself “Ric Grayson.” Unfortunately (fortunately), he was drawn by Travis Moore for a lot of this time and he looks incredible:

One panel from Nightwing #50. Dick (or "Ric") is leaning against a pool table with a pool cue across his shoulders and his hands draped over it. He is wearing a black jacket open over a gray hoodie that has been unzipped halfway to show his bare chest. His hair is buzzed short.

Dick: It's my life.
Ric’s a big Bon Jovi fan.

Hm. So when Dick doesn’t remember who he is, he looks great? I never thought I’d say we should bring back Ric Grayson, but it might be the only way we can save Dick from himself. DC, you know what to do.