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Friday, January 20, 2017

Nightwing Key Issues Part 1

Another requested key issues series here, and to be perfectly honest, I didn't really want to do this one. Not that I'm not a Batman fan nor a Nightwing fan, but the character has a long history as a supporting character in the Batman Family as well as an ensemble member of the Teen Titans.

So where to begin? Do I rehash all of Dick Grayson's key issues or just ones that are specifically of him as Nightwing, which means I'd have to rehash a bunch of Teen Titans keys as well?

Unlike the Impulse key issues which was more a Bart Allen key comics list, I'm not going to go that same route. Most of the keys will about the character of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, and I will omit much of the Teen Titans keys and hit more of the keys of when he operates as a solo hero under the very moniker.

No Dick Grayson becomes Batman or reintroduced as Robin or stuff like that, and important or somewhat minor 1st appearances for supporting characters or villains will only be featured if they come after his first official and published appearance as Nightwing.

1st original Nightwing (Kal-El)

I debated about even mentioning this comic since Nightwing is definitely associated with Dick Grayson more than any other character. However, the first character to take up the mantle of Nightwing was actually Superman in this adventure that took place on Kandor.

Jimmy Olsen was Nightwing's sidekick Flamebird. Although these two first took up the mantle, Batman and Superman as Nightwing would be the inspiration in taking the code name. Even though most collectors don't care about Superman and Jimmy Olsen as Nightwing and Flamebird, I know someone would bring it up as if it was a fan-favorite Nightwing key issue.

So here it is just for the sake of whatever. To be exact, this would be the Earth-1 Superman or Silver Age Supes. On Kandor, Superman is powerless or doesn't have his powers, so inspired by Batman, he and Jimmy Olsen create this particular dynamic duo.

I wonder if there are pence copies for this issue. CGC Census has no mention of them yet. Dunno, but wouldn't be surprised if they pop up somewhere and sometime eventually. 

January, 1963 is the cover date for Superman #158 and it has the copyright date of November 6th and probably hit the stands in late 1962.

1st appearance Dick Grayson as Nightwing
1st full appearance of Jericho
Origin of Deathstroke the Terminator

Here it is! This is when Dick Grayson takes the mantle of Nightwing and his thus his first appearance as the character. Despite the name and original version being somewhat loosely connected to Dick Grayson via Superman, this version of the character has become a staple within the DCU and Batman comics. 

Fans are anticipating Nightwing popping up in a movie or a television show and the demand for this comic has been on the rise here and there. Well, it's no longer a sleeper for sure with periods of down trends and slight heat during various periods. Here's Dick Grayson's debut as Nightwing.

He does make reference to Superman using the code name and were he got it from.

Another first appearance is of Jericho, whom is Deathstroke's youngest son named Joseph Wilson. Jericho was a superhero from the start and became a member of the Teen Titans. His superpower is the ability to possess another person by mere eye contact. He gains access to the subject's physical, mental, and magical abilities while in possession. 

Finally, this issues has the first origin story of Deathstroke the Terminator told to the Teen Titans by Adeline Kane, Slade Wilson's ex wife. This issue is part 3 of the story line to the Judas Contract which started with issue #42. Adeline Kane accuses Terra of being in league with Deathstroke in this issue.

Over-all, this key issue is not rare, or that's the general perception. However and since we are talking about an 80s comic during the evolution of the direct market, there are newsstand versions of this comic. 

As I am working on gathering data for these 80s newsstands, I do have a bit of info concerning newsstand high grade slabbers.

9.8 NS | 9.8 DM
27 | 125

9.6 NS | 9.6 DM 
28 | 164

9.4 NS | 9.4 DM 
30 | 128

What is all that jargon above. It's actually all the archived eBay sales on gocollect. No, GoCollect does not distinguish between CGC newsstand and direct market edition sales.

However, it does have recorded CGC and CBCS eBay sales within the last 2 years or 4 years that includes or captures the ebay auctions or listings actual photos. The data for 9.8s and 9.6s were gathered from 2 years of graded sales on eBay while the lower NM graded sales were 4 years as they have lesser amount of sales in a 2 year period.

Yes, I did go through each archived listing, looked at their covers, and counted each direct edition I found. Then I subtracted the total of direct market covers I found with the total of sales for each grade during a 2 year period. 

Canadian 95 cent newsstand price variants do exist for this issue. CGC's newer labels are noting them as shown in the picture, and I am sure that eBay sale is lumped into the total amount of 2 year sales for 9.6s on gocollect that I counted. 
July, 1984 is the cover date for this key issue, and it is still on the radars of some collectors out there. On sale date according to Mike's Amazing World is April 12th. 

Out of all the Teen Titans Copper Age key issues, this is definitely the one to gun for concerning Nightwing, but it is an important Deathstroke key as well.

2nd Dick Grayson as Nightwing
2nd appearance of Jericho

Continuing from the story in issue #44 is the 3rd annual and the finale to the Judas Contract story line. Don't really have to say that this issue comes after issue #44 and arrived on newsstands a little after it.

Aside from the obvious key notations, this issue also sees the first time Dick Grayson as Nightwing fights along side the Teen Titans, and, of course, the team does go up against Deathstroke. Dick wasn't really seen in action as Nightwing in Tales of the Teen Titans #44.

Don't really think this one is all that sought-out at the moment, but it does have newsstand editions. I am not sure about Canadian Editions for this issue though or did not find any examples.

I do believe this is the first time Dick Grayson as Nightwing does meet Deathstroke. They do not really battle though, and Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3 supposedly hit comic stands April 26th of 1984.

1st issue to on-going series
3rd Nightwing?

When it concerns the 3rd and 4th appearance of Dick Grayson as Nightwing, it is not so clear since Tales of the Teen Titans ran at the same time and Tales of the Teen Titans #45 has the same cover date.

This issue has an on sale date of May 10th while issue #45 of Tales of the Teen Titans #45 has the on sale date of May 17th. The LoC copyright date for this issue is earlier than the latter as well.

Furthermore this issue and issue #45 of TotTT #45 don't have any real continuity references from what I can tell. Although Nightwing has much history with the Teen Titans, I am going to dismiss a lot of Teen Titans keys despite his tenure with the group and being a well-known member.

Already done a Teen Titans key series and am sick of rehashing the same keys over and over when doing character specific key comics lists. Teen Titans #1 volume 2 has the cover date of August, 1984.

1st appearance of Black Mask
Origin of Black Mask

Yes, he is primarily a Batman foe, but Black Mask has scrapped with Nightwing on occasion. Actually, Black Mask was the first villain Nightwing faced in his 1st on-going solo title.

Needless to say that Grayson would run into this villain several times since he is a Batman Family baddie. Created by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, Black Mask is Roman Sionis and came from high-society parents like ole Bruce Wayne.

In fact, both families associated with one another even if the Roman's parents were very vocal about disliking the Wayne's in private. Too concerned about their public image, Roman grew to resent them and the "masks" his parents wore in public.

I believe most of this issue is dedicated to his origin, and he when he finally loses it due to a series of unfortunate events and becomes Black Mask, he also creates the False Face Society of Gotham and begins his quest to be the crime boss of Gotham City. 

Over-all, the issue is a good origin story and explains the character's bitterness, but that's just my opinion. I only featured the panels of when he carves the mask and first appears as the villain.

Black Mask's 2nd appearance is in Detective Comics #553. There is a regular newsstand edition and Canadian 95 cent price variant for this issue. Regular U.S. newsstand is 75 cents with the bar code on the cover, and the image is of the Canadian price variant just for reference.

Cover-dated August, 1985, the 1st appearance and origin of Black Mask in Batman #386 was released around May 16th. I think Black Mask would make a good villain on the big screen.

Revamped Dick dropping Robin mantle
1st New-Earth Jason Todd
Revamped origin Jason Todd

Okay, now here is where things get hairy. By now we should all know about Crisis on Infinite Earths and the reboot of the DC Universe it created. So there are a few different reasons why Dick Grayson gives up the mantle of Nightwing, depending on which continuity you're talking about.

Alright, let's go back to Pre-Crisis in New Teen Titans #39. In that issue Wally West as Kid Flash leaves the team, and Dick announces that he is giving up being Robin. Here's how it goes down in that issue:

Panels above from New Teen Titans #39 volume 1

Now, Batman #408 is Post-Crisis or happens on New-Earth. This issues revamps Jason Todd's origin and also debuts the character in the New-Earth continuity. Remember, he also has a previous Earth-1 version as well.

However, the New-Earth reason for Dick Grayson dropping the Robin mantle is different than the Pre-Crisis version. In this version, the reason for him not being Robin anymore was not his own decision.

Dick as Robin was shot by the Joker, and fearing for his safety, Batman tells Dick that he can no longer continue as Robin. One particular panel even gives a sort of foreshadow of Dick's "destiny" as Nightwing.

In later comics, Dick dropping the Robin mantle and becoming Nightwing would be revamped as well. I originally wasn't even going to feature this comic, but what the hell. I wanted to explain a bit that different stories have different reasons why he stops being Robin and takes up the Nightwing mantle.

So, this one is one of them and he's basically forced out by Batman. This would be expanded upon or revamped in the Nightwing Year One story line. We'll get that most likely in a later part to this Nightwing key comics series.

This is the Jason Todd version that is part of canon, the one who dies at the hands of the Joker in the infamous issue of Batman #428. The Earth-1 Jason Todd was completely different and mirrored too much of Dick Grayson's character and background.

Yes, Jason Todd of Earth-1 was from a circus acrobat family who were also killed, this time by Killer Croc. Batman adopts him and he becomes the next Robin.

However, Jason Todd of New-Earth was a street orphan who is first seen jacking the Batmobile's tires in this issue. Unlike Jason Todd of Earth-1, this version of Jason Todd is more hardened, reckless and full of that good ole nice rage.

This is the Jason Todd that is the basis of the character that would become the Red Hood, not the Earth-1 Todd who 1st appears in Detective Comics #357. Anyway, just wanted to clear that up for those who didn't know yet.

Newsstand copies for this issue for sure. In 1986, newsstand distribution for Marvel was 50%. DC Comics in 1987 might of been around 50 or 60% concerning newsstand distribution. Not totally sure though.

Unfortunately, there's not enough sales on ole GoCollect for it to be worth counting the disparity between them, but what is certain is that this comic is over-looked in the market currently. That means that newsstand editions are also over-looked as well.

June, 1987 marks the cover for Batman #408, and it was released around March 12th.

1st Oracle (voice only)

After reading this one it's a tough one to call a 1st appearance. Okay so here's how this issue actually goes down.

Oracle is not seen in this issue. It's actually Barbara's voice through computer speakers and in only one panel. She does address herself as Oracle and is talking to Flo.

Oracle's voice in Suicide Squad #23 1 panel

I dunno, but should that really count as a 1st Oracle? By this time, Oracle was a mystery character. It is not known who the strange but computer genius of a character is. 

Barbara Gordon's first actual on panel appearance as Oracle is in Suicide Squad #38 and that issue reveals her to be the character, though she is not explicitly named or confirmed. I assume the Batgirl doll does give it away, and here's the panel from Suicide Squad #38.

From Suicide Squad #38 | 1st actual appearance of Oracle

Since she was only a voice from a computer speaker prior, Suicide Squad #38 is technically her first appearance as Oracle and reveals but doesn't confirm who she is. She would next appear in one panel cameo in Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #98. 

Confirmation of Babs being Oracle is revealed in Suicide Squad #48. Reviews events that happened in The Killing Joke.

Alright, just a little key issues about Oracle and how she actually didn't appear in Suicide Squad #23. Onward to why this issue is in a Nightwing key comics series.

Being from the Batman Family and since Barbara Gordon's first debut as Oracle is after Dick's first appearance as Nightwing, it only makes sense to include this issue here since Nightwing has obviously worked with Oracle on quite a few adventures. She has popped up in his titled comic series quite often, and Nightwing has guest starred in the Bird of Prey comics as well and to no surprise.

Babs and Dick Grayson did also have a relationship outside of crime fighting. They did date before and after he was Nightwing, and actually almost got married in Batman Family #11 back in 1977 when Barbara Gordon was still Batgirl and before the events of the original The Killing Joke where she was paralyzed. 

They do end up getting married under the Nightwing and Oracle moniker in recent years, more accurately 2015. We will get to that comic later, so 1st appearance of Babs Gordon as Oracle goes on in this Nightwing key issues series.

Besides, it's only a matter of time before they introduce Oracle on the big screen. She already was played by the gorgeous Dina Meyer live-action in the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series back in 2002, and the show only lasted one season before cancellation.
I think another shot at this character is in order for the DCeU, and there are newsstand copies out there for this one. Thought I saw a CGC high graded one on ole eBay for this issue, but there's a cover example to the left for reference anyway. 

For those who are new and don't know what I'm talking about concerning newsstands and direct market covers, the UPC box has a bar code on the cover. Direct has an image of something else or no box at all at the lower left-hand corner of a comic cover. 

This is for only the 80s. The 90s are a bit different concerning newsstand and direct market copies. They usually both have UPC codes, but the direct market plainly says "Direct Market" above the bar code while the newsstand has no notation over the bar code.

January, 1989 is the cover date for this issue, and Suicide Squad #23 most likely hit the stands around December 6th, 1988.

1st Roland Desmond as Blockbuster II

Way out of the Batman and Nightwing line of comics here, but Roland Desmond as Blockbuster would be a pretty major heavy in the 1st on-going Nightwing comic series. This is not the 1st appearance of Roland Desmond, but his first appearance as the 2nd Blockbuster.

His brother Mark Desmond was the original Blockbuster and first appeared in Detective Comics #345. Roland Desmond first appeared in the same issue and that comic was a late Silver Age Batman key. 

I have seen a few newsstand covers online for this issue so they're out there. By 1989 newsstands for Marvel were around 15% of market distribution and DC Comics just might be close to that percentage as well. Starman #9 was supposedly on sale February 8th and is cover-dated April, 1989.

When it comes to villains or even supporting characters for Nightwing it's hard not to include certain characters that are more Batman related since they constantly overlap. Kind of the same for the Teen Titans, but not to the same extent.

I was planning on going straight to Nightwing's comic series, but there are a few characters worth mentioning such as Barbara Gordon. Since I neglected the Teen Titans keys, Dick did have a romantic relationship with Starfire or Koriand'r while in the Teen Titans.

She first debuted a long with the New Teen Titans team in DC Comics Presents #26. Once again, that issue came before Dick ever took up the mantle of Nightwing.

The two would almost get married in a Teen Titans comic, but that went awry. A comic for another part.

So, back to DC Comics Presents #26, and I do have data for newsstands vs. direct market that I've been working on. Here's what I've found from GoCollect, and it was done some time back last year.

9.8 NS | 9.8 DM
12 | 53

9.6 NS | 9.6 DM 
34 | 68

9.4 NS | 9.4 DM 
32 | 35

9.2 NS | 9.2 DM 
21 | 33

9.0 NS | 9.0 DM 
19 | 15

All of it was counted from a 2 year sales period, so when you get to the lower grades like 9.2 and 9.0s, there are less over-all sales for those grades than the others. That should be taken into consideration, but I do believe there are less high grade newsstand copies over-all than direct market.

Also, since we're on the topic of the Teen Titans, Deathstroke is definitely a noteworthy villain who did appear long before Dick dropped the Robin role and became Nightwing. As most know, the villain will be played by Joe Manganiello in the next Batman reboot flick.

Deathstroke first appeared in The New Teen Titans #2, as most collectors already know since it's been a hot book for a while now. Newsstand editions for New Teen Titans #2? Yep, there are and from what I've found so far, there is quite a bit of a gap concerning high grade newsstands and direct market copies.

While Deathstroke is seen as more of a Teen Titans villain, he does have a particular disliking of Dick Grayson more than any other Titan. Once again, his first appearance is in the Teen Titans key issues series.

9.8 NS | 9.8 DM
22 | 101

9.6 NS | 9.6 DM 
61 | 105

9.4 NS | 9.4 DM 
50 | 58

9.2 NS | 9.2 DM 
44 | 61

9.0 NS | 9.0 DM 
45 | 45
Once again, there's really no accurate way to determine whether newsstand copies are more rare than direct market copies for the early 80s comics unless everyone got their copies graded and then shared their pics in one huge forum or something.

The problem with going on eBay sales is that collectors could be buying more newsstand slabs on eBay than direct market copies at a particular time. As the newsstand editions become more recognized, counting sales could very well be skewed.

However, at the current time, most collectors as whole don't really distinguish between the two in a huge way just yet. No, I do not think early 80s newsstand copies are rare as a whole. Newsstand copies for these issues aren't hard to find for most grades.

Even for 9.2s and 9.0s, you can see that gap does come closer together for the two versions. Even some 9.4s show this, but what I am finding is that there are larger disparity gaps for 9.6 and 9.8s when it comes to newsstands vs. direct market for these popular early 80s keys, meaning that high grade 80s newsstand copies are so far proving to be more rare than their direct market counterparts.

Since I mentioned them, I might as well show 'em. So here are the covers to Suicide Squad #38 and #48. Highly doubt that these are in-demand currently since both Overstreet and CGC note issue #23 as the 1st Oracle, but issue #48 should be a 1st full appearance of Oracle. Just something to consider.

Part 2 to this Nightwing key issues series is on it's way. If you have any suggestions, feel free to sling 'em out in the comments section. See ya over at Part 2 and have a good one.


  1. Batman 408 gets no respect in the market concerning Jason Todd. Everybody guns for Batman 357 instead. Maybe it might get more respect in the future since this is the version that turns into the Red Hood.

  2. Please cease trying to make a case for Newstand issues to somehow be worth more than Direct Market or whatever the other way around. I'm not sure what your trying to do by counting the number of each slabbed and graded but it looks like your trying to make a case that NS are more rare. Let's get real PLEASE! Your taking the fun out of the hobby and as we've seen with trading cards you could possibly kill the hobby and actually you and people chasing signatures etc are in a lot of ways killing this hobby like trading cards will kill it off eventually. You put out a good blog and it has a lot of great information please stop trying to upsell books based on whether they were bought at a 7-11 or a comic shop that's getting absurd and I'm sure you know that. Maybe your sitting on a ton of NS copies of junk and want them to increase in value whatever the motive it's killing the hobby than nothing will be worth anything thank you!

    1. looks like Mayhem pissed off someone again. To be fair, Ive read this site a long time and from what I gather Mayhem isn't the biggest fan of variants or foreign edition comics. I was surprised when he started listing more of them in these lists, but others have been asking for him to talk more about these type of comics.

      Truth is collectors are talking about newsstands and canadian price variants, and just because he or you dont care about them, doesn't mean he shouldn't provide that information so one can decide for themselves. They are out there whether you like it or not, and I believe a few comments have asked Mayhem to dig further into this.

      While I don't necessarily care about them either, I do applaud that Mayhem usually goes the extra mile to provide a lot of information about comics in general.


      For the record I love a statistic, maybe Mayhem should start adding piecharts, flow-diagrams and weighted pendulums?? As if he hasn't got enough to do with the 'Ole Spidey' on its own!!


  3. The fact is that newsstand copies are always rarer in high grade than direct editions. They have gotten rarer over the years and now they only represent less than 5% of the total print run of a comic. I think Mayhem always does a great job at providing as much info as possible in all of his post. That's what this website is all about.

  4. I don't believe the dude earlier likes changes. It's a fact people are starting pay for for price variants and newsstand. It's the the way of collecting right now. How long it will last who knows. Just the way it is. Get over yourself

    1. Hey, JW, is using the comments for mobile working better or no?

    2. Yeah man. Finally

  5. JW' s right. I got a Wolverine 1 Newsstand edition and a Wolverine 1 Comicshop edition. Of course I want to know which one is more scarce and which one I should hold on to. Sure as hell I would' t pay thousands for a 35c Star Wars 1 Variant, but people do, that' s a fact.


  6. Hey gang, let' s quit the whole rap and talk comics again, right? I would be interested in your experience with the Incredible Hulk King Size annual 6. First appearance of Her, as we all know, a character that is going to star in GOTG 2. I got a NM copy for 29 bucks which is not cheap, but graded in 9.8 you will have to pay up to 150 $. So what do you think? Is this character worth investing in or is she bound to come down after the movie? Any movie news on how big the screen time and overall importance of Her will be? Would be nice to hear from you

    Max Rebo

    1. Not really a great investment book in my opinion. I think it will go down after the movie appearance. Nobody really paid any attention to the character before the news came out.

  7. Max: way to hijack the thread.

  8. I have a high grade raw copy of Tales of the New Teen Titans 44 with a manufacturing error. All the interior pages in the top right corner have extra paper and where not cut properly. I'm pretty sure this doesn't happen to often. I'm wondering how to price this book if I where ever going to sell it. Any suggestions?