Nightwing’s final issue sees him setting off on a new beginning, no, not officially as the new Caped Crusader, but as a new resident of Gotham who will be going out a lot at night, and not just for a few drinks on the town.
As the issue begins, we get Nightwing preparing to vacate his New York residence, The Cloisters, for the dangerous streets of a now Batman-less Gotham. When The Flash asks Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson, if he could zip him into Gotham, Dick replies that he’s gonna take the train. Flash forward to Dick’s train ride into Gotham and we can’t help but flashback in our minds to Miller and Mazzuchelli’s Batman Year One scene where a young Bruce Wayne takes his first train ride back to Gotham after years of training to become The Dark Knight. Kramer’s pencils and layouts are nearly and deliberately almost a match for Mazzuchelli’s take on the scene. Even the dialogue Dick carries on in his head during the ride into town is reminiscent of Bruce’s all those years ago. Dick, of course, is met by Alfred and taken back to the mansion where the two are joined by Robin, aka Tim Drake, to get the cave back in order.
Interestingly enough, Dick’s first good deed on the streets of Gotham is to change the burnt out street light on Park Row, once known as Crime Alley, that he saw from the passenger seat of Alfred’s new model hybrid roaster on the way to the mansion from the train depot. It is an incredibly simple yet powerfully symbolic act. The street light is apparently the same one under which Bruce’s parents were murdered and The Batman was born years ago. As Dick proceeds to light the remnants of a candle which we are meant to understand was the same solemn candle that Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson swore their allegiance to combat crime over all those years ago at the outset of the crime fighting career of Batman and Robin, Dick is shrouded in the light of the newly restored street light overhead. It is an image symbolic of the return of the light that Batman was to the streets of Gotham, but also symbolic of the light shown in the darkness by a new protector for Gotham’s streets, as it is Dick Grayson, Nightwing, who has reignited that light, and who better to reignite that light than one who is worthy of the mantle of The Bat? The juxtaposition of the candle, over which such a solemn vow was spoken and the streetlight, relit by Grayson is a powerful one. The new light encases the old, just as the new protector rises to take the place of the old. Grayson’s new vow, that “this light must always shine no matter what” is not just the reinforcement of an old vow but the expanding and renewing of that vow.
We can’t say for sure that all of this train riding, candle and street lighting foreshadow Grayson’s assumption of The Cowl but is sure sheds some light on where his story will take us in the month’s to come.