The following contains spoilers for Nightwing #98, now on sale from DC Comics.
It’s safe to say, as much as DC fans adore Dick Grayson and Starfire, Barbara Gordon is the person most view as his soulmate. It stems from decades together in the Bat-family, but outside their Nightwing and Batgirl personas, it’s really how they’re always there for each other through thick and thin.
It does seem like true love, which is why many are all in on the current Nightwing run having them together again in a happy, healthy bond. However, as Nightwing #98 (by Tom Taylor, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbot) unfolds, it reveals Dick’s best relationship isn’t with Barb, but with his trusted pooch, Haley.
Nightwing Rescued Haley (aka Bite-Wing) From a Living Hell
Nightwing first met Haley in Nightwing #78 (by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo), which kicked off Taylor’s run. Dick saved her from being abused by thugs in Blüdhaven, although the three-legged pooch would bite him at first. It reminded Dick how good people view the world as cruel, and why they’re so defensive. After all, Bruce did have to break down walls to get through to him after his parents died. Thus, Haley, as he named her, became a symbol of the past, but hope for the future as well. He recalled his days as a Boy Wonder through her, and how he grew. Given she was missing a limb, it added to the triumph of her spirit and how resilient she could be.
Coincidentally, Barb was the one who convinced him to keep the pet, nicknaming her Bitewing, so Haley does connect to the concept of love in his life. After giving her home, she’s been there for Dick when he comes in after brutal nights, becoming a fan-favorite mascot for Nightwing and a frequent star on variant covers for the series. In fact, fans love seeing her donning her own version of Dick’s standard blue mask from time to time, nodding to Batman and Ace the Bat-Hound. In the process, Haley represents a big step to Dick starting his own family, which DC may well expand upon following a tease of him and Barb marrying in the main DCU.
Nightwing’s Super-Pet Becomes a Superhero
Now, in Nightwing #98, “A Nite to Remember” has Nite-Mite (Dick’s own Imp from the Fifth Dimension) magically empowering Dick and Bitewing. He wants them to go save Blockbuster’s daughter, Olivia, from demons, giving Dick a canine partner. And make no mistake, Haley shines in the field, biting and battering a bevy of demons as she and Dick pull off the rescue. What stands out, however, is how she initially thanks Dick, as she can talk now, for saving and caring for her. It’s a heartwarming moment, not to mention she later warns Dick in the field about strategy.
Thus, it’s a nice mix of fun and business, reminding readers how they saved each other’s souls. Dick was in a bad spot when he met her, after all, but they’ve both healed and come a long way. Ultimately, as the mission’s completed, even Olivia hugs Haley, confirming to Dick whether his dog’s got powers or not, she’ll always be a hero and inspiration to all. Sure, Barb’s been essential in Dick’s life, but when he was isolated, Bitewing really did the trick, and for that, they’ll always be grateful towards each other.