To get right to the heart of the matter, since the Flashpoint reset the clock Dick Grayson's character has been chipping away bit by bit, and it's starting to get the point that he's almost unrecognizable from the man he was previously, as if he's only a pale reflection of his former self. I have no idea why this has happened, but I just want to get everyone else's thoughts on it. First let me sum up the ways his character has deteriorated:
1. Became Robin at 16- This is actually one of the milder examples on my list, but becoming Robin at 16 completely kills the idea of the kid sidekick, which Dick was always famous for being the first of. He was the first, and silently acknowledged as the greatest. Having been in the game for so long and trained by one of the Big 3 it was recognized that he was the one who everyone could count on to step up when the big guns failed. This leads to my next point.
2. Robin for a year- This means his relationship with Bruce is nowhere near as strong or meaningful for one thing. They were the Dynamic Duo for a year and that was it, Dick was out on his own. They were still close apparently, but just like you can't realistically think Bruce had every single one of his old adventures in the new timeline, you can't think that Dick and Bruce had the same amount of time together either, whether he was Robin or Nightwing. Having his time as Robin reduced of course also lessens the amount of time he's been active as a hero, and specifically the amount of bonds he could have formed with other heroes. Now we currently know that Dick was Batman for at least a year during which Bruce was "dead". However, we've seen no evidence that he was still a member of the Justice League during that time, or that he's ever been a member of the Justice League (And he'd previously led a variation of the team when the main group was lost in time during Obsidian Age) This again leads into my next point.
3. Lost his entire history with the Teen Titans- For me this is the biggest blow. Putting aside the fact that Dick's entire character basically began in the Teen Titans comics (As that's where he was fleshed out as more than just a sidekick), and the fact that a good chunk of his adventures have been with some form of the team, and the fact that working with the team was the starting point for him becoming one of the most well known and trusted heroes in the DCU (Perhaps only 2nd to Superman), DC has yet to offer anything to replace this huge gap in the character's history. All they've given us is one flashback from Kori proving that there were at least a few team ups for some version of the Wolfman/Perez era Titans. The number of heroes he met due to being a part of the team, the amount of respect he gained from it (For an example, Connor Kent once acknowledged that when Nightwing was around other heroes they immediately looked to him as the leader), and the overall impact it had on him has been erased. My next point stems directly from this one:
4. Wally West and Donna Troy being thrown into limbo- As far as we know neither of these characters currently exists in the DCnU, and it is truly sad, because both were Dick's best friends. Wally like a brother, and Donna perhaps a soul mate. Them being removed from Dick's life is like Alfred being removed from Bruce's, or the Kent's from Superman's. They were fixtures in his life that lead to him growing as a person. And like with the Titan's there's been no mention of anything or anyone to fill this new hole, Gar has yet to appear, Victor's with the JLA, Tempest also has yet to make an appearance, even in his mentor's title, and Roy Harper, one of Dick's best friends and another person who he considered family, has been thrown together with Jason Todd, along with Starfire, one of the great loves of Dick's life. DC has systematically dismantled Dick's support structure, and left only the Bat Family in the place of the Titans, and to be honest i'm not surprised, because they have a history of acting as if the two (The Titans and the Bat Family) can't coexist in Dick's life, as if one has to trump the other for anything to make sense. Putting everything else aside, the problem with Dick and the Bat Family is that his relationship with them has changed as well.
5. The Bat Family- Now i've already pointed out that Dick and Bruce haven't spent nearly as much time together, and they're also closer in age now, which leads to their relationship being perceived differently by fans. However, I can at least say that it's still clear that if there's anyone Bruce considers to be his right hand man it's Dick, and even the Joker seems to think the same in the most recent event. Yet, let's look at Dick's relationships with the other members of the family. Alfred is of course a constant and will hopefully never leave Dick's life. Barbara and Dick however have had their entire history reset it seems, with no prior relationship ever having happened. Dick and Jason haven't been shown to interact much, which makes sense based on everything Jason's done, but they haven't come to blows either. Yet, Jason's taken away two of the people that were previously closest to Dick. Dick and Tim, who were once as close as brothers haven't really interacted at all, and while it's obviously not Tim's fault he's stolen part of Dick's history by now being the one to form the Teen Titans. Damian is the one member of the family who's relationship to Dick doesn't seem to have changed at all. They still respect each other, and Dick still understands Damian in a way the others don't. This is hardly enough to make up for the other losses Dick has suffered however.
Now let me get to the points that prompted me to start this thread, the Nightwing Title being drawn into the latest arc of Batman's life, and the character being left irrevocably altered because of it. First it was the Court of Owls, now it's Death in the Family, and who knows what it'll be next.
6. The Gray Son of Gotham- The revelation that Dick would've been a Talon had his parents not died, and that his great grandfather was a Talon, was just terrible. Stupid, unnecessary, and terrible. Dick never had any connection to Gotham before, and he didn't need one. He was from a circus family, a travelling circus, who happened to be in Gotham at the wrong time and pay for it. Now we have some type of ancient conspiracy dating back decades and for what? What does it really add to the character? I'd say nothing, and that it goes against the basis of the character. It's disgustingly similar to how the Wayne family has now always been connected to the Bat. I don't generally have a problem with the destiny angle. When written well it can lead to amazing results, but hear it just seems to be so contradictory here to the very idea of everything Dick stands for. He was never some kid fighting against destiny or trying to disprove an ancient family curse, he was a boy struck by tragedy who managed to build something great from it. My next point also touches on a problem the character's had for a long time.
7. Haley's Circus- As anyone who read the most recent issue of NIghtwing knows, Haley's Circus was destroyed by the Joker. Now, I think I can speak for everyone when I say it's not a surprise this happened. A circus in Gotham City is perhaps doomed to fail from the start. It is probably common sense that the Joker will go there at some point and screw things up as he tends to. And this is why his most recent action has absolutely no impact, yet proceeds to once again throw Dick Grayson into limbo. He's spent basically the last year of his series working on that circus, building it back up to shine some light into Gotham and make his mark. His entire series revolved around it, his supporting cast was there. He literally has nothing else besides that. Therefore, for the circus to be destroyed and his coworkers killed, the majority of what Dick has been doing since the reboot has become meaningless. It's actually quite similar to when Bludhaven had Chemo dropped onto it. Wouldn't it have truly been wonderful if the writers had taken the opposite route and instead of having the Circus destroyed, have it survive and even thrive, and then continue to build Dick's own personal universe up around it with new characters and new rouges? But we all know that Dick just can't have nice things right? Destroying the Circus is just a waste of character development, just as Raya's death was, just as Saiko's death was. Each wasn't around long enough for s to truly grow to care about them, but each could've been used to greater effect had they been kept around longer.
And this then touches on a problem the character's always seemed to have in his own series, the distinct lack of permanence. By that I mean that nothing ever seems to last for Dick. No supporting cast, no rogues gallery, everything for him revolves around what's going on in Bruce's life. (Not blaming Bruce, but the writers) The problem with this is that it really does make it look like Dick's only 2nd best to Bruce, as if he has nothing of his own, nothing else to do but jump in and help Bruce. The writers never seem to really want to build Dick up and give him a lasting impact. As I pointed out earlier the exact same thing happened back when Bludhaven was destroyed. He had an entire series built around this city. It was his in every sense, and everyone knew that. Then it was nuked off the face of the Earth, and Dick's entire life went with it. From there he was left jumping around till he settled in New York, and then finally went back to Gotham when the Black Glove started acting up, and he's been there ever since. I don't have a problem with him being in Gotham. I think it opens up the possibility for some interesting story opportunities, but if Dick's never going to be able to carve out his own little corner, where he can have his own thing going on and doesn't constantly have to deal with Bruce, then he needs to leave and go find some other city to set up in. A place where the writers can hopefully start to really build the character back up to his former greatness.