The Justice League‘s headquarters, the Hall of Justice, is brimming with dangerous things that DC Comics’ biggest superhero team wants to hide from the rest of the world. That includes the vault of doomsday weapons confiscated from villains, Batman’s contingency plans for defeating the rest of the League if necessary, and the hidden history of the DC Universe that was revealed in the Justice League event Dark Nights: Death Metal. But the team has an even more fundamental secret than those, one they try to conceal even from other heroes. In Justice League #57, a crisis teaches Nightwing the truth about the Justice League: they’re just like him.
Justice League #57 is written by Joshua Williamson with art by Xermanico, color by Romulo Fajardo Jr., and lettering by Tom Napolitano. It’s the finale of the “Doom Metal” story arc, a post-apocalyptic adventure that ties into the universe-shattering Dark Nights: Death Metal event. Since the DC Universe has been remade by The Batman Who Laughs, the Justice League has been scattered across spacetime to undo his evil, leaving a scattered bunch of survivors consisting mostly of former Teen Titans and Detective Chimp.
The leadership of this last-resort Justice League falls to Nightwing, who doesn’t feel fit for the duty. Nightwing has never been part of the Justice League before (at least, not in this timeline); to him, the Justice League are a pantheon of gods that his adoptive father hangs out with. The entire “Doom Metal” arc is framed by flashbacks to Nightwing when he was just the first Robin, stowing away in the Batmobile, witnessing a meeting of “the greatest heroes in the world”. He dreamed of joining them, but knew that ambition was a lifetime away; in this Justice League storyline, Nightwing still hasn’t made it there emotionally.
That changes in Justice League #57. Nightwing’s new team is at its low point: the Legion of Doom is at their throats, the cosmic zombie Omega Knight is obliterating the countryside to get to them, and they were saved by the sacrifice of Detective Chimp and Wonder Woman’s robot horse. All their plans have fallen apart, and while the other heroes are scattered, Nightwing finally comes into his own.
He thinks back to the meeting of the surviving DC heroes at the beginning of Death Metal and to Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman trying to inspire the crowd. He comes to a revelation: the Justice League were just making it up as they went along. At the time, he wasn’t ready to accept that his own heroes were that lost, but in the heat of battle, he finally understands what they go through and overcomes his imposter syndrome. At a moment’s notice, he convinces the Legion of Doom to join up for mutual survival; together they defeat the Omega Knight and earn their freedom.
Dick Grayson is a trapeze artist at heart. His entire life has been built around making leaps into empty air, knowing that he would survive through his own skills and the support of others… but life with Batman made him see other heroes as master planners. At the end of the DC Universe, Grayson has learned that his idols improvise as much as he does, and he’s a natural at it. He’d already proven himself as a hero and a leader of the Titans; now, Nightwing has proven himself as a member of the Justice League.
Justice League #57 is available now from DC Comics and Comixology.