Precarious Lines. Heroism and hyper-capability 90s <em>Nightwing</em> comics


superheroes, masculinity, able-bodiedness, comics, orientation


This article discusses the run of the comics series Nightwing (Dixon/McDaniel 1996-2009) with particular focus on how hegemonic masculinity and bodily capability are linked and tied to a normative concept of heroism. Through the visual style of the comics and the use of antagonists, the comics rehabilitate the excess and precarity of the hero, Nightwing, by contrasting him to more extreme forms of masculinity. Although the comics show Nightwing’s privilege and ability to be precarious and a source of anxiety and heightened visual tension, the subversive potentials remain unrealized. By relegating excessive, disabled, and working-class forms of masculinity to queered and villainized characters, the comics uphold a nuanced but ultimately normative heroic ideal.