Of all the teams and partnerships throughout the DC Universe, one of the most enduring and iconic is the World’s Finest, the friendship and partner dynamic shared between Superman and Batman. This close relationship has been expanded upon by those following in the footsteps of the Man of Steel and Dark Knight in their own way, with the superheroes' sons Jon Kent and Damian Wayne forming a tight friendship as the Super-Sons. However, as Jon has undergone cataclysmic changes in his life and grown into his own hero, he has found himself growing closer to Nightwing, pairing up with the original Boy Wonder more than Damian as the DCU’s new iteration of the World’s Finest.
Here is how Jon and Nightwing have each steadily grown to their increasingly influential roles in the DCU, what Jon has endured in his time away from Damian, and Nightwing’s recent team-ups with Jon as Dark Crisis looms over the multiverse.
Jon’s Tumultuous DCU Upbringing
Jon was originally born in a pocket universe formed by the sweeping revisions to reality caused by the 2011 crossover event Flashpoint, kickstarting the New 52 reboot of the DCU. Created by Dan Jurgens in 2015’s Convergence: Superman #2, Jon was merged into the main DCU along with his parents after their pocket universe collapsed. After the 2020 crossover event Dark Nights: Death Metal, DCU history is rebooted once again, providing Jon with a new origin story in the heart of the DCU rather than in an alternate universe. Depicted in Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 by Tom Taylor, John Timms, Gabe Eltaeb and Dave Sharpe, Jon is born in the Fortress of Solitude while the Justice League keeps the world safe to ensure the happy couple can proceed uninterrupted.
While Jon spends much of his childhood growing up under the love of his parents and burgeoning friendship with Damian, Superman’s Kryptonian father Jor-El resurfaces with an offer to tour the cosmos with the boy and educate him personally. Though understandably hesitant, the Kent family agrees but is accidentally transported to Earth-3 during his cosmic travels, where he is held prisoner by Ultraman for years. Returning to the DCU, Jon is shocked to learn only weeks have passed since he disappeared while he has aged to 17 during his time away.
Shortly after his return, Jon joined the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century for a time, learning of his father’s historical demise in the timeline while in the far-future. After Kal-El departed from Earth to deal with Mongul on Warworld, Jon would follow in his father’s footsteps to become the new Superman, bringing a more proactive, socially conscious approach to his superhero activities than Kal.
Nightwing’s Rise to Prominence
Jon’s ascension to the role of Superman coincided with Dick Grayson playing a more prominent role in the DCU. After recovering from a grievous gunshot wound to the head from KGBeast, causing a prolonged bout of amnesia, and being manipulated by the Court of Owls and the Joker, Dick has resumed his superhero career as Nightwing in Bludhaven. Dick rekindles his longstanding on/off romance with Barbara Gordon and learns he has inherited Alfred Pennyworth’s billion-dollar fortune after the kindly old butler’s death at the hands of Bane.
Dick publicly pledges his recently gained funds towards a foundation dedicated in Bludhaven’s all-around restoration, from improving its infrastructure and providing affordable housing to combating crime and corruption throughout the city. This new initiative has made Dick a very public target of local crime lord Blockbuster and the mysterious supervillain Heartless, both of whom have recently fought Nightwing on multiple occasions.
The New World’s Finest Faces Its First Test
Jon and Dick’s history was expanded upon in Nightwing #89 by Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott. When Jon was first learning how to fly as a young boy, he accidentally crashed in a distant mountain range and was discovered by Batman and Nightwing. As the Caped Crusader contacted Superman, Nightwing took the time to comfort the boy and offered him some candy until he was reunited with his father.
This early interaction would go on to inform much of Nightwing and Jon’s dynamic moving forward, with Jon seeing Nightwing as something of a big brother surrogate and mentor. After his father left for Warworld, Jon looks to Dick for guidance in being his own superhero while the two worked together to solve the murder of former Teen Titan Risk by a cadre of supervillains. The two’s bond became stronger from the experience, with Jon occasionally swinging by Bludhaven to give Dick a hand whenever he needed help back in Bludhaven. Similarly, Dick helps Jon learn more about the villainous dictator Bendix, infiltrating LexCorp headquarters in his civilian guise to meet with Lex Luthor and plant a hidden listening device.
The first major test for Nightwing and this new Superman, however, has come with the crossover event Dark Crisis by Joshua Williamson, Daniel Sampere, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano. With the Justice League, including Batman and Jon’s father, presumed dead after a battle against the Dark Army on the other side of the cosmos, Nightwing helps the superhero community back on Earth mourn their loss while Jon rallies a new Justice League of his own. The two heroes will have to work closer and more effectively together than ever before if they hope to overcome the Dark Army and the Secret Society of Super-Villains taking advantage of the void left by the Justice League’s apparent demise.
What Damian is up to now
With Jon and Nightwing working so closely together, this does beg the question of what Jon’s fellow Super-Son buddy Damian Wayne has been up to in the DCU since his best friend returned. Though Damian and Jon’s friendship remains strong, even with Jon now considerably older due to his cosmic odyssey, Damian has undergone his own tumultuous gauntlet as of late.
Intent on fighting crime in a much more lethal way than Batman, Damian maintained a secret supervillain prison under Titans Tower and became determined to kill Deathstroke. Discovering what his son had been up to behind his back, Batman disbanded the Titans while he and Damian parted ways acrimoniously.
Since then, Damian has largely been preoccupied with investigating the hidden history of Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Shadows. Damian and Batman have had their own reconciliation of sorts while solving Ra’s murder in the recent crossover event Shadow War, by Williamson, but the wayward Robin hasn’t completely mended fences with his father yet. In the meantime, Damian has accepted the offer to join Jon’s makeshift Justice League as the fate of the multiverse hangs in the balance.
For Jon’s ongoing adventures as Superman, Superman: Son of Kal-El #12, written by Tom Taylor, penciled by Cian Tormey and Ruari Coleman, inked by Scott Hanna, Raul Fernandez, Tormey, and Coleman, colored by Federico Blee, and lettered by Dave Sharpe is on sale now.
For Dick’s ongoing adventures as Nightwing, Nightwing #93, written by Taylor, penciled by Bruno Redondo, inked by Redondo and Wade Von Grawbadger, colored by Adriano Lucas, and lettered by Wes Abbott can be purchased now.