Nightwing's The Office Cameo Continues A Comics Tradition (& Here's Why It's Great)

Contains spoilers for "Nightwing" #105

Readers of last week's "Nightwing" #105 might have noticed that several characters from the television series "The Office" made secret cameos in the issue. In a scene where Dick Grayson is being chased down through an office building, a handful of familiar faces from the television series can be seen reacting in shock to the events at hand. While the Steve Carell-starring comedy show aired its last episode more than a decade ago, the comic book Easter egg brought the workers of Dunder Mifflin back in a surprising way, with the creative team clearly showing love to the "The Office" in the chaotic panels.

The unofficial appearance of "The Office" characters in "Nightwing" #105 is the last example of a great comic tradition of pop culture cameos hidden in plain sight. For more than half a century, there have been hundreds of secret appearances of both real-life and fictional faces in the pages of Marvel and DC Comics. In this case, "The Office" cameos are one of the more blatant examples of putting beloved characters and actors into a superhero scene.

The Office made a big cameo in Nightwing #105

In "Nightwing" #105 by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo, Adriano Lucas, and Wes Abbott from DC Comics, the issue features an unconventional perspective, with the entire issue taking place in Nightwing's first-person point of view. The issue has Nightwing and Batgirl chasing after Double Dare before learning the villains are actually trying to help a nation by stealing a vaccine they desperately need but can't afford. When Aliki, one-half of Double Dare, becomes a target of gun-touting men on behalf of Shel Pharmaceuticals, Nightwing and Batgirl help them run. In their escape efforts, Dick Grayson swings through the side of an office building, which reveals several characters from "The Office" inside.

Nightwing and Aliki burst through a window with a few familiar faces from "The Office" appearing inside the building. A man who resembles Dwight Shrute screams, "Are you @#$%$#& kidding me?" when Grayson smashes into their work area. Amid the chaos, several characters from the popular television series can be seen: Kelly Kapoor and Jim Halpert sit behind Dwight, while Phyllis Vance, Creed Bratton, Stanley Hudson, Michael Scott, and Meredith Palmer can also be seen behind desks. The cameos don't stop there. When Aliki and Nightwing reach an elevator, they are met by Andy Bernard and Karen Filippelli, with the latter telling Grayson that she's a huge fan before they exit the building via a stolen motorbike in the underground parking.

While some comic book cameos intentionally blur the line of the characters making secret celebrity appearances so they aren't obvious, it's clear Taylor and Redondo wanted to do a scene featuring characters from "The Office," with two pages dedicated to the cameos. It ends up being an enjoyable moment in the comic, showing the creators' love for the series.

Famous celebrity cameos in comic book history

Celebrity cameos in the pages of comics aren't anything new. Comic artists and writers regularly put familiar faces, including friends, family, and colleagues, as background characters in comics. However, not all cameos were hidden, with some stories featuring very famous people. In "Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen" #139 and #141 by Jack Kirby, comedian Don Rickles met the Man of Steel, with the legendary comic creator's fandom for the actor giving him a major role in the comic. Meanwhile, actor and director Orson Welles played a significant part in a 1950 "Superman" comic where he aided Kal-El amid an alien invasion. In one of the most iconic celebrity appearances in comic book history, Muhammad Ali famously boxed Superman in the Dennis O'Neil, Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, and Terry Austin comic "Superman vs. Muhammad Ali." The list of celebrity appearances goes on and on.

Cameos have also occurred in the form of looks inspired by celebrities. Perhaps the most iconic example is John Constantine's original look in "Swamp Thing" #37 by Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, and John Totleben, being directly based on the singer Sting. Meanwhile, the original Joker in Bob Kane, Bill Finger, and Jerry Robinson's "Batman" series was clearly based on horror actor Conrad Veidt's appearance in "The Man Who Laughs." Actor Fred MacMurray inspired Shazam, Tony Stark's look was influenced by real-life inventor Howard Hughes, and football star Jim Brown served as one of the main visual inspirations for Marvel's Blade.

Comics continue to have their fair share of cameos

Modern comics have upped the authorized and unauthorized cameos in a major way. Everyone from Seth Meyers ("Mister Miracle") and Anderson Cooper ("Black Widow") has been put into the world of superheroes. Meanwhile, entire issues have been dedicated to celebrity cameos. Rapper Eminem famously took on the Punisher in "Eminem/Punisher" #1 by Fred Van Lente, Salvador Larroca, and Frank D'Armata. Meanwhile, former President Barack Obama and comedian Stephen Colbert have appeared in "The Amazing Spider-Man." Prince's likeness was just in "Batman '89" by Sam Hamm, Leonardo Ito, and Joe Quinones, with the late music legend appearing dressed based on the "Batdance" music video.

Blink-and-you'll-miss cameos also appear in Big Two comics on the regular. For example, a group of kids who looked like characters from "The Simpsons" cameoed in Al Ewing and Joe Bennett's "Immortal Hulk." Characters identical to the main cast of "The Big Bang Theory" appeared in "Power Girl" #4 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Amanda Conner, John J. Hill, and Guillem March from DC Comics, with the counterpart for Howard being rejected by the Kryptonian hero. DC and Marvel have even put their opposing characters in stories, with Superman appearing in a background shot in Jim Starlin's "The Death of Captain Marvel." 

Ultimately, whether authorized or not, celebrity cameos can show off a creative team's personalities and add an unexpected, fun dimension to the comics they appear in. With artists creating entire worlds and people, it's no surprise they sneak in some familiar faces every now and again. In "Nightwing" #105, the unnamed cameos from "The Office" were made for fans of the series. While some readers might not recognize the characters, it's a nice treat for longtime viewers while continuing a decades-long comic tradition.