As first depicted in the story "Superman in Kandor" in Superman (vol. 1) #158 (January 1963), Nightwing is an alias used by Superman in Edmond Hamilton-penned pre-Crisis adventures in the city of Kandor, a Kryptonian city that was shrunken and preserved in a bottle. In Kandor, Superman has no superpowersand, in the story, is branded an outlaw there due to a misunderstanding. To disguise themselves, Superman and Jimmy Olsen create vigilante identities inspired by Batman and Robin. Because neither bats nor robins lived on Krypton, Superman chooses the names of two birds owned by Superman's Kandorian friend Nor-Kan: "Nightwing" for himself and "Flamebird" for Olsen. The Dynamic Duo of Kandor create costumes evocative of the birds' plumage. Nightwing and Flamebird rename Nor-Kan's underground laboratory as the "Nightcave", and use it as their secret headquarters. They also convert Nor-Kan's automobile into their "Nightmobile", and use "jet-belts" to fly into battle.

In Jimmy Olsen #69 (June 1963), "The Dynamic Duo of Kandor" introduces Nightwing's dog Nighthound. In "The Feud Between Batman and Superman" in World's Finest #143 (August 1964), Batman and Robin themselves visit Kandor with Superman and Olsen and the two Dynamic Duos team up .