Dick Grayson has always been the pillar of support for the Bat-family, since his tenure as Robin and it’s something that was carried on into his time as Nightwing. Dick was always the go-to guy when things got tough and they needed someone they could confide in or seek advice from. Bruce, Tim, Alfred, Barbara and even the late Damian saw Dick as a bright light in their lives, a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dark and depressing life they lead as costumed heroes in Gotham City. But what happens when you clip Nightwing’s wings, and he’s left in just as dark a mood as his mentor, The Batman? When he’s left a broken, tired mess? With the Death of the Family, and the death of his brother and former partner, Damian Wayne, Dick is on his last legs. Writer for Nightwing, Kyle Higgins, took some time with Newsarama to talk a little about Nightwing, his plight, and whether or not he can bounce back from not only the loss of trust in Batman, but the death of his very own “Robin” as it were. Kyle Higgins once called Damian “Dick’s light at the end of the tunnel.”, and with that light gone, will Nightwing rise to the challenge or fall?
Out of all the Bat-family members, Dick Grayson was the closest to Bruce, perhaps even closer than Damian was, because of their bond as not only Batman and Robin, but as kindred spirits who lost their parents to a violent murder. After Death of the Family, Dick is the most affected by Bruce’s betrayal of trust, and so Higgins seeks to address how Dick is acting with not only the loss of his brother, but the loss of his “father” as well. With Dick on his way to Chicago there are some concerns that he’s simply running away from his problems.
I think there’s definitely a risk of that, if you don’t do it in the right way. That’s something I was definitely aware of as I was moving in this direction. The reason he’s going to Chicago, as we’ve now revealed, is that Tony Zucco is still alive.
Tony Zucco, the man who killed Dick’s parents, is living under an alias in the Windy City. So, he’s moving across the country for a very specific reason. Also, in the wake and aftermath of all these events that have been occurring in Dick’s life – these things that have been out of his control or have made him feel powerless at times – the Court of Owls reveal, Amusement Mile & the Joker, the Circus leaving him, Damian dying – Tony Zucco represents something that he can very actively solve in his mind. He also is the person who really set Dick’s life on the trajectory to where it is now.
Dick and Damian’s relationship and partnership was the foundation of a lot of Batman stories, before and after the Nu52, and so Newsarama asked if Nightwing’s dynamics with having a sidekick or another hero as a foil will come into play as the issues go on.
I think the dynamic between Dick and Damian was a lot of fun. Damian is a blast to write – or he was anyway. I got to tackle him a little bit in Gates of Gotham, and then there in Nightwing, and he was always a lot of fun to play around with. I think he provides an interesting foil to Dick Grayson. I think if Dick were ever going to explore a sidekick of his own, I think the dynamic would have to be just right.
I think it’s something he’d definitely be open to. I think he’s someone that what he does stems from his love for people. That all stems from the fact that he was born into performing – he was under spotlights from a very young age. So yes, it’s definitely something that he’d be open to, but it’s finding the right dynamic and the right story. But it’s something he’s good at, I will say that.
In other news about the title itself, it’ll be gaining a new artist as well as the scene shifts from Gotham to Chicago. Higgins talks about his new artists, Brett Booth.
Well Brett’s style is very energetic. There’s a lot of kineticism behind his art, and that works very well when you’re dealing with a character like Nightwing, who is an acrobat. Visually, what sets him apart from the other Bat-family members is that sense of energy and how great he is in the air. That’s totally one of Brett’s strengths and something I’m writing for a lot more.
Just as a collaborator, Brett’s been fantastic. We talk through every story. Brett’s written before as well, so it is definitely a partner-in-crime that I can bounce things off of and work together with him. He’s drawing issue 3 of the run right now, and the pages look great! I’m excited for people to check him out.
One thing that fans have noticed, and Newsarama brings up, is that all of Dick’s villains during the Nightwing run in the Nu52 are almost always directly connected to him, each problem being personal to Dick Grayson himself. This puts him as a parallel to Bruce, who’s public and private life as the Batman are very much separate, while Nightwing’s dual lives are bleeding into each other. That said, Higgins takes some time to address this and some other concerns about Dick’s civilian life in Chicago.
Well, I think a lot of that stems from, again, Dick’s upbringing in the circus as a performer. I think there’s the fact that from a very young age, his performance persona and his own persona have been intertwined. Whereas Bruce as Batman evolved those separate identities much later in life, relatively speaking.
I also think the biggest difference, the biggest reason why it’s so intertwined is because Dick genuinely loves what he does. That’s not to say Bruce doesn’t – but Dick loves helping people. It’s about individuals for Dick Grayson. That’s why his Nightwing live, his Dick Grayson life, are very similar in that way. Everything in Dick Grayson’s life, as we’ve been exploring the last couple months, is motivated by people, by the relationships in his life. And as Nightwing, he wants to catch people as they fall. I think that’s why you see that interlocking there
…Right now, in the story, as far as Dick is concerned, he’s moving to Chicago for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to find and take down Tony Zucco. After that, he thinks he’ll be back in Gotham and back to the life he’s set up there. But, within this first arc, he’s more or less penniless, he has very little money after what’s happened to him. So he is subletting an apartment with a roommate, he has one Nightwing suit – it’s much more of the “everyman” approach with Dick. So how that will develop as far as his personal life is concerned, will be very much dictated by how the Tony Zucco story plays out.
Toward the end of the interview, Higgins talks a little about Nightwing and his constant wandering in the title.
…it’s in the character’s nature. He grew up on the road, going from city to city, from town to town. He never really laid roots, that’s how he lived his entire life.
However, in this specific instance, again I just want to stress, he’s leaving Gotham for a very specific reason. This is the guy that really changed his life, for the better and for the worse, depending on how you look at it. As far as Dick is concerned, this guy was dead. So the fact that Zucco is still alive and out there is a pretty natural reason for Dick to uproot at this time.
Nightwing heads off to Chicago in Nightwing #19, on sale April 17th.