Joker Quashes NIGHTWING's Hope in 'Death of the Family'

During the first year of Nightwing, writer Kyle Higgins explored what made Dick Grayson a unique part of the Bat-family, as he overcame his heritage to be a force of good and hope in Gotham City.

Nightwing 15 Cover

But now, The Joker plans to quash the character's hope as the Nightwing title ties into the "Death of the Family" event in issues #15 and #16. The two-part story also represents a return for Higgins and regular artist Eddy Barrows, who took a break for the last couple issues.

Newsarama talked to Higgins about what's coming in "Death of the Family" and whether the "seismic shift" the writer teased back in September is still coming on the horizon for Nightwing.

Newsarama: Kyle, we got indication last month that Joker's attack on Nightwing involves Raya, his former love interest, and that it's going to get real personal. Is that the idea behind these "Death of the Family" tie-ins? That The Joker gets very personal?

Kyle Higgins: Yes, that was the edict from day 1. The Joker should be attacking our characters in very personal ways, coming after the things that they love and they care about, attacking what the Joker perceives to be their greatest weaknesses. The gloves are off.

In that way, as you'll see in issue #15, there's a reason why The Joker goes after Raya. And obviously, there's the big moment at the end of Batman #14, where The Joker claims to know who everyone is. So we'll have to see how that plays out. 

Nightwing 16 Cover

Nrama: His attack on Raya certainly indicates that The Joker does seem to know something about Dick's life. Scott Snyder told us that this week's Batman #15 includes an argument among the members of the Bat-family about whether The Joker knows those secret identities. How is Dick feeling about that? One which side is he arguing?

Higgins: Well, without getting too much into Batman #15, there is something in the conversation that is polarizing. So Dick very much falls on believing that Bruce has been too callous with regards to The Joker possibly knowing who they are. This is something that Nightwing does not take as lightly, this accusation that Joker is making.

Nightwing definitely aligns with other members of the Bat-family. They're definitely concerned, and you can see why.

Nrama: It's been made clear in solicitations that Haly's Circus is going to be at the center of this attack, probably at Amusement Mile, where Dick Grayson has set up the circus. Why is that a compelling setting for a showdown between Nightwing and Joker?

Higgins: I chose that setting for two reasons. The first is what it means to The Joker. And the second is what it means to Dick.

In terms of what it means to The Joker, this is the place where he terrorized Commissioner Gordon during Killing Joke. So Joker definitely has a connection to Amusement Mile.

Nightwing 16 Interiors

As far as what it means to Nightwing, to Dick Grayson, it's representative of Dick's bigger plans for Gotham City and Dick's place within Gotham City, trying to bring a little bit of light to an area of town that has been so hopeless. Being this beacon of light for Gotham has been his goal since the events of issues #8 and #9, where he learned he was supposed to have been a member of the Court of Owls.

In "Death of the Family," Joker is targeting our characters' weaknesses, and their fears. The circus and Amusement Mile are representatives of the things that define Dick Grayson. He is fundamentally built on relationships and hope. He's one of the most social characters in the DCU. So if you put your faith and your trust in relationships and in hope, that's a pretty easy target at which The Joker can put this crosshairs.

Nrama: It seems like Amusement Mile would also provide some pretty cool imagery. Eddy Barrows is finishing up his run on Nightwing with "Death of the Family?"

Higgins: Yeah. Issue #15 and #16 are Eddy. And #16 is his last issue. It's what we've been building toward for quite awhile now. So for this to be Eddy's last hurrah on the character — I don't think he could have gone out with a bigger bang.

Nightwing 16

The pages look spectacular. And it's exactly what you said: The amusement park, especially once The Joker gets his hands on it, definitely lends itself to some fantastic imagery.

Nrama: Can you announce who the new artist will be on Nightwing? Have you guys determined that?

Higgins: No, we haven't.

Nrama: Will other Bat-family members get involved in Nightwing, or do they each have enough problems of their own?

Higgins: There's a moment in Nightwing #15 between Nightwing and Batgirl, which comes in the immediate aftermath of Batman #15. But beyond that, this is very much Nightwing taking care of business himself.

Nrama: When we first talked to you about what Nightwing would face during "Death of the Family," you said the series would take a "seismic shift" after the end of the tie-in issues. Is that still the plan for Nightwing? Is that still in place?

Higgins: Yes, it is still very much in place. The events that happen in "Death of the Family" are going to begin to define the future of the series, both in terms of what Nightwing has to deal with from a logistics standpoint, as well as the fallout he's going to be going through emotionally.

So these next two issues bring a lot of things into question. It brings his direction within Gotham City — and within Haly's Circus and Amusement Mile — it brings all those things under the microscope for him.

Nrama: Nightwing's been growing closer to Sonia Zucco. Does she play a part in the Joker story? Will we see more about his relationship with her?

Higgins: Yeah, she's definitely in the event. There are some moments with her, as we continue to explore that dynamic and that relationship. And she has a big role going forward.

Nrama: Then to finish up the interview, Kyle, what can you tell readers about the post "Death of the Family" world for Dick Grayson?

Higgins: I guess the only thing I can say is, it's kind of my "opus." Everything that spins out of Nightwing #16 is my big, huge, epic Nightwing story that I've been planning for a long time. But it all begins in Nightwing #16.

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