Gotham's "Gray Son" NIGHTWING Gets a New Role in Gotham
In June, writer Kyle Higgins is giving Nightwing a brand new role in Gotham City while giving new readers a jumping-on point after "Night of the Owls."
Nightwing #10 will follow up on some of the threads introduced during the "Owls" tie-in issues, but will also start a new storyline while setting up a supporting cast for Dick Grayson in Gotham.
One of those remaining threads is a surprising reveal that occurred during "Night of the Owls," as Dick found out his last name, "Grayson," actually refers to his connection to the villainous Court of Owls. Playing with the theme of "black and white," Higgins introduced in Nightwing the idea that the Court of Owls deals within the "gray" of Gotham. And because Dick's ancestor worked for the Court, this "gray" inspired the genesis of Dick's last name.
Newsarama talked to Higgins to find out more about what's coming up in Nightwing and how he came up with the idea to make Dick the "gray son."
Newsarama: Kyle, now that you're coming out of the Court of Owls crossover, what does issue #10 represent for Nightwing as he moves forward — and what will it be like for readers?
Kyle Higgins: For readers, I wanted Nightwing #10 to be a jumping on point for people who had picked up Nightwing during "Night of the Owls" and liked what they saw. We're starting a brand new storyline, and setting up a new direction for the book with this issue. Dick begins a new adventure within Gotham in the start of issue #10, and we hit the ground running with his new life in Gotham.
Nrama: Because the first arc had Dick traveling with the circus, what will he do now that he's in Gotham? Can you give us an indication of his supporting cast now, or his job?
Higgins: We're really filling out those kinds of things for Dick beginning with issue #10. The next arc is "The Tomorrow People," and it's dealing with the next generation of Gotham. Obviously Nightwing, Dick Grayson, fits into that, but there are some other characters who show up in that heading as well, and some of them will stick around on the book to become the supporting cast.
Sonia Zucco is back, the daughter of Tony Zucco, starting in issue #10. She's a really cool parallel to Nightwing, because they're both characters that are trying to carve their own way in Gotham City. There are some really interesting possibilities for that relationship.
We'll see the deputy mayor, whom Nightwing just saved in the Court of Owls. He'll be coming into the book. And there's a cop, a detective, who may or may not be out to frame Nightwing.
These are all, in my mind, the next generation of Gotham.
Nrama: And those idols include the "bat" folks?
Higgins: Very much includes the bat folks, specifically Nightwing.
Nrama: Since Nightwing is in Gotham now, will he run into the other Batman characters more often?
Higgins: I'm planning to have Tim in the book soon. And obviously, there will be constant interaction with Bruce, since they're both working in Gotham.
Nrama: The tie between Batman and Nightwing was significant during the first half of your run. Does that continue?
Higgins: Where it makes sense. As long as Scott Snyder is on Batman, there will always be a place for us to tie these two books together and crossover when it makes sense.
Nrama: You and I talked after Nightwing #7 and Batman #7, when Nightwing found out he was intended to be a Talon for the Court of Owls. But with Nightwing #9, we get a clear indication of how Dick Grayson is processing and reacting to that.
Higgins: Yeah. My approach with issue #8 and #9 was to take that realization, or that accusation from issue #7, and explore that a little more. He's hearing Bruce's side of it. He's hearing, "you should have been this terrible killer for this group in Gotham that only wants to rule through fear." And Dick's was thinking at the time, well, I'm obviously not going to be a part of something like that.
But in issue #8 and #9, you get to hear William's spin on it. And William is saying, no, that's not what it is at all. It's much more noble than that. And not only were you chosen for it, but the full implication of you being chosen, you don't get. You were bred for this. Everything down to the genesis of your name points toward you being meant for this. You were meant for greater things. You were meant to be part of the ruling class of Gotham. The whole idea of the argument between black and white, and of the Owls being the "gray," is that they essentially rule from the shadows, enacting order and policy from the shadows through violence. But it works, at least in their estimation.
And you can see their argument. The city has gotten worse in the years that they haven't been active, in the years that Batman has been there. And that's why William calls Dick out and says, "you're just this imitation, and what you do doesn't work."
These two issues were also an opportunity for me to explore the Court and their philosophy, which Scott has touched on a bit in Batman. But I remember calling him and talking to him about this idea of the Court thinking of themselves as saviors of the city, but in a different way.
So all of those things came into play during issues #8 and #9.
Nrama: One of the more interesting parts of the story was the revelation that Dick is the "gray son" of Gotham, and his name was invented to mark him as such. What sparked that idea? Was it something you've been wanting to do for awhile, or did this story spawn the idea?
Higgins: It came out of this story in particular, although the idea of "son" had been rattling around in my brain since I started writing Nightwing last year. With my whole take on Dick Grayson being the future of Gotham, that ties into the idea of a "son."
But it was right around the time I was scripting issue #6 or #7 that I realized that there was more significance to his name. I already knew we were doing the big Owl event. And I'd been told by editorial and Scott that if I wanted to, I could do two issues. Because of the revelation in issue #7, and Dick's personal connection and association to the Court of Owls, it would make sense for me to do two issues for the event.
Nrama: The genesis of "Grayson" makes sense with this story, but it takes this history beyond Bruce finding something in his tooth. He's literally marked with this name, and he has been all his life.
Higgins: Yeah, it emphasizes what he already found out, but does it in a personal way.
But you know, I actually wrestled with whether or not to do it, just because it has to be right. When you're dealing with something like a character's name, you have to do it right. If you don't, it's kind of an eye roll moment, you know? But I decided it made so much sense and really brought the whole story together so well that it just had to be in there. So I worked really hard to make sure it didn't come across the wrong way.
I mean, it got ultra-specific, even down to the lettering. We were very particular about even which part of the word we were going to bold for emphasis.
So yeah, I was aware that it could go wonderfully right, but it could go horribly wrong. But so far, people seem to dig it.
Nrama: Do you think that the fact that it's the New 52, and because Dick is younger and has this fresh start, it made it work better for you to add this history to the character and his name? Or at least opened the door for this new piece of his history?
Higgins: Honestly, I think what allowed me to do it was Scott's Batman run. The previously untold history that Scott has been weaving into Gotham City in his book gave me the building blocks for what I've been doing.
Of course, the relaunch did help build the foundation for the story I'm telling in Nightwing because it allowed us to go back to the circus in the first arc. The relaunch created an opportunity to go back and deal with stuff in the circus, and that laid the groundwork for this reveal.
Nrama: One of the things that stuck out to me in William Cobb's speech was that he said what a lot of people think about Nightwing — that he's "Batman light." I hear that all the time.
Higgins: Yeah. I scripted that on an airplane when I was flying back a month ago from C2E2 in Chicago. I was on the plane, and the book had already been lettered, and I was going through it. And it just wasn't popping right for me.
Nrama: It was already drawn and lettered when you decided to rewrite Cobb's dialogue?
Higgins: Yeah. I started looking at that scene, and I realized that there was a whole extra layer that I could play.
And you're right. I can't even count the number of fans and other creators who have said to me, "Well, he's just Batman light." Or "If you put him in Gotham, he's just Batman light."
And I thought, well, someone needs to just call him on that. And who better than his ancestor, as he's coming to him and saying he was meant for greater things?
That's actually my favorite moment in the book.
Nrama: It was cool to see Nightwing answer that directly in the comic. And I can't help thinking that your whole run is answering that, isn't it?
Higgins: That's part of it. I mean, that's why I wanted him in Gotham, since Day One. I wanted him in this city, and I wanted him in the same place as Bruce, as Batman.
To me, it just says that much more about the character if he's here and he doesn't care what Bruce thinks. He's not concerned with this "shadow" thing. He's comfortable with who he is.
People can talk about that all they want, whether it be readers or in this case, opponents. But it's not really phasing him. That's not even entering into his thought process.
Nrama: But surely the revelation that his family, and even his name, had pre-destined him to be something different has affected him a little?
Higgins: Coming out of this revelation and the accusation from William, just because Dick doesn't believe it, and just because Dick says "destinies don't exist" doesn't mean that he's ignoring it either.
Starting in issue #10, Dick's out to prove that the revelations we saw in the last few issues about him being marked for evil are wrong. He wants to prove that he's not that person, and Gotham is not that place. And he's determined to do whatever it takes to save this place.
And he takes a little different approach than Batman would take. It's a different approach than Bruce Wayne would take.
The decision he makes, and the avenue he's exploring, is something that is so intrinsically Dick Grayson.
I showed it to a few people, and they just got this big grin when they read it. It just works for him. And I hope people dig it. It works with everything that I've done in the run leading up to this point. And it also is something that only Dick could do.
Nrama: For people who've enjoyed your work on Nightwing, will we be seeing more projects from you?
Higgins: Yeah, there's something else coming up that I'm working on. There are things in the works.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you wanted to say about Nightwing?
Higgins: Just that I really appreciate everyone who has given the book a try and those who've stuck with it. For any of the new readers who have come out for the "Night of the Owls" event, stick around. Give Nightwing #10 a try. If you haven't been reading the book, or you just picked up the book during the Owls event, I've designed issue #10 to be a great new beginning, a new chapter.
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