SPOILERS FOR ROBIN WAR #2
As DC's month-long Robin War event concluded this week, the multiple Robins in Gotham City might have succeeded in stopping the war, but the ending didn't turn out so well for Dick Grayson.
At the closing of Robin War #2, Dick Grayson accepted a covenant with the Court of Owls, and admitted to the now-international organization, "I'm not Robin." As the villainous group welcomed him "to the Parliament of Owls," he was shown wearing the now familiar Court of Owls mask.
The issue, which was written by Tom King, ended with the tagline, "Next: To be continued in Grayson." And since King also co-writes Grayson with Tim Seeley, Newsarama talked with King to find out more about the event and what Dick joining the Owls means for Grayson.
What Newsarama found out is that the ending of Robin War is leading to much bigger events being discussed between Batman writer Scott Snyder, Tom King, and Chief Creative Officer and Justice League writer Geoff Johns.
Newsarama: Tom, I read that final issue of Robin War and my jaw dropped at the end.
Tom King: Good! I mean… I think good.
Nrama: Then I looked closer at the cover of upcoming issues, and I noticed the owl on the front of Grayson #18, and the solicitation copy that says Dick is serving "multiple masters."
King: I hate solicits.
Nrama: So is this something that's going to continue in Grayson for a while?
King: Yeah, I mean, it's a huge story. It's something that Tim and I have been talking about pretty much since Day One of Grayson. This is all part of the plan moving forward, with what Dick Grayson's going to be up against.
Nrama: So are you confirming that Grayson #18 has an owl on the cover because of the Court of Owls?
King: [Laughs.] I know nothing! I can say nothing!
I used to work for the C.I.A.! You can't get it out of me, all right? I'm professionally trained!
Nrama: OK, then, let's talk about Robin War. From the beginning, you've been saying that the story revolved around what it meant to be a Robin. But with this ending, it seems that the other central part of this story was bringing back the idea of Dick Grayson as this "Gray Son" of the Court of Owls, even bringing in Lincoln March to recruit him, right?
King: Yeah. I said from the beginning that we were doing a big event that was going to change the status quo of what it means to be a Robin, and what it means to this core group of four or five Robins that you've sort of been following for years and years and years. That's what we set out to do, and that's what we did.
It was a Court of Owls story, it was a Robin story, it was a Dick Grayson story, and it was a Duke Thomas story. And a Damian story.
Nrama: Let's talk about Dick's decision to join the Court of Owls. Damian made a similar decision at one point in the book. But can you describe Dick's motivation at all?
King: I mean, the surface reason is fairly simple. Everything that happened was because the Owls were looking for this person, this Gray Son, this "night wing."
And what his role is in the Owls, and how that relates to the DCU as a whole, is going to be huge. And that's part of a big, upcoming story.
But they were looking for that figure. And as it was revealed in Kyle Higgins's run on Nightwing and in Scott Snyder's run on Batman, it was always supposed to be Dick Grayson. And he rejected that destiny. And it was this idea to bring him back.
And the only way to bring Dick Grayson back and get him into the fold, the only thing — and this is what I said in Grayson — is family. Everything to Dick Grayson is about family. And so that's central. "To save your family, you have to come in." And that's what he does at the end. They literally put a bomb inside Damian and they said, "Look, if you don't join us, he's dead."
So that's the surface reason. That's just the immediate consequence.
But the Owls have a lot of levels, and so does Dick Grayson. He was confronted with the question, why did you want to be "night wing"? Don't you want to explore that? And I think Dick's curious about it.
But then on that other side, Dick Grayson is a guy who just penetrated an evil organization named Spyral. He's done this before. And he might think he's smarter than the Owls. And the Owls know that he thinks that.
And so, on multiple levels, they're playing chess with each other.
Nrama: Looking back at the Robin War storyline, what was it like coordinating with all these other Bat-writers, and how does that play into what you guys have coming up?
King: It was amazing. I mean, some real credit should be given to Rebecca Taylor and Mark Doyle, our two editors on it. I feel like people know who Mark is, but I don't know if people know Rebecca Taylor. But she coordinated this whole thing and she got everyone on the same page, and made sure the story beats worked.
I mean, I'm friends with all the guys, so that made it super easy. We would just call each other on the phone. My only thing that scared me was playing with all the characters that Lee Bermejo had created. And so we talked for a while. And he's the actual one who helped me with issue #1, writing about those characters.
We were constantly in contact. The Bat-office is a bunch of friends. We're like the Marvel bullpen in 1963 — we all know each other and we work together and bounce off each other.
Nrama: Can you talk about what's coming up in Grayson next?
King: Sure, this is part of a bigger story. This Owl thing is going to be like a ticking time bomb. It's going to be in the background of the story for a little while.
What we're dealing with immediately in Grayson is, as readers saw in the two issues before Robin War, Spyral has this sort of evil center to it, which was set up way back in Batman Inc.. And Grayson has now dedicated himself to taking down Spyral. And so you have Grayson and Tiger, these two agents, versus Spyral, and the head of Spyral, which is Helena Bertinelli, Grayson's somewhat love interest and almost his best friend. And so it's Dick Grayson versus Spyral, Dick and Tiger versus Helena.
And the next issue is so much fun. It's sort of my love letter to the spy genre, and to James Bond, and all the tropes we get to play with in this.
Nrama: We also know from the last issue of Batman that Bruce Wayne now remembers that he's Batman. And indications from upcoming solicitations are that he's going to be back in the cowl.
King: What? What? [Laughs.] Nobody told me this! Spoilers! Spoilers!
Nrama: I assume that, if — maybe I should say if — Bruce Wayne fully takes on the job of Batman again, that will affect Dick Grayson's mission. When he originally went into Spyral, it was in the service of Bruce Wayne, right?
King: Yeah. I think that's going to have a huge impact on his book.
It's hard to say. That's so much stuff going on. But we have such huge plans for the DCU and what's coming in the next few months, in terms of how the whole universe interacts. I've been on the phone with Scott and Geoff Johns, and we're trying to make a huge story that the fans will dig, and these events are sort of leading up to that story.
I like to think of it as almost those awesome events that happened before the weekly 52 launch? Like those kind of things? Like, that's how I feel. There's something big coming, and you're just starting to hear the drumbeats.
You didn't ask about how the Court of Owls has a court in every city.
Nrama: Yeah, they're international. That just makes me think Dick's in this to take them down. I don't want to ask point-blank spoilers, but with him being an international spy now, and him infiltrating this international evil organization, the implication is there that he's joining just so he can take them down.
King: I think it would be stupid for me to deny that that would be Dick's first instinct. I mean, Dick Grayson's not evil.
But, I think, as smart as I am, the Owls are that smart as well. They know that that's Dick Grayson's first thought. And it's their move next. They're using that as a hook to bring him in. It's like, "Ha ha, you think you're going to penetrate us. Guess what?" Similar to what Spyral did. The parallel between those two are not accidental.