Tim Seeley will return Dick Grayson to his role as Nightwing beginning this week with Nightwing: Rebirth #1, sticking with the same character from Grayson but giving him a whole new spin as he returns to Gotham and dons his superhero tights again.
Coming from the Grayson which Seeley co-wrote with Batman scribe Tom King in which the once-and-future Nightwing was an undercover spy, Dick Grayson had been assumed dead by most of the world. Over the last year, the character has revealed himself to the Bat-family as being alive, and this "Rebirth" eragives him the chance to return to his former life as a Gotham City hero.
In the new ongoing series Nightwing, he'll be interacting with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl), Damian Wayne (Robin), and Bruce Wayne (Batman) again. But Seeley will also set up a new status for the character as he deals with the Parliament of Owls, the organization which he reluctantly joined at the end of Robin War last year.
First up in the character's return to the hero world is Nightwing: Rebirth #1, due out this week with art by Yanick Paquette. Then the series will kick off proper in the insuing Nightwing #1, with art by Javier Fernandez, introducing a new character called Raptor who becomes Dick's mentor.
Newsarama talked to Seeley about Dick's new status quo, whether he'll be spending much time with Batman, and what the Parliament of Owls means for his future.
Newsarama: Tim, you're continuing on the same title character, but he's got a different role now. How would you describe the main differences between Grayson and Nightwing?
Tim Seeley: Right off the bat, one thing we really tried to set up that is different about it is that Dick's identity has changed — not so much what costume he wears or whatnot, but he has the opportunity to have a secret identity back. So he's able to have his old connections back without endangering them.
So in this case, he's not away from the family; he's with the family. And he's got a new dynamic.
In the new Nightwing book, his supporting cast will be characters like Barbara Gordon, Damian, and Bruce Wayne. And then we'll obviously be adding some new stuff.
Grayson was a book about Dick Grayson away from the world that he had lived his whole life in. And Nightwing is about him returning to that as a guy with a different viewpoint and different sort of experience and education.
Nrama: I think one of the great things about this character is how well he gets along with other people. I assume now you can really showcase that?
Seeley: Yeah, One of the ways we wanted to develop Dick's villains was to say, you know, great villains often take what a character represents or one of their personality aspects and reflects it against them. And so taking a character who's as cool and likable as Dick and make it into this mentor character — Raptor was going to be one of those things that we'd get a lot of good story out of.
Nrama: Does the story kick off right away with Dick back in the fold of the Bat-universe?
Seeley: Yeah, we bring Dick back to Gotham and back to working with Batman, but we pick up the storyline that started in Robin War, which basically had him inducted into the Parliament of Owls, which is an international spin-off of the Gotham Court of Owls. And the Parliament of Owls has a slightly different goal in mind, which is not necessarily the secret, clandestine rule of Gotham City, but rather the desire to be able to not have to share their wealth and their assets with the rest of the world, which they believe is unworthy.
So we open the story with Dick undercover with them. They've basically blackmailed him into being a part of their organization as a means to validate them in the eyes of the Court, and then him basically immediately trying to figure out a way to break them down.
And that leads him to encounter this dude Raptor, who works for the Court, as far as we can tell, but he has his own agenda in mind.
Nrama: That's a good summary. In the Nightwing: Rebirth #1 issue, you're working with Yanick Paquette. What's that issue like? Does it kind of introduce people to Dick's new status?
Seeley: When Geoff first pitched us on how we were going to relaunch the "Rebirth" titles, he said hit the first issue running — your storyline's already there and it's already going. And you just, you don't have to worry about whatever baggage. And you use your "Rebirth" issue to introduce the reader to everything that's going on, and all the characters that are important to your character, and set the table for your ongoing series.
Knowing I was going to work with Yanick, my whole approach was going to be, let's give him great stuff to draw, because his art is so beautiful. You know, it's really organic and full of life, so I felt like, you know, if you don't open on a splash page of Dick Grayson engaged in a fight with some crazy bad guys, I felt like that would be a waste of Yanick.
So the story's really written for him to draw, you know, using the benchmarks of what I wanted to get across as Dick's new relationships. And then using those as sort of crazy splash pages to show the world that he comes from.
Nrama: With the first issue then you're working with Javier Fernandez?
Seeley: Yeah. Before this, he'd drawn Magneto with Cullen Bunn at Marvel, and he'd done an issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws, I believe. I love his stuff because he's kind of got this sort of Chris Bachalo expressiveness with that sort of same use of shadow.
He's really, he's doing what I think a really great book does, which is make you feel all the motion and emotion that comes from this character.
He's also able to make it look a little more gritty and crime noir style.
I think he's sort of like a variation on a sort of Scott McDaniel artist, who's obviously a pretty classic Nightwing artist.
So I think it was a great choice for artist, and as he goes on, to me it really cements this look for Nightwing, which is, you know, lots of heavy shadows and very slick and kind of sexy. And he does really great character acting too.
Nrama: You mentioned "sexy," and that was a term that could apply very well to Grayson. Will he still be one of the hottest heroes in the DCU?
Seeley: Yeah, you can't take that away from him. I mean, you know, putting on tights doesn't remove that at all.
Because Grayson was a spy story and one of the tropes of that is that sort of sexy male spy taking advantage of the ladies, playing that in Grayson was sort of cheeky and original and fun, but it's a little bit less of a story point in Nightwing. He's definitely a hot dude with nice abs, but we're not going to go out of our way to make sure we're winking all the time in that book.
Nrama: You mentioned Barbara, Damian and Bruce. How much will the other Bat-characters play in this?
Seeley: Yeah, in this, it's really about him having to deal with the Parliament while also being actively involved and getting to see his best friends and family members again.
Of course, that comes with headaches. Once he's involved with working with Raptor, he's got to justify that to people who are like, what are you doing, man? This is not, you know, a member of our family; this is not someone we trust.
Batgirl is a major character in it; Damian is a major character. Batman himself. I think those characters pretty much appear in every issue of the first four issues.
And I think that's an important thing to re-establish because Dick Grayson is a character whose most defining factor is his relationships with other superheroes.
Nrama: We've also seen Huntress in her new costume. What as behind the decision to utilize her, and what's her role?
Seeley: You see Helena transition a little bit out of our story for a while. She was so much a part of Dick Grayson's life during the Spyral storyline, but we get to set up that character for Birds of Prey, which is really great, because, you know, everyone at DC was excited to use that version of a character that we set up in Grayson to be the member of Birds of Prey, to be the Huntress that was introduced who is a former mob kid who's going out in revenge against the members of her own family, which is super-cool and that's a good storyline. And to be able to continue that identity with that character, I think really validates the Grayson take on it.
But we'll definitely come back to that relationship, because there's so much mileage to get out of those two.
Nrama: Does this comic interact with other Batman titles? Is Nightwing part of any upcoming crossovers?
Seeley: In the Bat-office, the characters in the books are definitely a family, but then also the creative teams of all the Bat-books now worked together for four or five years. So we're all friends and kind of consider each other family at this point. So we really water the books to be related. We wanted them to cross over with each other in small ways, and then in big ways too. We have the "Monster Men" crossover that comes up in #5 and #6, which will involve Batman, Nightwing, Batwoman and her Detective Comics crew. And all those things are based on ideas set up in all the books.
So yeah, I think the Batman office is one of the tightest groups of creators in the big-two superhero comics. I mean, we all work with each other so regularly and call each other when we need help, and we hang out when we do summits. So we want to continue that because it works so well.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about Nightwing?
Seeley: I think we've figured out a whole bunch of things that have worked about the character in the past, and I'm definitely interested in grabbing all the best parts of that character from his 75-year history and then adding some new stuff. So I think everyone will be pleasantly surprised but also comforted, which I think is what Rebirth has been doing so well so far.