As "Night of the Monster Men" heads into its fifth chapter with Nightwing #6, Dick Grayson has turned into one of the monsters. As crazy as that set-up might sound, it's just the latest turn of events in a grizzly, large-scale disaster that's hit Gotham City and the Batman characters.
Of course, Nightwing won't stay monster-y (which the preview reveals), but his attitude is none-too-friendly toward Bruce in the midst of the disaster - and will be even worse in its aftermath, as Hugo Strange's motivation becomes known.
Newsarama talked to Steve Orlando, who's orchestrating the entire "Night of the Monster Men" event, and Nightwing series writer Tim Seeley about what's next in the crossover and how it leads to Nightwing's next steps, including his move to Bludhaven.
Newsarama: Steve, at this point in the story, Nightwing's heading into some trouble. Can you describe his situation as readers pick up Nightwing #6?
Steve Orlando: What's happening with Nightwing is symptomatic of what Tim has going on in the Nightwing title. When "Monster Men" kicked off, you see that there's tension between Bruce and Dick, and it's not the same type of tension as with other characters in the story. Because what Dick is going through is singular this questioning of Batman's training that was brought on by what's going on with the Parliament and with Raptor and Nightwing.
He's always been a guy to think for himself, but he's pushing back a little more than usual now, at the same time as Batman is pushing himself and pushing away everyone a little more. So you have, like, opposing forces going on, due to the circumstances.
And that leads to what you saw in Detective Comics #941, with Gotham Girl and Nightwing, Batman's first protege and his newest protege, drawn together, and this moment of Nightwing saving her from what he things are the problems that Batman has - the things that went wrong with him, or almost did back in the day.
But of course, at the end of Detective, you see that they both get wrapped up in the effects of "Monster Men."
And as the story unfolds, you'll see that those have a lot to do with what Batman is, although it's on a large and gooey monster scale.
Nrama: Tim, the last storyline in Nightwing wrapped a few things up, but also had a couple threads continuing. And we've seen that the next storyline has Dick leaving Gotham City and going to Bludhaven. Does the "Night of the Monster Men" event lead into the next issues and the reasons for Dick's departure?
Tim Seeley: Yeah. When we set up this storylines, we set it up partially so that "Night of the Monster Men" would give us a little lead time to do the crazy schedule of two books a month. But we all talked about how the characters would be affected by it.
Going into issue #7, we pick up with the Raptor storyline, but it's been effected by all the characters that have gotten together and sort of had to confront basically what amounts to Batman's negative emotions.
It'll definitely affect Batman's relationship with Nightwing. And that leads right into issue #7 and #8. How does Dick deal with his feelings towards Bruce? And how does that affect the temptation of Raptor showing him a way that he could be a better mentor to him.
Nrama: Steve, we've learned a little bit about Hugo Strange, but there are obviously more mysteries about his motivation and methods. What can you tell us about what's coming up next in "Night of the Monster Men?"
Orlando: As the series progresses, you'll get to see why Hugo has done what he's done. It all comes down to him and Batman.
But I think the fun resolution of that is that for Hugo - just like Batman and the Joker mean something to each other, and Batman and many of his other foes too, Hugo and Batman mean something different than a lot of other people and Batman.
So the Monster Men are definitely Hugo's attempt to show Batman something, but it's something that is totally unique to Hugo Strange. And it's fun to watch that slowly un-peel as the story continues and gets bigger and bigger and bigger and more out of control.
But at the heart of it - and this is why it's fun in the Nightwing interview - is the fact that, we would assume that Batman knows what's going on with Batman.
But I think what's cool about Dick is he really knows Bruce more than anyone else. And maybe he knows Bruce even better than Bruce, because he can see him from an outside point of view.
So this story's about Batman and Hugo Strange, but it's also about Nightwing and Hugo Strange. And it's about the very complex give and take, especially between Bruce and Nightwing, and what fathers and sons do when they finally come to respect that their kids are independent and can stand on their own two feet, of course, if they can respect that.
What's coming next is a lot more Strange Monster action. But at the heart of it is a truth about Batman that I think maybe even Batman isn't qualified to uncover, but Nightwing might be.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell readers about what's coming up in "Night of the Monster Men?"
Orlando: What's coming up is just, I think, stranger and wilder than you've seen, with a lot of new characters. We've got an amazing Clayface and Batman team-up. In the Nightwing issue, which is part 5, things go absolutely mad. This is a threat that Gotham City hasn't faced before. So the response in this context of field expediency, which is really like a military concept that comes from Batwoman.
But it's like Batman has all these plans, but once those plans have all run out, and all he has are these tools that he has to make work for the situation, I think it become even more exciting.
It's like Bat-MacGyver on the scale of an entire city. But without the mullet. So I'm excited for it.