"Rebirth" is returning many of DC's characters and concepts to their post-Crisis status quo, and with December 7's Nightwing #10, Dick Grayson is returning to Blüdhaven, the city he previously protected as Nightwing.
But this Blüdhaven gets a new twist, being revamped by series writer Tim Seeley and artist Marcus To as an aspiring family tourism destination.
Dick's move to Blüdhaven begins the next story arc in Nightwing, introducing a new supporting cast as well as a group of the city's villains - including many that are revamped forms of Dick's former rogues.
"The Run-Offs," as the villains will be known, will include revised versions of Stallion, Thrilldevil, Giz,Mouse, Gorilla Grimm, and Orca.
And in the long-term, although Dick Grayson will continue to travel around the world for international mysteries in Nightwing, Blüdhaven will be his home base (and will include a little love interest that inspires him to keep coming back).
Newsarama talked to Seeley and To to find out more about the upcoming Blüdhaven arc, why Seeley wanted to change its former gritty status and what readers can expect from the Run-Offs.
Newsarama: Tim, you're taking Nightwing back to Blüdhaven. What prompted the move?
Tim Seeley: For "Rebirth," we discussed what every book needed and what was iconic and canon over the years.
One of the things that Geoff Johns suggested pretty early was that, at some point, we should do something with Blüdhaven because it was a pretty important part of previous Nightwing runs.
So he suggested it, and it was up to us where we wanted to work it in.
We knew the first arc was going to be about setting Dick up with a new bad guy and establishing his relationship with the Bat-family.
But then the second arc was where we were going to be able to dig in to the Blüdhaven idea.
I like the idea of a city that Dick calls home and a place that's different than Gotham, that has its own set of rules and its own set of bad guys.
But I didn't really like that Blüdhaven was supposed to be a more corrupt, dirtier version of Gotham. I felt like Gotham should be the scary city in the DC Universe.
I thought Blüdhaven should have its own identity, and I also wanted to move away from this idea that cities are this sort of haven of darkness and corruption - an idea that had sort of been lingering around since the '80s in movies and especially in the Bat-comics.
I wanted to show why you would live in a city like this and what's so great about it and what kind of problem it has and the kind of people that try to help it.
Nrama: So how is Blüdhaven different from Gotham City?
Seeley: The one thing we set up right away is that Blüdhaven is attempting to become a family-oriented tourist destination. We kind of say in this that it's gone through some various economic trials. It used to be a whaling town, and when that dried up, it became this Atlantic City/Las Vegas-type gambling area.
Now, they're really trying to shirk that and become a place that families come.
So it's this sort of light, bright city with neon and advertising. But it's also got various different economies going on at the same time. So you've got this desire to be a tourist area and this sort of waning industrial side. And there's also another economy because it's so close to the coast, and they're able to do a lot of shipping and transportation.
So it allows us to do a lot of different crime stories.
If Gotham is kind of classical and dark and gothic architecture, Blüdhaven is new and sort of trying to grab your attention and cover up the dirt underneath it.
Marcus To: And the fun part about recreating Blüdhaven is the idea that it's a character on its own. I mean, we basically get to revamp Blüdhaven into something completely different.
So we're the first to establish these points of interest in the city to show what Tim was saying about having different areas - the tourist area, the main downtown, and the seedy area near the docks. It's been so much fun. It's like developing a new character.
Nrama: Let's talk about some of the characters around Nightwing. Are there other heroes in Blüdhaven?
Seeley: One of the things that we're setting up is that there are no other superheroes in Blüdhaven, probably because of the way that the Blüdhaven police department has worked all these years. They have a very firm attitude that they don't want to be told what to do by superheroes.
So there are no other superheroes, which makes Blüdhaven attractive to these ex-criminals from Gotham who try to get away from Batman and end up in Blüdhaven. They're refugees, really - running from Batman.
We have this host of characters who find each other called the Run-Offs, which we've made up as a bunch of, I guess, loser Bat-villains. So we get the chance to sort of redefine them and give them new roles and new personalities.
They're these sort of tragic ex-villains who are trying to get on with their lives, but they keep getting caught up in trouble.
Nrama: Are they old villains that you're revamping? Or are there new ones?
To: Most of them are old, revamped ones, but there are a couple prime characters that are brand new.
Seeley: One of the Run-Offs is brand new, but the other ones are all older ones. And we actually use one character from the old Hostess Batman Twinkie ads.
So we've pulled from a lot of different stuff.
The characters we use are Stallion, and we use Thrilldevil and Mouse and Giz and Gorilla Grimm and then Orca, who shows up a little later.
They were mainly enforcers in the previous stories, and now we're showing them as lost souls, you know? They knew that they screwed up and they're trying to get their life back.
But when you're a former supervillain, it's pretty hard to right the ship.
Nrama: What's this chapter of Nightwing's life like for him personally?
Seeley: One of the things we set up with the Raptor arc is that, one of the things that defines Dick is his faith in humanity. He trusts people. And he feels like he was wrong about Raptor. He feels like he made a mistake - he trusted this guy and people died.
Going somewhere else is his attempt to restart and figure out who he is, without being too close to people who have a lot of influence in his life, like Bruce or Barb or Alfred.
So going to Blüdhaven is just sort of that - I mean, I think we've all had that urge in our lives when things start to get crazy, you just want to start over, a hard restart.
He's doing that with Blüdhaven because he was told by Superman - or "Superdad," as people call him - that the Nightwing that he knew from his old universe had a lot of luck there and had sort of found it and made it his own. So Dick sort of uses that as a chance to check this place out, to see if it's a place for him to build himself back up after feeling like he'd been torn down.
Nrama: Is he sticking around in Blüdhaven for the long-term?
Seeley: Yeah, we're not going do - like, the goal of this book is to do kind of cake-and-eat-it-too stories. Something we learned from doing Grayson was that Dick works really well as a globe-hopping, traveling superhero. He can go anywhere.
We want to keep that up. I don't think there's any reason not to do that.
For now, we'll use Blüdhaven as a base, and we'll continue doing the kind of stories that allow us to do big, globe-trotting, espionage-tinged superhero stuff, but he'll also have a place that he goes back to.
And maybe he'll have a reason to go back.
Nrama: That's a good hint. Is he going to have a love interest? Is that what you're teasing?
Seeley: I mean, it's Dick Grayson. It's inevitable that there's going to be some romance in his life.
To: He always has "interests," right?
So yeah, we'll play with all that.
And we're going to start off with a supporting cast. It was important to us to have people who represent the city and sort of flesh it out. That was something Marcus and I wanted to do.
So there will be a lot of new people in his life. Some of them will be people he knew in different contexts - some as Robin.
But yeah, there will be some sexy in it, 'cause that's how we do.
To: I think Dick Grayson being around is sexy already.
Nrama: Marcus, you talked a little about the new Blüdhaven. Are you getting to redesign the look of the Run-Off villains?
To: Tim gave me lots of opportunities to design, and to me it's the scariest thing in the world. But having that opportunity to kind of create a whole new look is fun.
A lot of these characters, as Tim was saying, were old enforcers from Gotham. We kind of wanted to keep the feel of what they had visually, but kind of modernize it.
And designing the city of Blüdhaven has been a lot of fun, to figure out what all the little nooks and crannies of the place look like, and to give it a feel of a real city. No city is just all, you know, one thing. It's a mix of so many different cultures and stuff.
And I think the villains that we've designed in this book reflect that. They come from different backgrounds, different cultures, different races, and we really pushed that look. This is a city, and in cities, there are so many different people.
So we wanted our villains and our supporting cast to reflect that kind of city. And it's been great. I think we need more of that stuff in comics in general.