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Among the new writers launching titles for DC in September, Kyle Higgins stands out because he's not only writing two comics, but he's guiding the important transition of former Batman Dick Grayson to his new status as Nightwing.
And yes, the Batman-to-Nightwing change is a transition, even in the comics. According to Higgins, this Nightwing did serve as Batman. And last week, Scott Snyder assured Newsarama readers that all changes to the Batman universe will happen in story, including Dick Grayson's switch from the cowl to the Nightwing costume.
Higgins first wrote Dick Grayson's character as co-writer with Scott Snyder on the current Batman: Gates of Gotham mini-series. Before that, he broke into DC as the writer of the Nightrunner back-up in last year's Batman and Detective Annuals.
Now he takes over Nightwing while also launching a new title for Deathstroke. Newsarama talked to Higgins to find out more about his new Nightwing series while asking a little about the writer himself.
Newsarama: Kyle, you're getting to write both sides of the DCU by working on Nightwing as well as Deathstroke. Was that on purpose?
Kyle Higgins: It was a total coincidence. It wasn't structured that way, in terms of why I'm on which project. But it worked out nice.
Nrama: What interested you about Nightwing?
Higgins: He's my all-time favorite character. I'm not saying that as lip service. Literally, he was my way into DC comics when I was younger and in grade school. I remember stumbling across issue #15 or #16 of the Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel book where it's Nightwing on the cover fighting Man-Bat and his clothes are shredded. From there, I went back and started finding the earlier issues. It's really the first book I started collecting every month. From that point on, I read every issue that was ever published. So Nightwing is what kept me in comics and reading comics.
The chance to take him forward after, in my opinion, what Scott did in Detective Comics redefined him, I'm very excited about.
Nrama: We've talked before about how you broke into the comics business, and it's a great story. For readers who may not know your background, can you describe it?
Higgins: Sure! I first got the attention of Joe Quesada at Marvel when I did a short superhero film called The League as my college thesis film, about a sidekick who's grown up and comes back as a new character. He comes back as a darker version of the superhero he was. I suppose that might sound vaguely familiar or topical to DC readers. But it takes place in the 1960's, about the superhero labor union in Chicago.
So it went around the Internet, and Joe liked it, and he reached out. And the next thing I knew, I started pitching books to Marvel. Then after I got the Captain America story published in 2009, I started talking to Mike Marts in the Batman office at DC. And then I did Nightrunner, and then later the Gates of Gotham mini-series with Scott Snyder. And Nightwing spins out of that.
Nrama: As you launch a new #1, how are you keeping new readers in mind?
Higgins: We're really hitting the ground running, and we're starting with Dick Grayson as Nightwing. We're stating that he's the best he's ever been, simply because he was just Batman, but it's really a new start for the character.
Nrama: As you take over Nightwing, Dick Grayson is a little different than he's ever been before, isn't he? Simply because he's been Batman?
Higgins: That's a big part of what we're doing in the series. I don't think you could do a Nightwing book at this point without dealing with the fact that he was just Batman. I'm not sure I should say much more than that, except that one of the reasons he's Nightwing now is because of him just being Batman. You'll have to keep reading to find that out.
But in terms of his skills and confidence level, Nightwing has an even greater experience behind him now. So in our comic, he's become the best version of Nightwing that he's ever been. It's what has made him better.
Nrama: He's working out of Gotham in this title, right?
Higgins: Yeah. Gotham City was always the one place he'd always avoided, but now he's been successful there. So he's staying in Gotham because the city has changed around him, and he feels like the city genuinely needs him.
Nrama: Since he's in Gotham, does he bump into other people in the Bat-universe?
Higgins: Yeah. The thing about Dick Grayson, and it's something we're playing a lot with in Gates of Gotham, is that in his nature, he's a very social person. That's one of the big things that separates him from Bruce.
He works well with people. He works well with other members of the Bat-family. So yeah, there will be people popping up in the comic. And Dick's direction in Gotham City is tied to him continuing his mission, because he feels the city needs him and he's done avoiding this place as he has over the last few years, which Scott has explored wonderfully in Detective Comics. So it's not just him isolated in the city.
Nrama: Will we see familiar villains from his rogues’ gallery? Or will you try to add to that?
Higgins: There will be some of both. With the direction he's going, as well as the fact that this city has changed around him and is still changing, there are a lot of new threats. That's not to say we're getting rid of, or jettisoning, the old villains. But because this is a new #1 and we're making this really accessible, this is a jumping-on point and there will be new characters and villains.
Nrama: The information that DC released indicated that he'll see his old circus come through town, right?
Higgins: Yeah. The circus coming back is something we're exploring in terms of what his earlier life was like. It's about seeing what his life would have been like if he'd stayed in the circus. I don't want to say too much more about it, but it'll be less about his origin story and more about the themes we're exploring in the book.
Nrama: You talked about him being more social. But is this a dark book? Or is it more adventure? I know Scott was doing a detective-oriented book. What is Nightwing's tone?
Higgins: It's a combination of things. Some of the stuff I'm plotting right now gets pretty dark, but it's also a character story about Dick Grayson as a superhero. But this is Nightwing in Gotham City, so everything that goes with that in terms of Gotham City as this violent, deadly, almost sentient thing is very much a part of the book.
Nrama: You've been working with Eddy Barrows. What is his art bringing to the comic?
Higgins: I've really liked Eddy for quite awhile, and I feel like, especially on his Superman run, he's been absolutely killing it. It's been very exciting to see what he's doing on Nightwing because he's really nailing Dick Grayson as a character. Eddy's art is very expressive and really energetic. He's great at drawing Dick as the aerialist, the acrobat. He's at his best when you look at him and get that sense of vertigo, just looking at his movements. So that's something that Eddy is doing really well, and everything's very exciting.
Nrama: Then to finish up, is there anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming run on Nightwing?
Higgins: I just want to stress that I know this character, and I'm writing a book that I would want to read because I feel like I know what people are looking for and I know what works best. This is definitely a dream project for me, but at the same time, I'm not letting that dictate the story. I'm looking forward to people seeing what we're doing.
Check back soon to find out more about Higgins' upcoming work on Deathstroke.Got a comment? There's lots of Newsarama conversation on FACEBOOK and TWITTER. More on DCnU:
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