When the relaunched titles Nightwing and Batman both ended their first issues with a cliffhanger that implied Dick Grayson is a killer, the story was foreshadowing a story that would pay off this week in both series.
And the revelation takes both series straight into the "Night of the Owls" event with their issues #8 and #9.
In the relaunched Batman series, Bruce Wayne has been investigating the Court of Owls, while over in Nightwing, Dick Grayson has been digging into the history of Haly's Circus.
It turns out that both investigations are related, as revealed in this week's Batman #7 and Nightwing #7. The Court of Owls has been using Haly's Circus as their traditional way to select their soldiers — called Talons.
But the issues also exposed the truth about Dick Grayson's past — it turns out that he was originally supposed to be a Talon. In fact, his tooth had already been treated with a compound that marked him as a villain for the Court of Owls.
Had it not been for the death of his parents — and his subsequent removal from the circus by Bruce Wayne — Dick Grayson would have been trained as a Talon.
"There's this strange sense of almost a mystical fate, and Dick has cheated that fate, whether it's a supernatural thing or not.," said Scott Snyder, Batman writer, as he explained the revelation to Newsarama this week.
"This boy was supposed to be this evil bird, owl, but instead became a good bird under the wing of the Bat," he said.As a follow-up to our two-part discussion with Scott Snyder about Batman #7, Newsarama interviewed Nightwing writer Kyle Higgins about how this revelation will affect Dick Grayson in his own title and what readers can expect from his involved in the "Night of the Owls" event.
Newsarama: Kyle, Nightwing #7 really pulls together what you've been exploring in the series since issue #1, especially the mystery of Dick Grayson's past and why the circus is such a huge part of his past and the history of Gotham. Is this something you and Scott have been talking about a long time?
Kyle Higgins: Yeah, and you know, it's funny because Scott initially told me the idea for the Court of Owls storyline way before the relaunch. It was something he'd been playing around with.
And if you look at what Scott was doing in his Detective run and what I did in Gates of Gotham with him, there was an idea running through that of Dick Grayson not having a place in Gotham City. And the idea behind the Court of Owls stuff, as far as Dick Grayson's part in it, was that he does have a role in Gotham City, or at least he was supposed to. And it's much, much different than you would ever think.
It's one of the reasons I came onto Nightwing, was the chance to work on this reveal. I was one of the heads on Gates of Gotham and my relationship with Scott was such that we work incredibly well together. So adding to the mythos that he was already starting to build was both a thrill and a privilege.
I'm excited to take this revelation and build on it now in Nightwing. There are a lot more surprises to come. Going forward, this changes a lot for Dick Grayson. And it changes a lot for Nightwing too.
And that change will never be more evident than in the "Night of the Owls' crossover in issues #8 and #9.
If you think this is a big reveal, just wait until you read issue #9.
Nrama: You gave a tease to the audience at Wonder Con about this whole thing, didn't you?
Higgins: Yeah, I said, "who is the Grayson of Gotham?"
Nrama: Anything else you can say about that? Is it related to him having been chosen as a Talon?
Higgins: Just keep reading.
Nrama: When I talked with Scott, he said each of the Batman family comics would be dealing with a different Talon from an era of Gotham's history. I assume you'll be dealing with one of those in Nightwing #8 and #9?
Higgins: I will be. Yes.
There's a neat mystery in Nightwing #8 that I want to maintain, so I don't want to say too much. But I can say that, for those who enjoyed Gates of Gotham, that's the era that I'm revisiting with my Talon. My Talon will have come up through the Gates of Gotham era with Alan Wayne and Frederic Cobblepot and Edward Eliot and Cameron Kane.
So even though this is the New 52, for people who are fans of the Gates era, there is a connection.And I just want to say that, I know that "Night of the Owls" is being called an "event," and I know that from the outside, issue #8 and #9 of Nightwing might look like they're these crossover or tie-in issues that only have to do with Batman. Obviously, they do tie into Batman, but they're very important for Dick Grayson and what's coming in my run.
I just saw Nightwing #8, and it's my favorite issue so far. I'm so happy and so thrilled with everything about it, from the fact that I was able to revisit the Gates of Gotham era and these characters that I created, to Eddy [Barrows], [inkers] Eber [Ferreira] and Ruy [José] and [colorist] Rod [Reis]'s art on the issue. It's absolutely beautiful. I couldn't ask for a better-looking issue.
I'm really excited that it sets up things in such a great way for issue #9. The book, to me, is really starting to catch fire, and I can't wait for these issues to come out.
Nrama: There are a lot of questions after reading this about what his parents knew and the way the circus was functioning at that time. Are you going to be answering those questions in Nightwing?
Higgins: Some of the specifics about how the circus recruited their Talons over the years will be answered. And there is something very specific to Dick Grayson's role within Haly's Circus, and I'm not just referring to the fact that he was chosen and then his parents died and he managed to avoid that fate. In addition to that, there's something else that's very specific to Dick Grayson that will make a lot more sense in issue #9 of Nightwing.
Nrama: You mentioned that this "changes" things for Dick Grayson. Does the fact that his name was in this "book of names" continue to play a part in your stories going forward? Are you going to be exploring the circus and Dick's past?
Higgins: We'll find out a little more about it, and obviously the two issues of "Night of the Owls" tie into it all. But the end of issue #7 kind of sums up my feelings on Haly's Circus and the Talons the best, where Dick says, "I don't care what my ancestor was supposed to be. We are who we choose to be, not the role the past says we should play."
I'm looking to the future with Nightwing, and I think Dick is looking to the future as well.
His search for answers is not as big a factor in the book as it would be for someone like Bruce, just because Dick doesn't obsess about things to the degree Bruce does. So you'll be learning some things about Haly's Circus and Dick's role within it, and the selection process. But there will be a lot left open as well. You won't learn everything, because as far as Dick is concerned, the past isn't going to dictate who he is.
Nrama: Nightwing #7 revealed that Raymond, who had become this villain called Saiko, had been discarded by the Court of Owls, who had only taken him because Dick Grayson wasn't available anymore. But Raymond's defeated now, so as that chapter of your Nightwing story ends, what will we see going forward?
Higgins: Right now, at the end of issue #7, issues #8 and #9 are really a transition between the past and the future.Issues #1-#7 are very focused on Dick Grayson's past and him really coming to terms with his past. He learned that what he thought he knew about himself isn't necessarily fully true. And that all came to a head with the reveals from Raymond. Dick found out what his purpose was supposed to be.
One of the things about Raymond that I found interesting was that he was a character, like Dick Grayson, who was created as a result of Dick's parents dying. And when you're talking about polar opposites, the death of the Flying Graysons basically saved Dick Grayson's life, but ruined Raymond's. And that's a dynamic I found very interesting as I wrote the character. Hopefully that came across during that final issue.
Issues #8 and #9 with the Night of the Owls is a continuation of that, but the things you'll learn in those issues are going to inform what Dick is deciding to do after that event. It's going to inform Dick's future, both in Gotham City and as Nightwing.
Nrama: It's so interesting that Dick's reaction to this news is so different from Bruce's. Obviously, the Court of Owls has put Bruce through an emotional wringer, which has contributed to his actions in Nightwing #7 and Batman #7, but Dick is able to dismiss the Court of Owls as just another villain. And he firmly believes that his destiny doesn't rely upon what Gotham says he is. It's a choice.
Higgins: That is one of the big differences between Dick and Bruce. Dick chooses to help people because he enjoys helping people, whereas Bruce feels like he must do this job. Because of the guilt and rage he feels over what happened to his parents, he has to continually atone for being the one who made it out alive, and continually try to prevent this from happening to someone else.
So for Dick to be looking to the future and saying, "you know what? We all have challenges, and we're all faced with choices and hardships, and it's how we choose to react to those that define us," is a much healthier outlook, in my opinion, on life than Bruce's.And that's not to say that Bruce isn't psychologically healthy. He's just more obsessive and driven than someone like Dick is.
Nrama: I'm sure you don't want to give away too much about issue #10 and beyond. But can you give us some indication of the types of things we'll see happening in Dick's life as he returns to Gotham City?
Higgins: I've been calling that storyline, "The Prince of Gotham." And you'll see Dick Grayson getting a new job in issue #10, a new responsibility. And he'll be looking to make his mark in the city.
Nightwing #10 is called "The Tomorrow People," and it sets up a lot of new characters and sub-plots for people that are looking to shape the future of Gotham City, including Dick Grayson.
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