In DC Comics’ ongoing comic book series “Nightwing,” the former Robin turned lone vigilante Nightwing turned Batman turned Nightwing again is going through more growing pains, courtesy of writer Kyle Higgins.
Along with regular series artist Eddy Barrows and a host of other artists, Higgins has taken Nightwing AKA Dick Grayson on a painful tour of his past, revealing that Dick was supposed to be a Talon for the Court Of Owls like his great-grandfather William Cobb in the book’s initial arc. Coming out of the “Night of the Owls” event with a shakier relationship with Batman and Gotham, Dick is about to be tested again by a new threat: the Republic of Tomorrow.
Following the acrobatic Nightwing through Gotham City, THE BAT SIGNAL ran into Higgins who gave us the lowdown on the aftermath of the Grayson Talon reveal, working with both Barrows and multiple artists on the book, and hints at another Scott Snyder collaboration down the road.
CBR News: Your next arc in “Nightwing” is the impressively titled “Republic of Tomorrow, Today.” Last time we talked you were saying the next story you had planned was the “Prince of Gotham” — is that part of “Republic Of Tomorrow?”
Kyle Higgins: Well, stuff changes sometimes. The whole “Prince of Gotham” is one component, it’s an idea, in my point of view, on Dick Grayson going forward. Issue #10 is called “The Tomorrow People.” There’s this group, the Republic of Tomorrow, that with their leader, who’s named Paragon, believe in order to save Gotham City they have to kill all the superheroes. They believe the superheroes are the city’s real problem and that Paragon himself is Gotham’s true son, this model of excellence, of virtue. He thinks he’s kind of this savior, which brings him into conflict with Nightwing for a couple of different reasons.
On top of that, the arc will be introducing a lot of new characters who will be in the book going forward. We’ve got everyone from Deputy Mayor Kavanaugh, who was introduced in “Night of the Owls” but you’ll be seeing more of him in this arc; Sonia Zucco is coming back to the Bat world and she’ll be in the book going forward; you’ve got a new detective who may or may not be framing Nightwing. And Nightwing himself, Dick Grayson, is coming out of everything with the Owls and looking towards the future. He’s taking a new approach, he’s got some ideas on how to make a difference in Gotham City.
Focusing on Nightwing, coming out of “Night of the Owls” he learned way more about Haly’s circus and his own past. Is this something that will still be weighing on his mind in “Republic?”
You know, it’s definitely something that he’ll be aware of. As far as how much he’s going to be dwelling on it, it’s not going to be weighing on him all that much. The thing about Dick Grayson to me is that — and I tried to start establishing this early in the series — he always looks forward. Raya had that line in issue #3 that encapsulates who he is as a character: he always looks forward and never back. That’s where his optimism comes from. He doesn’t really dwell on things. This whole idea of the Owls is something that you’ll see in his actions definitely had an impact on him. The way he’s responding is trying to become more proactive; it’s not necessarily a “Woe is me! This is what I was supposed to become” way, mostly because he didn’t.
I’ve always found that very interesting for any sort of destiny for a character. It’s like, well, I didn’t become that, so why should that weigh on me? It’s not going to be as big as a component going forward. But what it does introduce is the idea that there’s another family in Gotham that he’s technically a descendant from, the Crowne family. So who were the Crownes? Who were Amelia Crowne’s descendants? That more than anything is what Dick will be looking at.
Between everything you set up in “Nightwing” with the Talons and your work on “Gates Of Gotham” you’ve spent a lot of time immersed in Gotham’s history. Will you be tackling the Crownes’ history in upcoming arcs and answering those questions?
Yeah, there’s a story there. I’m not sure where it’s going to come into play yet, but who the Crowne family is in Gotham City is something we’ll be looking at, definitely.
Looking back at “Night of the Owls” for a second, you had William Cobb not only disappointed in Dick but calling him an imitation Batman, something that I know I’ve heard people say about the character. Was that you sort of calling out the detractors in real life who think that as well?
Oh yeah, that’s 100% where it comes from. I mean I’ve heard that for year, for as long as I’ve been reading “Nightwing” and been a fan of the character that’s always been the knock. “Well, he’s just Batman Light!” I’ve said this before, but I’ve had other creators say to me when I was starting my run, “Well you can’t keep him in Gotham, if you do he’s just Batman Light — if stuff gets too real or too problematic Batman will just get involved.” That’s a very valid point, but I kind of look at it like a challenge. I feel there are a lot of really interesting dynamics in the book by keeping him in Gotham, in the same city as Batman. For me showing he’s not “Batman Light,” for lack of a better term, doing it in Gotham City, is much more interesting.
Going along with that we’ve seen Dick strongly disagreeing with Bruce and getting Bat-backhanded a couple of issues ago. Is that tension distancing them and playing a big role in “Republic” or your other stories going forward?
[Laughs] Some of the dynamic between Dick and Bruce is resolved in “Batman” issue #11 actually, which is Scott. There’s stuff coming up that we’ll be building off of what happened between Dick and Bruce during issue #7 — not necessarily directly. They aren’t going to have a conversation about, “You know Bruce there’s probably an easier way to get my tooth than backhanding me,” but that’s the beginning of it. There are some things coming up in the fall that we’ll be exploring the relationship between Dick and Bruce a little further.
Is that something you’re working on in tangent with Scott Snyder, or is that something you’ll be tackling on your own in “Nightwing?”
You know, that guy doing that “Batman” thing.
Oh, I don’t read that. [Laughs]
Yeah, it’s a small book, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. [Laughter]
Yeah, it’s in conjunction with Scott.
On the visual side, while Eddy Barrows has been the main artist on your book we’ve also seen a rotating team of artists coming in to work with him. Is that something you find challenging to work with as a writer?
It’s definitely challenging. It’s a cool opportunity to see your work interpreted by a variety of eyes and a variety of creators [and] it’s exciting because it gives me the chance to work with a number of artists who I enjoy and have wanted to work with — but it is definitely challenging.
Is this team effort going to continue on the art side? Will penciling duties continue to be split between Barrows and other artists?
The plan right now is, it’s Eddy’s book, it’s me and Eddy going forward. I know Eddy was having some health problems the last couple of months, so right now I think issue #10 is split between him and Geraldo Borges, and then Andres Guinaldo is doing issues #11 and #12.
Getting back to the story, what’s happening with Haly’s? Does Dick still own this Albatross of a circus hanging ’round his neck?
Yes, Dick does still own Haly’s Circus. The future of Haly’s circus will be touched upon in issue #10; when we see what Dick is planning Haly’s circus plays into that. Whether or not it will come to fruition you’ll have to wait and see, but when readers see issue #10 they will have a better idea of what the future has in store for Haly’s. Again, to me, it all speaks volumes to who Dick is as a character. Just because there is this terrible past associated with Haly’s Circus doesn’t mean that Dick’s going to give up on it.
There’s a theme in the book, and it again really speaks to and comes out of who Dick is as a character, but it’s a theme about change and about a lot of the characters or back stories or directions the only constant is that things never stay the same. You can say that about comics and storytelling in general, but in Nightwing in particular, he’s a character built on that core of change — having been Robin, then Nightwing, then Batman, then Nightwing again. Looking at Haly’s Circus it’s very logical to think he’s going to see an opportunity to reinvent it. He sees what it could be, rather than what it was.
Looking back on all of your issues starting with issue #1 onward, there’s a lot of subtle things tied into the Talons and that Court of Owls history that were not apparent at first. With “Republic” and your upcoming arcs, are you again building up to one big story event or idea? Or will your issues and arcs be more standalone?
You know, that’s something I enjoy doing, so if there is something coming down the pipeline I know about it far enough in advance I can organically build to whatever that event is. As far as shorter arcs versus longer arcs, I guess the best way to think about it is that the A plots are going to be shorter, but there are going to be a lot of threads and subplots in the book that are going to build. Whether those are going to be building to something in particular? I can probably say yes. There is going to be building in general in “Nightwing,” and there’s a plan for what everything is pushing towards, so it’s a very exciting time for me to be working on the book!
“Nightwing” #10 goes on sale tomorrow, June 20.