At long last, it’s happened. Devin Grayson will be taking over as writer on DC Comics‘ “Nightwing,” something that comic fans have to have been living in a cave since she burst onto the comics scene — with a short story about the first meeting of Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon as Robin and Batgirl — to not know is pretty close to a dream assignment for her.
And, as you might expect, she’s got a few ideas about the character.
“Denny O’Neil once said in an essay about Batman that the Dark Knight was ‘urbanity co-opted,'” Grayson told CBR News on Thursday. “I think that’s a brilliant way of summing up the grim fierceness Batman uses to protect those in need — it’s as if all of the overwhelming, electric, frightening elements of a city have been harnessed into a force for good within his being. Nightwing — and even Dick Grayson as Robin, so perhaps it’s best to just say Dick — strikes me as personifying loyalty endured. As you yourself point out, the character has been around for decades. Usually when characters have that many different creators and world views and editorial edicts operating on them they end up very fractured and transparent. But the Bat-cast, overall, has remained remarkably recognizable and vital, which I take to be an indication of the strength of the archetypes from which they were drawn. Nearly every time we see Dick Grayson, pretty much no matter who’s handling him, we get a whip-smart, energetic, loyal natural — a guy (or boy, or man) with genuine compassion and a genuine love of the fight. Whereas Bruce struggles through his own grief and anger to keep fighting wading out every night in a pitch-black abyss of a city, Dick’s struggle has more to do with not letting his essentially warm and upbeat nature flag in the face of the darkness and despair he’s willingly committed his life to facing — both as an oppositional force in his work, and as a supportive force in his relationship with Bruce. I’ve often considered Nightwing’s relationship with Batman to be best described as ‘irresistible force meeting immovable object.’ I love that aspect of him — irresistible force; his willingness to commit his entire existence to the protection of others based on loyalty, optimism, and hope, rather than the anger, grief, and fear that fuels Bruce. I love Batman because his heroism comes from the darker aspects of his character, and I love Nightwing because his heroism comes from very natural, pure, bright aspects of his character. I find both equations tremendously inspiring.
“In addition to all of that, we can relate to him. Though he’s far from an everyman, he’s very normal and approachable by superhero terms. And he’s full of contradictions: wild but disciplined, intense but easygoing, a lover of the spotlight willing to wear a mask and work in the shadow of a very formidable opening act, a jaded idealist, a peace-loving scrapper, a dirt-poor circus boy raised in a mansion, a brooding trickster, a dazzlingly energetic force of motion able to stand still and silent for hours on end, the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet who just happens to punch people in the jaw every night (and, on some level, enjoys it). Anyway, I could go on, but it’s getting silly. Suffice to say I think this character is wonderful, and hope to serve him well.”
For a decades-old character with plenty of fans as enthusiastic as Devin Grayson, Dick Grayson had a long wait to get his own monthly title.
“For the record, a good deal of the wait had to do with industry politics more than any doubt concerning the character’s popularity. As I understand it, there were legal issues blocking the series for a while that had nothing to do with sales projections.”
In “Nightwing,” Dick Grayson got a new hometown — Gotham’s neighbor Blüdhaven, the only city in the DC Universe with more depressed housing values — a new supporting cast, and even a steady job. Grayson will be keeping these (relatively) new elements to the character, but also shaking things up.
“I’d like to be a breath of fresh air for the book, but not a hurricane. I have great respect for what Chuck Dixon has created here and am a big fan of the series, as well as a firm believer in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ axiom. I think Blüdhaven’s great for the character and for the series, and I love the cop stuff — there’s a lot of great material there to play with. But conversely, the book has also always kept its readers — and Nightwing himself, for that matter — on their collective toes, so I think what editor Michael Wright and I are hoping to go for now is continuity without stagnation. [Outgoing writer Chuck Dixon], as always, has been tremendously generous and accessible, and promised to keep an eye on things the exact same moment I was promising to bug him with questions and requests for insights down the line. My job in Blüdhaven is to keep the party going, not start another gala down the street.
“The book has a great supporting cast, and they’re not going anywhere, but we are bringing in a few new faces. We hope to continue learning more about the city and the corruption on which it runs, and, of course, more about what makes Nightwing tick and what his future holds. Let me put it this way: There’s way too much cool stuff going on in the book for Chuck to be able to tie all of it up before he goes. We’re deep in the middle of several mysteries, and as Dick Grayson fans already know, Nightwing doesn’t walk away from a case until it’s solved.”
But while “Nightwing” finally unites Dick Grayson and Devin Grayson on an ongoing basis, she’s also leaving her job as writer of “Batman: Gotham Knights,” a book that in many ways seemed uniquely suited to her introspective form of writing, as it was designed to explore the Batman cast’s relationships to one another and their internal lives. “Nightwing,” for better or worse, is a very different sort of book.
“I have loved every minute of ‘Gotham Knights.’ I feel honored to have been a part of its inception, and will really miss working with the structure of the book, and particularly with artist Roger Robinson. His work — already great — has been getting steadily better and better (wait’ll you see issue twenty-four!), and he’s been an exciting and generous artist to work with. I look forward to seeing what he and Scott Beatty come up with, and feel I owe a lot of my growth as writer to the privilege of working on that series for these past two years.
“B:GK was a very introspective book, and ‘Nightwing’ is fast-paced with wonderful noir, crime, and action elements. I don’t think I could help but write with some degree of character introspection if I tried — that’s probably my definitive attribute as a writer — but, yes, I do intend to switch gears for ‘Nightwing.’ It’s a different series and it has different needs. Push always come to shove in the ‘haven, and it’s not going to slow down just because you have some thinking to do. ‘Gotham Knights,’ brilliantly supported as it is by ‘Detective’ and ‘Batman,’ can afford to let its narration swing slowly around its subjects to explore what things look like from different angles. ‘Nightwing’ the series doesn’t have that license — the hero of that title moves, and if the narration can’t keep up with him, you ain’t got a story.
“One of the best things about working in this industry is the unending variety of opportunities to push one’s self in new directions. I hope to bring some interesting quagmires to Blüdhaven for Dick and company to work through, but I know without a doubt that Blüdhaven will have tons of great lessons for me. I greatly look forward to getting my ass kicked, and promise I’ll get back up.”