Life has not been good for Dick Grayson AKA Nightwing. Batman’s former sidekick has lost his girlfriend, his job on the Blüdhaven police force, the apartment he called home and the circus that was the only link to his childhood. He’s also been wracked by guilt and self doubt because he stood by while his archenemy, Blockbuster, was murdered. In issue 100 of “Nightwing,” Dick hit rock bottom and turned in his Nightwing uniform. Currently in “Nightwing” writer Chuck Dixon and artist Scott McDaniel are telling the flashback story “Nightwing: Year One.” Regular writer Devin Grayson, along with the new art team of Phil Hester and Ande Parks, return to “Nightwing” with April’s issue 107. CBR News spoke with Grayson via e-mail about her plans for the title and her other projects, which include a novel featuring Nightwing and a number of DC Universe characters.
One of the reasons Dick has been so tormented by the events in his life is his profound sense of loyalty; a quality that Grayson feels is at the core of the character. “A great example of that is a scene Greg Rucka wrote – I think it was in the ‘Cry for Blood’ miniseries,” Devin Grayson told CBR News. “Huntress, in trying to get away from him, almost accidentally hits Batman with an arrow from her crossbow. Nightwing’s there and you can imagine that this is a tense situation for him. On the one side there’s Batman, who is his mentor and his hero and now even legally his father, and on the other side there’s Huntress, who he’s enormously attracted to and desperately wants to ‘save’ – and yet he doesn’t hesitate. The stronger loyalty is to Bruce. I think even if he and Helena had been married earlier that night or something, his response would have been the same; he chases her off the building, furious. You just don’t hurt Batman in front of Nightwing; he’s not going to tolerate that, no matter who you are. And of course that loyalty also extends to the entire Bat-family, to his friends and his lovers – past and present – and even to the set of values Bruce indoctrinated into him, which is why his passive role in Blockbuster’s murder is now haunting him so relentlessly.”
Another core characteristic of Nightwing is his physicality. “The physicality isn’t just a matter of him being strong and agile and acrobatic, it’s a way of perceiving the world through his senses and his skin that influences everything he does,” Grayson explained. “He lives fully in the corporeal plane with both his emotional and his spiritual life very much integrated into his body. As intellectual and analytical as he is, everything for Nightwing generates in and eventually distills back down to the physical. He’s one of those people who is extremely comfortable in his own skin, and is very influenced by the sense of touch.”
After the cliffhanger ending of “Nightwing” #100, it appeared that the character had hit an emotional rock bottom and in doing so discovered something about himself. “He is still as lost and bereft as he was after issue 99, but now he knows that he has to do something about it,” said Grayson. “Even for someone as passionate and intense as Dick, grief is an emotion that takes a long time to fully process, and he’s going to be struggling with it for a while yet. Maybe the best way to say it is that before issue 100, he spent some time feeling miserable and not even remembering who he was. After issue 100, he’s still feeling miserable, but now he has reconnected with the essence of his own nature.”
Nighwing’s rediscovered sense of purpose will affect the tone of the book, but his emotional journey is far from over. “The next chapter is a little less draining emotionally, but he’s moved himself into a position of tremendous physical and moral vulnerability. I think the pacing will feel more satisfying to the readers since he’s once again ‘on mission,’ working towards something instead of just floating. The place where he is, emotionally and actually, is going to look very different from where we’re used to seeing him. He’s sort of reclaimed his body and his intent, but is still fighting for his heart and soul.”
With Robin and Batgirl being sent to Blüdhaven in the aftermath of the “War Games” story line, readers have been wondering what city Nightwing will patrol when Grayson returns to the book. “He’s actually in New Jersey, for reasons that will quickly become clear,” Grayson said. But she has plans to return him to his old stopping grounds, “I think it’s issue 110, he does go back to Blüdhaven and he does run into Tim and Cassandra.”
Grayson said that Nightwing is in New Jersey on an undercover operation. “Several months have gone by since issue 100, and when we come back in, everything, initially, looks different (both in terms of the circumstances and a new artist, come to think of it),” explained Grayson. “Dick’s living with a mid-level mob family in New Jersey and of course, since he’s Dick, they frickin’ adore him. The problem is, he’s becoming pretty damn fond of them, too and is getting some familial needs met that haven’t been attended to in ages. Is it the balm that he needs to heal, or is it just another emotional trap that’s going to make his trip back to redemption that much harder?”
The new story line will feature some old and new faces including Nightwing’s former bossm Blüdhaven PD Captain Amy Rohrbach. “I really love Amy and consider her a huge asset to the book and want to keep her and the rest of the BPD viable and involved,” Grayson said. “The arc that we’re coming back into has a whole new cast of supporting characters because, as has been intimated, he’s undercover (or is he…?::winks:: ) and then we’re actually heading in a direction that will bring Dick back into contact with someone from even further back in his past (but it’s not Kory – stop it!). And from that point on, things are gonna get a little crazy, but longtime fans of the character especially should be happy to go along for the ride.”
Another burning question readers would like answered is, “Who does Dick’s heart belong to?” The answer to that question is complicated. “I think people – maybe especially people as ardent and fundamentally compassionate as Dick – have many options in terms of how they choose to share their destiny and their heart,” Grayson explained. “In my mind, one of the issues that Dick struggles with, romantically, is his own kindness and his ability to commit himself so fully to so many different ideas and situations. At some level, he still loves every single woman he’s even been with, and can imagine being with any of them, so that’s maybe healthier than someone like Bruce who has a hard time imagining sharing his life with anyone, but it’s still…a challenge.”
However, when Grayson returns to “Nightwing,” it will be clear that Dick is devoted to his ex-girlfriend, “Birds of Prey” star and former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. “At this moment in time though, yes, he’s in love with and committed to Barbara, and as we ramp into this new chapter, you will see him commit himself to winning her back,” Grayson said. “That is actually a huge part of his current motivation – he feels like he failed her when he gave up on his own integrity for that split second that resulted in Blockbuster’s death, and he wants to make himself feel worthy of her love again”
Grayson knows what direction she wants to take “Nightwing” in. “I feel like I really can’t leave until I redeem Nightwing again, and get him back up to – even surpassing — his former glory,” she said. “Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s going to take a while – partly because the story demands a certain amount of time to unfold, but even more so because the pacing of the DCU as a whole is such that you can’t get three scripts out in a row anymore without having to stop and incorporate an element from outside your book that further complicates the story and further integrates it into a larger, slower time line. I love this character so much and there’s so much I want to see him achieve. I’m not as convinced, though, that I’m the best match for the DCU these days in terms of where it’s going corporately, so in many ways it’s feeling more and more like a race against time. I do know where I want to take the character, I just don’t know if I’m going to be able to get there in this current climate.”
Grayson’s other projects include “Matador,” a creator owned title by her and artist Brian Stelfreeze from Wildstorm which is set to be released in May and she is currently finishing a 400 page novel set in the DC Universe which also happens to feature Nightwing. “It’s actually a DCU novel starring Batman and featuring Green Arrow and Aquaman, but a lot of the story deals with their (formerly) teen sidekicks and what it’s meant for them to be father figures,” Grayson said. “They’re trying to protect the teenage son of the current president of Qurac – he’s in Gotham and there appears to be a contract out on him. They end up enlisting the help of their ‘boys’ – Nightwing, Arsenal, and Tempest – and thematically it’s really a story about the bonds between fathers and sons and what it means to try to raise a kid safely in a very dangerous world.”
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