There aren’t many characters in the DCU who embody optimism and joy quite the way that Dick Grayson does. The original kid sidekick, first Robin, and fan-favorite Nightwing is a hero who has held on to his top shelf position in the hearts and minds of readers for over sixty years, which is not an easy feat in the tumultuous world of cape and cowl comics.
Still, sometimes even the brightest stars have to be eclipsed now and again — and that’s exactly what the upcoming alternate universe mini series Nightwing: The New Order intends to do. Taking place in an alternative future, the story pits Dick Grayson against the super heroic community as the spearhead of an initiative to make metahuman abilities illegal, despite the potentially disastrous cost.
CBR sat down with writer Kyle Higgins at this years Comic-Con International in San Diego to figure out what’s really going on behind this new version of Dick Grayson and what inspired his monstrous turn.
CBR: So Nightwing: The New Order is actually your return to Dick Grayson after some time away. You wrapped up a run on the Nightwing ongoing back during the New 52 era, and I think it’s pretty safe to say that The New Order sounds like pretty much the antithesis of that run. Can you talk a little about how you got here? Is this story stemming from anything you’ve worked on or that’s currently happening in the DCU?
Kyle Higgins: It’s its own thing right now! I kind of based it on the 90s in DC, but it’s essentially an Elseworlds story. It takes place in the year 2040, but really at it’s core it’s an allegory for a lot of the issues that we’re dealing with in our world right now. My favorite Elseworlds-style alternate futures are stories that are complicated and morally murky. So, in this world, superpowers and magic spread and proliferated to such a degree that it was as easy to get ahold of as groceries.
You could walk into a bodega and get telekinesis to protect yourself from the scary heroes and villains, from your shady neighbor, from anyone on the freeway. It’s very much a commentary on the gun issue in our country right now, just through the lens of superpowers.
So, at a certain point — and I don’t want to spoil too much — but Dick, during a big battle, made a decision and detonated a device the neutralized 90% of the world’s superpowers. He did this to save the world in that moment. Afterwards, though…that’s a slippery slope. Powers became illegal in the United States, so if you were in that 10% that still hand them, you had to register and go on inhibitor meds. And if the inhibitor meds didn’t work — super rare, but still could happen — you were put into stasis, until the doctors could figure out how to counteract the powers. So, again, very, very slippery slope.
All of that is actually going to be explored through a father/son story, between Dick and his 12-year-old son, Jake. So it’s all narrated by Jake, now that he’s older, looking back on things, asking the question that readers are going to be asking: how does Dick Grayson, the heart and soul of the DC Universe, who prides himself and defines himself by his relationships, come to believe that this is the best thing for the world? How bad did things really get? What changed for him? What did he go through that this was the action he decided to take? At the end of the day, there really isn’t an easy answer for any of those questions, and that’s what we wanted to dive into.
That was actually going to be my second question! I’ve always defined Dick as a sort of lynchpin — He’s maybe one of the most social characters, and socially dependent characters DC has to offer — so how do you go about stripping that away? Where did the idea to try actually come from?
You’re nailing what the book is actually about! [Laughs] He’s my all time favorite character and he’s the most optimistic character there is. I really wanted to explore that optimism in a very different way. Look, I think we see pretty frequently that good people can come to believe in bad things, the path they take to get there is often very complicated…Which isn’t to say that their feelings and beliefs can’t change. Having a family, the state of the world, all these things factor into the decisions we make in our lives, and they also factor into this future version of Dick Grayson’s life as well.
He really does just want to help people, he really does just want to save the world.
The road to Hell, as they say.
Yeah, exactly, he has the best intentions, but there are massive repercussions for the actions he decides to take.
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