WARNING: The following interview contains spoilers for Nightwing #44 by Benjamin Percy and Chis Mooneyham, on sale now.
It's been said that Dick Grayson is the lynchpin character of the DC Comics Universe, and starting this week, that saying may be more true than ever.
That's because with the just-released Nightwing #44, writer Benjamin Percy is starting not just a new era for the acrobatic member of the Bat Family, he's also spinning a story that will reverberate through many other series in the months ahead. Joined by Five Ghosts artist Chris Mooneyham, Percy's "The Bleeding Edge" story sees the hero face off against a mystery threat from the dark web. And the writer promises that the villain known as Wyrm is just the first tendril that will reach out into other DC titles.
CBR News caught up with Percy on the cusp of the launch, the writer opened up about the years of research into the dark web that led to his landing Nightwing, the ways classic Frank Miller stories have reverberated with him on and off the page and the responsibility of telling a story that will take the lead of the DCU in 2018.
CBR: At a convention panel recently, you spoke about the secret origin of your Nightwing run. You wrote a novel called The Dark Net that dealt with the criminal side of the web, and then Dan DiDio pitched you on bringing that world into Dick Grayson's life. When he suggested that, were you excited to continue that journey, or was there some trepidation about keeping your brain in that headspace?
Benjamin Percy: I'd been doing research for over three years about the dark net. Initially, that research sprung from an article I wrote for GQ where I got on the front lines of technology with researchers at Google and Apple and Verizon trying to understand what was going on with digital security right now and the threats we face. So I have pile after pile after pile of notes...and only some of that fed into my novel. And every time I finish a novel, I leave some of it incomplete. I always open up a doorway at the end to make room for a possible sequel. So the stories and threats in my novel have sort of tentacled outward and found a new purchase, new life, in this series.
I wouldn't say it's a continuation, but it is an expansion of that original idea. I'm broadening that idea. And what Dan wanted me to do was, as he'd say, "Dose it up with adrenaline and venom and broken glass and whiskey...and put a cape and spandex on it and make it something worthy of the DCU." So this threat of the dark web is not just something that's going to impact Nightwing but also oscillates into other series.