SPOILER WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1, on sale now, and some spoilers for “Nightwing” #1, on sale July 27.
Thomas Wolfe said you can’t go home again, but Dick Grayson hasn’t always played by the rules. Not only has Dick returned to Gotham City in his new solo series, he’s also re-assuming a familiar name.
With “Nightwing: Rebirth” #1 on sale now, featuring artwork by Yanick Paquette, and the new “Nightwing” series launching in just two weeks with art by Javier Fernandez, CBR News connected with writer Tim Seeley to discuss Dick’s homecoming and why change has always been the one constant in the young man’s life.
Dick is all grown up, and despite plans for a supporting cast including Robin/Damian Wayne, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon and, of course, Bruce Wayne/Batman, “Nightwing” is his series. The opening arc will further explore the story started in “Robin War,” in which Dick is forced to join the Parliament of Owls to save Damian’s life. So, while he’s no longer a super-spy, Dick will maintain his double agent lifestyle as he attempts to destroy the corrupt international organization from the inside.
CBR News: As Dick explains on the very first page, the name “Nightwing” is not tied to Batman but rather is the name of a Kryptonian god that Dick repurposed for his superhero identity. Nightwing is the great rebuilder and the catalyst of change. After being a Flying Grayson, Robin, Nightwing, Batman, Agent 37, and now Nightwing again, a superhero who is “eternally reborn to start anew” sounds like a pretty good fit for Dick.
Tim Seeley: It’s a defining aspect of Dick Grayson. He can be put in so many different genres and identities, as he has been over all of these years, and yet he still maintains at his heart what he is all about. I think that’s what people really like about him. At the same time, Dick as a guy has remained relatively unchanged. We’ve never seen him go through any major personality changes because he doesn’t have to. He sort of works the way he is, and that’s one of the greatest strengths of the character.
But don’t we want to see our superheroes evolve?
Yes, but I think as he’s been presented throughout history, every generation has been able to grow up with Dick Grayson. No matter which media he crosses over to, whether it’s film or comics or cartoon, he starts out as Robin and he becomes Nightwing and he earns something and he grows with us as we get older. And that allows us to always relate to him. That’s something that we really wanted to pick up on in this series and that’s the fact that he is now a young adult and want to explore what that means to his life after this. What kind of metaphor of being a young adult can we extrapolate into a cool superhero story?
I love that he’s going back to being a superhero, because as his arch-frenemy Midnighter puts it, Dick is “too nice to be a spy.”
Yeah, I think Dick is too nice to be a spy. [Laughs] That’s what “Grayson” was all about. Have a guy with a really distinct and moral ground be put into a very grey space, and show him dealing with that. That was the overall, overarching plot of “Grayson.” If you take away the spy element, now you’ve got a guy who always wants to help you. He always wants to save you. He always wants to be there for people, and he has to deal with conflicts of being a young adult. That’s what makes for such a great superhero book, I think.
Will we see more Midnighter in “Nightwing”? Readers, myself included, really enjoyed the dynamic between the two in “Grayson.”
Yes, all of the characters from “Grayson” will have some kind of role in “Nightwing.” I think we established them as another group of characters with which Dick Grayson really works well with, so we’re definitely not going to get rid of Midnighter and Tiger and Helena. I love those characters so much, so we will definitely see them again.
The story is also about him coming back home after having been abroad, essentially, about a man going back to deal with a family that he had to leave and how that relates to his life as a crime-fighting, tights-wearing guy. [Laughs]
Will the new Robin have a featured role in “Nightwing” moving forward? More importantly, was it public knowledge — at least amongst readers — that Batman always dodges left and hits right as Dick coaches Damian against his dear old dad?
[Laughs] No, that’s only something that Dick would know from having watched him fight over the years. And it was actually my own observation from tons of years of reading Batman comics.
I can say that Dick’s relationship with Damian is one of the most important ones in the series. Dick is a young adult, and he’s a son to Batman in a way, and a father to Damian in a lot of ways, and we will see how that plays out, especially when we parallel this story with Raptor. The different ways that those two people handle that relationship is really interesting.
I wanted to ask you about Raptor, because when I read that the title of the first issue was “Better than Batman,” I assumed you were talking about Dick. But now I’m thinking it’s about Raptor, who is sent by the Parliament of Owls to mentor Dick.
You’re right. The thing that I really wanted to explore with Raptor is that, morally, he is totally different than Batman. He has a very different agenda, but Batman’s agenda and Raptor’s agenda both make sense for who they are. The differences in terms of who will make the most difference to Dick is how they approach being a teacher and a mentor and a friend. Batman has always been more standoffish and a little bit more afraid of letting anyone get to close, and clearly has some issues with trust. Raptor is completely the opposite. He is friendly and likable in a way that Dick is. He has a very different approach towards the things that he wants and his goals. Actually, in a lot of ways, he parallels Dick a lot closer than Batman does. And that’s something we are going to play around with in this first story. What if Dick could find a teacher who is more like him? What would that change for his allegiances?
Raptor is associated with the Parliament of Owls, an organization that we know we can’t trust. Are you saying we might see Dick questioning what’s right and what’s wrong in this series?
Yes, but not in the way that we have seen before. We didn’t want it to be “Dick goes bad” or anything like that. It’s more like, what if there are different philosophies about the ways to handle inequity in the world? That’s what Dick has to deal with, and being a young guy, he’s fluid in his way that he is going to approach his future. That will definitely be a major conflict for the series.
The relationships with his family, the deep histories they have, and the ways that they are all different is most interesting to me. Dick and Barbara, for instance, obviously get along because of their history, their shared attraction and all of these things, but actually, their approaches are really different. Dick’s a circus kid and comes from not having any money and traveling the world, and Barbara comes from a very stable home with a dad that’s a cop, so we get to see some of those conflicts that I haven’t seen played out before.
For those unfamiliar with the backstory, Dick is now serving the Parliament of Owls, but only to destroy them — right?
That’s right. In the storyline “Robin War,” it was set up that there was a spinoff of the Gotham-centered Court of Owls called the Parliament of Owls, which is basically an affiliate that has different goals. The Court was about clandestinely ruling Gotham from the shadows, where the Parliament is about escaping and not having to deal with international law so they can live in an elite, rich society, which they don’t have to share with anybody. In “Robin War,” we learned that they forced Dick to join them by threatening Damian. They did so to validate their own existence, because Dick has a strong history with Batman and also the Court Owls.
To make it really simple, they are elitist, evil bad guys with bird masks, and they want Dick Grayson to join them so that they can control him — and he does so only to destroy them.
I know you said this wasn’t your plan, but knowing Dick’s personality and skill set, unleashed, he really would make a great supervillain for the DCU. “Gray Son of Gotham” has a nice ring to it as a title.
It’s true. That’s an alternate universe story that would be fun to write, but I would never do that for Dick Grayson. The challenge always for Dick is being the nice guy in a world that isn’t as nice as him. That’s a more interesting conflict to me than him succumbing to being a bad guy.
“Nightwing: Rebirth” #1 by Tim Seeley and Yanick Paquette is on sale now. “Nightwing” #1, by Seeley and Javier Fernandez, arrives July 27.
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