THE OWL SIGNAL: Higgins' "Nightwing" Faces "Night of the Owls"

The "Night of the Owls" is almost upon DC Comics, and Dick Grayson, the hero known as Nightwing, is in the thick of it!

Spinning out of the pages of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo's "Batman," the mysterious Court of Owls are emerging from the shadows to challenge Batman's hold on Gotham City. In May, they expand their lethal operations to the rest of the Bat books. While the Talons target the powerful and important players in Gotham City, Nightwing is called upon to protect the Mayor of Gotham in not one but two issues of "Nightwing," written by Kyle Higgins with art by Eddy Barrows.

Today, THE OWL SIGNAL's coverage of the "Night of the Owls" continues as Higgins explains Dick Grayson's central role in the event, the impact of Talon William Cobb on the world of Nightwing and how Higgins and Snyder's 2011, pre-New 52 miniseries "Gates Of Gotham" ties into the history of the Owls.

CBR News: "Nightwing" issue #8 and #9 are tied into the "Night of the Owls" event. With #8 actually hitting stores in April, would it be considered the prelude to the event with #9 being the full-on action issue?

Kyle Higgins: Actually, in the case of Nightwing, both issues #8 and #9 are full on part of the event. It'll make more sense when you read "Batman" that month, how the timing of it all works., but Dick Grayson's involvement in the "Night of the Owls" event necessitated two issues worth of story, so that's why I started a month early.

You've known about "Night of the Owls" and have been planning for it for a while with Scott Snyder. Even though all of the books in the event are separate and you don't have to read all of them to get the full picture, is "Nightwing" tied a little closer to "Batman" and to the Court Of Owls mystery than the other series might be?

Incredibly tied, yes. I'm certainly biased, but I'd definitely be reading "Nightwing" for the next couple of issues leading up to "Night of the Owls."

One of the big things Scott has mentioned about the event is that individual writers have the prerogative to play around with parts of Gotham's history. Because you are so tight with Snyder, personally and professionaly, are the historical things in "Batman" also happening in "Nightwing?" Or are you getting to tell a different part of Gotham's history and the history of the Owls?

Actually, I'm diving back into the "Gates Of Gotham" era that I dealt with in the miniseries, so Cameron Kane, Alan Wayne, Edward Elliot and Fredrick Cobblepot all appear in issue #8. I'm sure other writers will tell you each book is dealing with a different era in history, but the story Scott and I started in "Gates" was always meant to be a precursor to the Court Of Owls mystery and storyline. It made sense for me to tackle that era because it does have some specific connections to Dick Grayson. Anyone who read "Gates" will remember that our through line featured the idea that Dick doesn't really have a place in Gotham City because he doesn't have a bloodline there. That's one of the things that separated him from some of the other Bat allies, as well as Bruce. That helped to parallel his story with Nicholas Gate and is an idea I'm continuing to explore with "Night of the Owls." What is Dick Grayson's place in Gotham City? And is there perhaps a history there we don't know about?

Dick occupies an interesting place in Batman's life, as he is the first Robin, the first child Batman/Bruce took under his wing. Aside form him being an outsider, might the Court Of Owls target him because he's also the first of Batman's partners?

Well, my "Night of the Owls" story isn't about the Owls coming after Nightwing or Dick, it's really about the Owls coming after the Mayor of Gotham and Nightwing being the one tasked to save him. The Owls campaign is to go after political leaders and important people in the city, and Nightwing comes into conflict with them through that -- and chaos ensues from there!

"Chaos ensues" -- I like the sound of that!

I agree! I've already written both issues and they're by far my two favorites of the series thus far. I think when people read the issues, everything from Haly's Circus' involvement to what the series might become after "Night of the Owls" will make much more sense.

Getting into the specifics, obviously one of the Talons is going after Mayor Hady. With the books in the event all getting their own Talons to oppose their heroes. Your Talon happens to be the one who already faced off agains Batman -- how does he relate to Dick and the story?

Well, he's the best of the best. To me, the interest is, as I'm looking to take Nightwing to the future and carve out his place in Gotham City, the threats he faces are going to get bigger and bolder. So, if this is the Talon that gave Batman a run for his money across five issues, how does Nightwing stack up?

Again, because your book is so tied into "Batman" and because you've got characters like the Talon crossing over, how has it been working with Scott on this? Is this collaboration different than in the past now that he's in charge of bringing in and coordinating a larger group of people?

Nah, the only real difference is that we don't talk as much anymore at 2 and 3am anymore! [Laughs] Scott's naturally a night owl, pun intended, but now he's dealing with a nine month old son, which seriously cuts into his desire to burn the candle at both ends. [Laughs]

But seriously, there's no difference -- we're very close friends, which makes the work as collaborators that much more enjoyable. We both come at stories from the same way. He's a little older than me, and has been doing this much longer, so I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to work with him and learn from him because the stories are only better when you're able to collaborate with someone as talented as Scott.

Are you working as closely with the other creative teams and writers? Or are "Nightwing" and "Batman" the core of this event?

Well, in my mind they're the core. [Laughs]

I am friends with a lot of the other creators so we naturally exchange stories back and forth, but yes -- in this case, my involvement has been mostly tied to coordinating with "Batman."

You've known about the event for so long and because you and Scott worked on "Gates Of Gotham" with an eye on this story. What has been the most fun part or the allure in going back into Gotham's history and bloodlines again?

I think the part that's the most enjoyable to me is the fact that even though it's pre-New 52 and you don't have to have read "Gates Of Gotham" at all, there are plenty of nice nods to that world we created. "Gates" was a very important project to me and I love being able to build off it.

Finally, how would you sum up Nightwing's role in the overall event? And how do you see this parlaying into your "Prince Of Gotham" idea after this?

Well, Nightwing's tasked with saving arguably the most important political position in the city: the Mayor of Gotham. And while Mayor Hady is rather corrupt, he's still the leader of the city. In terms of going forward, the idea that Nightwing is taking on the aspect of the event that he is sets up the Prince of Gotham in terms of his status beginning to elevate in the city. He is, in a lot of ways, the future of the city -- or he could be, at least.

Also, from a thematic standpoint and an emotional standpoint, some of the things that come up during Nightwing's fight with the Owls are going to raise questions for him about what his place in the future of the city is, what his place in current Gotham could have been, and whether or not the way he and Batman operate in the city accomplish all that much of anything. So yeah, it's safe to say this crossover will frame some things for Nightwing to look at as we move forward in the series.

Dick's role in the "Night of the Owls" begins with "Nightwing" issue #8 out April 18 and continues with "Nightwing" #9 out May 16.

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