Few comic-book characters have had as many iterations as Dick Grayson, which should come as no surprise when you consider he’s been a superhero since childhood.
From Batman’s kid sidekick, Robin the Boy Wonder, to member of the Teen Titans, an adult vigilante life as Nightwing, and most recently, faking his death while secretly being a globe-trotting super-spy, Dick Grayson has seen and done it all as a superhero.
Batman’s first protege has now returned to basics in DC Comics “Rebirth” era, once again putting on a mask in his new series “Nightwing.”
Tim Seeley, who wrote Nightwing’s mask-less spy adventures in the pre-“Rebirth” series, “Grayson,” is reunited with the character, and will be writing from a slightly more “super” perspective.
“The original design of [Dick Grayson] is so perfect, he really does translate into so many different genres and potential stories,” Seeley told The Washington Post’s Comic Riffs. “I think that’s what’s made him such a fan favorite.”
In the “Rebirth” issue of “Nightwing,” which debuted on July 13, Seeley said the character hasn’t left his spy days behind him.
“That’s Dick’s [discovery] via my own revelation having worked on ‘Grayson’ and finding out that this character works so well in espionage related genre. We’re adding that skill to [Nightwing’s] repertoire,” Seeley said. “I think because the Batman characters tend to be so Gotham-focused, there’s some real value in having one of their members who is pretty good at globe hopping and he’s so adaptable that he can go to all of these places and instantly charm his way in.”
When the first post-“Rebirth” issue of “Nightwing” hits stands real and digital on July 27 (Javier Fernandez and Marcus To will split art duties with “Nightwing” coming out twice a month), Nightwing will infiltrate the Parliament of Owls, an organization similar to the Court of Owls that haunted the Dark Knight during Scott Snyder’s and Greg Capullo’s run on DC’s “Batman” series, except they view things on a much more global scale as opposed to just having an eye on Gotham City.
“With the Parliament [of Owls], the idea was to expand a lot of what [the Court of Owls] ideas were, but into this new context of elitist, rich, international cabal that believes they shouldn’t have to follow the rules and laws of the rest of the world because they’re just that much better,” Seeley said. “These are people that want to create their own country to not have to deal with the riffraff of the world.”
While convincing the Parliament of Owls that he is working for them, Nightwing will be forced to work with their muscle, a masked man called Raptor, a character Seeley said is a darker version of Nightwing.
“The relationship we want to play with there is that Raptor will sort of be a reflection of Dick’s relationship with Batman,” Seeley said. “He’s someone that is actually more like Dick in a lot of ways than Batman is, but philosophically he’s going to be the opposite.”
Batman and members of the bat-family will play a more prominent role in this series, with Nightwing once again having a brotherly bond with Batman’s son — who is also the current Robin the Boy Wonder, Damian Wayne — and continuing to be flirty at times with Barbara Gordon/Batgirl.
“It was important to re-establish those relationships right off the bat and to see how that effects the way Dick is handling going out on his own and making his own choices, and how does that affect his desire to be connected to all these people he cares about,” Seeley said.
Seeley also plans to explore what it means when someone has been a crime-fighter his entire life, as is the case with Nightwing.
“We’ll ask how much of [Nightwing’s] life is still influenced by being that kid from the circus who never really had a permanent home, who didn’t live the standard life of the American teenager before being taken in by Batman” Seeley said. “Dick really is sort of the only character who comes into being a superhero as that being the [only] job he knows.”
The title of the first issue of “Nightwing” is “Better Than Batman,” a title Seeley hopes fans will think about.
“It’s supposed to be a question to a degree. Is this about Dick being better than Batman? Is it about Raptor being better than Batman?” Seeley hinted. “I hope that as [the series] goes on we start to question how many different ways someone can be better than Batman. Is that question of a better friend, father, mentor, superhero? All those things hopefully come into focus as we go on to the first several issues.”