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Monday, July 15, 2013

If Shawn Wrote Comics: DC Comics Nightwing

Dick Grayson is an icon. He was Batman’s sidekick, Robin the boy Wonder. Readers watched him grow up from a young boy they identified with in Batman’s adventures to the confident and capable leader of the Teen Titans the superhero team composed of sidekicks, to become his own man. Later on in his career as Nightwing he went on to become a mentor and a friend to Tim Drake the third Robin and Damien Wayne Batman’s son.

I’d love to do a run of Nightwing to show how important he is to the DC Universe. Dan Didio may think that Nightwing has no value to the DC Universe, but I believe Dick Grayson embodies the Spirit of DC Comics. He was the boy who allowed kids to see superheroes with a sense of awe and wonder. He was the teenager who made us understand the sense of duty and responsibility everyday people had in society and he taught young adults to give back by mentoring the next generation. He’s DC’s ambassador of goodwill. I feel a guy who has learned the critical thinking skills to be a detective like Batman but the diplomacy and goodwill of Superman.

And that’s why I want to make Dick into DC’s goodwill ambassador. A diplomat who allows readers to access not only Batman’s family but most of the worlds in the DC Universe as well.

For me Nightwing shouldn’t just be Batman Lite. Too many writers make all the Batman Family characters insular to just Gotham City. I believe that Bruce is dedicated to protecting Gotham. But Dick is more dedicated to applying Batman’s approaches in protecting the world the way Superman does. And that’s what makes him stand out as a character.

To me, Dick is an acrobat nimbly maneuvering through the numerous parts in the DC Universe. He’s a guy who grew up interacting with aliens, demons, amazons, Atlanteans, immortals, gods, and cyborgs. And most of them were his friends. For him all of it is perfectly normal. I feel he should be interacting with more of the DC Universe than just the Batman family.

For my hypothetical run on Nightwing, I want it to still be a detective series in the vein of Batman. But I want to lighten the tone a bit to be in the style of Superman. Batman is dark, intense and driven. Dick is passionate but not as intense as Bruce. He values his time with friends and family. For him there is a life outside of the costume, and that’s an essential component of the stories I want to write. Bruce lives in the Batcave. Dick is more likely to solve a crime while he’s watching the game at Wayne Manor or playing basketball with Vic and Wally at Titans Tower, then go into action and nail the perp.

I feel one of Dick’s strengths is that he’s a social guy. Stories with him work best when he’s forming relationships with other characters. Like his surrogate uncle Superman, he’s not just a superhero but a friend. People like him. They want to work with him. He’s the kind of guy who can fight crime in Gotham one day and solve a mystery on Tamaran, Thanagar or Rann the next without causing an intergalactic incident the way the modern dickish Batman would.

While a good chunk of my Nightwing stories will deal with adventures in Gotham taking on familiar and Obscure Bat and Titans villains like Deadshot and Deathstroke, I’d like to use some stories to explore Dick’s relationships with other characters in the DC Universe. I want to see him working with other heroes like Hawkman, Blaqualad, Adam Strange, Tim Drake (the only Robin I’ll write and he’ll be wearing his red and green costume), Jack Knight, Kyle Rayner, John Stewart, Mr. Terific (Michael Holt) or Green Arrow. And even the man who he regards as possibly an uncle, Superman.

In the supporting cast of my hypothetical Nightwing run will be some new characters and an old one. Starfire would be a major supporting character. I feel Kory brings out the best in Dick and they have fantastic chemistry together. In my stories she’d be looking to expand her skill set on earth and become a better superhero. In my stories Kory is tired of being seen as a pair of breasts that fires energy bolts. She wants to be taken seriously and she feels working with Dick more closely will allow her to gain new skills as a crimefighter. With their history I think it’d be interesting to see how the Kory handles learning detective skills from Dick the way Tim Drake and Damien Wayne did.

Barbara Gordon (Oracle) would also pop in with a recurring role. I would love to develop a friendship between her and Kory and maybe have them team up. (Yeah, I’m gonna be pushing Starfire hard in my run. I think she’s ready to be taken to the next level and become an A-lister)

*Note on Barbara* The way I see it, The Killing Joke (garbage story I’d retcon into an elseworlds tale or something to minimize its impact) never happened. To me, Barbara simply retired from the role of Batgirl after she graduated college and got a MBA in information technology. Like Dick she realizes she’s outgrown her past role as a superheroine and is looking to be seen in a role where she’s taken seriously as a woman. She realizes she has more power as an information broker and a researcher than a superhero. While she can still kick butt (and will do so on occasion), she’d rather leave the crimefighting to Bruce, Tim and Dick. If I were writing I’d be building towards using this plot point towards passing down the CLASSIC Black and yellow batgirl costume to Stephanie Brown in a storyline. Stephanie is a teenage GIRL and proved herself as a capable crimefighter when she was Spoiler. She should have been given the classic Batgirl costume in the first place back in the 1990’s!

With Kory in the supporting cast, I’d also be working towards doing a story where in trying to develop her investigative skills, Starfire tries to take on his approach to crimefighting. Starfire Undercover would be a three issue comedy arc in the vein of Keith Giffen and J.M.Dematteis’ Justice League run, where the 6’3 gold skinned Tamaranian tries to do some undercover work like Dick does at a subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises where smuggling of some WayneTech is going on. Yeah, it’s absurd to think Kory would work undercover on Earth, but I feel we need a fun story to get readers laughing in between the grittiness in Gotham.

If I wrote stories, readers would get a story arc with Dick working a case on vacation on a tropical island like in the movie The Mighty Quinn. This will be a fun story where Nightwing has to fight crime in an unfamiliar city and deal with odd cultural customs. And He’ll have to deal with Kory who nags him to relax.

I’d like to put a good dose of humor in a Nightwing run. Bat-characters are always so dark and serious. With Superman as one of his inspirations for being his code name, I feel Nightwing would be a great book for some lighter moments in between the crimefighting and the gritty detective work in Gotham. I’d love to do an entire storyline where Nightwing has to take on a bad guy during the daytime in Gotham, and allow readers to get a rare reaction from Gotham’s heroes about seeing these heroes who are used to skulking around at night during the day.

I’d also love to do a story where Nightwing teams up with one of my own characters, John Haynes. (only if I got to keep the rights to him) One of the supporting characters in The Temptation of John Haynes, Scott Grayson is named after Dick Grayson, as a tribute to him. (Yep, I’ve been a Dick Grayson fan for years.) And I’d love to see a team up between these two cerebral thinking analytical minds as they work on a case between Wayne Enterprises and Morris Phillips involving a planned portal to Hell. Possibly involving Lucifer and the old Titans villain Brother Blood. FUN!

A Shawn James run on Nightwing would allow readers to not just see him in Gotham City but interacting with the rest of the DC Universe as well. I’d like to write stories where the former Robin is spreading his wings and making his own name as a superhero. Interacting with other DC Comics heroes to establish his reputation outside of the Batman Family. Many writers forget Nightwing isn’t Batman. He’s his own man and it’s time DC presenting him in a way that made him stand out.


  1. As much as you do not like Damian and th fact he often gets away with a lot the things he does. The truth is Damian has grown quite a bit as a character and is no longer this kill happy kid.

  2. And I doubt you can ignore Damian because Dick was essential to his development.