27 January 2013

Kyle Higgins’s First Version of Nightwing

Kyle Higgins, current scripter of DC's Nightwing magazine, studied filmmaking at the University of Iowa and Chapman University. Before he got into comics, Higgins and his friend Alec Siegel co-wrote and directed the short film “The League” with a lead character inspired by Nightwing. As its website says, it’s available through iTunes.

“The League” starts in 1946. Chicago’s heroes include the Blue Blaze, the Gray Raven, and the latter’s chirpy teen-aged sidekick Sparrow; any resemblance to the Green Lantern, Batman, and Robin is purely intended. Their nemeses are Cold War villains with scowls and Russian names.

The action then jumps forward to the early 1960s. Sparrow, having been badly wounded, has broken from the Gray Raven and become the Wraith (though I didn’t realize his new crime-fighting name until the closing credits). As the League prepares to go national, someone is killing off the Windy City’s old villains, and the Wraith returns to investigate that mystery.

Like Nightwing in the standard DC mythos, the Wraith is an athletic detective but has no other special powers. His relationship with his old mentor is strained. But, and this is very important in the story, the Wraith isn’t evil.

The film’s special effects are very good, especially considering its $40,000 budget. Higgins’s specialty as a filmmaking student was in sound design and other postproduction skills, so the movie has a gratifyingly professional look and sound. I found the story hard to follow at times, such as the role of the character named Eclipse, but the overall plot is clear.

I learned about “The League” from Higgins’s conversation with Kevin Smith on the Fat Man on Batman podcast, which is also well worth a download. The poster shown above is by artist Eoin Colgan.

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