That magazine came out in the late spring of 2004 with a July cover date. In #94, Nightwing’s voice disappeared from the narration—a loss of self. The book then went into a Batman crossover, and in #100 that part of Devin Grayson’s long arc culminated with Dick regaining his initiative and capturing Tarantula for trial.
In August 2004, as that narrative was still unfolding, Devin Grayson sat for this interview. Like any good storyteller being paid to maintain suspense, she didn’t give away the ending to the arc. And part of that ending was Dick coming to terms with what had happened to him, identifying himself as a victim rather than someone to be blamed.
As a result, Devin Grayson resisted explaining what to make of that scene with Tarantula, writing, “For the record, I’ve never used the word ‘rape,’ I just said it was nonconsensual (I know, aren’t writers frustrating? *smiles*).” But she practically begged readers to stay tuned for the story’s resolution:
I think if you read through issue 100, you’ll see some of the response you’ve been waiting for. . . . The nature of stories is to set up and resolve conflict. We’re just not at the resolution stage with this story yet, and I apologize if it’s taking too long. . . . I really wish we could have this discussion after issue 100, because then I could see if you felt that any of your questions were answered in the normal course of the story, which is of course always the goal. This is meant to be a story about heroism and identity – how do we respond heroically (if that’s our default or aspired-to setting) when we lose all indication of our heroic identity?As I read those comments, Nightwing’s realization that he’d been raped was a crucial part of the narrative. Though that was part of Devin Grayson’s story all along, she didn’t want to reveal that resolution prematurely in an interview; her coy language kept the question alive for readers. Many of those readers reacted angrily to the suspense and the language, accusing her of fogging the difference between “nonconsensual” sex and rape when her real point may have been that there’s no difference.
Was that theme indeed part of Devin Grayson’s story proposal and scripts? I’ve seen reports that the #93 script was available online at one point, but by now it’s disappeared. And the record of that script is getting muddied on that authoritative source of comic-book history, Wikipedia.
On 27 Sept 2006, an anonymous Wikipedia editor added this sentence to the “Controversy” section of Wikipedia’s entry on Tarantula:
This is further confused by the script for Nightwing #93 specifically mentioning (in parentheses) that this scene was a rape.But 20 Oct 2010 that sentence was changed by another anonymous editor to:
This is further confused by the script for Nightwing #93 specifically mentioning (in parentheses) that this scene was sex and not a rape.The citation that followed both sentences in fact predated them both, and really belongs to the preceding sentence. It pointed back to the interview quoted above—which reveals nothing about the script.
Thus, Wikipedia has contained two contradictory statements, both purporting to be based on the same document. It’s possible that the first statement was false, though it survived without correction for four years when the script might still have been available for confirmation. It’s possible that the second statement is false. But they can’t both be true.
Thus, not only is Nightwing, #93, a controversial narrative, but someone has distorted the publishing history of that narrative and falsely reinforced a particular view of the controversy.