06 April 2014

Kyle Higgins’s Two Dick Graysons

In this recent interview with Newsrama, Kyle Higgins discussed the challenge of writing the character of Dick Grayson in two storylines.

One was the “in continuity” Nightwing title (about to be concluded, with a new magazine called Grayson coming this fall). The other was the possible-future, non-continuity, digital-first Batman Beyond, which grew out of DC’s 1990s TV cartoons.

Higgins replied:
But I differentiate between the two Dick Graysons. You know, the whole DC animated universe is a favorite of mine, and when I write Dick Grayson in Batman Beyond, I hear Loren Lester’s voice. But when I write him in the regular DC continuity, I don’t.
Lester was the voice actor who performed the role of Dick Grayson in Batman: The Animated Series (1992-1995) and The New Batman Adventures (1997-1999).

That intrigued me, so I went looking and found that last year Higgins expanded on that topic to Comicosity as he started to write Batman Beyond:
They are completely separate people to me. The reason why is that the animated series version of Dick Grayson was always very different than the comic version of Nightwing. Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel’s stuff that I grew up on was definitely a bit lighter and quippier than the animated series version was. The animated series’ interpretation was a lot more brooding, a lot more “Batman.” That worked really well because you were transitioning from a light, jovial Robin to a few years later where Dick Grayson is a bit hardened. Loren Lester played the character a lot more even keel and darker — almost evolving into Batman. The comics went the other way with that.

Whenever I write Nightwing in the New 52, I’m writing him in a lot of ways closer to Loren’s portrayal of Robin in the animated series. Whereas in writing Dick Grayson in the Beyond book, I’m deliberately writing him more in line with Loren’s portrayal of Nightwing, if that makes sense. I try not to think about it too much, but when I write the New 52 Nightwing, I don’t always hear Loren’s voice for the character. When I write Dick Grayson for Batman Beyond, however, not a line goes on that page that Loren’s voice hasn’t influenced.
In Higgins’s Batman Beyond story, a middle-aged Dick Grayson takes over the role of mentor for Terry McGinnis, the latest teen-aged protégé to have friction with Bruce Wayne. Higgins said:
One of the things I find so interesting about Dick Grayson in this era and at this age is that Dick has already gone through a lot of the experiences that Terry is now going through—having a fallout with Bruce, working to get out from under Bruce’s shadow. The thing that is often very interesting to me is that while Bruce could always give crime-fighting advice to Terry, he couldn’t give Terry the advice of what it’s like working with Bruce. So now someone like Dick can actually empathize with Terry as to what he’s gone through.

And from a personality standpoint, even though Dick Grayson is a little more hardened over the years now, he still is a character who enjoyed what he did. His persona lends itself toward being a little more lighthearted, with a few more quips. He’s a bit looser than someone like Bruce is. That is very similar to how Terry operates. Terry has gotten more serious as the show and the book progressed, but at his core, he’s still a late teenager.
Batman Beyond, digital #16, is Higgins’s single-issue (or half-issue in print) story about Dick and Barbara Gordon talking out their relationship in that future. In the main DC universes, their on-and-off relationship has been fraught, but that’s nothing compared to the DC Animated Universe. In that continuity Barbara once had a romantic relationship with Bruce before marrying Sam Young, eventually Gotham’s District Attorney. Meanwhile, this Dick Grayson doesn’t seem to have any equivalent of Koriand‘r (Starfire) or his other girlfriends to distract him from pining over Barbara.

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