02 November 2014

“That history will always be in the background”?

In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Grayson co-scripter Tom King spoke of his particular fondness for the character of Dick Grayson:
You’ve said a few places that Dick was always your favorite DC character thanks to his accessibility. With that in mind, what were the big stories that first brought you into his world? Are any of them the kind of thing you’ll look to fold into the background of this book?

I came into DC comics with Tim being Robin and Dick being the ex-Robin, the man who had gone through that uniquely frightening experience and emerged as someone uniquely brave. I remember buying my first trade, A Lonely Place of Dying, and obsessing over the Tim/Dick/Batman interaction. There was this essential question there about how do you leave childhood without losing who you were as a child. I read that thing to pulp. The first time I got to write my own complete script for the series, I titled it “Only a Place for Dying,” as a tribute to that experience.

Some of my other favorite Grayson stories are:

Birds of Prey #8 (the Barbara/Dick date issue), which is where Agent 8 from Grayson #3 gets her name; Batman #156 (“Robin Dies at Dawn”), which will play a role in an upcoming issue; and, probably my favorite Dick Grayson story of all time, Secret Origins Annual #3, which I haven’t yet figured out how to squeeze story out of — but I will! Dick Grayson has a 74-year history, and though Grayson is a book solidly set in the New 52 featuring a very modern take on the hero, that history will always be in the background and will always haunt and elevate our hero.
That’s almost sad. Secret Origins Annual, #3, was a story scripted by George Pérez in 1989 which synthesized the whole history of the Titans up to that point, both pre- and post-Crisis on Infinite Earths. It sought to build coherence and depth from the illogical late-1960s storylines of Bob Haney, revealing a series of villains to be one foe in different guises trying to undermine Dick Grayson.

That story also restored a version of Betty Kane, the first Bat-Girl, who had been abandoned with the “New Look” back in 1964. It reestablished the basics of Titans history as written in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s within DC’s new continuity. And in doing all that, it reflected the importance of Nightwing and his team to the company at that time.

In contrast, the “New 52” reboot of the DC Universe that King and his co-writer Tim Seeley are working within wrote off Dick Grayson’s version of the Titans, and most of the characters and relationships that Pérez’s story stitched together. Grayson has left the character even more alone within the DC Universe. The scripts might contain slight allusions to beloved older stories for long-time fans, but I don’t see how this Dick Grayson can be haunted by a history that he never had.

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