Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley steps out of the pack of Batman Eternal writers to team up with Tom King, a former CIA counterterrorism operations officer, and take on Dick Grayson, the original Robin, in a new super-spy series launching in July, USA Today reports.
Titled simply Grayson, the issue is one of a number of launches and relaunches taking place the month of San Diego Comic Con International, including new series for the Teen Titans and Suicide Squad. Interestingly, in the original DC Universe continuity, Grayson was a founding member of the Teen Titans and with his secret identity recently outed and a new life as a spy, he feels very Suicide Squad-friendly in this new imagining.
King described the series as Grayson's chance "to take off the mask and step out on his own in a world where he's not simply being another hero like the hero he grew up with."
That's a frequent challenge for Dick, of course; when he first became Nightwing it was following a falling-out with Batman, and when Nightwing first got his own series in the '90s, part of the plan was to make him very different from Bruce to establish him as more than a poor man's version of his adoptive father.
“Bruce [Wayne] is pathological,” said Kyle Higgins, the writer who launched Nightwing at the start of the New 52. “Dick is a much more well-rounded person. Whereas someone like Bruce as Batman does what he does because he feels like there’s this sense of guilt and that he has to do it, Dick as Nightwing helps people because he likes people—because he enjoys it. And that’s a huge, fundamental difference to me.”
During the original run, Grayson himself eschewed his trust-fund identity to become a police officer in a shabby suburb of Gotham called Bludhaven, so working within the system isn't entirely alien to the character's nature.
That doesn't mean that Spyral, the international espionage organization introduced in Batman Incorporated, will be totally by the book. In fact, the creators say, for the time being Dick has to remain "dead" (following the events of Forever Evil #6) even to his closest friends.
"Obviously, he's a part of a legacy," Seeley said. "He's been Robin, he's been Batman, and now he's out in the cold by himself."
Added King: "He's doing something that's going to cause pain to his friends and family, but he believes in the cause. That tension between having to do something good but having the cost of it being pain to his family, it drives him a little crazy."
The organization itself is a bit shady, too, even by the standards of the DC Universe, but King thinks it's a fair representation of the kind of anti-terrorist organization that exists in the post-9/11 world. He says it's DC's answer to the hit espionage series The Americans.
"It's bliss to serve a higher cause and save people," King said, but "the hard part of it is it's tough to go home and lie to your family and pretend to be a different person."
The writers noted that the series will also play with some elements of the superhero's mythology, including his status as a superhero sex symbol. They'll also look to give him an archenemy.
Mikel Janin will draw the series, and has designed Grayson a new suit that's more functional spywear and less superhero chic. One does wonder, though, how you hide from the world's greatest detective when everyone in the world has seen your face on television and you're out on missions without a mask.