NYCC 2013 Exclusive Interview: Kyle Higgins of ‘Nightwing,’ ‘Batman Beyond’
Kyle Higgins. While his name may not be a household word yet, for those of us in the comic book world, it’s only a matter of time. Higgins has been kicking around comic books for a long time, but has come to be known for his New 52 take on Nightwing, as well as the recent debut of Batman Beyond Universe. Higgins was kind enough to give me a few minutes at this year’s NYCC.
CRAVE ONLINE: How did you break into comics?
KYLE HIGGINS: As a fan or as a writer?
CRAVE ONLINE: Both.
HIGGINS: As a fan, I’ve just been reading comics forever. I was a huge Ninja Turtles fan and a friend of mine, when I was four or five years old, said “The Turtles are okay, but they’re no X-Men,” and I was like “What are the X-Men?” I started watching the X-Men animated series and the Batman animated series. I had been a fan of Batman from the '60s series, and I knew about the (Tim Burton) movies, but I was too young to see them. I found the characters through the animated versions and then, around '94 or '95, my friend started slipping me Spider-Man issues during the "Clone Saga." It wasn’t until '96 that I started reading my first monthly book, which was Nightwing. He’s been my favorite character for a long time.
CRAVE ONLINE:: That’s interesting; he doesn’t usually start out as somebody’s favorite character.
HIGGINS: When I started, as trivial as this sounds, the color scheme really popped for me. I was a fan of the Carolina Panthers at the time, so the robin’s egg blue and the black looked really sharp. It was also the idea of a character that was once one thing and becomes another, while trying to get out from under the shadow of an overbearing parental figure, is super relatable. It’s a weird thing to say, because my parents are great and I have no older siblings, so I have no issues I was foisting on this character. It’s more the idea of growing up and the questions of what happened, what took him down this path, and will he end up as dark as Batman, or stay on the Spider-Man side of things?
CRAVE ONLINE: When Dick took over for Batman during his “death,” the reaction from the characters in DC was almost “It’s all the great stuff of Batman, without him being a dick.”
HIGGINS: It’s Batman who smiles.
CRAVE ONLINE: Do you think with all that happens in Forever Evil, that Nightwing might become as dark as Batman?
HIGGINS: It’s definitely possible.
CRAVE ONLINE: Would you want to write him that way?
HIGGINS: I don’t think so. Early on, I explored some darker themes with the character, with the Court of Owls and his legacy, and the fact he was meant to be a Talon. The whole Joker event and then Damian’s death, issues #17 and #18, are super depressing. It’s all about the execution. The character works best when he’s a bit lighter. He’s the guy you want to be. Batman is the guy you can never be, while Nightwing you could be and then grab a beer with. When I started tapping back into that, when Nightwing moved to Chicago – that really inspired me, and the reaction has been really positive.
CRAVE ONLINE: Jumping to Batman Beyond. The new series really ties into the older canon. Was that important to you? Most would want to just start fresh.
HIGGINS: I think the show is built on such a strong design and premise that it doesn’t make any sense to blow that up. Having said that, we did take huge leaps to progress the situations and the characters.
CRAVE ONLINE: In what way?
HIGGINS: Probably the biggest was the dissolving of Bruce [Wayne] and Terry [McGinness]. There are a lot of things that are different, and as time goes on I’ll be making a lot of the story my own. The one thing I am keeping the same is the sense of mystery the original series had.
CRAVE ONLINE: How much has time has passed between 10,000 Clowns and Batman Beyond Universe?
HIGGINS: It’s a year later. Bruce and Terry have dissolved their relationships, Dick has taken over, and Terry and Dana, his girlfriend, are also done. We’re not getting into what happens during that missing year right away, but when we do address that year, it will all make a lot more sense.
CRAVE ONLINE: Is that what you mean by keeping the mystery?
HIGGINS: (Laughs) Yes, partly.
CRAVE ONLINE: Back to Nightwing. He’s a central character to Forever Evil. How does his fate in the story affect you as a writer?
HIGGINS: It’s hard to discuss because there will be a few issues before the stories catch up and I can’t really talk about what happens.
CRAVE ONLINE: Fair enough. How does it affect the creative process then?
HIGGINS: It’s part of the job. It sucks at times, but that’s what we do. It’s a shared universe and there are other writers who have ideas and want to explore characters. It’s our job to collaborate, and keep an open mind. We’re here to find the best stories.
CRAVE ONLINE: When you’re writing Batman Beyond with Dick taking over and also Nightwing, do you find yourself having them share personality traits?
HIGGINS: (Laughs) I’ve thought about that a lot. I’m, almost writing Nightwing in two different eras, but to me they are not the same characters. The animated version is very different than the comic, so I find myself having to be more careful not writing Nightwing and Terry the same way, because they’re almost the same character. They’re so similar that the challenge becomes not just writing one stock character.
As far as Dick Grayson goes, I hear Loren Lester in every line, where as when I write Nightwing, the voice is more ambiguous, and more my own.
CRAVE ONLINE: Okay, last chance, do you want to tell Crave Online all the surprises coming in Forever Evil?
HIGGINS: (Laughs) Sorry, I can’t.
Nightwing and Batman Beyond Universe are on sale monthly. You can find out what’s up with Kyle Higgins at his twitter @kyleDhiggins