Get ready, Nightwing fans: Dick Grayson is headed into the future of the DC Universe. The bad news is that he's not going to save it, but shape it into a world without superheroes in the new DC Comics series Nightwing: The New Order. Having spent more than half a century trying to drive back the superpowered forces of evil - and creating or attracting as many new threats as they stop - the time has come for someone to stand up and put an end to the madness. When things go too far, the time comes for someone to remove superpowers-- no, superweapons from the playing field.
That someone is Dick Grayson, one of DC's most gifted and beloved non-superpowered superheroes. The New Order won't be altering DC's "Rebirth" plans for Nightwing, but taking a jump of more than a decade into DC's future. A future in which Nightwing commands an army of highly trained soldiers tasked with outlawing superpowers in all forms, and hunting down new offenders as they arise... until this new brand of super-policing sets its sights on those Dick Grayson still holds dear, revealing the flaws in his crusade. Having made enemies of what heroes remain, Nightwing may be trapped in a bleak future he, himself, created.
We're pleased to exclusively reveal this strange future adventure with Nightwing at its heart - even if it's not the hero fans are used to. That isn't to say that it's a betrayal of his established politics, or even that far-fetched or dystopian a premise... but we'll get into that later. For now, check out the official synopsis of Nightwing: The First Order before feasting your eyes on some of the mouth-watering preview covers and pages on the way.
NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER is the story of a future world without “weapons”—where superpowers have been eliminated and outlawed. The man responsible? None other than Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Nightwing, now leader of a government task force called the Crusaders who are charged with hunting the remaining Supers. But when events transpire which turn the Crusaders’ aim toward Grayson’s own family, the former Boy Wonder must turn against the very system he helped create, with help from the very people he’s been hunting for years—the last metahumans of the DC Universe.
It's a story spawned from the mind of writer Kyle Higgins - no stranger to the far-off future of the Batman Family. Aside from writing Nightwing's New 52 reboot, his work on DC's digital-first Batman Beyond 2.0, the epic Batman Eternal, and Batman: Gates of Gotham with Scott Snyder makes Higgins a seasoned pro when it comes to twisting the definition of a "Batman story." He'll be putting those talents to re-defining Dick Grayson yet again in The New Order, as a force of the establishment... opposing the kind of heroes he once fought beside:
"My all-time favorite DC books throw characters we know and love into future worlds that are equal parts familiar and terrifying, laced with moral issues that aren’t black and white or easily solved. Ultimately, these stories say something about our world. And that’s what we are aiming to do with this Nightwing series, through the lens of a future generation of heroes."
How that next generation of young heroes will take to Nightwing when he's in need of their help remains to be seen, having spent years chasing down their predecessors in the name of safety. Judging by the propaganda showcased on Issue #2's cover... he's got a hard fight ahead of him.
Experienced writer or no, it's a sensitive time in the world of comic books for a popular, beloved hero to be cast as something of a fascist figure of a police state (in both artwork and premise). But Higgins is pointing to past stories where the trick was done with intention, an eagerness to expose the grey between black and white, and were acclaimed as social commentary as a result. And in the case of The New Order, Dick Grayson's decisions don't stand completely against his own values or view of the world.
Every reader of DC Comics knows that superpowers make the world a more dangerous place, not less (which is what makes superhero adventures so entertaining to begin with). In The New Order, it took a non-superpowered hero raised to see the world in the blacks and whites of Batman's eyes to see the futility. And while the inciting incident of The New Order's future 'free from superpowers' is still being kept quiet, it was enough to push Dick Grayson to do the unthinkable.
Leave DC's greatest superheroes bloodied, broken, and de-powered unthinkable - including the Man of Steel who once gave 'Nightwing' his heroic name. Judging by the preview pages, Dick was doing what Clark taught him to. Just not in the way Superman would have...
Batman's absence from the preview images is worth noting, but Dick's running commentary concerned with learning "who our parents were before we knew them" may be telling. Dick has clearly gained a new perspective on the superheroes he grew up idolizing, but if Bruce Wayne is also one of the "parents" in question, The New Order may give a genuine look at a Nightwing who has moved past his mentor. Not one that simply followed his own path, but one who made choices Bruce never would have to truly found a New Order. Of course, this is a Nightwing comic, so things go off the rails almost immediately.
Take a look for yourself at the preview images released:
[vn_gallery name="Nightwing: The New Order Comic Preview" id="963192"]
As the premise states, Dick Grayson's priorities and belief in the Crusaders' cause will be shaken when their iron fists reach out for his own family. Fortunately, Kyle Higgins will have his own trusted ally to rely on through the twists and turns, with Gates of Gotham artist Trevor McCarthy (a veteran of DC's Batwoman) returning to the hero who helped him make his mark on the comic book world. This unfortunate-future take on Nightwing may be a far cry from his early 2000s counterpart, but it sounds like that challenge is part of the draw for McCarthy:
"As an artist, there’s nothing better than world building. Diving in and figuring out a visual identity for a book, a character, a city...this is why I love making comics. Add to that the fact that it's NIGHTWING—the first book I ever drew as a pro—and a chance to work with Kyle again, and I was beyond thrilled for the opportunity."
There's no question that it's a risky move to make Dick Grayson a villain in the eyes of DC's heroes - even suggesting he could ever betray the superhero community is likely to send come fans into a frenzy. But with Higgins and McCarthy at the helm, joined by Dean White on colors and Clayton Cowles on letters, we're certain it's a story built out of the character's history - not intended to bring it crashing down.
How much has Dick Grayson changed in his creation of the New Order (whose forces his symbol has now come to represent)? And more importantly, if Nightwing is somehow forced to see the error of his ways... is it too late for it to matter?
That's a question that will only be answered when Nightwing: The New Order begins this summer.
Nightwing: The New Order will be released on August 23, 2017.