Tone is a part of writing that I’ve seen get lost in the
shuffle countless times. It’s because there’s so much that goes into world creating.
It’s easy to think the words you have fit once you look around the rest of what
you’ve built. When we write, we’re inherently in our heads and it can be
tremendously difficult to get out of that place.
But space is critical. The more we allow ourselves from our
writing, the more we can get into the nitty gritty of word choice and order.
And if we do it well enough, it’s supposed to pull you in and keep you there. No
one is supposed to notice until after they’ve experienced your work.
Right now, Tim Seeley is nailing it with Nightwing, and doing so in the face of
DC’s break-neck production pace of Rebirth titles.
Before we go any further let’s try to remove any possible
confusion. Nightwing is Dick Grayson. Dick Grayson is the original Robin.
Grayson, as Robin, split from Batman to become Nightwing. Most recently,
Nightwing removed all secret identity and was just Dick Grayson, and he became
a spy for an organization called Spyral. That title (Grayson) was featured in the New 52 and also written by Seeley.
Now, Dick is back to being Nightwing. By page 8 in the first
issue, he’s already showing us how jabby he can get. As he leaves a fight scene
he says “I’ll miss you guys. Especially you, Tony.” Tony responds gruffly saying he’s asked not to be called by that
name. But Nightwing does it anyway, because that’s what Nightwing does. He
wants to be remembered as he leaves you.
It’s not just
about punchy one-liners for Nightwing, though. He makes it a point to express
the reality of his superhero name. It’s isn’t merely an offshoot of Batman. He
says Superman told him of other heroes from Krypton, that Nightwing was “the
great rebuilder. The catalyst of change. Eternally reborn to start anew.” It
requires extensive emotional intellect to say you’ll be the first two while
also dedicating yourself to the third.
Most of us have to absorb something in full before we
process it. Dick, meanwhile, has the ability to “jump first…to figure out the
rest on the way down.” He literally jumps into processing. It makes for a
personality and story that’s both entertaining and rewarding to read.
You could argue Seeley’s success with tone early on in Nightwing, slippery as it may be to
grasp, is because of his time already spent with the title character. That’s a
credit to him though. We can know who Nightwing is because Seeley hasn’t gotten
stuck in the production of bringing the character’s world to life.
And now, your free, original (dad joke) comic!