This week sees the release of NIGHTWING #48, the start of a new high-octane and action-packed motorcycle race driven arc called ‘Harm’s Way’. Series writer Ben Percy sat down with us at Monkeys Fighting Robots to get us up to speed and ready for the starting line.
Ben Percy Interview
MFR: Ben, once again big thanks for talking to us at Monkeys Fighting Robots!
Percy: Thanks for helping make some noise about NIGHTWING. (Also, I love the name of your site, so I really can’t resist).
MFR: Thank you! So, NIGHTWING #48 is the start of a new arc, ‘Harm’s Way’, which spills out of events in the NIGHTWING ANNUAL #1. For those who didn’t read the annual, can you give us a little setup?
Percy: There is a connection to the annual, but you could also jump on here without understanding it. ‘Harm’s Way’ is a two-issue story, and in it, we’re paying homage to Grant Morrison. And by that I mean it’s completely gonzo. Pure fun. Jacked with adrenaline. This is the greatest motorcycle race in the cosmos. The winner gets to ask one question of the Pathway Altar, which is a cosmic search engine that can access deep space and time. Readers are going to encounter a lot of characters they recognize, including old favorites like Flamingo and Professor Pyg (and his cleaver-wielding dollotrons) and new favorites like The Silencer (from the New Age of Heroes). Again, the connection to the annual is minimal but present. Nightwing is in the race because The Dark Web has muscled him into a corner. His friends—Vicki Vale and Willem Cloke—are being held hostage. If he doesn’t win the race, they die. But if he does win the race, The Dark Web hacks the Pathway Alter. It’s a can’t-must situation that cranks up the stakes.
MFR: Holy shit..the Flamingo and Professor Pyg?! What made you want to use these Grant Morrison created modern classics?
Percy: I’ll outright say here that Morrison wrote some of my favorite Nightwing stories and I wanted to pay my respects and channel some of his legacy.
MFR: What appealed to you about Silencer to use her in ‘Harm’s Way’?
Percy: I’d love to see more New Age of Heroes characters show up elsewhere. If you haven’t read ‘The Silencer’ yet, do so. Fantastic story, fantastic art. She’s a really exciting addition to the DC roster. So the simple answer is: I was a fan. I thought she’d be the perfect character to draw into an action story that’s all about someone who’s trapped in a compromised position. Her situation—with Leviathan—matches Nightwing’s situation with The Dark Web.
MFR: Where did the idea for the island of Diobhail and the race come from? It seems to have such a rich mythology and backstory.
Percy: I read an article a few years ago about an actual motorcycle race that takes place every year on the Isle of Man (off the coast of Ireland). People come from all over the world (including celebrities, politicians, and businessmen). Injuries and death are commonplace. I took that concept and supersized it—gave it a rich mythology that hopefully, other writers can draw upon. I’m always trying to build upon the DCU rather than simply garden what others have done. So the Isle of Harm is a place where time and space…are frail. The roads here, which were built by a druid, might seem like ten miles at a glance, but could, in fact, go on for a thousand. There are obstacles that defy the laws of physics and caves that are in fact portals to other dimensions. And at the very summit of the island, you’ll find the Pathway Alter, which is guarded by a Celtic deity.
MFR: You have bar fights, motorcycle races, and chases. Was it hard to write a chapter with so much ‘movement’ and ‘action’ in a medium like comics?
Percy: We wanted to give the audience something tonally different. Variety is essential to keeping readers engaged month after month. So we’re coming off a cyberpunk mystery—with The Bleeding Edge storyline—which had plenty of action, but was also super moody and raised some heavy questions about identity and cyberterror. This, by contrast, is an adrenaline-fueled romp—a story that would have cost a hundred million to shoot as a film. But in comics, the special effects budget is unlimited, so you might as well go hog wild.
MFR: With all the characters, locations and action scenes, Amancay Nahuelpan and Nick Filardi do some truly dynamic work. What was it like working with the art team on this rollicking issue?
Percy: I was very lucky to partner up with Amancay Nahuelpan. This was NOT an easy story to draw. There are no quiet moments. It’s high-octane from start to finish, with panels crowded with detail and insane geographies and speed-speed-speed driving it forward. He absolutely killed it. And Nick Filardi’s colors only enhanced the otherworldly effect of the amazing art along with the sense of speed and danger.
MFR: What can readers expect from ‘Harm’s Way’?
Percy: If they pick up [NIGHTWING #48], I can guarantee them love, happiness, and fortune. They will add another decade to their life expectancy. They will be able to slam dunk a basketball. I can’t guarantee that they will suddenly become the owner of a cherry-red Lamborghini, but I’m not ruling it out either. Also: the story is fun as shit. I hope people give it a shot.
MFR: Can you tease us with anything?
Percy: Well, I would totally tell you about the huge, top-secret, game-changing event that’s coming in NIGHTWING #50, but then the DC publicity department would shoot me with a tranquilizer dart before I could utter a word.
Nightwing #48 hits comic shops on Wednesday, September 5, 2018.
Are you picking up NIGHTWING #48 and joining the race? Comment and discuss below!