Devin Greyson. Opinions on her writing.

So I have heard quite a bit of negative opinions when it comes to Devin Grayson’s writing; mostly that she’s written quite a few characters somewhat out of character. I was wondering if this is a minority opinion or do a lot of people agree? Are there people that love her writing? I’d love to hear other opinions.
I’m also reading through Nightwing comics and am wondering if her run is worth reading or not. So if anyone has opinions on her writing in general and/or her Nightwing run specifically I would love to hear it.

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Short version: Read her Titans. Skip her Nightwing.

Long version: She’s actually pretty good, sometimes. Her Nightwing run has two fatal flaws: First, it’s padded to hell and back. The story would be fine if it condensed 86-93 to three issues instead of eight, and then skipped to #107 thereafter (ignoring 101-106 since those were Nightwing: Year One, written by Chuck Dixon instead of Devin Grayson).

Second: There’s a rape scene that goes completely unacknowledged thereafter and that Grayson herself attempted to defend as “not rape, just non-consensual sex” as though those don’t mean the exact same thing. Then later tried to blame everyone but herself for her own terrible attitude.

Her Titans run was really good, though, and the small portions I read of her Gotham Knights were fine. Nightwing, though? Read, like, her first fifteen issues (bail after #85 ; #86 is where the whole trainwreck of a wannabe Daredevil: Born Again story starts, while #71-85 mostly just follow up on plot threads from Dixon’s run) and then skip ahead to Marv Wolfman’s run. Bruce Jones’ run is weird, short, and not that interesting, but fairly inoffensive, I suppose, but Wolfman’s run was where I started enjoying the book again.

That said, I stuck the whole thing out just because, and it wasn’t the end of the world. If you know what the deal is going in, you can just forge ahead and judge for yourself.

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I pretty much agree with the above. I dislike a lot of her Nightwing run. I’ve read a smattering of other comics by her that seemed fine.

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I never read her Nightwing.

I enjoyed her Titans and graphic novel User.

If you want to hear Devin Grayson’s version of her time at DC, she was interviewed along with O Neil, Wolfman and Dixon

In the book

Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder
Scholars and Creators on 75
Years of Robin, Nightwing and
Batman
Edited by Kristen L. Geaman.

Some quotes

I think one of the rea-
sons I was dismissed
from Nightwing was
because Dan Didio
and I so fundamen-
tally disagreed on the
character. Didio saw
no need for Nightwing
-he referred to him
as “Batman lite,” and
couldn’t understand
the role Dick played.

In Didio’s mind, Dick
wanted to be Batman,
and never would be
(beyond a passing
story line here or
there), so what was
the point? I don’t
think Dick wants to
be Batman. Batman is
not a position for Dick,
Batman is a person. He
would and will be Bat-
man, of course, when
needed, but Dick’s goal
is to honor Batman,
which is an entirely
different thing. That
loyalty, that gratitude,
that enthusiastic
choice to continue the
work is what sets Dick
Grayson apart fromn
every other hero in the
DC Comics universe.

Dick likes working
with a team a whole
lot more than Bruce
does. Batman works
best alone-that’s his
default. When he does
have to work with
other people, he’ll fall
into the leadership
position out of pure
impatience (Dick is
more likely to lead out
of enthusiasm). Bats is
a brilliant tactician (as
is Dick) and can think
way more steps
ahead than basically
anyone else in the
DCU. But the essential
difference is that Bat-
man deploys people.
Dick inspires them.

I don’t think
Dick and Bruce’s rela-
tionship is fundamen-
tally unhealthy, but
I do think it’s really,
really challenging,
especially later. You
have, on the one hand,
someone who’s very
shut off and guarded,
and he’s suddenly put
in charge (or, more
accurately, he sud-
denly puts himself in
charge) of the care and
well-being of some-
one who’s naturally
effusive and social
and demonstrative.

The relationship is
based on a shared
experience-which is
healthy and helpful-
and it is in many ways
good and necessary
for both parties… I
never got the chance
to write much about
this period, but I
think in Dick’s early
years it was actually
really great for both
of them for a really
long time… Dick was
already trained to
follow orders and take
responsibility for his
own safety, and until
Dick’s arrival into his
life, Bruce was deeply
lonely in a way that
he was incapable of
acknowledging, much
less addressing. I think
Bruce probably threw
a lot at Dick but I also
think Dick always rose
to the occasion, gener-
ating a lot of mutual
trust and respect.I
mean, again: if you
asked Dick the ques-
tion you just asked me,
he would look at you
like you were crazy.
He gets frustrated and
he gets fed up and he
gets discouraged, but
he worships Bruce-
it has honestly never
occurred to him that
the relationship is
responsible for any-
thing other than his
complete and total
salvation. Dick can’t
imagine his life with-
out Batman; in my
mind, his most deeply
held, shameful secret
is that at some point
during his childhood
with Bruce he fell so
in love with the thrill
of being Robin that he
stopped wanting his
parents back-his life
with Batman was bet-
ter than what he’d had
before. He could never
admit that to Bruce,
of course-Bruce who
mourns his parents
the way the rest of us
breathe; habitually
and persistently. And
although he’s much
quieter about it, Bruce
has the same basic
feeling about the re-
lationship-he knows
Dick saved him from
himself. Where the re-
lationship gets messy
is when you have to
start untangling that,
when it becomes time
to move on and rede-
fine the bond. Dick
devoted his childhood
to being Batman’s
partner… can you
imagine how uncom-
fortable it must have
felt to realize that all of
that was coming to an
end? We all come to a
point in our lives when
we have to renegotiate
our relationship with
our guardians. I think
that part went really
badly for Dick and
Bruce, and the reper
cussions of it echoed
through their relation-
ship for a long time
after that.

Could you tell
us exactly what hap-
pened in issue 93 and
that arc as a whole?

I really appreciate the
opportunity to talk
about this, because
I screwed up and do
owe Nightwing’s read-
ers an apology. So,
where to start… let’s
tackle the interview
first. I was being coy
because I didn’t know
what the hell I was
talking about. I was
uncomfortable with
the intensity of the
reaction readers were
having and annoyed
that no one seemed to
understand the scene
the way I’d intended it.

That annoyance pretty
quickly turned to
self-recrimination,of
course, but that inter-
view happened during
a beat when I had not
yet realized how big
a mistake I’d made
or how little time I
was ultimately going
to have to correct it.

Then many pages describing story and what she was trying to do.

I didn’t understand at
the time that you can’t
use rape metaphor-
ically; the reality
of rape and sexual
assault has too much
immediate meaning
for too many people.

And ironically, I think
it was my own experi-
ence with sexual abuse
that numbed me to
that. Somewhere in
the back of my mind,
rape had become an
emotional portrait of
distress… a piece of
depression and all of
its attendant miseries
. rather than an acC
tual, immediate, reso-
nant event.

I feel terrible about it
now, and especially
about the fact that I
didn’t have time to
follow up on it, to
at least let Dick and
the readers process
it. Rape is used so ca-
sually in comics as a
gesture of"'something
really bad happening
to someone"… I am
deeply Sorry to have
contributed to that
trope.

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Grayson is very good when she’s good and very bad when she’s bad, is really the long and short of it. Her Titans is great, IMHO. It’s a fun, very DC universe-integrated superhero book. She’s written some independent stuff that’s pretty good, too, and, as said by many above, a fair share of bad DC books as well. Overall, she’s not bad by any stretch, but her bibliography is a bit of a mixed bag.

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Turok good context with the interview. My take, she understands Nightwing way better than DD does. She also messed up a story line, it happens.

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@mgstv
Exactly. Writing a bad comic doesn’t make you a bad writer. Consistently writing bad comics does. I still love Tom King’s work even though I really really don’t like Heroes in Crisis. Sometimes you’re just not on your A-game and you don’t put your all in it and it’s bad. There’s always another chance.

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And see, the quote Turok posted all sounds very reasonable and intelligent, and then you read the actual story and it’s this ridiculous mess.

And the characterization is kind of spotty. She tries to make it out like Dick’s big character flaw is that he just wants to relive the glory days or something, so… he just kind of randomly starts talking about old war stories in the middle of unrelated conversations and suddenly Barbara breaks up with him over it.

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@BatJamags
And yet, she still has a better understanding of him than Dan DiDio. BY LIKE A MILE.

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Spoilers throughout this post, so be warned

I can only speak to her Nightwing run, since that’s all I’ve read:

The problem with skipping her Nightwing run is that it wraps up the story that Chuck Dixon started in issue #1. So if you skip it, you’ll never know how that story ends. That said, the majority of her ending involves systematically tearing apart and destroying everything that Dixon carefully set up over the first 70 issues. So.

I honestly thought her writing style was OK, even engaging, for the most part (except for several cringeworthy moments here and there) but the major problem is that there’s such an abrupt shift in tone and story direction between issues 70 and 71 that it’s liable to leave one with whiplash. She creates characters out of thin air that were never mentioned before (Chief Redhorn’s wife; Tarantula) and inserts them into the story as a crutch to help wrap it up, which I was really not a fan of. At the same time, many characters that played a huge role in Dixon’s run, characters that Dixon spent a lot of time developing and featuring, are either cruelly dispatched (Redhorn, Soames) or else underutilized.

As far as characterization goes, I will agree that some of the characters seem off: Dick is a lot more Spider-Man-y during her run, especially in the early going, making wisecracks during fight scenes in a way that he never did during Dixon’s run. The Romani stuff (apparently a detail she invented out of whole cloth, unsupported by the character’s history, and which, doing some quick Google research, seems to be a whole separate controversial can of worms in and of itself) comes out of nowhere, has little impact other than window-dressing, and goes away just as quickly. Dick starts relying on Oracle too much for basic information, whereas in Dixon’s run, he’d usually do his own detective work first and only go to her every once in a while when he hit a roadblock.

Her Blockbuster just seems totally wrong to me: he’s a pussycat compared to the terrifyingly monstrous crime boss of Dixon’s run. There’s a scene where Tarantula practically pushes him around that shocked me with just how… incorrect it was compared to everything that had come before. He’s way too deferential to his underlings. And there’s a major detail involving his mother’s death that plays into the endgame that, again, seemingly came out of nowhere and was not supported by the earlier issues.

The second part of her run, following Nightwing Year One, I enjoyed slightly more, even though, or maybe because, it’s pretty disconnected from everything else. It’s basically “‘Nightwing’ meets ‘The Sopranos’”. And it ends up tying in heavily with the Infinite Crisis event, which I didn’t read, so the ending just came out of nowhere for me and confused me. Kind of a surprise to open an issue and see the whole freakin’ city destroyed with no explanation if you’re just reading “Nightwing” straight through, as I’m doing.

All of that said, taken in isolation, without considering the first 70 issues at all, I wouldn’t call her run terrible or anything. Despite appearances, I didn’t totally hate it. I did keep reading it and there were parts of it that I genuinely enjoyed, so I guess I’m of two minds. But it pales in comparison to the intricate world that Dixon was continually setting up and building on, and I have to imagine it’s not at all how he would have ended his story.

(Oh, and just to prove I’m an equal opportunity criticizer and not just a Dixon bootlicker, there were plenty of problems with Dixon’s run as well, most notably how it kept going off on irrelevant tangents that never looped back in to the main story, in particular the frequent annoying story stoppages for crossover events that I just. Did. Not. Care about. Dixon probably could’ve wrapped up his story in 50 issues if it weren’t for all those dang crossovers. There was a ton of padding as well. I think it took over a year for Soames and Tad to break out of prison, which is ridiculous.)

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Yeah, I pretty much agree with @wilkinswontkins, especially about the Post-Year One stretch being considerably better than the rest.

I will say that I actually kind of like Spider-Wing. As Robin, Dick was always dropping one-liners even back in the Golden Age, and the Bat-Family desperately needs more people with actual senses of humor. Admittedly, it’s not consistent with how Dixon characterized him, but like you said about the run generally, it works better taken in isolation than as a continuation of Dixon’s work.

I also think the Bat-Crossovers might have made more sense reading month-to-month than on a binge-read. I read the crossovers and enjoyed at least the ones from the '90s if not the '00s, but I can see how they’d be obtrusive.

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Grayson on Nightwing was Exhibit A of a writer being too close to the character. That interview quoted above is illustrative. She was WAY too attached to the character and it was pretty clear that she was working out some of her own stuff about him through the work. Tarantula seemed like an author insert character from the start, which got seriously creepy the longer it lasted.

She was pretty solid on Gotham Knights, and I actually liked her Catwoman run quite a bit.