Written by: Tim Seeley
Art by: Javier Fernandez
DC’s Rebirth allowed Dick Grayson to come back as Nightwing. The series started off strong, tying into the Parliament of Owls and bringing in a supporting cast of friends and partners, old and new. The character of Raptor was a new addition to the series. He provided both a complement and a contrast to Dick Grayson’s Nightwing. On paper, Raptor could have been part of Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated cast of world-wide batmen. But Raptor felt like the natural extension of Dick Grayson’s time as a super spy in the issues of Grayson. Raptor’s methods were more harsh than those masked heroes tied to Batman’s legacy, but nothing felt out of place for an international spy agency. Raptor pushed Grayson’s Nightwing into darker areas that felt natural after Dick’s adventures in the pages of Grayson. While writers could erase Nightwing’s secret identity from the minds of characters, they did not erase his growth and character development during his time out of costume. Raptor helped merge this world of super spy and super hero. That significance made Raptor’s reveal and character turn all the more meaningful and challenging in this story arc.
Tim Seeley wrote Grayson and has created Raptor to provide a window into the type of hero Nightwing could have become without Batman’s ethics. Seeley slowly dropped hints that there was more to Raptor, until the character boiled over in issue #7. Nightwing confronted Raptor over his methods and discovered that Raptor knew Dick Grayson’s past and his identity as Nightwing. Issue #7 ended with Raptor kidnapping Bruce Wayne and readers discovering that Raptor knew Dick Grayson’s mother. Issue #8 picked up from the end of the previous issue with Nightwing on the way to confront Raptor again and save Bruce Wayne.
Seeley scripted this issue as one large fight scene between Nightwing and Raptor, and while the fight was physical the battle was emotional. Seeley’s dialog throughout the fight had Nightwing and Raptor verbally sparring with each other over how to be a hero and what to fight for. Raptor fought for the underclasses, the downtrodden, and those that society pushed out. Raptor reminded Dick of where he came from and where his mother came from in an effort to convert him to his way of seeing the world and protecting it.
Raptor’s righteousness rings true in a world of wealthy crime fighters and created the potential for conflict within Grayson’s post-spy world. But the optimistic and hopeful side of Dick sees the pain in Raptor’s past. Grayson compares Bruce’s broken and hurt past to Raptor’s and realizes that it is he who provided Bruce something to live for beyond the Batman. This lack of an emotional anchor makes Raptor’s character all the more tragic. With a Grayson-like character in his life, readers are left to wonder what could he have become. Seeley leaves readers challenged and even a little disturbed by the end of the fight.
Seeley’s Raptor is not a clean, safe hero and his spiral into rage provides a tragic figure for Nightwing. Raptor rattled Dick and readers will reap the benefits as Seeley continues to explore and construct layers around Dick Grayson and Nightwing’s character. Readers who have followed Seeley’s development of Raptor during these past few months are left with a challenging and unsettling resolution to his story arc. Seeley has developed Dick Grayson’s character well and readers have not seen the last of Raptor or his influences on Nightwing.