Gail Simone Talks About Nightwing and Oracle’s ‘Convergence’ Reunion
When the New 52 launched in 2011, DC revamped a significant number of its characters, among them Barbara Gordon, who became Batgirl once more after years as the wheelchair-using hero Oracle. While Batgirl is now one of DC's most popular titles, many readers were sorry to see the end of one of the most significant heroes representing life with a disability.
But Oracle will return in April, at least temporarily, with Gail Simone and Jan Duursema as the creative team for a new two-part storyline that teams her up with her sometime lover Dick Grayson in Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle. The series is part of DC's big spring event storyline that brings back several fan-favorite characters, including Cassandra Cain, Renee Montoya and, uh, Parallax --- but Nightwing and Oracle's return is probably one of the ones that fans are most excited for.
We spoke to Gail Simone to learn where this new story finds the pairing, to ask why Nightwing is so hot, and to learn how she was basically baited into writing the series by DC’s co-publisher!
ComicsAlliance: It seems like many of the Convergence creative teams got to choose stories and characters that matter to them. What made you take on this story and return to these characters?
Gail Simone: That's an interesting question because Dan DiDio knows two things I love, which are a challenge and a mystery. So over the years, he has developed this technique that really works, which is just to send a teaser to me, with no information, like, "Hey, what about Oracle?" and that's it. And it works every time. I only recently realized it was happening! Because instead of thinking of what I might not want to do, I am thinking, "Wait. What? Oracle? WHAT ABOUT ORACLE?" and then I'm hooked.
I was aboard without much hesitation after that. I had concerns, I didn't want to be part of any story that was going to end the Oracle concept forever, or anything of that nature. But I am enamored of big continuity like this, meta-fiction, I love it. The idea of these cities being held hostage was really appealing to me, and I would get to write Oracle and Nightwing together. They are two of the characters I have loved best since childhood, and that love never really goes away, does it?
CA: How central is the characters' relationship to this story? What do you think they bring out of one another?
GS: I don't want to reveal too much, but we do talk a bit about what makes them different from each other. They are not of like minds in many ways.
CA: Do you see a difference in writing Barbara as Batgirl and writing her as Oracle?
GS: I have talked about this a lot, but I am very inspired by the ideas of a real timeline...if you are a Conan fan, you can read stories of Conan when he was very young, all the way up to when he was an old king. If you love Tarzan, you can read stories from the Jungle Tales of Tarzan, where he's just a kid, all the way up until he has a son of his own and beyond. Same with Batman, you can follow him from Gotham, as a kid, to Dark Knight, as a cranky old weirdo. I really love that.
So my thinking on Barbara is always about that, it's a timeline. And for the canon in my head, I see the current run as very early in her career, all the way up to when she becomes Oracle. Same character, one life lived, but stories told at all different points of the timeline. Her experience and methods change, but the steel is the same from cradle to grave, basically.
There's always a feeling of, "Oh, man, what if I blow it," on every assignment, but this one is special and I did cry a couple times writing it, hopefully it will be okay. I found it really touching to work on.
CA: What kind of tone are you playing with; is this a light-hearted story, or a serious examination of the characters, or something else entirely?
GS: Well, some of that is decided by the circumstances... they are essentially in prison, but it's a seemingly benign prison in some ways. Only Nightwing is all about freedom, and it grates on him, and Oracle sees to her horror that people are adjusting to it, they are acclimating. So it's two fighters in a world that doesn't want fighters. I find that really interesting to explore.
CA: What’s it been like to work with Jan Duursema? How is the collaborative process?
GS: I always feel strange answering this question because the rote, pat answers that people give are often the truest possible responses. Jan is a legend, I have adored her work for years, I have wanted to work with her for ages but she has been primarily drawn to Star Wars material. At one point, I wanted to write a Leia book just so I could work with Jan.
It's a very weird thing about this industry, for writers. If you succeed at all, you find yourself suddenly working with artists whose work you don't just admire, but you deeply love. So when Jan's name was mentioned, I did squeal a little. And almost every other day since, I have been getting pages of Nightwing and Oracle doing amazing stuff, drawn by Jan Duursema. That's dreamy stuff; I have to pinch myself sometimes.
Getting to see Jan draw these two characters when she almost never does superheroes at all anymore: that's a dream for readers.
CA: Recently on ComicsAlliance we published an extensive investigation into Nightwing’s hotness. Did you have any thoughts you wanted to add to our findings on this important question?
GS: Only that it's both the most important issue of our times, and a question that will never be truly resolved. Why is Nightwing so hot? You might as well ask why the rainbow is so colorful.
CA: Right now we have a universe without an Oracle, and Convergence will bring her back, at least temporarily. Once the dust has cleared, do you think there's room for more Oracle stories in the DC Universe?
GS: More than that, I think the DCU needs an Oracle, I think that concept made DC something special and bound it together, in a way that SHIELD has done for the Marvel Universe. She's not in every book, but you know she's out there. I think that was very powerful.
I don't necessarily feel it has to be Babs, not at this point in the timeline. But there should be an Oracle. It's a superhero most of us can see ourselves becoming, and that will always have a lot of value.