Since I’ve just published my fourth novel, DarkLight Redemption, I feel like it’s a good time to discuss a bit about the origins and influences of DarkLight the character.
I’m a big comic book geek, and have been for a very long time. I love the larger than life action, the colorful costumes, the different spins they put on archetypal characters, really the whole shebang. Perhaps my favorite story trope is the loyal sidekick learning alongside the great hero and being groomed to one day replace him. Something about the idea of such a legacy always appealed to me.
The most famous example of this is Batman & Robin…well, Robins. Dick Grayson was the first Robin, and generally came across as a lot less intense and more personable that Bruce Wayne’s Batman. And while the idea of following around a superhero and learning from him is cool, my greater interest was in the idea that one day Dick Grayson would need to replace Bruce Wayne under the cowl. The idea of such a responsibility is very daunting to Grayson, but he also understands that Bruce will die someday, and he will be the only one who is truly able to step up.
Of course, DC Comics was in no rush to make drastic changes to their most popular character, but they also felt it was a bit odd that Grayson never got any older. So the idea was cooked up to re-brand an older, more mature Dick Grayson as Nightwing. I was fascinated with the notion of allowing a major recurring character to evolve, which is probably why Nightwing became my favorite superhero. He was a guy in his late teens-early twenties who was trying to carve out his own place in the world, while still understanding his place in the line of succession of Batman.
Other former sidekicks got “called up” before Nightwing, most notably his best friend Wally West/Kid Flash who became The Flash once Barry Allen was killed off in Crisis On Infinite Earths. But, eventually, Grayson got his chance to assume the role of Batman in the Batman Reborn storyline after the death of Bruce Wayne in Final Crisis.
A few years before that, however, the character who replaced Grayson as Robin- only to be killed off by The Joker– returned. Jason Todd came back from the dead (the how and why is better left untouched in this limited space) and took up the name Red Hood. He was more of an anti-hero than straight up villain who used the type of lethal force more akin to Marvel’s Punisher than Batman.
Speaking of Marvel, they had a similar story arc at around the same time where former Captain America sidekick Bucky Barnes came back as The Winter Soldier. Both of these characters became major parts of the ongoing adventures of Batman and Captain America. In fact, much like Dick Grayson becoming Batman, Barnes ended up carrying the shield as Captain America after Steve Rogers was killed off.
This is where I’m going to begin to tie everything to DarkLight Redemption. Character-wise, DarkLight is most similar to Dick Grayson. I even pay homage to the period in his run as Robin/Nightwing, when he led the Teen Titan (later known just as Team Titans and then just Titans) which was the inspiration for Varsity Squad in my book. But DarkLight’s character arc resides somewhere between Grayson and Jason Todd/Bucky Barnes, in that he does reluctantly become a supervillain. I’ll leave the specifics of that to be discovered by those who read the book.
There are also, of course, real world inspirations for DarkLight. I believe anyone who had been through – or is currently in – their twenties can relate to the idea of feeling as though they are at a crossroads in their lives. There are many paths that can be followed, and every decision you make leads you farther down one or another.
The sense of trying to make one’s parents, or parental figures, proud while still trying to blaze your own trail is one that I’m sure also strikes a chord in many of us. The legacy they are faced with living up to is far more dramatic that the one that most of us in the real world face, but the idea is the same. Maybe that, more than anything else, is why drew me to the Nightwings, Red Hoods and Winter Soldiers of the comic book universe.
Speaking of universes, I’ll probably be writing something up regarding the influences for the Post-Human Universe at large soon as well. Until I do, feel free to get started on DarkLight Redemption today! You can purchase the book in paperback, or follow me on Wattpad where I’ll be posting chapters weekly.