DC Comics is releasing four new DC Meets Hanna-Barbera specials, each with their own unique flavor. One features Superman and Top Cat in the middle of a monster movie, another has Deathstroke hunting down the spirit animal of Yogi Bear, but if you love noir stories, you're going to dig Nightwing / Magilla Gorilla Special #1, and we've got preview pages to show you.
"My initial concept was that Nightwing gets pulled into a Big Lebowski-style Hollywood escapade," Corson reveals to SYFY WIRE. "Where there's so much that organically doesn't make sense about the town that during an investigation, it becomes difficult for Dick to separate artifice from reality."
As for working in the logistics of the simian Hanna-Barbera favorite meeting the famed Bruce Wayne protegé, Corson said that the phrase "Magilla Gorilla for sale" stood out, and angling a new take was his best path. "Once I realized that meant Magilla was an actor, then Mr. Peebles from the pet store became his manager/stage father. Once I landed on that take, the entire thing really grew out of that characterization."
In this preview, we see Dick Grayson dashing through traffic in Malibu to meet Magilla Gorilla, who gives him an offer that shocks him, is tantalizing, but is also traumatic for those who understand the power in Grayson's origin, which is essential in grasping the weight of such a scene.
"Magilla wants the film rights to Dick's family story for his vanity project The Flying Graysons — which manages to unearth a bunch of messy emotions for Dick. He's not sure how he feels about his family story becoming a big-budget studio film. Which, let's face it, who would? I know my family couldn't stand up to such scrutiny. We don't often see Dick revisit that circus time of his life and talk about his parents, so it was great to be able to mine it and use it here."
The entire issue plays out as a big, sprawling whodunit with some surprise appearances in the second half of the story, which you'll have to find out for yourself. But don't mistake this for what it is: Besides the mystery, it's an emotional story about family with some very entertaining results. What you see in the preview is balanced through the entire 40-page special.
"This gave me a chance to hit the themes of family, and all the guilt, obligation, and responsibility that goes along with it. I loved that both Magilla and Nightwing have these strong father figures in their lives, feel obligations to mentor the next generation coming up behind them, and both strive to make their own name in the world — there was a lot of emotional intersection to play with, which made it incredible joyful and fun."
SYFY WIRE has a preview of the first seven pages of this sun-drenched noir tale, on sale Wednesday in print (and digital) at your local comic shop. It's written by Heath Corson, with art by Tom Grummett, Tom Derenick, Cam Smith, Andy Owens, and Pete Pantazis. There's also a Secret Squirrel backstory by J.M. DeMatteis and art by Tom Mandrake. Covers are by Evan "Doc" Shanier, Marcus To, and Irma Kniivila. Check out the preview pages and let us know what you think about these DC Meets Hanna-Barbera specials.