I mentioned in my review of Deathstroke that writer Kyle Higgins has bought himself a lot of good will with me, due mostly to the excellent Gates of Gotham miniseries co-written with Scott Snyder. That book proved that when it comes to Batman, both writers know their stuff. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, then, that Higgins’ Nightwing provides a satisfying read, though a few aspects prevent me from recommending it wholeheartedly.
Let’s start with the positives. Higgins excels at internal monolog, which allows readers to get to know a character quickly. That’s important in these first issues of the New 52, where most readers will be making snap judgments on which books to keep reading. By the end of Nightwing #1, you should know whether you like main character Dick Grayson or not; the book does a great job of establishing Dick’s frame of mind after inhabiting the role of Batman for a year (that’s still in continuity), and we get nice glimpses into both his superhero and personal lives. On the latter front, a return to town for Haly’s Circus (where Dick’s parents met their demise) provides quality insights into Dick’s civilian life that we haven’t really gotten before. It also supplies a colorful cast of characters, including a potential love interest, a doofus who has Dick’s old job, and a cantankerous old clown who doesn’t want to wear a purple suit and white make-up in Gotham (can you blame him?).
Penciller Eddy Barrows (Birds of Prey) turns in some great work as well. His lines are light and clean, which really helps since Higgins likes to place Dick in lots of fast-moving action scenes (fitting given his acrobatic past). Inker J.P. Mayer does a great job as well; his dark lines add detail when necessary but drop out when the book needs things to move quickly. I don’t often notice the work of inkers, which I think means Mayer’s a champ.
Good art, good characters, good story — all of this adds up to a solid first issue. All that’s holding back my opinion are a few nagging complaints. For one, Dick’s narration really tries to convince us that upon Bruce Wayne’s return he really wanted to give up the Batman costume. To my mind, that doesn’t quite jive with what we saw pre-reboot. I realize this is a different timeline, but I’m a die-hard Morrison fan, so if I have to choose whose version of the story I like more, Grant’s going to win every time. Also, I’m not at all crazy about the main antagonist here, who’s some hired killer with Wolverine-style claws and a proclivity for awful violence. Tom Tomorrow has talked a lot about how overboard DC comics can go, how murder-happy they can be, and when we see Wolverine Lite slice two cops’ necks open, I can’t help but think he’s right. That kind of display didn’t bother me in Deathstroke, which is by design a super-violent book, but in Nightwing I think it’s just a bit tasteless.
The very end of the issue brings in maybe the most promising story thread yet, potentially connecting Higgins’ book with Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s excellent Batman. That alone is a solid hook and one that should keep die-hard Bat-family readers coming back. For me, though, Nightwing‘s doesn’t quite give me enough to make it into my purchase pile every month. If you pick it up, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed, but in the end I think there’re better options out there.
Pull list verdict: ON PROBATION
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more