Nightwing heads to Chicago to track down Tony Zucco – the man who killed his parents. Read more after the jump!
If anyone hasn’t been reading Nightwing, or felt that the first 19 issues (yes, 19 – don’t forget #0) were too dark for this character, you might want to give this title another shot. Following the events of “Death of the Family” and “Requiem,” this issue is the start of a new direction for both the character and the book. Gone is Eddy Barrows, who will take over Teen Titans, and in comes a whole new art team—Brett Booth (pencils), Norm Rapmund (inks) and Andy Dalhouse (colors). Dick has also left Gotham for Chicago, a city that has outlawed “masks.” Dick Grayson is given a bare bones treatment here – having lost most of his money during the events of “Death of the Family”, he’s in Chicago with the last of his Nightwing suits on a personal vendetta. Unfortunately, getting to Tony Zucco is going to be tougher than he thought, especially with the rise of an internet terrorist calling himself the Prankster.
As incredible as Eddy Barrows’ artwork was (particularly in issues 15 and 16), it was at times too moody and serious for a book about the driven but lighthearted Dick Grayson. And Juan Jose Ryp’s art in the last two issues were just awful. Thankfully, the new art team headed by penciller Brett Booth injects the pages with an energy that hearkens back to when Scott McDaniel was drawing the character. Contributing the the new feel of the book are the amazing colors by Andy Dalhouse. And the inking by Rapmund gives every image an enhanced level depth and detail that simply wowed me. Though it normally takes me about 10 minutes to read through an issue, I spent a good half hour on this title just to take in every minute detail put together by the new trio.
While the art team is new, we still have Kyle Higgins on writing duties. His run so far has been very serious and competently constructed, but fairly unspectacular. It’s clear now that his writing was handcuffed by a connection to crossover events involving the other Batman titles. This issue demonstrates Higgins’ intended direction for the character. The dialogue reads very natural and is inviting to the reader. This is a prime example of how a book can improve by taking the editorial shackles (or, in this case, bat-cuffs) off creators.
Being the start of a new arc, Higgins sows a lot of seeds about what we’ll be seeing later while not sacrificing the story in this single issue. While far from a done-in-one, this single issue packs in a lot of information that makes for a solid read (and re-read, and re-re-read). We’re given Dick’s motivations for relocating to Chicago, so if you didn’t read #18 you won’t be lost. I appreciate that Higgins subscribes to the adage that every comic – even issue #19 of an ongoing series, is someone’s first. The writing allows new and longtime readers alike to pick it this issue and experience something fresh. I’ll reiterate that I love the dialogue here, particularly when Dick is suited up in the red and black. He spews out snarky one-liners which have been a trademark of the character since his first appearance 1938. Keep that in mind when someone tells you Spider-man is the king of crime-fighting with sass.
The re-imagining of the Prankster here is great. Taking a former Superman villain—a fairly lame one to boot—and turning him into a tech-savvy vigilante is bold. Make no mistake, while he will be played as an antagonist to Nightwing, he is a vigilante in its purest form. I’m looking forward to seeing this new interpretation develop over the coming issues.
This issues reads very much like a number one, and because of that it is prone to the typical pitfalls of a number one. Here, we’re introduced to several new characters, but are given only surface-level insight into their personalities.
I can’t stress enough how much I loved this issue. This is the Nightwing I was looking for since the start of the New 52. If you haven’t been reading this title, or have since dropped it, this issue is a perfect jumping on point, and injects something that’s been missing from most of DC’s titles – fun.