Nightwing escapes from the Prankster and eats doughnuts in our review of Nightwing #21. Like the New 52, this review is spoiler-free.
When we last left Nightwing, our titular hero was in a classic deathtrap with a social media twist. Readers were left hungry with anticipation for how Dick would escape. After picking up the issue, I flipped past the cover and was greeted with…a flashback to “several years ago.” And I must say, it is certainly an engaging flashback. Eventually, we get back to present day and see Nightwing escape from the clutches of the Prankster (was there ever any doubt?) as well as a closer look at Tony Zucco’s personal life.
With each issue, it’s clear that this is the story Higgins has wanted to tell since issue #1. Beginning with issue #19, his plots have been crisp with spot-on dialogue. Dick Grayson may not have the connections to the DCU that he used to, but Higgins has ensured that his personality remains intact. He’s improvisational in a pinch and snarky with crooks. He even takes the opportunity to flirt with a female police officer as she tries to put a bullet in him. Also, chatting with a tied up Prankster while snacking on doughnuts and coffee is a great homage to the era of Officer Dick Grayson.
The flashback that the story opens with is captivating. We’re shown that there used to be vigilantes running around Chicago, and that they were hunted down one at a time. There are so many questions that this flashback opens up, yet it provides hardly any answers. It is a classic mystery setup that ends with an unsolved murder. I have a very strong feeling that this thread will catch up to the present, and I can’t wait to see how Higgins handles it.
Once again, Brett Booth knocks it out of the park with his dynamic pencils. There is a great sense of energy within each action scene that does not suffer in quieter moments. As much as I love his pencil work, I found his layouts to be better. There is a clear Eisner influence to the panel structure on every page. Also, the cover he gave this issue is an amazing tribute to two classic stories–The Dark Knight Returns and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Only a couple of minor complaints this month. I was slightly let down by the unmasking of the Prankster. Then again, we weren’t given a name, so take that as you will. Also, I couldn’t help but read this issue with a sense of sadness, as this was Brett Booth’s last issue on the book.
If you’ve enjoyed the last couple issues of Nightwing, you’re going to get more of the same here. Brett Booth ends his brief stint as Nightwing artist with consistently strong work, and Higgins plants more seeds for a long run on the title. Nightwing continues to be the most enjoyable, pure superhero title by DC.