Kyle Higgins is crafting a world that is truly unique to Dick Grayson in Nightwing #20. Click the jump to see the review.
Last month, Nightwing was welcomed to the city of Chicago with a rooftop chase with the city’s finest SWAT team officers, and readers were introduced to a revamped Prankster. Continuing in this month’s issue #20, Dick returns to his apartment after a night on the town, which leads to a pretty entertaining scene involving Dick and his roommates – yes, plural. From here, we’re given what can be described simply as a really good story, which culminates in the initial confrontation between Nightwing and Prankster.
Free of the shackles of the other Batman titles, Kyle Higgins is crafting a world that is truly unique to Dick Grayson. In this issue, Higgins hits on all the things that people love about the title character. The dialogue between characters is very natural, with a great balance between humor and serious moments. Specifically, I found the interaction between Dick and his roommates to be hugely entertaining.
I’m really enjoying this revamped Prankster. I was never familiar with the original incarnation, but according to a quick review, he was a fairly unspectacular character. This new version is way more interesting than the heavyset buffoon of the past. Many have compared him to Jigsaw from the Saw franchise (because no one did elaborate death traps before those movies, right?), but he appears to be a villain that Higgins has tailored to be a great foil for Nightwing. Both characters are written to be quick witted, with the Prankster’s calculated and well-prepared style designed as contrast to the more improvisational Nightwing. I’m interested in seeing where this dynamic leads in the coming issues.
Enough cannot be said about Brett Booth (artist), Norm Rapmund (inker) and Andrew Dalhouse (colorist) who are able to capture the kinetic feel that this title requires. Even though this issue was not action-heavy, Booth’s detailed pencils flesh out every panel so that the reader feels like an active participant in the scene. I’m not just reading an interaction between Dick and his roommate in their crummy apartment – I’m in that same apartment. Booth also does a great job on maintaining visual consistency in this title. Early in this issue, we’re shown that Dick’s costume is in rough shape and in need of patchwork. Flipping throughout the issue, the same stitch marks show up where they should. It’s details such as this that I personally enjoy seeing in any comic.
There were a couple things I wasn’t a fan of in this issue. Brett Booth does have a tendency to draw a lot of his faces similarly. I noticed that Johnny Spade looks an awful lot like Michael here, which momentarily drew me out of the story. Personally, this doesn’t bother me a lot, but I know that it is a common criticism of Booth. Other than that, I had no other issues with the art.
There were a few moments during the confrontation with the Prankster that, similarly, drew me out of the story. Prankster mentions that Nightwing’s appearance caught him by surprise, and yet had an elaborate death-trap set up? And he is able to do this by knocking out Nightwing’s HUD, essentially blinding him? To be honest, the second part I found to be more jarring than the first. I don’t see how knocking out the HUD on Nightwing’s mask would completely disable him from seeing altogether.
Verdict – (4/5)
Despite its flaws, I loved this issue. Nightwing #20 is another step in the right direction for the title and the character himself. Higgins is building a world for his title character that allows him to stand on his own out from the shadow of the Bat. If you haven’t been reading Nightwing for a while, now’s the time to start reading. It’s currently one of the best pure superhero titles on shelves right now.