Review: Knight Terrors Nightwing #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad
Art: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Wes Abbott
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s Dick Grayson’s turn to experience the nightmares of Insomnia and reveal his greatest fears…and a couple are pretty clever!
The two most interesting aspects of this issue come at the end when we see what Dick Grayson is really afraid. There’s a lot of potential in the idea that Dick’s nightmare is that he’s killed Batman and that Barbara Gordon becomes more machine than human. Dick’s role as Robin is revisited monthly in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest and the concept is central to the idea of the shared DC Universe. Dick is the iconic character that has been allowed to grow and change over time, he’s not perpetually stuck in the same 5 year age range, and he’s never been de-aged to take him back to his Robin days. Dick being afraid of killing Batman goes right back to his early days as The Boy Wonder. Very easily he could’ve inadvertently caused the death of the Caped Crusader. It’s not a stretch. It’s compelling to think that Dick still holds this in his head despite the fact one would expect he would’ve grown out of it. It’s linked to the death of his parents as the idea of a “survivor’s complex” is explored. We don’t get this outright in Knight Terrors Nightwing #1, but’s it’s there as an idea.
The idea that Barbara could become more machine that human is just as interesting in a different way. Clearly, Dick loves the person Barbara is and it’s not dependent on her physical abilities. As Babs has had to rely more on technology to keep her spinal column working correctly, it’s quite clever that Cloonan and Conrad see the possibility that Dick’s afraid she could end up relying on it too much and lose who she is in the process. It could even be a meta-jab at DC for putting her back in the Batgirl role at the beginning of the New 52 when it’s clear that Oracle is the iconic Barbara Gordon! While this will play out in the next issue in some fashion, it’s also possible that Dick is afraid Babs will end up relying too much on the technology of computers as Oracle and retreat from the physical world into a cybernetic world. I think the former is what’s intended, but there are two possibilities.
Unfortunately, Knight Terrors Nightwing #1 does suffer from one major problem and it’s that it’s part of the Knight Terrors event, so the majority of the mystery and tension is non-existent. Cloonan and Conrad to there best to work within the framework with some great ideas outlined above and Di Nicuolo adds some truly frigthening images and gives us a truly scared Dick Grayson.
The creative team is limited by the framework and it doesn’t take much to imagine this issue taking place without the context of the Knight Terrors event and it being a real mystery for the reader. This would up the stakes as well as give Dick a mystery to solve that the reader doesn’t already know the answer. It’s a sort of backwards way to tell a story, usually you don’t give away the big reveal- it’s NIGHTMARES! as part of the solicit when holding that back could’ve been a really big surprise. Again, one can’t hold Cloonan and Conrad responsible because they do their job in coming up with some compelling ideas that are innovative but also fit with the character.
Going into Knight Terrors Nightwing #1 already knowing what Insomnia’s endgame is detracts from the issue greatly. The creative team gives a great showing with what they have to work with, but this issue would’ve worked so much better had the audience not been privy to what was going on and Dick had to figure it out. That said, there are some really compelling ideas from Cloonan and Conrad that have the potential to play out epically next issue and Di Nicuolo gives a great showing on the horror aspect.