New 52 Review: Nightwing #1

Where Gotham City is concerned, the DC reboot has been pretty hit or miss. We’ve had the highs of Scott Snyder’s Batman and the lows of Catwoman.

And since the reboot means that almost everyone of Batman’s former sidekicks gets their own books, it’s time to look in on Nightwing. Until recently, the former Robin turned Batman was filling in admirably for Bruce Wayne. But now Dick Grayson is back to being Nightwing after a year of being the bat within the DCU. And if you try to think too hard about Dick Grayson’s line about being Batman for a year when supposedly the superheroes have only been around for five years (with maybe a few extra years for Batman) than your heads will probably explode.

The most striking thing about Nightwing #1 is the art by Eddy Barrows, who seems to enjoy depicting Grayson display his most athletic moves on his first night back in costume. Using three doublepage splashes in a row seems a little excessive, but they are the best looking pages in the entire book and they successfully reestablish Nightwing as being near the top of his game.

Kyle Higgins seems to have a decent take on Grayson’s character, but he tends to have a weakness for overwriting. There is page after page after page of Nightwing’s inner monologue which gets incredibly boring after a while. It’s nine pages before anyone actually opens their mouths to speak and Grayson doesn’t actually say anything himself until page 12. His inner narration is being used as a shortcut for characterization and it just seems excessive. Maybe in their desire to make everything new reader friendly, the editors at DC tried to made sure that no one could possibly misunderstand anything that happens in this issue. Higgins and company don’t seem to have any faith in the audience’s ability to fill in some gaps by themselves.

Nightwing’s long narrative blocks are also used in an attempt to hide how little actually happens in this issue. I can sum up the entire issue like this: Dick Grayson reembraces his role as Nightwing before visiting his old circus friends; then a Daken wannabe comes to town to kill Grayson… not Nightwing.

Not that it stops Daken-light from kicking the crap out of Nightwing by the end. There’s also a really sloppy moment in which Grayson runs away from his attacker to change into his Nightwing costume, and he gets two cops killed in the process. Grayson’s reaction is basically “my bad, guys!” I understand the need to build up new villains, but that really made Nightwing look like a chump.

It’s also unclear where Higgins is taking the story beyond this issue. Nightwing’s attacker claims that Dick Grayson is a” fierce killer and he doesn’t even know it yet.” And he certainly doesn’t seem to recognize Grayson beneath Nightwing’s armor despite seeing him out of costume only a few moments before. Also, was there any particular reason why the killer was given Wolverine style claws? Just giving him two instead of three claws on each hand isn’t exactly hiding the influence.

In the few pages that Grayson isn’t in costume, his best moments come when he goes back to the circus where he was raised and he briefly rediscovers his love of the wires. Barrows seems to do his best work when Grayson/Nightwing is in motion and it really comes across strongly on that page.

Barrows is definitely the main reason to pay attention to this book, but Higgins story is adequate enough for a teaser. However, unless Higgins delivers a solid story in the second issue, Nightwing won’t be on my pull list for long.

Crave Online Rating: 6.5/10