Nightwing #26: Out of the Shadow of the Bat


Change is good, especially for a character like Nightwing. I have always been very positive on Dick Grayson’s alter ego, even though finding his voice has always been a struggle. It’s a tricky proposition. Take a character very much like Batman and make him unlike Batman. For years, various comic scribes have attempted to get a handle on Nightwing, each with a varying degree of success. Just before the New 52, the character got a boost in his identity when, ironically, he became Batman during the Dark Knight’s “death.” While donning the costume might have seemed like a lock to keeping Nightwing cloaked in Batman’s shadow, it actually helped give Grayson his own voice.

Writer Kyle Higgins is continuing that idea in his Nightwing run. Originally, the series had trouble finding its legs, but after the events of Death of the Family and with Nightwing’s move to Chicago, Higgins is really pushing the character in new directions. Nightwing #26 is the first real sense we have of what Grayson’s life is like in his new city. Deciding to step away from Bruce Wayne after Death of the Family, Grayson no longer has connections to endless wealth. In Chicago, he lives with two roommates, one of whom is a control freak.

The other is a better fit, a young man who gets Dick a job as a bartender in a cop bar where young Grayson hopes to pick up on the local crime scene. Problem is, the one cop his roommate is really friendly with hates masks. The reasons for his hatred remain secret, but it’s a powerful hatred. The storyline for issue #26 is decent. A woman in desperate need for a psychological drug has been ripping them off. Her mind is split, and she has an unusual knack for mimicking.  Apparently, the Mad Hatter created this young woman, and his presence means Nightwing has his first official foe in Shy-Town.

Higgins has a natural flow with dialogue that’s refreshing. He also knows how to pace a book, as well as inject enough mystery to keep things interesting. His human dynamics are solid as well. Anyone who has been forced to live with roommates will chuckle at the relationships developing between Dick and his roomies. Moving Nightwing to Chicago and his decision to step back from Batman allows Higgins a lot of movement for the character, and he seems to be taking full advantage of it.

Will Conrad’s art is not the strongest aspect of Nightwing. It isn’t bad, but very inconsistent. Some of the work is great, especially the rooftop chase between Nightwing and the mystery thief. The line work is a bit thin for the scale Conrad is drawing on, but it manages to keep the weight of the characters. Mainly, the problem is faces, which often seem flat, or with huge lips, or with an abundance of cross-hatching. Nothing Conrad does is horrible, but when the art falls flat, it really does take you out of the story.

I’m really excited for Kyle Higgins’ direction with Nightwing. If he gets a stronger artist, this could become a premiere title for DC.

(4 Story, 3 Art)