As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics – The New 52 event of September 2011, Dick Grayson flies high once more as Nightwing in a new series from hot new writer Kyle Higgins and artist Eddy Barrows! Haley’s Circus, the big top where Dick once performed, makes a stop on its tour in Gotham City – bringing with it murder, mystery and superhuman evil. To uncover more clues as to why a mysterious assassin is targetting him, Nightwing joins the Haley’s Circus tour in order to find more clues and protect those he loves. But as Dick becomes closer acquainted with the big top he grew up with, he discovers there’s a much deeper, darker secret to be discovered. Collects Nightwing #1-7.
I have a complicated relationship with this character. On one hand he’s very charming and very easy to grow attached to. Right from the get go in this volume Kyle Higgins establishes him as a more human version of Batman. He lives in the neighbourhoods he’s trying to protect, he throws his costume on the floor etc. He’s also quite witty and determined – commendable qualities for sure.
However his own again off again relationship with Barbara Gordon (my favourite member of the DC Universe by far) kind of sours the whole experience for me. Seriously, how do you forgive someone for this?
But anyway, this is the New 52, so let’s all try to put that behind us and begin again with Mr Dick Grayson.
The most obvious thing about this collection is that there is a lot of internal dialogue. Nightwing is a thinker. And there’s a lot of external dialogue as well. He is also a talker. Sometimes this is a bonus because you always know what’s going on, everything is spelled right out for you on the page. But other times I just wanted him to let me figure it out for myself. I’m all for banter but sometimes action is better.
Extended dialogue aside Nightwing is a rather admirable character. I think Kyle Higgins did a great job bringing out that more human quality. Dick Grayson is someone more people can relate and he has more “normal” relationships than Batman does. And he manages to do this despite his tumultuous history (growing up in a circus, seeing his parents murdered, being raised by Batman etc). Or at the very least Grayson does his best. He wants to be that person and I can respect his for that, despite his dubious romantic entanglements.
Like the Batman and Batgirl titles, Nightwing isn’t a full reboot. There is some information that is tossed out casually as though you (the reader) must already know it. Barbara Gordon/Batgirl does make an appearance and their history seems to have been kept intact. This soft reboot makes sense however when you realize how tied up this volume is with the first volume of Batman. It is directly tied into the “Court of Owls” story arc. I highly recommend you read the Batman volume first so that the full repercussions of Nightwing’s discoveries are understood.
The highlight of this volume for me though was Eddy Barrows artwork. With all that trapeze training Nightwing moves quite gracefully and that is apparent in the artwork throughout this book. His movements look fluid and natural. I also love the way Barrows draws strong facial features as it clearly articulates the range of emotions that characters experience throughout the story. My only complaint was that Barbara Gordon and Dick’s new love interest – Raya Vestri – look almost exactly the same. I understand that it’s supposed to be demonstrating Grayson’s “type” but if they were actually so similar looking it would be a little unhealthy and well kind of weird.
Ultimately this comic does give some basic background information for Dick Grayson – his ties to Haly’s circus, how he got hooked up with Batman and his relationship with Barabra. But the development of his character doesn’t go much further – sure he’s funny, and more down to earth than the Dark Knight but what else can you tell us? This was by no means a bad comic, it just wasn’t a particularly daring or original one either. I’m interested in reading Volume 2 to see if they branch out from here but I would recommend picking up one of the other Bat Books first.
3 out of 5