Graphic Novel Reviews: Nightwing 012

The Story

While the cops investigate the murder scene of the Republic members, Nightwing is attacked by Paragon. The two fight in the sewers, and end up being washed out into the bay, where Nie and his cops are waiting.

After getting home, Dick decides to fund the construction of Amusement Mile mostly from from his own pocket. He later apologizes to Sonia for the way he behaved, who tells him that she’d turned down the loan with the bank because she didn’t want to be reminded about her father, and being around Dick reminds her of him.

The Review
Time and again I’m amazed at how fast the stories I’m reading in the New 52 are going by. If I remember correctly, the start of the Republic of Tomorrow arc was only two issues ago. How are we supposed to form any kind of attachment, or feel intimidated by, the villain if we haven’t even been around him enough? This is a problem I’ve seen with most of the new villains in the Batman books, they’re having to go against established Rogues like the Joker, Two Face, Penguin, Poison Ivy, and Killer Croc, and yet they aren’t given enough time to develop. Honestly, what did Paragon even do? So he killed some people, big deal. Joker killed people by making them laugh themselves to death, Poison Ivy killed them with nature, Zazs carves a notch in his body every time he kills, and Killer Croc just straight up eats people.

I don’t know if this is a problem in the non-Batman books, but I imagine it’s a bit less pronounced. After all, the Batman mythos is so entrenched in its Rogues Gallery that any attempt to add to said gallery comes across as shallow. Especially when we aren’t given a good reason as to why these new villains deserve to share the spotlight with such a large cast of established characters.

To be fair, Kyle Higgins does connect Paragon to the earlier issues of Nightwing, but it comes across less as a “I see what you did there!” moment, and more like an attempt to justify a villain that has no place in the Batman world.

The biggest crime of this issue is the resolution of the mystery. Last issue tried to set up the possibility of the reader figuring out what happened, but it was portrayed so confusingly that the reveal of the Strayhorns’s murder did absolutely nothing for me.

The single page reveal that Lady Shiva is coming to Gotham was possibly my favorite part of this issue. It was well put together, promised a good future story, and was written in such a way that even someone unfamiliar with the character of Lady Shiva could understand exactly what a big deal she is.

The part with Sonia…well…it was kind of stupid. I don’t know why comic writers keep throwing in token love interests when nobody is ever fooled into thinking these relationships will last past the next reboot/creative staff change. Her kissing him comes out of nowhere, especially considering we’ve only known her for two interests. How exactly did she go from wanting nothing to do with Dick because he reminds her of who her father was, to kissing him?

It doesn’t help that the whole setup stinks a bit of sitcom hijinks.

He’s a masked vigilante who lost his parents at a young age, and she’s the estranged daughter of the man who murdered his parents. Together they are…a boring inconsequentinal love story!

Feel free to insert your own, “Still a better love story than…” joke if you want.

I might get into this topic again if I review Justice League 012, but for now let me just end by saying that I find the way relationships are written in American comics baffling. Here we have characters that have existed for decades, many with either established romantic partners, or on again off again love interests, but DC, and Marvel, think the readers really want to see them with inconsequential one note characters. The issue in Justice League is a bit different, but as far as Nightwing goes, I’m amazed to see what I thought was an archaic practice in full force.

While reading this issue I actually enjoyed it, overall, but sitting down to write this review I realized there was quite a bit that didn’t gel with me. It’s not as bad as Batman and Robin 012, but it was still pretty standard and formulaic. If you’ve been reading Nightwing since the beginning, this won’t drive you away, but it won’t be on anyone’s top favorite lists anytime soon.

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