Graphic Novel Reviews: Nightwing 020

The Story
Dick arrives at his apartment, only to find that the previous tenant is still occupying it. After a brief misunderstanding he goes to get some rest in his other roommate’s room. The police find alderman Laine, whose arm has been bitten off by the wolf. When Dick finally wakes up he gets a message from Johnny Spade. The mayor and Tony Zucco have a scene together, with Zucco coming across as more of a scared innocent than a hardened criminal.

Nightwing plays Spade in a game of cards for the information he wants. Spade tells him that while the other avenues were a dead end, the Prankster might know more. Nightwing interrupts Prankster during one of his ironic traps, but ends up with his HUD deactivated and trapped in a glass box where the only way to get out is to take off his mask so he can see.

The Review
This book has a lot going for it. The new setting definitely works in the creative team’s favor and it allows them to focus on telling a story completely separate from the rest of the Batman cast. While I don’t feel like Batman and his supporting cast should necessarily be separate, so far it’s working out for Higgins. However, that has more to do with the solid writing.

Nightwing doesn’t spend a lot of time focusing on what happened during Death of the Family, rather he focuses on his new goal. Overall he comes across as a lot more likable than his Detective Comics appearance. Giving us a goal completely divorced from Gotham helps set this book apart as its own entity.

The scene between Zucco and the mayor really helped increase my interest in this story. Were this another case of, “Nightwing chases the bad, bad man,” then I doubt I could expect much out of the story. However, Zucco’s behavior suggests there is more to him than just an ex-crook trying to avoid a vigilante stalker. He comes across more as an innocent victim. Of course knowing his history we know that isn’t true, but we are given enough reasonable doubt that perhaps there is more than we initially expected. That alone allows me to have more hope for this story, that it will be more than just a retreading of old material.

I gotta love how artist Brett Booth seems to be channeling the Hawkeye Initiative in his work. Some of the poses he puts Nightwing in are charmingly ludicrous. They’re something I’d expect your average artist to draw women in. And yet, somehow, it works for Nightwing. Perhaps its his slimmer build that allows him to get away with exaggerated acrobatic poses, but either way I bring it up more as an observation, not a complaint.

I also like Johnny Spade’s gimmick. I like the idea that he gets his information through card games, it gives him that right amount of comic book gimmickry without coming across as being too outlandish. I also hope we get a bit more of Dick’s roommates, they seem interesting enough that I wouldn’t mind a few more scenes with them before we move on to another story.

Lastly, The Prankster is really well thought out. Perhaps his plans are a little too well planned, but they’re entertaining and clever enough that as far as new characters go I really appreciate the creativity that went into him. It’s got a nice old school sense, but adapted to work in the modern comics era. I look forward to seeing what he does next.

The Grade

4/5

If you liked the review, consider picking up the trades:
Nightwing Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes (The New 52)
Nightwing, Vol. 2: Night of the Owls (The New 52)
Nightwing Vol. 3: Death of the Family (The New 52)

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