In general, I have not been too impressed by Kyle Higgins run on Nightwing, but holy crap was I ever blown away by the last issue of Nightwing. Throw Dick into Chicago, and he spontaneously develops a supporting cast. Intrigue was around every corner in last issue as we met a host of new characters, and maybe I'm wrong, but it also seemed as if Dick had a bit more of his pre-Flashpoint skill, flair and humor back. Regardless, I laughed, (well, I chuckled) I cried, (well, okay, no, but it was cool, okay?) and I enjoyed myself thoroughly with Nightwing #19. I'm definitely ready to learn more about the corruption of Chicago, the history of Tony Zucco, the motivation of Prankster, and the psychosis of Mali.
Does this issue prove that Windy City is the place for Dick Grayson or does all the progress of the last issue swept aside in this one?
In this issue, Nightwing meets his new roommates and gets a lead from Spade, the police come across more of Prankster's handiwork, and Tony Zucco is revealed as a much more complex character than we originally suspected.
It seems like the entire dialogue of the book has really stepped up a notch or two...or three. Whereas most of the previous issues of Nightwing have never really made me feel overly attached to the characters, the people in this issue all seem to have depth and personality. Mike gets some more development this issue, and Dick gets to know his other roommate, Joey. Joey seems like an interesting character, and she is yet another suspect for the identity of the Prankster. The conversations between Dick, Mike, and Joey felt completely natural and really gave a good sense of who these new characters are in just a few pages. Similarly, Tony Zucco and the mayor also had a conversation in this issue which did a lot to deepen the plot while building intrigue and making these characters feel more fully realized. There is still a definite and even probable chance that the mayor and Zucco are evil, but at least they are not the typical mustache twirling variety of villain.
Booth's pencils continue to look amazing, and I think he is the perfect artist for this book. His sleek, fluid style just pairs well with Nightwing. Also, I've grown more and more appreciative of Dick's new costume. It was not really announced because it was not a huge change, but if you look back to the way Eddy Barrows drew it to the way it is now, there are many small tweaks. The red stripe across his chest is thinner and it now goes all the way down to his fingers like his pre-Flashpoint costume. Booth also added a neck stripe and hip stripe which, though small, actually help break up the otherwise all black of the suit. I've always felt Dick's pre-Flashpoint suit was better, but now looking at this one, I feel a little torn for the first time. Replace the red with blue, and I think I'm sold on this being the superior design.
As much as I love Booth's sketches, there were a few moments where I was a little lost in the final battle scene. I think Booth would benefit by doing a little more surrounding details since most of my confusion involved figuring out where exactly Dick was in relation to his surroundings. (Spoilers) For instance, Dick ends up in a death trap after Prankster pushed him, but how exactly did he get there? Did the trap spring up around him, did Prankster push him through a door and then seal it, or did Dick fall into the box? I'm guessing he fell from above since we saw the top hatch slam shut a second later, but it's difficult to be sure. The scene where Dick rescued the guy from electrocution was also just a smidge confusing.
1. Dick should really find a better place to hide his suits when he has roommates. If I were him, I probably would have panicked when I realized people could see the suit, though in reality, most people would probably not think anything of it.
2. I must admit, I enjoyed seeing the human trafficker lose an arm. Whose a good dog? You are! You are!
3. It was also cool that they pointed out that a tame wolf would probably need to be drugged to attack someone. I'm no expert on wolves, but I would suspect this would probably be the case. From my understanding, canines do not become aggressive unless they are either trained to be or their need for food forces them. I do not think a wolf who has lived in captivity would be prone to immediately make a scumbag his lunch.
4. Joey is definitely a likely suspect for Prankster. She has some computer skills, her hair is the right color and length, and her location in this apartment gives her the same access to the train that Nightwing has.
(Spoilers until Conclusion)
5. I like the idea of Spade betting information on card games, but he says that Dick and he are going to, “play one hand.” First up, I would not trust a card shark to shuffle with his own deck, but I guess we can trust Dick's previous experience with card sharks to spot any tricks...maybe. More importantly though, what card game were they playing? Most card games only involve skill after several hands are played. By betting on how good your hand is in any given round, you can slowly increase or decrease your winnings, but if you are only playing one hand of something, then you are pretty much limited by the luck of the draw, right? Again, it depends somewhat on the game they were playing. I'm not sure why Higgins decided to leave that detail out.
6. This whole insulation thing confuses me, and I guess I should do some research and write an article on it sometime, but electricity can jump small distances, right? Doesn't that happen? So if you are insulated in your body, but your face is still exposed, isn't there still a good chance you could be electrocuted?
7. I really enjoyed the fight with Prankster. Knocking out Dick's HUD is genius, and I kind of wished I'd thought up the idea myself.
8. Prankster gets a chunk knocked out of his mask, and he appears white underneath, so I guess my theory about Prankster being Mike is busted. Again though, it does still track with Joey.
9. This final death trap really bugs me because it is full of holes. Here are a few ways Dick could get out of the trap. A. Put out the fire. B. Break the case. C. Leave the way you entered. You know it is safe. D. Take your mask off, put your hand over your face, spy through your fingers to figure out which exit you should use, put the mask back on and exit safely. E. If Pranksters leaves, then just turn your back to the camera and take off the mask. F. If all else fails, just take a guess. You have fifty/fifty chance, the blow back will only last a second, you can shield your face from the worst damage and your suit is flame retardant. You would lose the skin you couldn't cover on your face, but you wouldn't die.
I almost dropped it down a notch just because of that final scene, but the rest of the issue was awesome. This issue was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed it immensely. Nightwing fans rejoice!
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