No One Likes a Knockoff
Overall this series has been terrific, and Kyle Higgins has done an excellent job. I've loved that this series has focused on Dick Grayson dealing with his past, and how he's embraced it. I've also been really enjoying seeing Dick as Nightwing again, as although I liked him as Batman, and Robin, I much preferred him as Nightwing.
This was an excellent issue, and Higgins has done a splendid job of introducing this series into the Death of the Family crossover. I have really liked Higgins work over this series, and although Tom DeFalco didn't do too bad a job on the last two issues, it wasn't as good as Higgins' work. The way he's reintroduced Haly's Circus into this series, and that he's used this as a recurring setting has been a very nice touch, and I felt he used that in this issue perfectly. He also appears to have a brilliant understanding of Dick as a character, whether he's normal Dick Grayson, or NIghtwing, and it's shown in this issue. I've also loved how Higgins has used Joker a little more casually than the other series in this crossover has, whilst still making him psychotic, which I really liked. These tie-in issues to Death of the Family have also been a brilliant platform to show that Joker has put a lot of effort, and planing into this, and that it won't be an easy feet stopping him.
The art in this issue was phenomenal, and Eddy Barrows did a fabulous job. I have loved his artwork throughout this series, and am happy he's back to do the art for this issue. His art is very detailed, and suits this series perfectly. It is obvious when looking at his artwork that a lot of effort has went into it, and it's much appreciated. He also does a brilliant job of showing the tone's in the series, whether that's through facial expressions/emotions, or in the sequence where Dick, and Sonia Zucco kiss' case with images in the background showing what's going through Dick's mind, although I'll talk more on that further down my review. The way Barrows draws Joker is also fantastic, and I love that he makes the differences between the real Joker, and the people affected by the Joker Gas obvious, even if Joker didn't have his face mask.
The sequence where Joker kills Jimmy, at the start of this issue was brilliant, and one of the best things about the issue. I really liked that Joker couldn't see the resemblance until the Joker Gas had taken him over, killing him. It was however the symbolism in this sequence that caught my attention the most, as Joker hangs him above the Haly's Circus entrance, with a sign round him saying, "no body likes a knockoff," which could refer to Dick's time as Batman besides Jimmy's resemblance to Joker. I also liked this because it makes you question if Joker knows the Bat-Families secret identities or not, as it would have been easy to have worked out that it was a different Batman whilst Dick was in the role, especially to Batman's arch nemesis.
The relationship between Dick, and Sonia has been an interesting development throughout the series, and I was wondering when it would get to this stage. Although it may have been better kept till the Death of the Family crossover finished it was still nice to see, and a good choice of filler, between the Joker sequences, and Dick being Nightwing. The sequence itself was brilliant, and I loved that Higgins built up to it in the pages before the kiss, with both characters upset over what happened at Haly's Circus. I also loved that Dick's thoughts were shown in the background, and he remembered that Sonia was Tony Zucco (the man that killed his parents) father, and that them being in a relationship is something he's need to think over. I will be looking forward to seeing if this relationship goes any further, and if the events of Death of the Family will affect it.
WARNING: SMALL SPOILER!
There was a small thing that I felt spoiled this issue, and it was the way Raya was used. I felt that there was more potential in Raya, and especially after seeing she'd be involved in this story, so when I found out that Joker infected her with Joker Gas I was slightly annoyed. I did however like that Joker pointed out that now Nightwing can have his own Joker. Raya's appearance does however set-up the next issue, which looks to be very interesting. I do however hope that Raya's appearance in this issue proves to be more worthy than it appears, and that it might have consequences further in the series.
This was a brilliant issue, and one of the best in the series so far. It has also been one of the best Death of the Family tie-in's so far, and I hope the next and final part of this story is just as good, if not better, I would highly recommend this issue, and the series so far, as despite the few down moments in the series, it has still been very good overall.