The Other Duo
Ok, right off the bat I have to say that I like this cover, but I'm wondering why it doesn't have a 'Death of the Family Aftermath' label if Red Hood and the Outlaws has one. This issue is entirely focused on Nightwing dealing with the fallout of The Joker's attack, so what's the deal with that?
This is really an issue for those who've been reading since before the New 52. Kyle Higgins works closely with Scott Snyder, we know, and he's been continuing some of the Dick Grayson-centric plot elements from The Black Mirror, like Sonia Branch. This issue's finale brings in a major villain from The Black Mirror, one of the best from that run. Luckily his debut is actually done in such a way that it very well could work fine as an intro of a 'new' villain for new readers, but old readers will be excited to see who makes a return in the wake of Death of the Family. The other big thing here is the focus on the relationship between Dick and Damian. They only truly interact at the end, but Damian is watching Dick the entire issue. They don't directly reference their time together as Batman and Robin, but having followed that makes this scene so much more heartwarming. It's one of those times where you can REALLY see how much Damian has grown as a character, and how he truly connected with Dick as a surrogate older brother, and still sees Tim as a rival brother.
Juan Jose Ryp's artwork is mostly pretty good on this issue, the big Nightwing fight scene in this issue actually has some nice flow and impact, but when Damian steps in to enact the scene from the cover, that big moment looks incredibly awkward. And most of the rest of the issue just feels a little cluttered. Something about the extra lines and colors Ryp puts in tends to make things feel crowded and blurred. The second pages was an assault on the eyes with Nightwing at the bat-computer with all his cuts. Just TOO MUCH going on at once even when not much was actually happening. And then the rest of the normal scenes just look a bit too 'shiny.'
Nightwing has always been the hope of the Batman family, and so this kind of event has really shaken him to the core. He's really good at deflecting everyone's concern with a reassurance that he's 'fine.' Barbara really annoys me here when she's baffled at how Dick can overlook Sonia's father killing his own parents. She of all people should know not to compare people to their children. I don't think she's ever once blamed her father for how her brother turned out; and we already know Sonia barely had any contact with her father, IF any at all. Which also begs the question of her name, if she was a bastard child who never saw her father, how did she have his last name ever in the first place? She should've ALWAYS been Sonia Branch. But that's a concern that goes way back to The Black Mirror. Barbara's still a hypocritical idiot for bringing it up though.
In Conclusion: 4/5
Nightwing has lost almost everything to The Joker. It's another one of those stories that shows that The Joker honestly won, he 'killed' the 'family.' He tore apart their bond as a whole. But Damian and Dick's bond is made of some strong stuff. Regardless, he really killed Nightwing's family, spiritually. Dick is left with nothing, no Haly's Circus, no Amusement Mile, no money after paying for the damages. But he doesn't have as little as he thinks. He still has Barbara, he still has Sonia, and it took Damian to remind him that he still has family. Calling back to their days as Batman and Robin, it really enforces the point that 'Batman' will always need 'Robin' to pull him out of the darkness.