batwatch's Nightwing #18 - Slow Burn review

Nightwing #18

Slow Burn

I'm not sure I've come straight out and said this in any previous reviews, but I've really been a bit disappointed with Higgins' Nightwing. I've heard lots of interviews with Kyle Higgins, and it is clear the guy is a true fan of Dick Grayson; he seems to get the character, yet when pen meets paper, the results are mixed. There are almost no issues of the DCNU Nightwing I would classify as bad, but Dick Grayson has no longer been adopted and/or raised by Bruce, Dick Grayson gets routinely routed by villains he should be able to school in a heartbeat, and Raya was introduced as a shallowly developed love interest for the sole purpose betraying Dick who is subsequently used as a pawn by Joker to create false melodrama, and let's not forget that future solicits make it appear as if the narrative gem that was Raya will be making a return from the dead in the near future. I find all of these plot elements to be severely disappointing. That's not to say the series does not have its moments. The last two issues have been very strong, but I cannot help but feel that Nightwing deserves more.

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Though my expectation level is capped, this does appear to be a good issue. Grayson will be going after his Flying Graysons costume which appears to have been marked by the Joker, and this might imply that Joker has made a connection between Dick Grayson and Nightwing. Also, Robin has died, and this should affect Dick greatly. Finally, we know Grayson will be traveling to Chicago in the near future, so it will be interesting to see what prompts that move. Does Nightwing #18 deliver a satisfying chapter in the unfolding tale of Dick Grayson, or does this story stumble, fall, and crumple?

In this issue, Nightwing mourns the loss of Damian, spends some time with Sonia Zucco and mounts a rescue operation for his father's costume.

Delivered as Promised

It's nice when an issue actually delivers what is promised.

Some of the other tie in issues to Requiem have been less than satisfying by failing to actually address the death of Damian in any detail, but no such criticism can be made of Nightwing #18. About half the issue deals with Damian's loss, and it is a pretty good handling of Damian's death. It did seem a little odd to me that we never saw Dick cry because, quite frankly, he strikes me as a big crier who would simply let his emotions run wild though him, but we never really see Dick lose control in this issue except for one brief move. On the other hand, the story takes place two weeks after Damian's actual death, so it makes sense that Dick would have come to terms with his initial emotions. Still, I kind of wanted to see Dick shed some tears. Another thing that struck me as slightly amiss was the way Grayson referred to Damian as his brother. True, they were brothers in a sense, but Damian was also the only sidekick Grayson has ever had, and that master/apprentice and father/son type of relationship was more important than their relation as brothers. However, I am nitpicking, and this was actually a good handling of Dick's grief.

Oh, one more thing in the Damian gripes department. In this issue, Damian's graveside is shown as being marked by a monolith, and I am curious about the reasoning behind this. It just does not seem very Damian-esque to me. Also, Damian's grave was simply marked by a headstone in Worlds' Finest, (unless I am greatly mistaken) so we have bad editorial coordination on this one.

The Joker plotline was also remembered in this issue, and it was handled well. However, it seems that the series is not going to make a big deal of Joker marking the Flying Grayson's costumes even though it had a clear resemblance to Nightwing's costume, and it would seem to me that this would be a big event for the series, but I guess I am making more of it that was intended. Regardless, the use of the Dealer was very cool, and I hope to see more of him in the future.

Finally in the category of things promised and delivered, we find out why Nightwing is going to Chicago, and believe me, he has a very good reason for the move. (Spoilers) Anthony Zucco's possible return is an interesting premise, and I think I enjoy the idea. He was always an underutilized character; he killed Grayson's parents and then he more or less disappeared with only a handful of other appearances. He died in Batman: Year 3 when he was assassinated right after getting out of prison. Zucco had dirt on all the Gotham mobsters, and he intended to blackmail them all into working for him, so the mobsters took him out before he could use their secrets as leverage. As Dick said in this issue, he did witness Zucco's murder for Batman and Nightwing were watching Zucco's release from a nearby hill. It will be interesting to see if the old story is still cannon and if Zucco can be evolved into an interesting character in his own right rather than simply being the guy who killed Grayson's parents.

Juan Jose Ryp

When I commented on the preview for this issue, I said that Brett Booth seemed to be having some trouble getting the art style on this issue. However, that was me being stupid. Brett Booth takes over pencils next month, but now Juan Jose Ryp is doing the art.

I cannot say I am a huge fan of Ryp's work. As with last week, some parts look good while others look...less than good. My only real issue with Ryp's work is the faces. Most of them look a little odd, but Nightwing especially looks off. Most of the time Grayson was drawn in here, he does not even look like Dick Grayson. If you gave me this screen shot of Rpy's Dick Grayson and tried to get me to guess who it was, I doubt I would have any idea.

Apart from faces, everything looks great though in some action scenes, I did feel that Nightwing took up to much of the panel giving me very little idea on what was happening around him. If the camera could be pulled back a little, I would greatly appreciate it.

Bat Droppings

1. Reusing past pages (both art and dialogue) from the last issue is a little lazy.

2. The Swordwalkers bit was cute, and I can sympathize with Grayson's outburst. I broke a walkie talkie the other day during my 110 hour week when I got fed up with it giving me issues and threw it against a wall. Not my smartest move, but sometimes you just want to smash something. All the guys out there know what I'm talking about. I don't know if girls get those random flashes of violence.

3. Sonia Zucco did not annoy me in this issue. I'm still not like, “Yay, it's Sonia,” but at least she did not grate on my nerves.

4. I know Dick is having a bad day, but his whole, “Bruce lied to me about Joker,” thing is old. Brouce did not lie. He withheld information from you because he thought you did not need to know it, and guess what​ He was right.

5. “They think that darkness made them divine. Maybe it does. It's certainly easier.” What the crap are you talking about Nightwing/Higgins?

6. The twist at the end was very cool. This is how comics should end.

7. I'm continuing to enjoy Channel 52.

Conclusion 9/10

This might be a surprise with as many problems as I have pointed out with this issue, but really, most of the problems I pointed out were minor, and I love surprises, so the twist at the end worked for me. If you are a Nightwing fan, you should go ahead and shell out the money for this issue.

For more news, reviews, and commentary for the entire Bat Family, check out BatWatch.net.

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