An issue mashed with adventure and setup topped with feels!
I can full heartedly say that Kyle Higgins has the pacing of a single Nightwing issue down to a science. The beginning of the issue has Nightwing thwarting some Prankster thugs in the John Hancock building. I am reminded of the confrontation in the Dark Knight movie between Batman and the SWAT team in the large building under construction. The fight was very cool with Nightwing cracking some great one liners and showing off his moves and arsenal. Nightwing's attitude toward the falling damsel (Danielle) during the Hancock building scene was absolutely hilarious and the encounter between them after Nightwing saves her is priceless.
The second part of the issue shows what Nightwing's supporting cast is doing during the craziness. Dick's roommate Joey is concerned for Dick since he hasn't been back to the apartment in a few days. A T.V. report explains the allegations the Prankster has levied against the mayor. There are two panels that show the Flying Graysons that are quite moving. Michael and the police are at an old Brewery where the Prankster strikes and kidnaps Michael in the confusion. Sonia Zucco also makes her return in this issue. Sonia is swarmed with reporters hounding her with questions regarding her rediscovered father. Will Conrad does a splendid job of capturing the shock on Sonia's face in this sequence. I look forward to seeing how Kyle incorporates her into the series again. Meanwhile in Wisconsin, Tony Zucco is confronted by his wife Nancy. The argument is an absolute masterpiece. Kyle nails the dialogue and Will captures the expressions of disappointment and shame on both Nancy and Tony perfectly. Nancy doesn't hold back and really lets Tony have it. as she packs and says her final word to Tony which is something absolutely soul shattering, Tony stares out the window at his Brian who is making amends with a friend for taking a toy that didn't belong to him. Through example, Brian shows his father watching from above that he needs to travel down the road to redemption even if you have to make sacrifices. The entire scene was filled with feels and was easily one of my absolute favorite moments in Higgins' run so far! Kyle has turned Tony Zucco into such a dynamic and real character that is becoming one of my favorites.
Back in Chicago, Nightwing in swashbuckling fashion smashes his speedboat into some Prankster thugs guarding a boat where Michael and other hostages are being kept. Flames from the destroyed Jet Ski blanket the water. Nightwing emerges from the water with flames completely engulfing the background making him look absolutely badass!
After Nightwing saves Michael and the rest of the hostages and tells them to flee, he takes a moment to catch his breath. Back at the mayor's office, Mayor Wallace's entire security detail is killed and Wallace is then cornered by the Prankster. Before he rises, a familiar voice tells Nightwing tells Nightwing to listen to what he says. Nightwing recognizes the voice instantly and turns around to see it is none other than Tony Zucco. Zucco goes on to explain that if Nightwing wants to save Chicago, he'd have to work together with him.
During the Hancock building skirmish, Nightwing punches the mask off of a Prankster thug with red hair. Before I took a good look, I actually thought that Danielle was the prankster thug who got socked by Dick and that her hair was tied back by the mask. I reread the page and saw that wasn't the case but, I felt that any confusion would be avoided if the thug’s hair wasn't the same color as Danielle's. I also wish the issue would've made it clearer f the police chief was killed in Mayor Wallace's office during the Wallace's capture. I think he was also killed I'm not entirely sure since the panel where I think he was shot in shows the backs of the men who were shot.
My Thoughts Going Forward
I am positive that Kyle Higgins understands the best way to tell a Nightwing story. Nightwing is supposed to be his own man trying to be a hero in his own right. Telling an independent Nightwing story is difficult since Nightwing has always been roped into Batman's ensemble cast and has been given the short end of the stick in terms of defining stories. Personally, I believe that the secret in creating a truly memorable Nightwing story is to have him perform a feat in the story that Batman could never do. What makes me like Nightwing more than Batman is their differences but, most of the time, the differences are rarely displayed and whenever Dick is placed in the spotlight over his mentor, he is thrown into a situation where he is forced to act more like his mentor instead of himself (Young Justice: Invasion is a prime example of this). I believe Kyle is setting up for Dick to perform a feat that the caped crusader can never perform and that is to work together and eventually forgive the man who killed his parents. I can't imagine Batman even working together with Joe Chill let alone forgiving him. The reason why I think Dick will forgive him is because of how dynamic of a character Tony has become. Tony Zucco is no longer a simple mobster thug but, someone who wishes to now redeem himself and face what he's done. If my prediction comes to pass and Nightwing actually forgives Zucco for what he's done, it would be an ultimate testament to Dick Grayson's strength of character that cannot be replicated by anyone in the DC Universe let alone Batman.
This issue has set the table perfectly for the November arc finale. The scenes with Tony Zucco alone demand that this issue be read. Will Conrad's expressions on the supporting cast especially really bring Kyle's words to home and will really tug on your heart strings. Kyle and Will are going to set their dials to 11 next issue and their new arc kicks off with their Nightwing annual in the same month! This issue introduces some powerful feelings into the book that I believe will enrich the finale with some emotional investment into some characters especially Tony Zucco. This issue is a must read for any Nightwing fans since it's only after this issue that I truly feel invested in Tony Zucco's character.