This review won't be in my typical style where I break down things into pros and cons like my usual review style. Instead, I am just going to discuss how this issue made me feel as a huge Nightwing fan. I've followed this book very closely since issue #1 and have enjoyed the run as a whole very much. Anything that was frustrating with the run was out of the Kyle's hands (*cough* *cough* editorial) so once it became apparent that Kyle Higgins did not have very much freedom in dictating what he could do with the character, I decided to just let the frequent changes in direction go, and just look at how each story Kyle comes up with defines and tests Dick Grayson as a person and as a hero.
Issue #29 however, is not an issue like the others in the run that provides a new test for Dick to overcome. Kyle Higgins' final issue of Nightwing is about defining once and for all just who Nightwing is. You would think that DC Comics would've figured out who Dick Grayson is by now since the characters inception back in 1940 yet, Dick Grayson is so many different things to so many people. To some, he will always be Robin, the first boy wonder. To others more recently, he is (debated to be the greatest) Batman. To me and evidently Kyle Higgins, Dick Grayson is and will always be Nightwing, and issue #29 does a good job with exploring what it means to be Nightwing for Dick Grayson.
The issue begins right where the last issue left off and has Nightwing beginning his search for Jen. While he's searching however, Dick begins remembering some of the traumatic experiences in his life. Dick remembers his toughest battles throughout the run and how each villain Dick faced challenged him. The way each arc was explored in this issue and how each experience he's had so far has shaped Nightwing was presented in such a way that gave off such a prodigious tone.
The art done by Russell Dauterman in these memory sequences were some of the best panels I've ever seen in Nightwing, especially the Court of Owls one (not ashamed to say it's my phone background right now). The constant art switching was something that ruined the flow from issue to issue since the changing was so frequent after Eddy Barrows' departure from the book but, Russell Dauterman has given this book an outing it truly deserves with art that connected the characters feelings and state of mind to me in a seamless way. It almost angers me that he isn't drawing at least ten more issues yet, I'm thankful for this wonderful outro to Kyle's run. Also, his panel layout is just so ridiculously cool!
From what we've seen in Forever Evil #1 months ago, most readers knew what would become of Nightwing and Zsasz's altercation. The morning after the fight, Dick is standing alone on a rooftop just as dawn begins to roll in. Dick thinks to himself one last time about the biggest question anyone can ask. Nightwing's answer to the question, "what is my life about?” is one the most honest and touching moments in comic history. What made that moment so special was that it captured the complete essence of the character in just one sentence.
When I read Nightwing's answer, I was emotionally moved by it because after all of the editorial shakeups with this book, Kyle Higgins was able to create a swan song for the character that finally after all these years, completely define who he is. There are no major twists in this issue. This issue to me is True Detective in comic book format in terms of set up. There are no huge shake ups or twists and turns to make his final issue more bombastic. Instead, Kyle Higgins delivers the only Nightwing story that focuses on the character's emotional developments while he deals with the greatest challenge the he has ever faced. Like Dick said in the issue he, "tried on" different people. He's a character who has always been on a 70+ year quest to find out who he truly is. Dick has always refused to let what has befallen him throughout his life define him. Through all the trials that Kyle has put him through, he has finally let Nightwing reach an answer.
It's as it should be, Nightwing is defined by his own experiences and has long since stopped being defined by Batman. Batman was only given one panel of his memories with the rest being adventures that he himself experienced. I wish more creators viewed Nightwing as a character with value on his own instead of being just another bat family member. Kyle Higgins sees the difference with Nightwing and I appreciate it. While I'm bummed that I'll never get to see the amazing things Kyle planned for the run like the "Mask Killer" and the "Order of the Wing", I will always hold a place in my heart for Kyle Higgins' Nightwing because this final issue of Nightwing has taken Nightwing out of Batman's shadow like never before. From the bottom of my heart, thank you Kyle Higgins. This is one of the few times I have been profoundly affected by a comic book.
If you are at all interested in this character, please do yourself a favor and get this book! The art is gorgeous and has Nightwing conquering darkness and emerging stronger from it like he should. It's also quite refreshing after seeing him strapped to a chair and a... MURDER MACHINE (I hate the name too Mat) for the last six months...