After so many issues with Dick Grayson as Batman, the idea of him returning to his Nightwing guise felt like it would be a step back. After reading Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows' first issue, it's clear why being Nightwing makes sense.
It's no secret that I enjoyed Dick Grayson as Batman. It was especially made clear in Detective Comics. We got to see Dick evolve as a character and grow into a better hero. While I was excited for the return of the Nightwing persona, I wasn't sure how the execution would turn out. Seeing Nightwing leaping off rooftops in the very beginning, with a blazing red symbol on his chest, makes it clear that Dick should be Nightwing. It's definitely more fitting for who he is. He had mentioned in the past about difficulties with his acrobatic ways and the Batman costume, specifically the cape. Seeing him in action just amps up the level of excitement. Nightwing is back.
The inner monologue Dick shares about his time as Batman and what it's taught him reassures us that those stories haven't disappeared with 'The New 52.' He mentions how things in the city have changed and even how the city started to change him, a theme common to Scott Snyder's Batman #1. After surviving everything the city could throw at him as Batman, Dick should be able to take on anything, right? But what happens when Haley's Circus comes to town?
I've read a lot of Batman and Nightwing comics over the years but I honestly can't recall seeing Dick revisit his time in the circus. It's possible I'm simply forgetting any issues. We've seen mention and flashbacks but I don't remember him actually visiting anyone he knows. Besides his parents, the circus was his family. The re-introduction of them is brilliant. Now comes the dilemma, Dick has finally established himself in Gotham after refusing to fully set down roots but with the circus in town (and if you've seen the solicits for the next couple issues), you know the circus will be a factor in his life decisions.
Eddy Barrows' art and Rod Reis' colors add to the comics bold feel. The action has a hard feel to it and there is a great mixture of darkness from the city along with enough lighting from buildings and street lamps to give a little brightness associated with Nightwing. There is plenty of action that often has to get pushed aside for a first issue.
With a deadly new mystery in town, this issue will make you want to ensure it's on your pull list. Next issue looks to be just as full of action, excitement and blood as this one.
With the 'New 52,' it's understandable that the focus has to be on Dick Grayson as a character and being Nightwing. I can't help but wonder what happened in between this issue and Gates of Gotham #5. There is a great inner monologue referring to being Batman and being Nightwing does make more sense. You just can't help but wonder what went on between Dick and Bruce. Was it Dick's decision to go back to Nightwing as hinted in Justice League of America #60 or did Bruce have something to say about as hinted in Gates?
Also with the 'New 52' books, there seems to be an added level of violence across many books. If you want blood, you're going to find it in this book. The fight scenes can get a bit violent. It's a good thing to add a little realism. When people exchange blows, there's going to be some blood. Also some foes may have a more deadly nature. That will make sure it's not just a walk in the park for Nightwing.
It's great seeing the circus but I will be giving this possible direction close scrutiny.
Dick Grayson is back as Nightwing and he gets plenty of action testing out his new costume. A great first issue for new readers with mention of his past and time as Batman. Dick has finally settled into who he is and where he belongs. Unfortunately the return of Haley's Circus will add turmoil to his life and give us an interesting story as he now has to decide what he wants. Higgins and Barrows do a great job capturing the action with Nightwing and making it stand apart from Dick's adventures as Batman. The city scenes are full of light and dark that truly describe where Dick is right now. This isn't just a story full of Nightwing beating up street thugs. He will be facing a deadly foe that raises the stakes. Hopefully he'll survive long enough to keep his Nightwing identity. Nightwing was enjoyable and will be at the top of my reading list each month.