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Nightwing #13 - The Hunter Review

3

Nightwing is on the search for Lady Shiva in the latest issue of his self-titled series.

The Good

I was definitely looking forward to this issue of NIGHTWING because of the appearance of Lady Shiva. Shiva is, hands down, one of my all-time favorite Batman villains and characters, in general. However, the most recent portrayals of her character left much to be desired, so I was skeptical (yet hopeful) that she would be well presented in this issue. Needless to say, Lady Shiva doesn't really make much of an appearance in this issue of NIGHTWING at all. She appears towards the end of the issue, but is the main topic of discussion and of Nightwing's search throughout most of the comic. DeFalco plays her character up a lot in the dialogue; making sure that more than one character in the issue stresses how great of a hand -to- hand combatant she is -- even though we don't see a lot of it. I think that's good to a certain extent because it prepares the reader for the inevitable fight in the following issue; but there's something to be said for being shown that a character is good at something rather than told they excel at that one thing repeatedly.

DeFalco references events that have happened in DC comics in the past year. He brings back the "E.M.P. mask" we saw Dick utilize in BATMAN #1, and we see him do some investigative work in a very "Matches Mallone" sort of way. Presenting the character's "detective skills" is a digression from the acrobatic Dick Grayson, but adds versatility to the character. It shows the reader that Grayson is good at a lot of different things, not just one thing.

I really like the art in this issue a lot, I thought it was really well done. Although penciler Andres Guinaldo doesn't take a lot of liberties and doesn't get too creative with the structure and layout of the panels, it's still really pretty and well done. The inking and colors don't weigh down the pencils, either, and give the issue a lot of movement and flexibility.

The Bad

I really don't know who thought it would be a good idea to make Lady Shiva look like Shredder from the Ninja Turtles, but this has really got to change. I know this has nothing to do with the creative team on this issue and that it's strictly an editorial decision, but I don't know why anyone would want to change Shiva's costume from what it was in HUSH.

This issue could have been better than it was. First, it didn't feel like it had a distinct direction and it jumped around a lot. We saw Nightwing go from one place to another, in search of something. Initially, his only clue into the situation was that it was a quiet night; but you would think that he would need more of an incentive to go into "detective mode." It just struck me as bizarre that every villain in the city was better informed than Nightwing about Lady Shiva's return to Gotham. Pre 'New 52' Lady Shiva always had an incentive for killing. She didn't simply massacre people for the sake of massacring them, but how much of her character is the same in this new universe? I think it would have been more interesting if DeFalco had established Shiva's motives for being in Gotham in this issue, and had put Nightwing on her trail based on her motives. It would have been better to focus on why the character is in Gotham rather than simply that the character is in Gotham.

There were scenes that started, but ended abruptly. The scene where Sonia Branch arranges a meeting with Dick Grayson, for example, doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose at all. The scene that follows it with Dick and Barbara is similar. What purpose does it serve other than to establish a rift in the relationship between the two characters, and imply that Barbara is unprepared to fight the Joker? Additionally, a lot of the language in this scene feels like it's "Pre New 52." The way Barbara says "why bother? We both know how this ends" is a good example of that. There was a lot of Barbara feeling like she could not count on Dick Grayson in their pre- New 52 appearances when Barbara was Oracle. This sentiment resurfaces here, leaving the reader with the impression that the characters have a deeper history than they actually do; even though much of it has been wiped away.

The Verdict

Overall, this issue feels like it has a lot of dead ends. We see one scene, and then see it come to an abrupt end and serve virtually no purpose. The motivation behind Lady Shiva's appearance in Gotham is not even hinted at, which makes this feel strange. It's as though you could switch in anyone in Batman's rogue's gallery for Shiva, which is kind of disappointing. The relationship between Dick and Barbara as well as Dick and Sonia is bizarre. Dick alluding to Batman's relationship with Catwoman and comparing it to his relationship with Sonia felt a bit off too. I think the important thing to remember is that Dick Grayson is not Batman, and DC doesn't need to make him Batman to make him interesting. Do something new with his character that hasn't been done before; don't dwell so much on Batman's history. Don't let Dick ride on Batman's coat tails, so to speak.

This issue of NIGHTWING left something to be desired. It could have been better organized, and could have been more clear in the motives of the characters. The issue features some really pretty art, though, which was good. Hopefully the next issue is more clear in its storytelling.

9 Comments
Posted by Mucklefluga

Why wasn't Kyle Higgins writing this issue?

Edited by viin

It would say its an alright jumping on point but not much progression...if your excited about whats on the cover..youll be waiting til next month...

And if you like Kyle Higgins writing you shouldnt have much of a problem with Tom Defalco. It honestly didnt really hit me that it wasnt Higgins til I was about done with the book but I will for sure be getting the next issue.

Posted by kennybaese

@Mucklefluga: I think Higgins said he is taking issues 13 and 14 off to focus on the DotF tie in issues.

Posted by Krissyjump

Overall, I felt what was contained in the issue was good, but I do agree that something was missing. I feel like a lot of what happened could have been done on less pages. It was by no means bad, but I kind of wish it had been a little tighter with some more coherent direction, but I enjoyed it for what it was. It's just a shame that it was a quick read. It took only a couple of minutes at best to finish, which I think adds to the 'something is missing' feeling.

I was happy to see Dick doing more detective work. Though I think Dick did have a big enough reason to go into detective mode. As he said, when Joker is around that usually electrifies people and there is more going on, but this time it's different, everything is totally quiet, so it makes sense he'd want to know why things are different this time.

The conversation between Babs and Dick was nice, and as you said it did have a bit of a pre-52 vibe, which is something that I do have to say that I've missed in many of the books. Anyways, I like the issue and that the next issue has more happen in it. I want more Shiva! Also, I hope Higgins returns soon. :)

Posted by longbowhunter

I dropped this due to DeFalco's involvement. Kyle Higgins was barely doing it for me as is. Think I'll pick up 15 & 16 though.

Posted by xAnimosity

@longbowhunter said:

I dropped this due to DeFalco's involvement. Kyle Higgins was barely doing it for me as is. Think I'll pick up 15 & 16 though.

I agree with this. I just read the first 12 issues and thought it had a lot of ups and downs. The last arc with Paragon was pretty boring in my opinion. I think I am going to drop this title and pick it up again just for DotF. Which is a bummer because Im a big Dick Grayson fan.

Posted by whitelantern64

Why do I feel that the big reveal is that Lady Shiva is Sonia and Dicks gonna fall in love with Sonia and then find out that shes Lady Shiva ala batman mask of phantasm like? Also, anyone else notice that the person that Sonia turned down for a loan was the person who was killed by Lady Shiva, just saying cause it wasn't mentioned in the review and that seemed like a big deal.

Posted by mzultan17

@whitelantern64 said:

Why do I feel that the big reveal is that Lady Shiva is Sonia and Dicks gonna fall in love with Sonia and then find out that shes Lady Shiva ala batman mask of phantasm like? Also, anyone else notice that the person that Sonia turned down for a loan was the person who was killed by Lady Shiva, just saying cause it wasn't mentioned in the review and that seemed like a big deal.

Also The Penguin said Lady Shiva seemed to be close in age to Dick, I thought that was the biggest hint that Sonia was Lady Shiva.

Edited by BatWatch

I agree that Lady Shiva's new look needs to go. I have mixed feelings about the long hair with blades in it, but everything else is a definite misstep. If not for the blades, she would almost look like she was wrapped in some sort of pillows.

I enjoyed it a lot more than you did. I think the main difference is that you felt the issue did not go anywhere wherein I felt it was building for things to come. I guess the real deciding factor will be how well future issues follow up on the small subplots of this issue.

Here is my review for all interested:

http://www.comicvine.com/nightwing-the-hunter/37-362157/user-reviews/?review_id=32483

@whitelantern64 said:

Why do I feel that the big reveal is that Lady Shiva is Sonia and Dicks gonna fall in love with Sonia and then find out that shes Lady Shiva ala batman mask of phantasm like? Also, anyone else notice that the person that Sonia turned down for a loan was the person who was killed by Lady Shiva, just saying cause it wasn't mentioned in the review and that seemed like a big deal.

That idea crossed my mind, but I didn't figure it really worked. We get the impression that Lady Shiva has been traveling from town to town, but Branch seems to be based in Gotham. I suppose it would make sense though if she was trying to make up for her father's crimes. Still, where would she get all the martial arts training? I don't know. I almost wish it would be true because I find Sonia to be an annoying character, and if she were Shiva, she would probably be written out of the series in the next few issues.

I thought maybe it was Sonia's assistant who just popped up in the same issue as Lady Shiva. You always have to be suspicious of that sort of thing.