REVIEW: Nightwing #0

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It’s Nightwing’s origin for the New 52! How does Dick Grayson go from mild-mannered acrobat to super heroic tights-wearing acrobat? What new details will we learn from this new beginning? Read on to find out!

NIGHTWING #0
Writer: TOM DEFALCO and KYLE HIGGINS
Artist: EDDY BARROWS
Colorist: ROD REIS
Letterer: CARLOS MANGUAL
Editor: BRIAN CUNNINGHAM
Publisher: DC COMICS
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Nightwing: Dick Grayson led a happy but unusual life at Haly’s Circus as part of “The Flying Graysons” acrobatic act until Tony Zucco robbed him of his parents.

WHAT IS OLD IS NEW AGAIN

If the definition of insanity is repeating something over and over while expecting a different result, then my expectations for this issue were crazy. I’ll freely admit I haven’t been reading Nightwing in the New 52; in fact, the last Bat title I read with any regularity was Red Robin, so it’s possible my reading was colored by a lack of context. Given how much I’ve enjoyed most of what’s come out of the New 52, I expected there to be little tweaks and innovations to Nightwing’s origin, even though the Bat Family was largely shielded from the changes brought about in this new, condensed timeline. On its face, however, this issue is every Dick Grayson origin I’ve read since I was 10 years old. Not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though.

Read in a vacuum, this is an excellent tale of an extraordinary boy’s struggle to cope with both the loss of his parents and his nomadic, performer’s lifestyle. Already exceptionally talented person, chance allows Dick the resources and training to go beyond what even he could have expected of himself.

One small thing I found noteworthy was the change in Bruce and Dick’s early relationship. Rather than immediately taking Dick into his home, Bruce instead gives him a part-time job as a cover so he can help at the Bat-cave computer. Presumably Dick comes to live in Wayne Manor after the end of this issue, once he’s become the fully realized Robin. I thought this was a much more realistic evolution of their relationship, especially from a social services point of view. Though I felt bad for Dick that it meant he was still living at the orphanage.

EYE-CATCHING PANEL WORK

My favorite thing about this book was the panel layouts—I’m always on the lookout for non-traditional print layouts and this issue had them in spades. Especially eye-catching was the page immediately after Dick’s parents die; the blood-rimmed panels are a wonderful, if unsubtle, way of explaining what happened without belaboring things. Also the panel in which Dick quickly studies Bruce’s face is a great quick-hit demonstration of his observational skills and intellect.

As for the actual drawings? Well, they’re all quite technically proficient and of high quality, but they’re 95 percent homogenous with only one or two images that stand out—one of which is the unpolished, pencil-heavy images of Bruce’s past that Dick sees while researching on the computer. These images offer a lot of exposition with only one word.

Oh, and any time there’s flippin’ and flyin’ acrobatics in a book, I appreciate the ghostly images behind the character that represent the stages of movement the feats require. As a decided non-gymnast, they always help me get a grip on the action.

BOTTOM LINE: GREAT FOR WHAT IT IS, BUT NOTHING EARTH-SHATTERING

This was a good issue, but I can only read an origin story so many times and still have it resonate. It’s a fine retelling, but that’s all it is despite a tiny innovation here and there. If you’re new to Nightwing or the larger Bat-Family of books, then it might be worth your while to pick it up, but you won’t learn anything new about Dick Grayson than what already permeates the cultural zeitgeist. Three stars.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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