By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
Pre-New 52 Nightwing was one of my absolute favorite characters. But these days? Not so much. Not only has the novelty of his red costume worn off, but this Dick Grayson feels like he’s been robbed of so much of his depth and intrigue. He feels like just another one of Batman’s stringers, as opposed to a man who decided to forge his own path. While he’s moved to a new city, this is hardly a fresh start for our hero.
After learning that Tony Zucco, the man who murdered his parents, is still alive and in Chicago, Dick Grayson relocates to the Windy City. But in the DC Universe, Chicago has a strict “no capes” policy. This means Nightwing is as much an outlaw as the criminals he’s pursuing. As our hero works to track down Zucco, a masked villain called the Prankster wreaks havoc, and is undoubtedly on a collision course with the former Boy Wonder.
I’ve had it out for Brett Booth for a couple of years now. I’m completely and utterly sour on the direction he helped take Teen Titans in when the reboot happened. It’s going to take a long time for me to forgive him for the mess that is Red Robin’s costume. He does alright this issue despite having to draw Dick with the red costume. The opening sequence with him running from the police across the rooftops is fairly reminiscent of the way Justice League #1 opened. But I do have a question: In the shot you see on the right here, why are Nightwing’s legs wide open like that? This issue dedicates a two-page spread to our hero assuming a position that’s often seen in the adult film industry. He’s supposed to be jumping across a rooftop, right? That hardly seems aerodynamic…
The Prankster we see here is a revamp of a classic Superman villain. The last time we saw him, he was a game show host-looking Joker knocking off with a green suit and a goatee. This Prankster is much more menacing, with a black and yellow outfit, a long coat, and a mask not dissimilar to the white ones we’ve seen the Court of Owls wear. His pranks are cruel, but he apparently has a sense of social justice about him. He could prove to be an interesting friend or foe for Nightwing.
As a Chicago native, I’m not sure what I expected this issue to be from a “Hey, that’s where I live!” standpoint. The Willis Tower (remember, it’s not the Sears Tower anymore) is prominently on display, and some of the architecture looks vaguely familiar. But the art doesn’t scream Chicago. I wonder if this is how New Yorkers feel when they read Spider-Man or Daredevil…
Since the reboot, I’ve actually come close to dropping Nightwing from my pull list a couple of times. It’s not necessarily Kyle Higgins’ fault. With the New 52, he company forced ALL its characters to drop some of their baggage, but as such they also lost a lot of the depth and backstory that made them interesting. I wasn’t enamored with Dick coming back to the circus either. We’ve seen that story a bunch of times. I was hoping Nightwing #19 would start the character down a path that would freshen him up a bit. But despite its strong points, I’m not sure this issue gave us that.
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