I must admit I was a bit worried going into issue #11. After 11 months of Court of Owls business doing yet another secret society storyline definitely didn’t peak my interest, but I’m happy to report that Kyle Higgins is handling his own clandestine organization differently enough that this story feels fresh and 100% Nightwing.
The Court of Owls were very creepy and I loved them as villains for the first 6 issues of “Batman” but after a while it became evident that their plan wasn’t that great and deep down they were pretty one-dimensional baddies with no clear motivation. The Republic of Tomorrow, besides their leader wielding weapons that are a blatant ripoff of Iron Man villain Whiplash, are a far more believable band of baddies. Their plan: save Gotham by taking out these vigilantes that are spawning more trouble than they are preventing–makes sense. Their members: just ordinary guys who have had enough– and they actually act like it. There aren’t any mindless henchmen here. When they get their asses kicked they actually begin to doubt their purpose and debate abandoning the mission altogether! They’re not just nameless punching bags for Nightwing to work on, they’re real people.
Even the secondary bad-guy, Detective Nie is given a wonderful motivation for tracking down Nightwing– everyone in this book has a desire, a drive, a purpose, and that is the #1 thing that any character and any good story needs.
I highly recommend you buy this book, but it’s not without its weaknesses. A couple shots of Dick in the opening pages give him a bit of an oddly shaped head, his idea for stopping a disaster seemed a bit ludicrous to me but it looked cool, and there are way, way too many Editor’s notes in this book. It felt like every other page had a yellow box popping up, reminding us of something that happened in just the last issue or as far back as issue #1. It’s just more evidence that DC needs to do the “Previously On…” page that Marvel is fond of. It looks better and the stories flow a heck of a lot better when you bundle them together in a trade paperback later on. Speaking of later printings, I hope someone catches the lettering mistake in which Nightwing says “We’re both trying to solve who killed the your friends.”
You’ll also notice that Burrows isn’t drawing the book. That’s fine, the guy needed a break since he hasn’t completed a full issue in a while and his art is worth waiting for. Fill-in artist, Andres Guinaldo, does a fine job here especially with the action, richly detailed backgrounds, and expressive faces–but being so prone to emotive faces is a bit of a double edged sword. When they aren’t picture perfect to the mood of the scene and the character’s facial structure they can look downright ugly, awkward and make the people look like their faces are made of puddy. Some shots look wonderful, others don’t, but for the most part I really liked the job he did here. I can’t stress enough how much I appreciate the detail that he put into the scenery. The crumbling clocktower, Dick’s apartment, the batcave, and Gordon’s office all look fantastic. I hate it when artists don’t spend enough time on the backgrounds, but Guinaldo put the work in and it makes for a book I can really immerse myself in.
Overall this is a pretty great comic. The main villain has a look that’s a bit over-the-top, some of the panels look a little awkward, and it does reference some things that are so far back that you’ll need to re-read some back-issues to get a good grasp on things but I liked it quite a bit and I’m looking forward to what comes next. This book has been delivering the goods month after month.