New 52 – Nightwing #4 review

Nightwing has been a reliable book month after month—not great, not terrible. Just okay. The potential has always been there though. Author Kyle Higgins had Dick inherit the circus, get hunted by an assassin, and now he’s unearthing a mystery as he tours the States with the rest of the carnies—and fights local baddies along the way. It’s fresh and progressive, but it never really blossomed. Until now.

This is the best issue of Nightwing, yet. Both in art and in writing. This is the sort of thrilling, fun, energetic stuff that Nightwing fans have been waiting for and it’s the Batgirl/Nightwing team-up we should have had in Batgirl #3.

Behold! Witty banter! Is there anything better? And rich characterization in both the words they say and the body language. Embarrassment, flirtation, it’s all on display here and…it’s just flat out fun. There’s a life to it all. And that’s largely due to the work of replacement artist Trevor McCarthy.

Don’t get me wrong, Barrows is a great artist, but his Nightwing is a bit…grim.

It’s beautiful work, but THIS man, Eddy Barrows, his talents are being wasted on Nightwing. Look at the brooding atmosphere, the bulky muscles…the guy should be drawing a bat-title, sure, but it should be one that actually has Batman. Barrows could rock a Batman title. Nighwing, on the other hand is supposed to be the fun one! He should be lean, acrobatic, have a smirk on his face, and a lust for life in his eyes as he swings through the city. Like this:

That’s from this issue. That’s the work of replacement artist Trevor McCarthy and that is the sort of high flying fun that I like to see from the art side of Nightwing comic.

Now back to the story. This, by all rights could have been a throwaway issue. A cute little team-up that satisfies the fans who have been clamoring for Dick and Barbara to have more time together (just do a little “will-they-won’t-they” and everybody’s happy). It could’ve been used as filler in between cities as Higgins sets up the big reveal of Saiko’s identity and motivations. Instead, we get the best dialogue of any issue so far, a top-notch team-up that’ll make you wish that Batgirl was in every issue, and progression in the “Heart of the Circus” mystery.

Nightwing #4 brings back old memories of seeing Babs and Dick fighting alongside one another, while delivering a totally fresh experience. Watching Nightwing deal with his love life, fight common thugs in a new city, and take on new responsibilities as the owner of the circus have proven to be far more interesting than his bouts with new villain Saiko, who isn’t interesting in his motivations or his character design (Wolverine claws? 2 Wolverine claws?). This is an issue that for the first time really showcases the kind of great stories that come out of Dick Grayson’s new life.

Which artist do you prefer for Nightwing: Barrows or McCarthy?

SCORE: 9/10