This issue spends the bulk of its time elaborating on William Cobb’s past. It’s fascinating stuff that not only builds on the history of this character, but Nightwing’s past and the history of Gotham itself. Now, just because I say that this deals with a lot of back-story doesn’t mean that Higgins and company skimped on the action this time around. There’s plenty of broken bones, shattered glass, and other brutal surprises to keep you entertained. It’s just not quite as action-packed as last month’s issue because, as you can imagine, Nightwing is exhausted! Unlike some of the other Night of the Owls tie-in books (I’m looking at Catwoman, Robin, Batgirl, and Red Hood), Nightwing is actually facing Talons (Plural! He’s not just facing one, he’s had to go up against one after another!) that are a real threat. Last month’s issue ended with him taking several throwing knives to the chest and that was after he just got done burying his eskrima stick into another Talon’s eye socket. You’re going to see not only how tough Nightwing is, but in this confrontation with Cobb you’re going to see how much will power and confidence he has as well as his improvisational skills when the chips are down. He may not be able to throw a punch like he did in issue #8, but he has more than enough tricks up his sleeve to stay alive and keep you as a reader entertained.

A lot of what makes the action and emotion of these last two issues work is the art by Eddy Barrows. Barrows’ pencils seem to be getting better and better with each issue and I like how he’s not afraid to take risks in the way he panels a page. Fill-in artist Andres Guinaldo’s pencils on the other hand didn’t quite blend as well with Barrows’ work, but it wasn’t jarring. It’s still quality work, but it didn’t match up with the look and feel that Barrows was delivering. I just wish that Barrows could have finished the entire issue since it is such an important chapter in Dick’s history.

My only real complaint besides the lack of enough Barrows in this issue is that bringing down Cobb was way too easy. The whole issue, with all of its Grayson family history squeezed in gave the book a rushed feel when it deserved much more attention than this.

Spoiler
Nightwing says he brought Cobb down to the subway but that’s just not the case. He may have fallen in the direction of the subway and hoped that Cobb dragged him the rest of the way inside, but that’s a hell of a gambit. I still don’t understand why Cobb pulled Nightwing into the subway. There was no reason to pull Nightwing deeper into the station when he was beaten on the steps.  Nightwing also would’ve had to hope that wherever Cobb took him would be beneath some big power cables. But it wasn’t so much the big leap in logic it took to get that plan to work, it’s that Cobb didn’t get out of the way. Nightwing looks directly overhead and fully explains that the pipes above are full of liquid nitrogen and that he’s going to burst them and freeze Cobb. And what’s Cobb do? He just stands there and takes it. So what do you think happens to Cobb now? What’s happening to all of these Talons that are getting tied up or frozen? Do you think we’ll ever get an explanation? Would you like to see Cobb become a recurring villain for Nightwing?

And what are your thoughts on the shake-up of Dick’s family history? I’m a bit nervous about it all, especially with what’s going on in the “Batman” back-up story with Alfred’s father. Having the Waynes be haunted by Ninja Owl Assassins doesn’t sit well with me. They were a good family that got gunned down by petty crime, why over complicate something so perfect? And I’m not sure how I feel about over complicating Dick’s family history, either. Coming from a long line of assassins connected to a secret society? It seems unnecessary as well.

Overall this was another solid issue. Nightwing has been fantastic for the past three or four months now in both art and story. It’s a good time to be a fan of Dick Grayson.

SCORE: 8.5/10