New 52 – Nightwing #19 review

Brett Booth artwork and a bold new direction are in store for Wingnuts this month!

Here we have an issue that will give fans a lot to discuss but I don’t really know how much I should give away because every page is something relatively new. It’s one of the best jumping-on points for any bat-title I’ve seen in some time.

One drastic change that you will already know about from reading last month’s issue as well as Detective Comics #19 is that Dick Grayson has moved to Chicago. He’s in the Windy City to hunt down none other than Tony Zucco, the man who killed his parents. So the stakes are pretty high. And they go much higher than Zucco being a typical gangster and that was a really refreshing surprise. Add on a super villain and the fact that Chicago sicks a SWAT team or two anytime a costumed crime fighter is spotted and you have pretty intriguing new arc on your hands.

But I think the biggest element people will be talking about is the new artist, Brett Booth who is coming over from Teen Titans. His more animated style and flair for elaborate page layouts proves to be a perfect fit for Nightwing. I really liked Burrows’ pencils but I also always thought that he was better suited for drawing Batman than Nightwing because he always drew Grayson as being far more bulky and every scene felt incredibly heavy and grim. What Booth gives us is a more slender, acrobatic looking Dick Grayson. It’s an all around more energetic looking book that better fits the tone that a Dick Grayson story should have. And while the action and character movement are great, be sure to pay close attention to the backgrounds. The attention to detail on the architecture should be applauded.

It’s an already lively story made all the more fun by detailed, dynamic pencils and some spectacularly vibrant colors by Andrew Dalhouse. And that’s the key element here that I liked so much: it’s fun. Dick Grayson’s story has been awfully gloomy for a while and that’s not what’s appealing about his character. Sure, we need to put him through the wringer from time to time but the New 52 Nightwing hasn’t had a whole lot of adventure or heroic moments in general. Each of his arcs have ended in tragedy and issue #19 presents us with the possibility of bringing closure to the very biggest tragedy in Dick’s life with the hunt for Tony Zucco and a fresh start with a brand new setting and supporting cast. The Court of Owls and Death of the Family were Batman’s stories and yet Grayson was pulled into the mess and had to suffer for a bit. This, on the other hand, is entirely Dick’s story so hopefully we’ll get to see him ride off into the sunset for a change. Some elements like the inevitable roommate drama and the fact that Dick Grayson is now poor are going to bring on a plethora of Peter Parker comparisons will likely become a problem in the future but for now I’m hopeful.

In my recent review of Batgirl #19 I commented on how none of the bat-titles are particularly fun at the moment and now here this book comes! Nightwing surfing a train with a smile on his face.

My only real complaint about this issue is that it perhaps tries to do too much. It’s as if author Kyle Higgins was so excited about all the new possibilities that he tried to squeeze them all in a single issue and that just wasn’t necessary. Still yet, even with the introduction of a surprise super villain, a mimic, an “information broker”, Tony Zucco, political conspiracy, and battles with SWAT the book somehow manages not to become overwhelming. It comes close! But by the end I felt rather satisfied. I have a lot of unanswered questions, but I’m not frustrated so much as I am curious to see those questions answered in episodes to come.

Is the Prankster the very same C-list Superman villain or is this a totally new character who just so happens to have the same name? I will say that I don’t really care for his character design at all and it made for a pretty underwhelming gate-fold cover reveal. I mean, you open the cover up to unveil…a person who nobody has ever seen before. That’s kind of a letdown. Thankfully the content within is entertaining and the Prankster actually appears to be somewhat formidable in a Jigsaw (from the movie “Saw”, not the Punisher villain) sort of way. The most unnecessary inclusion would have to be the Mimic called Lisa. Her schizophrenic/Gollum thing she has going on might make her a rather quirky villain in the future but that scene kind of came out of left field for me. I already had enough on my plate with Zucco, the cops, and Prankster. But who knows, her role in this story could prove to be one of the better ones. It’s too soon to call.

It’s an issue that every Batman fan should check out. Nightwing truly feels like a completely new book and it’s worth seeing if it’s your cup of tea or not. Not only does everything look more colorful and kinetic, but perhaps most importantly, Nightwing has broken free of the Owl and Joker crossovers of Gotham and moved to a different setting where he can have his own adventures. Come meet the new cast of characters, get a feel for the hero-hating city of Chicago and decide if a more Peter Parker-esque Dick Grayson is what you’re looking for.

SCORE: 8.5/10