Damn you, Brett Booth, why did you have to leave this title? Just like the last two issues, Nightwing looks fantastic, there’s lots of energy, and a great deal of fun to be had. It’s just a really good series to be reading right now. Both writer Kyle Higgins and the art team are delivering again and again.

Last month’s installment, “Flying Blind” ended in a cliffhanger that featured Dick Grayson in a deathtrap with the only apparent means of escape being to surrender his mask and reveal his identity to The Prankster. How does Nightwing escape? Can he escape? Is Prankster really Dick Grayson’s new female roommate or the similarly blonde “mimic” from issue #20 as many have speculated? All of these questions are answered in this issue and we also uncover more of the mystery behind Chicago’s past with masked avengers and get a glimpse at Tony Zucco’s private life, which will come as quite a surprise to many readers.

It’s an issue that provides less action than we’ve grown accustomed to from the new creative team but it supplies quite a few answers and builds on the obstacles Nightwing has been facing in his new town. Many of these obstacles are surprisingly complex and plant Nightwing in a bit of a moral conundrum. The one action scene we do get, however, the death-trap, is pretty underwhelming. The way in which Nightwing escapes is too simple to be exciting and wraps up so quickly that it was even included in the free preview of this issue. But thankfully the character moments and mystery that follow in this issue make up for the lackluster escape from the backdraft exhibit and we get another fantastic issue. What is a backdraft exhibit anyway, is that a real thing? How does it work? What would the museum have to show its visitors? “See this sealed off tank with a flame inside? If any of you opened the door or broke the glass, there would be a huge explosion that would harm all of us.”

And as for the identity of Prankster:

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I can’t help but wonder if maybe the villain really was supposed to be Dick’s roommate but it was changed at the last minute or it really was meant to be a fake-out. Right up until the end there are hints that Prankster is a girl. He’s even shown to be wearing heels when Nightwing brings him down. The reveal that it’s just some nameless dude might be a let down for those who have been guessing about this for the past two months.

Nightwing is one of the most consistently enjoyable books I pick up right now, but I’m a little worried about Booth’s departure next month. This issue proved that, while we’ve been praising his energetic action scenes over and over again, he can pull off quieter, more talkative issues like this exceedingly well too. And I really loved this visual of the hero Slipshift from the book’s opening pages:

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Just that image of him leaving a trail of blood as he crawls into a wall to die is very cool.

Slipshift

Overall

“Cost of Living” is a very quick read that does a great job of advancing the plot. As usual, the artwork by Booth, Rapmund, and Dalhouse fits the tone of the series perfectly and there are some wonderful page layouts, but this is really more of a talkie-issue without as much of the dynamic action we’ve all enjoyed so much from the previous two installments. Instead, it adds greater depth to both the Chicago Heroes mystery and the hunt for Tony Zucco and proves that Nightwing’s journey is about to get a lot more difficult.

SCORE: 8/10