Book o’ The Week: Nightwing #0

Story: Kyle Higgins, Tom DeFalco. Art: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira. Colours: Rod Reis.

I’m no Dan The Automator. He’s prolific in a way that out-paces the bubonic plague, (and he’s really damn good for you), whilst I sit here struggle to fire off rimshot-worthy gags. His project, Lovage, compared thee to a book of the month. Well, I’m gonna up the ante and write up a book of the week.

A COMIC BOOK.

That’s cool. I’ll just sit here a few more seconds whilst you cultured readers shuffle off to check out the latest updates on janeausten.com, charlottebronte.com or even sammyhagar.com. Go on, I’ll be right here, with my modern mythology. Witness, Nightwing #0

 

“Look at your Batman, now back to me…now back to your Batman, now BACK to me…”

 

Good. Now that the beautiful art has scared off the condescending vultures let’s get talking about the book itself. This month, DC Comics has been releasing an issue #0 for each of their current titles. Ostensibly, these issues are telling the origin stories of the characters, and giving us insight into their pre-ongoing-monthly-comic lives. My favourite all-time character is grown-up Boy Wonder, Nightwing, aka Dick Grayson, aka the first hero titled Robin. Without fear of spoilers, I think it’s safe to assume you all know that Dick Grayson befalls a familial tragedy, and was thus taken in by billionaire vigilante (vigillionaire?) Bruce Wayne, to eventually become said money-man’s apprentice. This book is writers Higgins’ and DeFalco’s version of the death of the Grayson family, one of my favourite stories to read. How morbid! Shut up – I have precedent and reasoning.

There’s something timeless for me about the Grayson family story. On the surface, it always follows the same beats: Haly’s Circus is being hassled by mobsters, Haly won’t pay for their protection, mobsters bump off the Flying Graysons, Dick gets taken in by Bruce, eventually puts two and two together and gets Batman. The tragedy itself parallels that of the Wayne family, but it’s both the introduction of Dick and the way that Bruce is portrayed that really makes me love this story, no matter when or how it’s told. It’s one of the rare, true Bruce Wayne stories, as he reaches out to the Grayson boy as Bruce Wayne, without a shred of Batman about him. A truly humanising experience for him, it’s a rare glimpse at just how caring and sensitive this otherwise monolithic justice machine can be. Higgins/DeFalco do such a good job, that I’m happy to compare it to the cartoon two-parter “Robin’s Reckoning”. which told the same origin for Batman: The Animated Series. Given how I regard this series as the best version of most everything it ever did this is high praise, but very well-deserved.

Higgins/DeFalco have also managed to capture some of Grayson’s most endearing qualities, and showcases how they’ve been a part of his personality all along. First is his social ease, as unlike the brooding Batman, Nightwing is well-regarded and friends with all of the hero community – a go-to guy in a pantheon of go-to Gods. Within a few simple panels we get displays of Grayson’s highly attuned sense of people, with the way he interacts and his keen ability to read behaviour; both a demonstration of why he’s a guy everyone likes and a display of his natural detective skills. There’s also a great emphasis put on Grayson’s compassion, his drive is always to help and do right by others, a quality that sets him on the right path to vigilante-hood. And lastly, a new element I really got a kick out of, was his personal philosophy of always looking forward. As an acrobat, this could be a literal what’s-my-next-step, but also a simpler, proactive way of approaching life. Combined with Barrows’ and Ferreira’s animated art, this philosophy easily encapsulates the character’s inability to sit still. Having mentioned the art, it’s a good time to give a nod to the continuation of the multiple-Grayson’s-effect that Scott McDaniel developed back in the original Nightwing ongoing– a large panel of action will often show a progression of shadowy Grayson’s, indicating the deft acrobatics that move him from A to B. This method of capturing movement has always struck me as one of the strongest visual elements of a really good Grayson story.

The emphasis on these features makes young Dick Grayson a more complete person, and not just a blank slate of a kid who gets swept up on the crazy justice train. Having been reading Robin/Nightwing stories for so long, I now feel I’ve read an origin that gives me a youngster who very much resembles the adult that I know and love. In comparison, for a new starter I think this book introduces a true person and not a jumble of ideas that will later be assembled into a hero worthy of 70 years of stories.

Great job, Messrs Higgins, Barrows, DeFalco, Ferreira and Reis!
RATING: 4 Boy Wonders Out of 5

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~ by nick on September 20, 2012.

3 Responses to “Book o’ The Week: Nightwing #0”

  1. Nightwing is the best DC series right now, along with Animal Man and Team 7.

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