Kyle Higgins, Will Conrad
Spoiler alert! You have been warned!
Though he does in the artwork for the cover of this issue, do not be fooled. Brett Booth is not doing the interiors on this issue of Nightwing. And according to several preview images and cryptic twitter comments, he might not be returning to interiors for quite some time, if ever. He will be doing covers for the time being, but I guess it’s up to the fans to either get over it or just get used to artist Will Conrad’s artwork, which, let me tell you, is still pretty good. Even if he is really trying his best to fool us into thinking that he’s Brett Booth. Other than a few awkward facial expressions here and there, the artwork is relatively consistent and doesn’t detract from the book at all. But I’ll be the first to admit that I was slightly ticked off when I opened up the book and saw that one of my favorite artists was no longer drawing one of my favorite characters.
The art gripes aside, this issue was a pretty good read. Continuing the ongoing storylines of Dick searching for Tony Zucco and connecting his crimes and past to the corrupt Mayor of Chicago, this issue has quite a few humorous one-liners that showcase just how different Nightwing is from the rest of the Batman family. Especially now that Gail Simone has ruined Barbara Gordon, it is extremely important that writers like Kyle Higgins are allowed to write what they know and keep even the darkest of stories going with a few well-placed comic relief moments. Which he does very well. So even though we see that the Prankster is recruiting gangsters and Tony Zucco is becoming a desperate man with a secret to hide and a family to protect, things are always going to stay relatively lighthearted. At least, on the surface. And that’s what makes the chaos in Chicago, orchestrated by the Prankster, so much more effective than the regular old anarchy we’ve come to expect in Gotham City at the hands of Batman’s various rogues gallery members. Batman is grumpy and hates everyone and his life is terrible. But the former Boy Wonder is always looking for the good in everyone and usually, like in this case, he lets the villain get the best of him. So when the Prankster causes complete pandemonium on the streets and holds Chicago’s finest at gunpoint, literally, it’s important for the reader to realize the stakes. This isn’t just some idiot who has no fear of consequences and wants to kill a bunch of people. It’s a man on a mission who was let go by a vigilante who didn’t quite think things through entirely.
By making whatever happens next the title character’s fault, it makes him not only a more sympathetic narrator, but a truly conflicted hero. When you think about it, this classic story has been told countless times in Batman books, but for some reason, we’re always okay with the whole “he jumped in and stopped him at the last minute” thing because, well, it’s Batman. And he’s awesome. But there’s a pretty good chance that Nightwing is in way over his head on this one, which adds genuine drama to the situation. And it’s exciting to see him wisecracking and hopping around, just in time for a villain who didn’t really seem all that bad at first going completely crazy and doing the unthinkable. I’m sure there’s going to be a “the ends justify the means” speech when he gets caught or is confronted, but the fact will still remain that every single life that has been ruined or taken is going to fall on the shoulders of the hero who refuses to embrace the darkness and become the man who raised him to be nothing like the man he is today. Eventually, what with the Joker’s rampage and the years of child endangerment, and whatever will happen at the conclusion of this story, Dick’s going to snap. He has to. The question isn’t of when. It’s going to be how. And more importantly, how far will he go once he finally gives in and loses his sense of humor completely.
My Rating: 4.5/5