This week, there were two comics that stood out to me above the rest: Nightwing and Batwoman. Casual observers will notice that for the first time in a while, no Marvel books featured. Cable & X-Force and Captain America were good, but these two were awesome.
Welcome to the Windy City, Dick Grayson. This week, Nightwing makes his move to my hometown of Chicago with nary a penny to his name. Until last issue, I didn’t know Chicago was actually a place in the DC Universe. Marvel is set in our world, but DC is it’s own place, so I wasn’t sure if Chicago existed, but I’m glad it does. I’m was hoping they’d throw some shoutouts to us Midwest comic fans, and I wasn’t disappointed. On the second page, we have Nightwing fleeing from a helicopter, and right in the background, there’s the Sears Tower. Thank you, Kyle Higgins.
But apart from me being excited because Nightwing’s here, the move has larger implications for Dick. First off, he’s truly by himself now. Yes, he was on his own in Bludhaven before, but it was close enough that Bruce or Tim (or Cassandra) could come help him or vice versa. Chicago’s quite a bit farther away. If he gets in trouble, he’s gonna have to get out. Second, Chicago is a ‘no-masks’ city. Vigilantes are outlawed, it’s an openly hostile environment for Dick. I like this idea, it’s fairly unexplored in recent comics, a city that has said ‘no more heros’ (Just like Suda 51). And yet, he has a mission and he’s going to complete it. Just might be a little difficult. Next, new city means no intel, informants or fear. If Nightwing wants to get Tony Zucco, he’s gonna have to start at the bottom of the organized crime ladder and work his way up. His stay in Chicago might be a be longer than he had hoped. Lots of things to make life interesting for him.
The art is incredible in this issue. New artistic team, and I really hope that Booth and Rapmund stick around for a while. Nightwing hasn’t looked this good in a long time. And while I do prefer the classic blue suit, (which feels referenced by having Dick wear a blue shirt in civilian clothes) , the red really works. Dick looks great as both himself and Nightwing. Chicago looks awesome, the action scenes are fluid and smooth, and the comic just looks great all around.
One thing that Nightwing writers have always had to deal with how to differentiate Dick from Bruce. It’s too easy to turn him into just another Batman knockoff, another dark vigilante of the night. And while he certainly has learned a great deal from his mentor, Dick Grayson is definitely his own person, and that why I think I like him more than Bruce Wayne. Don’t get me wrong, I love Batman, but given the choice between the two, I’ll go with Grayson pretty much every time. It’s the small things like allowing himself to enjoy what he does, or the fact that ‘Dick Grayson’ isn’t a cover identity, but two parts to who he is. Nuances that Higgins has been able to bring out to great effect.
Just an overall great issue. The writing is fun, there’s good action and character moments, and the art is really fantastic. Probably the best New 52 issue of Nightwing yet. Bravo.
And my vote for favorite cover of the month goes to Batwoman. In a month of big covers from DC, this one is my favorite. The fold works perfectly in this one. Often it was used to hide this week’s bad guy, but here it’s a bit more sinister and artistic. We have Maggie (Batwoman’s fiance) still suffering the the effects of the fear toxin. Beautiful and creepy cover. Batwoman’s always been more of an artistic book in both visual and narrative style, and this cover reflects that well. While I am saddened that Williams is only writing and no longer doing the art (while he works on Sandman with Neil Awesome Gaiman), the book still looks good overall. Granted not as good as it did before, but still good.
This issue begins the next arc for Kate, and it’s really the second arc. The first eighteen issues can be put together into one single long story. That’s rather incredible. So the first arc focused on Batwoman’s place in the DCU, and gave her a big epic story, this arc is bringing the focus in much closer and focusing on family. Recently engaged, what will this mean for Kate? Also, Beth’s back in the picture and the guy that’s been blackmailing you may or may not be your brother. And your cousin is tagging along on your superhero exploits, whether you want her to or not. Also, your Dad is probably withholding information again. Good times. Makes my family look normal. But it’s not just the Kane clan. The book opens with Agent Chase talking to her sister, and we learn her motivation. She’s still a prick, but at least we know where she’s coming from now.
Both Nightwing #19 and Batwoman #19 are great jumping on points and I strongly urge you to check ’em out. Great issues for great series.