With many comics at DC this month tying into the “Zero Year” storyline running in “Batman,” at a glance “Nightwing” seems like a natural addition. The character is long associated with Batman, and it also gives his title a small amount of breathing room as the character is put through the wringer in the “Forever Evil” mini-series. But of course, since this story takes place in the past, it’s a point in time where Dick Grayson hadn’t even become Robin, much less Nightwing. So what to do?
The result is a comic that has Dick in Gotham with the rest of Haly’s Circus on the eve of the Riddler’s blackout. It’s a reasonable enough method to get him in on the action, as Dick ends up in a movie theatre when the power cuts out and chaos breaks out across the city. Interestingly enough, I feel like Kyle Higgins is playing with the blackout’s effect much more than we’re getting in “Batman” itself. While that book has the tight focus on Bruce Wayne and his efforts to stop the villains of the piece, “Nightwing” allows readers to see what’s happening on the street level. It’s a good way to let the tie-ins bring something extra to the “Zero Year” storyline as a whole instead of simply feeling like a rehash of what we’re getting in the parent title.
Higgins’ story feels a little predictable in places — he advances Dick’s character by having him learn a lesson about how one should treat friends/co-workers — but it’s still enjoyable. The guest supporting cast help bring everything forward to just the right moments, and Amygdala worked as the villain. He’s a one-dimensional brute, but at the same time that was important because the focus wasn’t supposed to be on him, but rather on Dick and the other teens trapped by Amygdala.
Most of the art this month is from Will Conrad, with an assist courtesy Cliff Richards. Conrad’s art works the best here; with Dick’s acrobatics on display several times, the overall energetic nature of the character shines with him. His characters are expressive and limber, and his pages just look good at a glance. The layouts are easy to follow but also a little more dynamic than a standard grid, and I like his approach on how to track the reader’s eye. Richards’s pencils are a little stiffer in comparison, but that said I think that he keeps up as best as possible, trying to provide some good artistic continuity. At a glance, I don’t think readers will notice anything different between the two.
“Nightwing” #25 works as a “Year Zero” tie-in, but also just as a flashback on its own. Like last week’s excellent “Action Comics” #25, old and new “Nightwing” readers will find something to like here.