Four issues into this run seems like a good time for a sidestep in the life of Dick Grayson. Kyle Higgins uses this issue to give Grayson a chance to be heroic without facing down his new nemesis, Saiko. That puts the emphasis of this issue squarely onto the characters running (and leaping) through the pages of this issue.
Grayson and Haly’s Circus are in Miami, giving Batgirl a chance to visit as she tracks down Spinebender, a new shapeshifting villain who provides additional proof that all the good names have been taken. Spinebender has stolen some tech and is looking to sell it to weapons manufacturers in Miami, conveniently enough. That gives Nightwing and Batgirl a chance to team up, avoid talking about their past relationship, and act like friends without any painful or awkward sniping. Higgins writes a believably vivid Dick Grayson. Furthermore, in this issue Higgins also showcases the fact the Grayson was trained by one of the world’s greatest detectives.
Providing the art for this issue, Trevor McCarthy brings a more upbeat style to the art than Eddy Barrows has provided. That’s not to say that McCarthy’s work is better or worse, it is simply stylistically divergent. McCarthy’s work has moments where it reminds me of Phil Hester’s art, and other moments where I see a similar approach as that of Terry Dodson. Regardless of the influences, there is no mistaking the acting bestowed upon these characters in their expressions and body language. McCarthy plays up the acrobatic nature of Nightwing and Batgirl to deliver some strong camera angles, powerful figure framing, and shadowy figures in motion, showing their paths as they leap, tumble, and pounce. This gives the book a more open feel, despite McCarthy drawing tons of detail on these pages. Overall, the lighter feel simply works. If Barrows needs to be offline for a while, McCarthy certainly makes a strong case to be considered for the job.
Guy Major’s colors are solid and stark, supporting the earlier comparison to Phil Hester’s work while offering up an ambitious production of some magnificently colored characters. Major and McCarthy are a satisfying artistic combination on this title.
The main story, that of Dick Grayson assuming new responsibilities and continuing to grow as a person, presses on. It’s good to see this series take a brief detour without completely derailing the series. With the setting of a circus, there are no limits to where Nightwing can go, who he can meet, or how long he’ll be there. Quite simply, this is a continually fun read from DC that has a great deal of stories left to share.