Naturally, with the selective reconfiguring of the DC Universe nudging and adjusting origins and timelines, something had to slide for Dick Grayson. That’s what “Nightwing” #0 explores for Zero Month — Dick Grayson becoming an ally of Bruce Wayne and Batman. Tom DeFalco pitches in with an assist for regular writer Higgins and the duo update the now classic origins of the relationship between Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. They take the creepy aspects out of Wayne leaping to adopt the recently orphaned Grayson, but insert an uncomfortable disrespectful tension into the relationship in its place. Their decisions work and certainly appear as the first clues to the origins of Nightwing, but this issue focuses on Grayson’s turn in the Robin costume. It’s that choice that disappoints a bit.
The exaggerated figures drawn by Eddy Barrows, with ultimate superhero colorist Rod Reis in tow, fill the pages of “Nightwing” #0 in striking overlapped panels with sequences that blend together. Barrows and Reis have been working quite nicely on this title, and this issue is a fine example of their collaboration. Barrows’ pages are designed more as pieces unto themselves than a collection of panels. Shapes and patterns repeat throughout the story, as Barrows draws some panels in oblong semi-conical shapes that look like cards or daggers being thrown. Those peculiarly shaped panels carry quite a bit of action in them and Barrows frequently reduces the size of the content in those shapes to accommodate. As most Batbooks are, this one is soaked in shadows. Eber Ferreira puts the “dark” in this title featuring the formative days of one of the Dark Knight’s greatest allies, but backs off when appropriate and agreeable to allow Reis’ colors to shine on through.
I’m glad Higgins and DeFalco chose to straighten out and refresh the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Jonathan and Mary Grayson. Adding sentimental sadness to the story in the timing of their deaths, the writing duo dials in a very tight focus on young Dick Grayson and the decisions he makes to celebrate his life and the lives of his parents. How that leads to the Nightwing identity is not clear in this book, and given the murkiness of the timeline surrounding the multiple Robins, I was hoping to see some of the transformation from Robin to Nightwing. Although we get to see a fun redesign of the Robin attire thanks to Eddy Barrows, the end of this issue really had me hoping there would be a follow-up to the story delving into why Grayson became Nightwing. Perhaps in a second zero issue? Clearly, Higgins and the rest of the Bat creative platoon are still shaping the background and ideas of what once was and what now is in the Batman corner of the post-“Flashpoint” DC Universe.