I’m pretty sure every writer dealing with the supernatural or fantastical, at some point, writes a story involving voodoo in New Orleans. It’s standard operating procedure. So with “Nightwing” #5 moving Haly’s Circus to the Big Easy, well, I’m sure you can guess what happens next.
What I did like about “Nightwing” #5 is that Kyle Higgins gave this voodoo story a DC Universe twist. Instead of a typical monster from Hell, we get a rhyming demon (but not the rhyming Demon). It’s a nice twist, and something that we see rarely outside of the Demon’s own comics. Higgins also deals with the fact that Nightwing regularly has to sneak back into his own circus (and provides a good method to do so when you consider that the circus is often on the move), and that managing a circus means you’ll be the one having to approve or reject even the simple decisions.
The main plot, though, with a demon stalking a member of Haly’s Circus, is just average. It doesn’t have any particular punch or spark to its story; it’s not bad, but it’s hard to keep from feeling like we’ve seen this before. The motive of the voodoo practitioner is hardly original, too. Once you strip out the stereotype of the villain, this issue feels like a bit of a fill-in before the two-part conclusion to the opening story arc kicks off next month.
Eddy Barrows’ pencils are overall fine; scenes like Nightwing returning to the circus train are drawn energetically and with a strong layout, and I like that Barrows is able to give Nightwing’s civilian identity its own specific look without feeling generic. On the other hand, generic is the best way to describe the villain’s look; it’s about as stereotypical as you can get for a woman practicing voodoo. I’d have liked something a little more imaginative and away from the norm; it would have given the story a bit more of a punch, if nothing else, and made it a little more believable. Still, images like the one looking up at Jimmy through the grate work well, and Barrows hits more than misses in “Nightwing.” Overall, this comic feels like a much stronger match for Barrows’ talents than his run on “Superman” did.
“Nightwing” #5 is a middle-of-the-road comic. We’ve had stronger from Higgins and Barrows before, though, and I suspect a lot of the problem lies in this being mostly unconnected to the bigger plotline (save for the last page). With Higgins shifting back to that larger story next month, I have confidence that the excitement level will rise accordingly.