I want to open this review by saying that this is a damn fine comic. As soon as I finished this issue I rushed out and found issue one. It’s that damn good! I’m not a traditional DC fanboy, most of my time is now spent in the trenches reading small press and offerings from the other companies that make up the comic publishing landscape, so it was a pleasant surprise to come back to the DC fold and find this story waiting on me.
It would almost be impossible to give a full review of this series without dropping some spoilers, so if you want to take a shot with this book; without having the plot ruined beforehand, I would strongly suggest that you go out and find yourself a copy of both issues 1 and 2. I recommend this series wholeheartedly and want our readers to discover the magic of this mini-series for themselves.
Now for those of you who are still reading and don’t mind being spoiled, let me say that this is the most interesting take on Dick Grayson I’ve read in years. I never liked Nightwing, I didn’t care at all for the Spiral-spy story; in my mind Dick Grayson was Robin. Sure there have been others, but Dick was the OG Robin. He was Bruce Wayne’s chosen one. I expected more from Grayson. He was the heir apparent. He was destined to be better than Bruce. At least that was always my feelings toward the character.
This mini-series is the first time that Dick Grayson was given a storyline that didn’t center around the Bat family, where Grayson was allowed to take center stage, and for the first time in a long time I actually cared about what was happening to the former Robin. THIS IS A DICK GRAYSON STORY WORTH READING!
Kyle Higgins has crafted a future story that is not only intelligent in its plotting, but also packed with enough heart and humanity that it is difficult NOT to get invested in the lives of Dick and his son Jake. This is the Grayson I always wanted, but didn’t know I wanted. Dick is a complex and divided character; he is a single father, a worldwide celebrity, the leader of a national organization that monitors and captures rogue super powered individuals and still at the end of the day he is a man who is trying to do his best for the ones he loves.
Jake Grayson is the fulcrum of the mini-series. He is that pivotal role that drives the story forward. In just the first few pages of the issue it’s Jake’s narration that walks us through the events that led into the heart of this series. There was a superhero war in Metropolis, Robin set off a device that removed the super powers of 90% of the hero/villain community, his identity was revealed, and Grayson went on to become the figurehead of a national movement to restrict and remove super powered beings from the world. He would have a child with Starfire, who left Grayson to raise his son on his own. Everything seemed to be going well for the pair until Jake hit high school and he develops powers himself.
It’s here that the mini-series shines the brightest. The internal conflict that Dick goes through to try to bend the world to find a safe place for his son goes against everything that he has worked his entire adult life for. He sees his own personal situation as being separate from the rest of the “criminals” that he deals with on a daily basis. He is operating under the delusion that he is somehow above the very world he helped create; and like any decent parent, believes that his innocent child is the exception to the rule.
Higgins sets the table for a very layered and dramatic turn of events later in the issue as Dick’s own organization raids the Grayson home to capture young Jake. It is this collision of Dick’s personal and professional life that brings home the theme of this entire story. From the moment that Dick Grayson accepted the cowl of Robin from Bruce Wayne Dick has not been able to keep his life from falling apart. He is a man who skipped his adolescent years to fight crime; he grew into a one man wrecking crew who couldn’t have any shot at a “normal” life. Even in this tale set in Dick’s future it is his war against super powers that tears his family apart and leads to the shooting (and presumed death) of another famous Batman character. (SPOILERS AHEAD)
It is the supposed death of Alfred, who was visiting the Grayson boys while on vacation, which is the culmination of Dick’s two separate lives converging on one another. By the end of the issue Alfred is shot and maybe dead, his son is arrested, and Dick is knocked unconscious by one of his own trusted agents.
Trevor McCarthy’s artist style is the ideal balance for this tale. Combined with the work of colorist Dean White the pages have an almost watercolor feel to them that transcends traditional line art. It’s this effect that gives the dramatic beats of this issue a haunting aura that lingers after the issue is closed. I tip my hat to the artistic team for a job well done.
While I mentioned in my intro that I am not a diehard DC fan I can deeply appreciate what the creators of this mini-series are trying to accomplish. This is a familiar and yet distinct version of the future that pulls from modern political debate. Human rights and segregation are at the center of this book and it raises some moral questions that cannot be easily answered. Is sacrificing personal freedoms worth the promise of safety? What recourse do people have when the system of law that they have built turns against them? How much of your soul can you sell for the promise of power and influence and still sleep at night? How far is too far when it comes to enforcing the rule of law?
The moral grey area that Nightwing plays in is deliciously undecided. It leaves the answers up to the reader. It doesn’t preach, it doesn’t teach, it only lays out a wonderful story and lets you draw your own conclusions.
This is far and away the best story Dick Grayson has been inserted into in a very long time. It’s tight, compelling, and more than worth the cover price. I’ll be picking up the rest of this mini-series and I strongly suggest that you do the same if you haven’t already. I would also implore the editors and big wigs at DC to really think about carrying this title over into an ongoing series. This premise has some serious potential. I could see this as a very unique way to integrate Batman Beyond. A future where Terry McGinnis and Dick Grayson or Jake Grayson team up is something I want to see. DC would have to tinker with the timeline to make the story fit, but it’s right there for the telling. Why not?
Final Thoughts: DC finally found a way to make Dick Grayson appealing to comic fans again! Final Score: 4 ½ out of 5 dead Robins!
Nightwing: The New Order #2
Story: Kyle Higgins
Art: Trevor McCarthy
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Colors: Dean White
Publisher: DC Comics