Higgins’ latest issue of Nightwing is a strong one, being very well balanced between the mundane aspects of everyday life and superhero chase scenes and action, a dichotomy we experience through Dick learning how to live as newly-moved-to-Chicago Dick Grayson while continuing his nightly vigilantism as Nightwing.
Issue #26 opens with an engaging, CSI-style piece of detective work as we observe a criminal posing as a doctor steal a hospital’s supply of ‘Kanium’, which is used in an anti-psychotic, narrated by Dick who is, of course, totally aware of this and is waiting on the rooftop to confront her. Quintessential Nightwing. This introductory scene works in a lot of ways in that it believably shoehorns in this anti-psychotic, which will inevitably have a bearing on future issues, while also avoiding feeling uncomfortably clichéd. It is, however, a bit jarring to hear ‘Kanium’, as I’m sure most reader’s minds jump to Bob Kane, who is of course credited with creating Batman. As honourable a reference as this to Batman’s golden years, it is a little out-of-place in a story set around his first sidekick’s solo adventures.
The chase scene following this exposition is also thoroughly enjoyable as, not only does it come with some lighthearted banter and flirting while re-introducing Mali the mimic (who we have not seen since issue #19), but we are reminded of a ‘hero chases femme fatale across city’s rooftops at night because she has stolen something’ dynamic which we have known and loved for years through Batman and Catwoman. In this sense, it’s quite reassuring to see Dick be utterly independent, especially now that he is in a city which he doesn’t have to share patrol over. I personally also felt glad that Nightwing is now developing his own rogue’s gallery, each with their own gimmick, Mali’s here being her multiple personality disorder.
The issue does, unfortunately, slow in its pacing a little here, as we watch a far less interesting battle; the confrontation between Dick and his new housemate Joey about Dick’s window which was left open, leaving Dick unable to sneak back into his room and change out of his Nightwing costume without having to overcome the struggle of opening the closed window. Although this moment is (let’s face it) rather dull, the clash of the heating bill here, along with seeing Dick at work in an apron does help ground Nightwing, letting us as the reader remember that he is just as human as the rest of us… except he’s really good at doing backflips and he was adopted by Batman.
The closing moments of this issue are by far the most interesting, however, and the cliffhanger is so unexpected that I’m now counting down the days to issue #27 rather than to Christmas. After a brief chat with his friend Michael and mask-hating detective Maxwell Morgan, Nightwing finds Mila the mimic in a chemical warehouse and offers her help, and also throws one of his escrima sticks at her (I’m not quite sure of his angle here, but there you go…), although they are quickly interrupted by a character who, in my personal opinion, has been vastly underused and is therefore making a welcome return. Suddenly the fact that the warehouse employed a private security team made sense, and the reader is left slack-jawed waiting for January.
Reviewed by Josh Clayton