Nightwing keeps getting better and better. Please oh please don't kill him off DC… I don't care how you do it; a different superhero title, a Dr. Strange-esque magical way of undoing the events done unto Dick in Forever Evil, anything. Just please don't kill off Dick Grayson. And if you truly truly must, please bring him back soon.
Why am I so desperately praying that DC don't completely remove Nightwing from their universe, you might be wondering. Well, it's simple: Nightwing is at exactly the right point now within the New 52 canon of being settled into a city, having an abundant amount of backstory behind him (his Batgirl romance, Tony Zucco, ties to the Bat-family, some rogues in his gallery, and so forth) and the approachable, likeable and cool feel which is a result of being the best parts of Batman, Robin and Spider-Man (I know, he's not a DC property but you really can't help but see the differences between the two) all rolled in to one. He is even more approachable in this issue because of how young and modern the new artist Russell Dauterman has made Nightwing appear, appealling to his target audience of who are more than likely to be young people much like Dick himself. Dauterman's artwork throughout this issue really strenghtens the youthfulness and the sense of fun this book has, as it opens with an action sequence which is so humour-filled, colourful and genuinely tense as a sequence of Batman: The Animated Series. The use of the villain Spinebender is also a nice little hark back to what the New 52 has already held for Nightwing, and Spindebender's transformations into Batgirl, Deathstroke, Superman and then Batman even further this. I mean come on, it's pretty awesome to see a stretchy version of Superman with a Voldemort-esque face then transform into an evil Batman who has ensnared Nightwing in his elastic, coiled body.
The issue really begins to prove its worth with the appearance of Jen, the young girl that Joey (Dick's roommate) babysits, and her parents just passing Dick by and discussing everyday stuff. You know, work, money, the like. It ends on Jen turning to Dick with him thinking "It's like she's got some secret." The scene then changes to Dick talking with Sonia, and the romance and tension between them two is acutally very satisfyingly resolved: they both apologise, she leaves, and that's it. No more rage or bitterness. Dick even states in reflection that he feels sorry for her despite everything.
Now here is where the issue really won me over. I expected Jen to return and let slip that she knows who Nightwing is, which would've been a pretty weak response to her knowing who he really is. Instead, Jen becomes a mirror for a young Dick Grayson as her parents are mugged and killed, expertly demonstrated by two panels side-by side of Jen and a younger Dick sat looking out of a window with their knees up to their chest. It's really touching, and we get to see Dick tenderly try to comfort Jen while she begs of him to help her get revenge: "We can do it together. Just like Batman helped you."
And better than this, the scales escalate even further. Dick goes to fetch her a drink, talks only quickly with Michael, and Jen vanishes. Where has she gone? To confront her parent's killer. Victor Zsasz.
What a beautiful cliffhanger. Although it will be his penultimate issue, I now cannot wait for Nightwing #29.
Reviewed by Josh Clayton