The ‘Zero Year’ tie-ins function as to detail events that occurred either early in their hero’s vigilante career or before their crime-fighting days even began. And, as I’m sure the intuitive readers of the Nightwing series would have guessed, Nightwing #25 is set while Dick is still an active member of Haly’s Circus under the act featuring his parents called The Flying Graysons, which is quite a fan-service to the readers of this series (who I’m told refer to themselves as ‘Wingnuts’, a name which doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Bat-fan) as it, much like Nightwing #0, it helps those who are still a little confused with the New 52 understand exactly where their character stands in relation to the rest of the DC Universe. Despite this, I found myself somewhat underwhelmed by this issue of Nightwing, mostly due to the fact that (because of the enormous repercussions occurring to Dick after the effects of Forever Evil #1) I’m kind of dying to hurry up and find out what his next step will be after this. In essence, I feel like I’ve read the first two Lord of the Rings books but am now reading The Hobbit rather than getting onto Return of the King.
This sounds potentially a bit too negative so far, as Nightwing #25 does have its fair share of strong character moments for Dick Grayson, such as the motif of a ‘leap of faith’ that occurs in this novel, his heroic sense of self-sacrifice in terms of putting other peoples’ safety in front of his own, as well as a subplot of Dick learning to not be such a show-off in front of Raymond and Raya. This final moment, however, is somewhat lost for two reasons, the first being that it is far too brief to really contain much poignancy and the second being that I actually chuckled to myself, remembering that Raymond was the first big villain Nightwing fought in the New 52 and that Raya was horribly Joker-ised and died in Dick’s arms. Sadistic, I know.
One further problem I have with this issue contains is the giant brutish character who chases Dick and his new friends through the alleyways of Gotham, a blatant play on the operation-gone-wrong archetype which relies on people reading “amygdala” and assuming that it makes sense for DC to have a dumbed-down version Red Hulk within their pages. Facetiousness aside, this character was necessary for the heroics of Dick to be shown, and Kyle Higgins here does not actually do too bad of a job of present a physical threat to the youngsters. That said, part of me doesn’t believe that an enormous red rage-monster would utter as syllable-heavy a statement as “Sneaking up on me!”
All of these slightly niggling problems aside, I did enjoy this issue, feeling drawn in to the tactical use of the red masks in a way which echoed the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a way which was not awfully cheesy and didn’t involve any anthropomorphised animals. The relationship between Dick and his parents is also a strong note of this issue, as it is something that isn’t held onto for very long in previous issues (namely the aforementioned #0) and was well executed within this month’s comic. As well as this, I enjoyed the involvement of Sal Maroni being the selfish friend’s father, a decent twist in the plot. Finally, I’m sure any reader will be entertained by Dick’s already apparent skills again being shown off before he even dons the Robin persona.
Reviewed by Josh Clayton