After Nightwing #10 I had high hopes for its New 52 reboot. The first few issues had been mired in a story that never really found itself, but the issues with Nightwing battling the Court Of Owls, and discovering how close he was to becoming one of them, really pumped some fire back into the story. Issue 10 started off with great promise, but issue 11 falters a little, and it all falls directly on the shoulders of writer Kyle Higgins.
The main problem is the lead story arc involving Nightwing and the Republic Of Tomorrow. See if this sounds at all familiar: an underground group of vigilantes, all masked and using special equipment, has decided to start a revolution against Gotham City, one that begins with the death of Nightwing. Call me crazy, but doesn’t that sound almost exactly like the Court Of Owls storyline from Batman, only with Nightwing as the focus? Sure, the motives are different and the agenda isn’t the same, but the storyline is still way too similar. Everything going on within the pages of Nightwing #11, no matter how well written, feels like a tired retread of something readers just finished dealing with.
A secondary issue comes with the cop who seems to want to frame Nightwing for the murder of Republic Of Tomorrow members the Strayhorn brothers. Up until now, it’s been laid out that Detective Nie is a crooked cop looking to set Nightwing up out of some weird self-righteous hatred against masked heroes. In issue #11, it’s suddenly revealed (and I do mean suddenly revealed) that Detective Nie isn’t crooked but rather heartbroken. Turns out the death of officer Chris Stark in issue #1 had a personal effect on Nie since they were lovers.
Okay, first off we hit the “been there done that” problem because DC already unveiled a gay character with Alan Scott (Green Lantern) in the new Earth 2 series. Don’t get me wrong, I think DC and Marvel and everybody should have multiple gay and lesbian characters, but this unveiling seems again like a retread. All of Nightwing #11 feels like it was written before Kyle Higgins knew of the other storylines. The second problem with this subplot is it makes Detective Nie rather one-dimensional. When we had no idea what his motives were and his crusade seemed like a weird vendetta, he was more interesting. I have no problem with Nie’s motivations, but his story should have been allowed more time to grow. The whole thing feels too easy now.
Andres Guinaldo’s art is a nice boost to the issue. Everything in Nightwing #11 is about motion – From the epic and hard-to-believe battle in the beginning to the movement of the characters and the realization Nightwing has at the end. Each panel here moves within itself and gives a nice overall flow to the issue. Guinaldo does a great job of implying motion to amp up the action – his speed lines when Nightwing is plummeting to the street, or the movement of hair when somebody is supposed to be turning suddenly or surprised. All of that keeps the comic book exciting visually as well as nicely paced.
I’m not giving up on Nightwing just yet. I hold on to the hope that Higgins will find his voice and that the series will take off in some new and interesting ways.
(2 Story / 4 Art)