(p) Eddy Barrows
(i) Eber Ferreira
Dick Grayson’s adventures in the ‘New 52’, as a whole so far, have been somewhat up and down in terms of quality and content. After an initial arc dealing with Haly’s Circus, Kyle Higgins has had trouble finding his footing with Nightwing, including an underdeveloped arc about a cult of anarchists looking to ‘take back’ Gotham, and a short story about Lady Shiva, probably one of the most uninteresting villains ever. Nightwing #15, however, swings into action and utilizes it’s “Death of the Family” tag to it’s fullest. In other Bat-books, the Joker’s methodology has been somewhat hazy–while everyone has theories about what’s going on, Scott Snyder isn’t letting the cat out of the bag, and there’s only so much that can be said before a big reveal–this issue sees a very fleshed out attempt to break Dick Grayson. Not Nightwing, but Dick Grayson. This month’s Batman #15 included Bruce’s assurance that the Joker does not know the Bat family’s identities, but it’s pretty obvious he does.
Dick is under a lot of pressure. He’s the owner and operator of Haly’s Circus and he’s trying to keep his newfound entertainment business in Gotham City permanently so as to build up the city’s profile while also establishing more structured lives for his performers. It’s a noble task, and one that Dick’s impassioned about, but it’s also a project that keeps getting sidelined for Nightwing-related activities. This month, Dick’s heroic life meets his personal for the second time in the ‘New 52’ as Joker frees Raya from Blackgate Prison to make everything even more personal. Joker’s shtick for Nightwing is the idea of being a ‘knock-off’, a pale comparison to the almighty Batman. Higgins employs a classic Batman trope by having Nightwing find Joker in a warehouse that used to make knock-off Wayne Enterprises products. It’s poetic justice, and something only Scott Snyder has really been utilizing recently.
Nightwing #15 is one of the strongest tie-in issues for “Death of the Family” yet. Unlike the other Bat-allies, Dick’s life is literally crumbling right before his eyes: everything he’s spent the last year building is being destroyed in a succinct and straightforward way. This is what Joker’s reign of terror needs to feel like across the board, in all the Bat-titles tying into “DotF”–full of terror, death, and lots of Joker’s insanity.