Creative Team: http://www.dcindexes.com/features/comic.php?comicid=110033
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Penciller: Eddy Barrows
Inker: J.P. Mayer
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
First things first, on the writing side of things, Kyle Higgins knows Dick Grayson. Through numerous interviews he did during his run on Nightwing, he made it clear that Dick Grayson is his favorite character in comics. He even stated that he based the main character of his college thesis film project “The League”, on Nightwing. That said, Higgins nails the broad strokes of Dick's character right out of the starting gate.
From the first time we see him, Dick tells us that he feels like himself again now that he's back in the Nightwing costume after spending a year filling in as Batman. Higgins's Dick/Nightwing appreciates the increased skill and effectiveness that his time in the Batsuit forced him to develop, but he also points out that he isn't Bruce Wayne and doesn't really want to be.
One of the big differences that Higgins highlights, which goes back to the Pre-Flashpoint/Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths days, is that Dick likes to be around people. He wants to be close to the action, hence his loft in the middle of town as opposed to the manor or the penthouse at Wayne Enterprises. On the other hand, Bruce feels like he has to be both physically and emotionally isolated. It might sound a little reductive, but Dick Grayson enjoys things. Think back to how Two-Face identified Nightwing as having replaced Batman; he saw Batman smile. That's all it took. In this book, Higgins has Dick smile when he thinks about getting back on the trapeze. And let's not forget that Dick Grayson is pretty much the biggest ladies' man in the DC Universe. It's not surprising that the other thing he seems happiest about in the book is his plan to meet up with his old friend (with benefits?), Raya.
Speaking of Raya, Higgins really goes in by introducing a fairly large cast in this first issue. The size of the cast might be a little ambitious, especially since we've only actually seen a few members of the circus to this point, but everyone is handled relatively well and seems to have enough to do. The standouts here would have to be Raya and the mysterious villain who's out to kill Dick Grayson, whom we can only assume is the same character that kills the two thugs as he is mugged stepping off the bus.
Now let's look at the art; which for most of the issue is nothing short of spectacular. Eddy Barrows gives each character a distinctive and impressively consistent look throughout the issue. His Nightwing looks great, even incredible, in the vast majority of the book. However, there are a few shots here and there where he doesn't quite nail the dynamic quality I think needs to be conveyed during the acrobatic sequences. Unfortunately, this problem is most prominently on display in the single largest shot of the main character the first time we see him fully revealed on a 2-page spread.
On the other hand, Barrows draws a dynamite Gotham City and does a magnificent job making every character, especially Dick, feel like they are actually moving through and over it's streets. The same 2-page spread where the image of Nightwing felt off shows a view of Gotham that is beyond gorgeous. The down side of that is the background scenery looks so good that the figure looks even worse by comparison.
Rounding out the art team, J.P. Mayer's inks and Rod Reis's colors are excellent throughout the book. The two go a long way to accentuate Barrows's pencils and the final effect is exquisite.
Nightwing # 1 is an excellent start to a new series. It is not totally new-reader-friendly. Someone just coming onto the character would probably appreciate a little more back story on Grayson and, while his year as Batman is mentioned, he spent a much longer part of his superhero career establishing himself as Robin. That part doesn't get brought up at all. However, the issue is really well crafted and well paced. It grabs the reader's attention and makes you want to come back for the next chapter, which is just what it's supposed to do.