Monday, February 15, 2016

Review / Commentary # 2 - Nightwing # 2: “Haly's Wish”

  • Writer: Kyle Higgins
  • Penciller: Eddy Barrows
  • Inkers: J.P. Mayer & Paulo Siqueira
  • Colorist: Rod Reis
  • Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
  • Editor: Bobbie Chase
  • Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert

Detailed Impression:
Issue # 2 of Nightwing marks a few changes for the series, starting right on the cover. The iconic pose from the first issue cover is replaced here by a more dynamic action scene. Barrows does a nice job of making the fight between Nightwing and Saiko (whose name we learn this issue) look striking. The anatomy is well done, but (and this is really just my nit-picky personal preference) you almost want to see Nightwing's limbs a little more buff or his frame a little narrower.
The most important change in the cover though comes in the form of the actual production process. The first issue of the series had a fully inked image by Barrows and Mayer with Reis providing the colors. From issue # 2 through the rest of this story arc at least, the covers consist of Reis's colors applied directly over Barrows's pencils. The effect is really beautiful, but it does soften the impact of the piece a lot. The softer quality doesn't necessarily feel as sharp or in-focus as you might want see in an action scene meant to attract your eye to the book on a shelf. On the other hand, it would probably look fantastic as a poster.
Inside, Higgins and Barrows drop the reader right into the action continued over from the last pages of issue # 1. Nightwing's internal monologue gives a brief recap of the situation on the first page. Higgins doesn't crowd out the really well-done art with a lot of wordiness, but uses the little bit he does to nice effect by continuing to showcase Dick's lighter side. He doesn't just quip with his opponent (which he even starts to talk to Saiko about); he quips to himself in his own head. The whole scene is nicely written and just looks fantastic. Barrows seems a lot more comfortable moving the characters around on the page than he did in issue # 1. His more dynamic panel layout also gives the action a real sense of movement.
The scenes between Dick and Raya develop her character well. The older school, static panel layout helps establish a more intimate tone by slowing things things down visually to accommodate the story development. The fact that they end up sleeping together after only seeing each other earlier that day makes a lot more sense when you consider the years they spent growing up together in the circus. It also doesn't hurt that she's a hot redhead, which is totally in Dick's wheelhouse. (Babs. Kori. He even tried to hit on Batwoman when he first met her in 52 and she's a lesbian!)
Speaking of the circus, this issue also introduces Haly's Circus owner and namesake, Mr. Haly. The old man has known Dick Grayson since childhood and knows the path Dick's life took after leaving the circus and becoming a hero. This is still the only allusion the series has thus far provided to Dick's time as Robin and that identity still doesn't actually get name dropped. Higgins gives some nice reveals through Haly which he then uses to add some more mystery to both the overall story he's trying to tell and to Dick as a character. As soon as he's introduced, we see that cancer has already pretty much gotten the better of Mr. Haly. However, Saiko's attack on the old man is still brutal even though it happens off panel so that we only see the aftermath. The fact that he was already dying doesn't detract from the consequences of the attack or the emotional payoff at the end of the issue.

Overall Impression:

My personal feelings about the cover design aside, the art took a big leap in Nightwing issue # 2. The action sequences are fast paced and frenetic while the dramatic scenes do a good job slowing the pace to provide time for character development and plot exposition. The creative team does a spectacular job of packing a lot of emotional impact into the death of a character they only introduced 11 pages earlier. Overall, Higgins, Barrows, et al, deliver a fantastic, maybe even superior, follow-up to their debut issue.

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