Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Review / Commentary # 5 - Nightwing # 5: “”Til Death Do Us Part”

  • Writer: Kyle Higgins
  • Penciller: Eddy Barrows
  • Inkers: Paulo Siqueira & Eber Ferriera
  • Colorist: Rod Reis
  • Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
  • Editor: Bobbie Chase
  • Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Detailed Impression:
First things first, I made a pretty glaring error in my discussion of Nightwing issue # 4. This arc is actually seven issues long which kind of makes my argument that the material was filler intended to pad out the trade ring a little more hollow. Additionally, I neglected to address the setting of the previous issue. Dick had become owner of Haly's Circus in the Pre-Flashpoint continuity, but there was never really much of anything that I can remember made of that particular plot point. With this arc, Kyle Higgins puts the “traveling” part of traveling circus to use in order to show adventures in little-seen locations of the DC Universe (Miami in issue # 4, New Orleans in this issue). Maybe having Babs kind of initiate the action of the story was what made it feel tacked on.
Issue # 5 is another side story, but feels more organic because it fleshes out a character who is actually a member of the circus. Higgins had sewn the seeds of this story earlier in the series so this becomes more of an, “Oh! That's what that was about moment.”
I can't recall ever seeing very much of New Orleans in DC comics that I have read before.
I may be way off base but something about St. Roch's from the old Hawkman books always felt like a stand-in for New Orleans much like Gotham was for NYC and Gateway City for San Francisco. Setting a voodoo love story in New Orleans might be a little cliché but the creative team pulls it off well. I don't know whether it would have added or detracted from the story, but with such a history-rich city, maybe they could have included some of the well known districts.
I was reading the very excellent Demon Knights when the New 52 initially kicked off. The only thing that I felt that series did wrong was not having Etrigan as his iconic rhyming demon self. Higgins does make this issue's demon rhyme which is a nice touch. Dick's recognition that this is a distinct, higher class of demon implied a lot more depth to his experience as a hero. I really appreciated that aspect of the story.
Eddy Barrows returned to his pencilling duties with this issue with a bang. He will be on and off for a few more issues over the run. The two inkers on this one make the art look very different which is a little weird but looks good either way. I especially enjoyed the motorcycle scenes, especially when Nightwing jumps the bike onto and off the train.
By having Dick memorize all of the routes the train would take along the circus's tour, Higgins shows that Dick possesses the kind of forethought and planning that readers with history with the character expect, especially from the first protégé of the Dark Knight. He isn't simply flying by the seat of his pants. The voodoo demon love story deals with a surprisingly mature theme: not all love is good or healthy for the people involved. Higgins puts an unconventional spin on the stalker theme by having the woman be the aggressor in the relationship.

Overall Impression:
The cover to issue # 5 could have looked a little less muddy by having an inker but did look good overall. Where the cover most succeeded was in communicating the difference in scale between the demon and Nightwing and the kind of threat the demon posed. Higgins shows that he has a number of ideas to expand the supporting cast's back stories so they feel like more than just window dressing or fodder for the next villain to murder. The twist he throws in at the end comes as an actual surprise.
My only complaint with issue # 5 isn't really a complaint at all. I think this story could actually have been expanded out to a really interesting four part arc. Higgins could have put a toe into the mystic side of things and paired Dick up with Zatanna. I know that Batwoman was the Batman line's mystic book at the time, but that could have been a neat little nod to the relationship that the two of them had in the Young Justice animated series and its companion comic series.

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