Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review / Commentary # 11 - Nightwing # 11: “Tomorrow Can't Wait”

  • Writer: Kyle Higgins
  • Penciller: Andres Guinaldo
  • Inker: Mark Irwin
  • Colorist: Peter Pantazis
  • Letterer: Travis Lanham
  • Editor: Brian Cunningham
  • Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert

Detailed Impression:
The cover to issue # 11 of Nightwing gives us a pretty good preview of the opening battle Dick faces in the first few pages. Once again Barrows and Reis are sans inks on the cover, the pair's only contribution this issue and one of the weakest covers the two have provided so far in the series. Portions of the drawing just seem much less refined than what Barrows has put forward in the past and the colors appear a bit too washed out, although the use of white highlights to define the folds in Paragon's trenchcoat is a very nice touch.
Inside the book, Kyle Higgins starts things off with a bang. Picking up from where last issue left off, Nightwing is kind of on his heels. He got caught snooping around the Republic of Tomorrow's clocktower HQ by their leader, Paragon, and attempts to trash-talk his way out of what he anticipates will be a massive fight with the small but heavily-armed army. Needless to say but the attempt fails miserably. Instead, he lights up taser charges on his escrima sticks and jumps into the fray against the members of the Republic taking a brief but damaging advantage before Paragon gets him from behind with his plasma ring/whip weapon. When the gunmen recover and start firing wildly, Nightwing loses the momentum of the fight. His attempt to utilize a sonic weapon in order to return the tide of battle to his favor backfires when Paragon knocks the entire clock loose of the building to fall onto any unsuspecting bystanders on the street below. Nightwing destroys the clock before any civilian can be injured but loses track of the Repulic members in the process. The overall fight lasts for almost half of the issue.
Higgins sheds a little more light on Detective Nie and why he has it in for Nightwing. He also enlightens us as to the Republic of Tomorrow's motivations and shows what happens when those motivations are no longer enough to keep members from wanting to leave. A brief interaction with Damian in the Batcave gives us a glimpse of Nightwing employing his skills as a detective wherein he appears to solve the mystery behind the murders he has been investigating recently. Lastly, Higgins expands on the budding business relationship, and maybe a little more personal as well, between Dick Grayson and Sonia Branch, aka Sonia Zucco, daughter of his parents' killer.
The art team for the issue puts forward a satisfying effort. Andres Guinaldo's cartoonier style works better at some points in the issue than others. As with his previous work on the series, faces are the least successful aspect of Guinaldo's pencils mostly due to their inconsistency. Guinaldo catches a break for a few pages since the Republic of Tomorrow wear helmets that fully cover their faces. All the characters seem to fluctuate between solidly caucasian and vaguely Asian at various points throughout the issue. On the other hand, his figure work is excellent. The backgrounds get a little sparse here and there, but very few panels are totally lacking in this department. The washed out appearance of the cover continues through the majority of the issue even with a different colorist. Someone might want to remind Mr. Pantazis that all the characters' costumes in the book skew more black than grey.

Overall Impression:
Issue 11 does its job well as the middle issue of a three part arc. Higgins advances all of the subplots pretty nicely even though we don't get much, if any, resolution in the issue. The only things we learn for certain are that Paragon holds little attachment to his followers, being all-too-willing to kill them himself, and that Dick and Sonia will be working more closely with one another over the coming days. The latter fact brings with it a surprising revelation that could have some interesting character implications.

 On the art side, Guinaldo proves he can handle the action and emotion of the book very well. Both are communicated nicely, even though I'm not totally on board for his facial work. He might get a little more punch out of the action by emulating Eddy Barrows' non-standard panel layouts as Geraldo Borges did last issue, but his cartoonier style shows the beginnings of some of the strengths I highlighted in Trevor McCarthy's work from issue # 4. I would also like to have seen what impact Rod Reis could have had if he'd colored a few of the pages. I think it might have worked to give a smoother transition between the art teams from issue to issue.

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