Creative Team: http://www.dcindexes.com/features/comic.php?comicid=134303
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Penciller: Andres Guinaldo
Inkers: Raul Fernandez & Mark Irwin
Colorist: Rod Reis
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Nightwing # 12 picks up with the police investigation into Paragon's murder of his Republic of Tomorrow followers. He kind of let the cat out of the bag at the end of last issue when he approached Detective Nie about the case. Nie reveals that he no longer wants Nightwing for the Strayhorn murders before Paragon springs a trap that captures the police and separates them from himself and Nightwing. When Nightwing reveals to Paragon that he knows why Paragon murdered the Strayhorns, Paragon turns into a Bond villain delivering a ridiculous self-aggrandizing expository speech where we learn everything there is to know about him...except for what his motivations were or how he built a branded heavily-armed army with none of Gotham's roughly dozen vigilante detectives even noticing. His choice to focus his efforts on Nightwing seem to result solely from the fact that he lost the allegiance of his buddies the Strayhorns after Nightwing saved them.
I can accept that he would zero on Nightwing for personal reasons, but why was he against heroes in the first place? His followers had all lost something as a result of vigilante activities and he said he wanted to tear them down as false idols, but why? What had he lost that made him want to go after them to begin with? I also don't know what Paragon stood to gain from defaming the heroes. I'm not sure if Higgins was under the gun to finish the arc before getting roped into another event with the next issue's Zero Month (another tie-in with a Scott Snyder story), but I think this story could definitely have used another issue or two to nail down why any of this happened.
On the other hand, there are some serious pros to offset the aforementioned cons. The side story of Dick trying to move Haly's Circus to Gotham's old Amusement Mile and the hoops he has to jump through to make that happen works well. I was genuinely surprised to see that Detective Nie really was more interested in seeing justice done than railroading and framing Nightwing. I guess even the dirty cops in Gotham can sometimes see the light. The foreshadowing of Lady Shiva's return to the DCU for the first time in New52 continuity is also handled nicely.
I've beaten him up a lot in previous reviews, but Andres Guinaldo's art makes a quantum leap in this issue. While he could still do a little more to make his panel layouts more interesting, his facial work is actually really good in this one. Dick's face is consistently recognizable from page to page, panel to panel. There are no weird ethnicity shifts for any of the characters like last issue. In fact, the only character who might need some improvement is Paragon when he first removes his mask. For some reason, he looks like a vampire in the reveal. I also really dug Guinaldo's Penguin and the expression he drew on Dick's face as he's bandaging himself up communicated a great deal of physical pain while still managing to look fun and kind of goofy.
Unfortunately, I can't say that this was the home run ending I'd have liked to see for the People of Tomorrow arc. Whether dictated by outside forces or just not quite having enough meat to the main antagonist, Higgins failed to stick the landing on the main storyline. That said, I really like what he did in the B-story, introducing Sonia Branch/Zucco into Dick's supporting cast. I also like that Higgins shows Dick wanting to bridge his circus life and his Gotham City life by giving Haly's a permanent base of operations in town.
This arc had a lot of potential, but it suffered from an anemic villain and maybe a little too much to get done in too little page space. Paragon could make for an interesting recurring character. Unfortunately, much like Saiko, the main antagonist of Higgins' previous arc, Paragon never makes another appearance. However, the bad guy didn't die this time so there is still the possibility for him to make a return some time down the line. Hopefully, he'll have more reason to come calling if that next time ever does arrive.
The comments I made in the previous review for issue 11 about Sonia and Dick's partnership were a bit premature. I have been using my trade paperback of the issues as my reference for these reviews and must have mixed up the pages in my head. The two only have a very brief and terse interaction in issue 11. Their relationship, both professional and personal, is actually expanded in the pages of issue 12.