Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Review / Commentary # 8 - Nightwing # 8: “Bloodlines”

  • Writer: Kyle Higgins
  • Penciller: Eddy Barrows
  • Inkers: Ruy José
  • Colorist: Rod Reis
  • Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
  • Editor: Bobbie Chase
  • Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert

Detailed Impression:
Nightwing # 8 sports a cover by series regulars Eddy Barrows and Rod Reis which nicely previews the dual stories being told between the pages. The drawing is pretty fantastic, even if it is a bit misleading. The Talon in the foreground is central to the story, but only makes a brief appearance in the issue. Barrows' hyper-realistic style makes the whole piece look spectacular and is especially on display in the depiction of the owl sitting on Talon's shoulder.
Barrows' work seems particularly suited to the events, dress, and overall style of pre-modern eras. That's mostly to the benefit of this issue since a good part takes place in the early 20th century. However, unlike the cover or previous flashback scenes in the series, the flashback sequences in this issue are fully inked. The effect lends a harder, less dreamy feeling to the flashbacks, but still work equally well.
Higgins uses these scenes to tell the story of a poor Gotham boy who made a life for himself as an entertainer thanks to a chance encounter with the ringleader of Haly's Circus (which we learned in the last story arc is a front for a Court of Owls recruitment program.) This being the first of a two-part tie-in to the Night of the Owls, we are initially led to believe that the Talon Dick fights in the present day story is the same child, now grown up and serving as an assassin for the Court which most Gothamites still consider to be an urban legend. The battle between Nightwing and the Talon is brutal and well-illustrated. Higgins switches between past and present well and Barrows lays out the pages in a manner that enhances both stories nicely.
The revelation that another Talon is involved and has actually been the one in the flashback sequences comes as no small shock. The fact that he is not concerned with hunting a member of the Gotham City upper crust, but is instead focused on killing Nightwing, whom he knows to be Dick Grayson, is even more of a surprise.

Overall Impression:
There isn't a terrible lot to say about issue # 8 of Nightwing beyond the fact that it is really, really good. The majority of the issue is dominated by the two stories discussed above, both of which tie back to Scott Snyder's Night of the Owls arc in the main Batman series. Higgins, Barrows, et. al., do a remarkable job extending that story. The only real drawback to the issue is that, as stated in my previous review, Snyder's story takes precedence in a book that he doesn't actually write. In fact, only one page of the entire issue is dedicated to pushing an ongoing Nightwing-centric plot forward.

As we'll see in the next issue, the Court of Owls and Night of the Owls storylines do revolve around Dick Grayson to a certain extent. However, they ultimately don't really matter much to the character at this point (although Tom King's Robin War revives the connection much later on). The teaser page for the next arc does a nice job of building enough suspense to keep readers intrigued and interested in seeing how the mystery of Nightwing's weapon being used in a murder will be resolved.

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