Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Nightwing

Really. I'm reading the new Nightwing. Got caught up, mostly (issue 4 was sold out, so I had to skip over that one), and will keep going. On the recommendation of a gal who works at my LCS, I gave it a try. It seems to stand on its own fairly well, not driving me too nuts with the new DC continuity. I realize I missed seeing Barbara Gordon in issue 4, which might've made my head spin a bit, but that's okay.

I did have a few continuity gripes. First, I couldn't figure out how old Dick is supposed to be. I seem to remember reading somewhere that he and Bruce are among the characters de-aged for the DCnU, which would have been okay, but in the circus flashbacks, it seemed he was a lot older at the time his parents were killed than originally, which would be okay if he were older now, but that was, according to the book, only 5 years ago. So, given he looked to be in his mid-teens in the flashbacks, let's say he was 15 when his parents died, and he's 20 now. And he just came off a year posing as Batman (more on this in a bit), which for someone aged 19-20 seems a bit odd. He would've been too youthful, I think, to pull it off, at least as well as he did in the old DCU, where he had to be in his mid-20s. I'd thought of him as 25-26 in that. But his age issues is something I can ignore. It didn't ruin the story for me.

The other quibble... well, for the life of me, I can't think of it. I should've made a written note. Oh well. It didn't make a difference in my enjoyment of the book. There are just a few things I need to adjust to, is all. I don't mind doing it for some books, especially if the characters are true to themselves. It's the characters who are totally off I probably won't bother reading. (Though I am intrigued by the new upcoming version of the original Green Lantern!)

Now for the story. I liked it. A lot. Sure, Haly's Circus had been used a lot, to great effect, in the old DCU and the revelations here don't fit with the older stories, but it's a new universe -- I'm considering it wholly new, with similarities to the old one, and not what came out of that time twisting at the end of the old DCU. I've blocked that horror from my mind and didn't even read it, so I can't recall what that mini-series was called. But for me, that didn't happen and the old DCU is still in existence. We're just not reading about it, anymore.

I was reasonably happy with Dick's portrayal here. He was lacking a bit of maturity he had as Batman in the old DCU, but he was confident, brass, introspective, and skilled as I'd expect. I was glad that the story focused on him and his history as a jumping on point, and that Batman didn't show up til the end of the story in issue 7, and Alfred made his first appearance an issue earlier, in #6. Bruce was a real bastard in this. I'm not reading his book, so I don't know why he was so harsh with Dick -- there's really no excuse for him to smack Dick even if he wanted Dick to just stop talking -- but again, it wasn't enough to ruin the story.

The plotting was nicely intricate and a small side story was slipped in that focused on one of the circus clowns, which kept the slowed pace of the main story from being problematic. I wasn't completely surprised by the big reveal of Saiko's identity, but the secret history of Haley's Circus (in the new DCU only!) was a true shocker. I'm interested in seeing if this revelation will affect how Dick views his past and how he moves forward in his life. But the first seven issues/first story arc make for a solid foundation for the series and I have expectations now that I'll be entertained by it.

The art was mostly fine, though some of the faces seemed off in a few panels. I rushed through the books because I have SO MANY comics left to read, so I didn't pay as much attention to the action pages as they deserved, but the storytelling seemed fine as I could follow it all well. And I liked that the art was realistic, though a bit more stylized or art or quirkiness for the circus would've been nice, too. I did, however, love how form-fitting Dick's costume is, though I preferred the blue and black costume for Dick vs this red and black one.

But... and this is a big question.... Was this all really necessary? Is the new DCU really any different other than changes to backgrounds, and in cases like making Alan Scott gay, reworking a few characters? I still think they could've put the old universe aside and started working with a new universe, then later, have visits with the older universes, same as in the early days of the multiverse. All I can think of is that it was all a marketing ploy, because really, this Nightwing story was just as good as what was in the Dick as Batman books. Good stories and good characters should be enough and DC should know how to market them without making everything an EVENT or a publicity stunt.


  1. Was all of this necessary? No...not really. And I agree, that the whole age thing has been...weird. The old OLD guys in the JSA are now all 20. The 30 year old guys like Batman and Hal are all 25. The young guys like Nightwing, who OUGHT to be 15 are still 20-ish. All of the women are 21. All the little kids are completely gone...except Damian who is apparently 10 going on 40.

    I gave up my continuity for this?

  2. I read your post back when it first went up, but kept forgetting to respond!

    I completely agree with you about how unnecessary the whole "New DC" effort was, as most of the books are presenting stories that could have very easily been a part of the "old DC." Nightwing is a perfect example, especially given that they didn't bother doing anything to change his history. Batgirl is, in most cases, the same. Yes, it could be argued that you needed the restructuring so Barbara could be Batgirl again (insert magical walking cure here), but it wouldn't take much work or creativity to make the same stories fit with Stephanie Brown's Batgirl.

    I know you're opposed to reading the new Batgirl on principle, Shelly, but I've stuck with it out of a morbid kind of curosity and they're not as bad as you might think. The last few issues have actually been pretty good, but I found the Nightwing and Batgirl tie-ins to the "Night of Owls" stuff pretty bad. It seems a little silly to have a big, multi-book spanning series when you're under a dozen issues on a book.

    I just started reading Worlds' Finest with Power Girl and Huntress. While it's not as good as the "old" Power Girl series that Amanda Conner drew, its not bad. The "from another dimension and trapped in this one" angle is pretty interesting, but so far the bad guy is pretty uninteresting.

    I really miss Stephanie Brown's Batgirl, though. That comic was a great mix of fun and heart.

  3. It took me a year to read Nightwing, and that's only because a gal who works at my LCS kept telling me the book is really good. I trust her opinion, so finally gave it a try, and it still took me months after buying them to actually read them. I'm not sure I'm ready to read Babs as Batgirl again. Oracle was so special, and made Babs unique in the DCU.

    The Night of Owls storyline is actually kinda cool, at least from Dick's end of it, but it does go against everything Haley's Circus was in the old DCU, so it reinforces for me that this really should've been a completely new universe, which is how I'm thinking about it.

    I am reading World's Finest with PG and Huntress and I like it so far. It's not great, but it's decent. I have to get a review up for it. I caught up on Batwoman, too. From my small sampling of the DCnU, though, I don't see that the new 52 is in any way just plain fun. Stephanie Brown's Batgirl was fun. You're right Denver Dad, it was a great mix of fun and heart, and I miss it.