Nightwing: Tom DeFalco, Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira, Rod Reis, Carlos M. Mangual
We’ve now seen the origins of two of Batman’s four Robins: Damian and Jason. Let’s take a further step back in time to see the very first…the original…the classic Dick Grayson. It’s a pretty wild ride, so please keep all hands and feet inside the vehicle.
My heart almost exploded when I heard DeFalco was credited on this issue. I was so scared he’d mess everything up. But apparently he only gets story credit, and that’s with Higgins. Higgins is the guy behind the actual script (thank God). There were parts of this that I liked, and parts I didn’t. Mostly I liked it. If I had to give it a percentage, I would say I liked 95% of it. That other 5% is made up of the following: parkour, and a change in the origin story. I’ll get to those.
First let’s talk about Eddy Barrows. This guy is awesome. I love his work. He always does a great job of these acrobatic poses and fluid movements. There’s PLENTY of that here, and it almost made me want to start reading the main title again (I put it down, after all). You wanna see something really cool? On page 2, check out Dick’s second position as he jumps from the train. With his arms up like that, and his jacket billowing out? Look like a Nightwing symbol to you? Ferreira joins his buddy from the Nightwing book on inks, and Rod Reis also returns. That’s interesting that the whole art team from the series is working the Zero Issue - as many of them have been different. I like this, though. I feel like someone else wouldn’t have done Dick the justice he deserves. Barrows also makes Dick look VERY MUCH like himself, younger. There’s a definite relation between this younger Grayson and the one we see grown up as Nightwing. I always like that.
Speaking of justice, that’s part of where the origin story differs from the preboot one. After Dick’s parents are killed, he’s not whisked away to Wayne Manor immediately. He’s put into a care facility while Bruce watches him, feeling sympathetic. This is much more realistic, and I dig it. The justice part comes in when Dick starts sneaking out nightly to try and find Tony Zucco. This reminds me more of the “Batman Forever” version of Dick Grayson…but, y’know, better.
I wasn’t a big fan of how the only moments we see with Dick and his parents together they were mad at him, because it doesn’t give us that loving connection we need in order to feel our guts ripped out when they die. But what are you gonna do? So, the parkour thing comes in because Dick and Raymond did parkour will running across moving trains as kids, and I guess it stuck with Dick as he grew and stuff. The main story didn’t really make much mention of parkour, though, so it feels lumped in there awkwardly. Kind of like how Tim Drake, now, was a star gymnast at school before becoming Robin. Coincidence? I liked how Dick and Tim had to train their ASSES off to gain the title.
Now, for the other major change in the origin story for Dick. He uses his understanding of motion and body language to figure out who Batman is. If that’s the case…then we have a problem. Because Tim uses his keen intellect and detective skills to figure it out later. So that means that Bruce isn’t doing a very good job of hiding it. It also makes Dick too similar to Tim in origin, for me at least. I liked that Tim was the only one to actually figure it out, and the others were told.
The ending of the issue, with a really cool surprise guest villain, was VERY awesome, and full of triumph (despite where Dick faltered). It really made me smile. I thought it was the perfect ending, in fact. Even better was the consistency of the theme of change throughout the ish, and how it tied in to the very last page. There are moments when you might get tired of the word “change” appearing on the page, but it does work for the purpose of the story. It gives Dick a very good motivation that more than foreshadows his eventually outgrowing the role of Robin.
Nightwing #0, the verdict: A very good issue, with outstanding art, and a really cool telling of how Dick came to be not only Robin, but surrogate son to Bruce Wayne and partner in crime-fighting. A great story that could have been more emotional, considering the tragedy in Dick’s life, but I suppose it does go with the whole “change” and “looking forward” mantra that’s repeated throughout the ish. I’m most bummed that he’s now another of the Robins to figure out Batman’s identity before it’s made clear, because that made Tim special, whereas Dick was already special. God, you really have to have everything for yourself, huh, Dick!?
(Photo Source: DC Comics)