The Bat Boys come out to play as Gotham finds itself under siege from the threat of the new villain Termius. While Batman goes all Iron Man to fight the armored dying madman obsessed with destroying Batman and Gotham before he draw his last breath Damian gets assistance from the former Robins as Nightwing, Red Robin, and even the Red Hood, show up to stop Terminus’ hired mercenaries and odd mutated creatures.
Okay, Batman and Robin #12 isn’t great, and there are a couple truly groan worthy moments, but it’s certainly high on action (even if it never bothers to explain the reasons behind Terminus’ obsession with destroying Batman and Gotham).
I like seeing the Robins together in this issue and if DC is looking for another Bat-title to replace one of the underperforming New 52 books may I suggest something along the lines of Robin Team-Up (featuring Robins current and past teaming up for short arcs – which would allow for the inclusion of Stephanie Brown, too). Worth a look.
After surviving an attack from Paragon and his acolytes in the Republic of Tomorrow‘s secret lair Nightwing continues to piece together who is framing him for murder, and why. At first he’s sure Detective Nie is responsible, but a little more investigating leads him to a new conclusion.
The issue also continues the tenuous relationship between Dick and Tony Zucco‘s daughter Sonia. The pair have their first fight when she breaks the news that his loan was denied because of what happened when Haly Circus returned to Gotham. I’m really, really hoping writer Kyle Higgins isn’t going to try to link these two romantically.
Paragon cleans house of the disloyal soldiers before looking for a new ally to take down one of Gotham’s self-appointed saviors. The story continues, but doesn’t really advance that much (even Nightwing’s eureka moment is kept from readers) so aside from the developments in the subplot with Sonia you could probably skip this one and not miss a beat. Hit-and-Miss.
With the “Night of Owls” crossovers now official done Nightwing moves forward with a new arc as Dick Grayson makes several important decisions about his future. We also get our first look at the army of vigilantes dressed up as knights and led by another New 52 villain – Paragon.
Nightwing, at least for the forseeable future, seems to be staying in Gotham and so is the Haly’s Circus as Dick comes up with a new plan to fix up Gotham’s run down amusement park Amusement Mile perhaps with the help of Tony Zucco‘s daughter Sonia. We also finally get back to the story of Nightwing being framed for murder (remember that?).
The issue finally fills in some information about the corrupt cop Detective Nie who tried to pin a murder wrap on Batman by planting evidence looks to be the man behind Nightwing’s stick showing up at a recent murder as well. This story works better for me than Paragon (although I’m betting the two are related). This was a make-or-break issue for Nightwing for me, and although it’s not great there’s enough here to bring me back for another month. Worth a look.
Nightwing battles his great-grandfather William Cobb, the greatest of the Talons, and tries to save Mayor Hady from assassination as “Night of the Owls” continues. During the bloody battle which Nightwing barely survives we get Cobb’s backstory and his reasoning for joining the Court of Owls.
Although the battle between Nighwing and Talon works, the flashbacks take up far too much of the comic (you’d almost think Cobb was the comic’s main character). Neither Dick Grayson, nor the reader, really needs this amount of back story for the Grayson’s zombie assassin ancestor.
The Court of Owls storyline, which started in Batman, is working far better in than title than most of other Bat-titles it’s spread to this month. In terms of “Night of the Owls” this tie-in certainly isn’t a must-read to keep up with the main story, but for fans of Nightwing the action may, may be enough to still warrant picking it up. Hit-and-Miss.
“Night of the Owls” continues as Nightwing receives Alfred‘s call for help and sets out to save the Mayor from a Talon attack. Issue #8 is a little different from what we’ve seen of the title so far as most of the issue isn’t presented from Nightwing’s perspective, but from that of a character who will only appear on the final page.
Most of the issue is narrated flashback of William Cobb, retelling his life story including his early days with Haly’s Circus and his recruitment into the Court of Owls. Nightwing is able to save the Mayor by defeating one of the Talons, but our final panel gives the arrival of another, far more deadly Talon (Cobb, who arrives to kill his descendant).
For an issue where Dick Grayson’s voice is largely absent the story still works, although I’m not sure we needed this much of Cobb’s backstory. I’m more surprised, however, by the continued level of smart aleck banter from the zombie-ish Talons. Who knew the undead were so talkative? Worth a look.
As the big top explodes beneath them, Saiko and Nightwing have their final confrontation as the young man with some misplaced anger delivers a huge plot dump in the middle of their climactic final battle.
As in Batman #7 (also released this week) Dick learns that he was chosen by the Court of Owls to be one of their Talon killers. So… Haly’s Circus is nothing more than an early training ground for assassins for a secret order who live beneath the streets of Gotham City?
When the Flying Graysons died and Dick left the circus and Saiko was chosen in his stead. Nice of them to have a runner up, I guess. Right? On a positive note the art by Eddie Barrows continues to impress. This is probably the best looking issue of the series yet. Too bad about the story.
We also get the same sequence of Batman knocking Dick’s tooth out to prove a point as we did in Batman #7. It doesn’t work any better here (in fact it works less because Saiko has already given him some of the information he seems shocked to hear from the Dark Knight Detective). Hit-and-Miss.
While Haly’s Circus travels across the country Nighwing spends his free time beating up thugs for any information about Saiko. But when Raya informs Dick the circus will be returning to Gotham for the anniversary of his parents’ death, Dick knows exactly when his mysterious enemy will choose to strike.
Here’s another New 52 storyline that has been dragged out far too long. At the end of the sixth issue the villain is revealed (which may shock Grayson but does nothing for the reader as we still have no idea who Raymond is or what his insane grudge against Dick is).
There are some nice moments including Raya wavering on her part of Raymond’s plan and an uncoonected scene involving a cops retreiving one of Nightwing’s batons from a murder scene. Whether this is frame job is part of Raymond’s plan, or something else, we’ll just have to wait and see. Worth a look.
Even Nightwing comments on what an odd single issue adventure he finds himself in when Haley’s Circus comes to New Orleans. What’s so odd? I’m glad you asked. We get a lovesick clown, a voodoo priestess, the summoning of a sonnet-speaking demon, and a sacrificial rite performed (for love) in a New Orleans graveyard.
This certainly isn’t the kind of Nightwing story I want every month, but it works well enough as an unexpected change of pace. It’s also good to show how well Nightwing can think on his feet when presented with a situation he’s not only unprepared for but has very little experience with.
The comic ends with a reveal I won’t spoil here about the true motives of one of the comic’s supporting characters. I’m not sure if its meant to be shocking, but it doesn’t come off as well as I’m sure writer Kyle Higgins planned. There’s simply no shock value turning a character so soon after they have been introduced. Worth a look.
Another of DC Comics New 52 titles goes off the rails. We know we’re in trouble from the very start when the comic is opened to find a that Trevor McCarthy has replaced Eddy Barrows as artist for this issue. Aside from not knowing what age to draw Dick Grayson (a common problem in Bat-books this month) McCarthy’s art is certainly slick, but he seems to be suffering from the same affliction of Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane in wanting to draw characters in awkward angles in big splash pages regardless of whether it helps tell the story (or makes sense).
The story is also confusing as Batgirl comes to town asking for Nightwing’s help (after telling him to stay away just one month ago). I don’t know if the writers’ were going for a Buffy/Angel homage here, but it’s impossible not to see the similarities with “Sanctuary” and “The Yoko Factor.”
The villain is an undeveloped stand-in for Clayface that comes off disappointing that the pair deal with without too much trouble. The more looming threat of a villain who knows Nightwing’s secrets is mentioned but instantly discarded.
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Between two battles with the mysterious Saiko (who is hellbent on killing Dick Grayson), Nightwing reconnects with an old friend from the circus and is given a gift he can’t refuse. Issue #2 continues to reconnect Dick with his roots in Haly’s Circus as well as give Nightwing a new adversary who knows his true identity (which seems like a pattern in the New 52, particularly in the Bat-titles).
Between his battles and inheriting the circus that killed his family, Dick has time to reconnect with a girl from his past aboard one of Bruce Wayne’s private jets. And I do mean reconnect.
This issue is still laying the foundation of who Dick Grayson is, but I would have liked a little more fun. We certainly don’t need another brooding member of the Bat-Family.
The issue works well but I’ll be interested to see how big a part Haly’s Circus plays in the everyday life of Dick Grayson. I’m also more than a little tired of seemingly every new bad guy introduced in the Bat-titles knowing their true identities. The Bat-Family might want to work on that. Worth a look.