By: Matthew Rapier
The first three issues of Nightwing have stuck closely to one continuous story without deviating very far off the course. Issue #4 still has threads of that story, but it ventures out almost into a one and done type of story. Nightwing recently made an appearance in Batgirl #3 and she returns the favor here, keeping all the bat books loosely tied together.
It seems like Barbara Gordon is quite a thrill seeker in this relaunched DC universe which shows in the opening of this book. She is decked in Batgirl attire on her motorcycle involved in a high speed chase with a new villain called Spinebender. Barbara is right in the thick of apprehending him when he seems to drop out of sight. This is easily done when you’re a shape shifter.
On the Haly’s Circus train Dick and his long time friend Raya Vestri are naked together once again. I think this marks the fourth time in four books it’s happened so we know they must be very close to one another. Barbara unintentionally interrupts their moment with Raya giving a curious look to Babs when she leaves.
Nightwing and Batgirl hit the city rooftops in search of Spinebender and after some witty banter they run into their target. Spinebender momentarily shifts into a version of Dick as Nightwing trying to make things harder on Barbara, but she is able to deduce the real deal and takes the Clayface wannabe with an electric batarang.
Dick finally gets an idea of what Mr. Haly meant by the secret being at “the heart of the circus”. He goes searching around the main ring of the floor and finds a black book hidden in a wooden compartment. The book is filled with unfamiliar names except for the very last entry, Dick Grayson.
Usually I despise when a book shifts gears with a fill-in artist. It usually becomes distracting to me and takes me out of the full experience of the story. In this case, Kyle Higgins chose to write a story that had moments to connect with his current arc, but also made it feel like you could grab this without worrying about the other three issues. It doesn’t hurt the fact that I go through the issue a second time just to stare at Trevor McCarthy’s art. Eddy Barrows fits perfectly to the tone of what Higgins wrote prior to this issue so there is no disrespect towards him. McCarthy’s work reminds me a bit of Cully Hamner, it’s adventurous and fun just like the content of the writing.
This one is my favorite Nightwing issue yet. If you haven’t been following the title, you could certainly pick this up to read and enjoy. The art sells it most for me though.
Overall Grade: 9/10