Nightwing 12

Today, Peter and Patrick are discussing Nightwing 12, originally released August 15th, 2012.

Peter: I feel like I’ve been let down a lot by comics lately. Most of the books I’ve read recently have left me feeling unfulfilled. Stories just don’t seem to be going interesting places, or aren’t very thought provoking. Nightwing has become one of these offenders recently. Dick is a great character that is capable of exploring so much. During the Night of Owls, he played a major role in the story and I loved it. There are some nice moments and a few redeeming factors, but overall, I am feeling very whelmed about this issue.

Issue 12 finally sees the conclusion of the Paragon storyline. Dick investigates the crime scene in the sewer, (from Issue 11) where there are several dead members of the Republic of Tomorrow. Dick grabs Nie, who reveals Paragon’s house call to Dick. In Dark Knight Rises fashion, the sewer ceiling explodes and collapses on the police officers, leaving Paragon and Nightwing to duke it out. After some banter, and some punches, Paragon and Dick wash out a drain. There, they are surrounded by Nie and Gotham’s finest. They bag Paragon, and Nie lets Dick get away.

Elsewhere, The Penguin runs around The Iceberg Lounge like a chicken with his head cut off. When fellow-criminal Mr. Combustible asks him what’s the matter, Oswalt says that Lady Shiva is killing her way to town.

The next morning, Dick talks with Lucius Fox. He has Fox put his entire trust into revitalized Amusement Mile. A little while later, Dick goes and apologizes to Sonia Zucco for being a dick earlier. He explains the new situation with the Amusement Mile project, and she kisses him on the cheek and walks off.

The ending of this story arc is a resounding ‘meh’. The build-up to this conclusion was impressive: touting another so called ‘Son of Gotham.’ Except it was never revealed why or how Paragon could be considered a ‘Son of Gotham.’ Is every villain that was born in Gotham going to start calling themselves a son of Gotham? That’s a terrible trend. The best part about William Cobb was that he provoked such a reaction from Dick. They played off each other so well, and it made for an incredibly compelling story. I just didn’t get that from Paragon.

Even with his loose tie-in to issue 2 of Nightwing, it’s an incredibly loose knot. Dick lays out the details, but I just don’t feel any significant pay-off. I went back and read issue 2, and the event in question goes by so quickly that it’s barely noticeable. For the importance it has in this issue, it feels totally tossed off when it actually happened.

Hey, can we have Eddy Barrows back as penciler? I appreciate Andres Guinaldo’s efforts here. He has done some great images and work, but it is incredibly inconsistent and it just doesn’t measure up to Barrows’ incredible layouts and the dynamics he gives to the book. Guinaldo has a certain knack for cinematic moments, and singular striking images. They just don’t have the flow that the earlier issues did.

The fight between Dick and Paragon in the sewer was pretty cool though. Dick’s inner monologue is well written here.

The small spaces comment from the previous page, combined with this panel really give validation to Dick’s fighting style. He has always been more acrobatic than Batman. Even when he was Batman, Dick altered the costume to include less armor so he could move more easily. It’s not said very often, but it’s certainly very interesting to examine the small intricacies of how heroes move. Now I just want to know why Dick made his bird red, from the classic blue.

In the coming storyline, Higgins is taking a much needed break. For issues #0, 13-14, Tom DeFalco will be taking the helm on his book. I don’t know DeFalco’s work very well, but I have heard good things. What I do know about him is from the fan favorite, and slightly controversial Spider-Clone Saga for Marvel Comics, where he also served as Editor-in-Chief for quite a long time. Recently, he’s been working on Superboy and Legion Lost, neither of which I have really read, so not a whole lot to go on from them.

Lady Shiva’s introduction in issue 13 could prove to be pretty sweet. She has a long history with the Bat-Family, including pretty much leading the League of Assassins for a while. Also, she is the mother of previous Batgirl, and Dick’s adopted sister, Cassandra Cain. I hope this means that somewhere in here we could see the New 52 return of Cass. She’s a very cool character, one that was way better when she was Batgirl, and not Hong Kong’s Batman Inc.’s member.

Nightwing is still a great book that I love to read. Hopefully it will be picking up soon, especially with the Return of the Joker on the rise. Also, for all you comic books history buffs out there, look for #0, chronicling the Dick’s rise. Patrick, you had some reservations about this story arc last month. How did things play out for you?

PatrickAh yes, the ancient art of the explain-o-fight. Like any good Bond movie, this conclusion was full of both the hero and the villain explaining shit to the reader. Nightwing worked out the mysterious visit to the tattoo parlor (to get tattoos removed) and Paragon had to dig into his criminal psychology. Hell, every bad guy needs one right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Paragon’s whole deal can be summed up with this single line uttered during the fight:

After all, if you want to destroy a false idol — what better way than to become one?

It’s the ol’ reverse-Batman. Instead of becoming something scary to take out the criminal underworld, Paragon became a costumed freak to lure Nightwing into fights he couldn’t resist. It’s less psychologically compelling, but the logic holds up just fine. But what makes it (and by extension, the whole Paragon character) so unsatisfying is that we’re teased with empty details. Take, for instance, this moment when Paragon talks about his laser-whip-swords.

Okay, what? Mastering thermodynamics by the age of sixteen? What does that mean? Why would he be so smart as to “master” a field that is basically infinitely deep. Notice that he didn’t master a skill or a trade, but a whole fucking branch of science. It’s like saying he mastered cellular biology at the age of sixteen. Further: perfection? How is that something Paragon has been striving toward? Where is that demonstrated (or even suggested)? It’s like there was a full sketch of this character somewhere and none of it made it onto the page when it mattered, so it all got dumped out here in his final moments.

But at the heart of all of this, there’s a nugget of an idea I do really enjoy: Nightwing’s actions have consequences. Way back in issue two, he totally did rescue three people from a wrecked car. Because he invested time in this rescue Saiko got away (remember Saiko?). That’s reason enough to include the little side-tracking rescue, but it turns out that there was more to this story. There are moving parts at play, even when they’re not the main focus of our comic books. The suggestion is that any character – no matter how insignificant they may appear – has the potential to have fears, ambitions, prejudices, lives of their own. This particular example was perhaps a little overblown, but think of how cool it is that those guys in the car hated Nightwing before that night that he rescued them.

I’m going to throw my standard Penguin-flag on the end of this issue. Fucking Penguin. Some ambitious writer needs to pry that character out of editorial hands and make something of him. We’ve seen him squawk his way through issues of Detective Comics, Catwoman, Batwing, the Batman Annual, and now this.* Every single appearance boasts that fancy redesign of the Iceberg Casino and FUCK ALL ELSE. He’s this weird unifying landmark, and his inclusion is never anything more than a simple “and here’s the Penguin.” I will continue to throw this flag on any and all plays that use the Penguin without developing him. Consider yourself warned.

Oh and Mr. Combustible… Dude needs to get a face. F’real.

* Not that I even need to ask, but if I’ve missed other appearances by the Penguin – particularly good ones – please let me know in the comments. New 52 appearances only, please.
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10 comments on “Nightwing 12

  1. About Penguin, when the 52 started there was a 5 issue mini call Penguin: Pain and Prejudice that I thought was really good. Gregg Hurwitz wrote with art by Szymon Kudranksi, which had a great dark tone. What I loved was that it was mostly about his character and how he thinks of himself. Batman is relegated to cameo’s mostly.

    I won’t give too much away but in the first issue some guy like bumps into Penguin at the Iceburg and makes a short joke or something, so Penguin brings the guy into his office and tells him that he just had his whole family killed. Extreme obviously, but the way it is delivered is so terrifying and you can see how powerful he really is. A lot of it goes into how Penguin is the ultimate momma’s boy and why he hates his brothers and father, which ends up being pretty interesting.

    So I was excited for this new dark Penguin, but literally the next month he appeared in DetCom, squawking again. It seems most writers just don’t know what to do with him.

    • Maybe just a line-wide ban on the squawking. I HATE it when he says “wah wah wah.” What is he, fucking Fozzie?

      Also, thank you for filling in the gaps I miss (as usual). Now that you mention it, I remember seeing that that thing came out. It is intended to be part of this continuity? I have kind of a blind spot for mini-series (I think you and I have had a similar exchange about Huntress) and I’m not sure if I should think about rectifying that.

  2. I can appreciate why writers want to keep their villains shrouded in mystery — those last-minute reveals of motivations can be fun — but it doesn’t make for the most emotionally compelling stories. I know Higgins knows this, since he handled the reveal of Saiko (and Cobb) so elegantly. This arc really feels like a throwaway (a la issues 4 and 5), but it at least has the runner of Amusement Mile and Sonia Zucco, which I have high hopes for. Patrick is right to note that it seems like there’s more to Paragon than we’re given here, and I can’t help but wonder if this was supposed to be a longer arc. All villains have an initial run-in fight with the hero, and all villains have a final show-down with the hero. Without much in between, it’s hard to get too excited for this particular villain.

    • Again, I like the Amusement Mile stuff because I love Gotham development. It’s not unlike the revelation that there was more to those dudes in the car from issue #2 than meets the eye. The more I can care about this city free from the context of the superheroes within it, the more exciting of a read it is.

  3. Also, Lady Shiva has some history with Damian. Maybe this will lead to some more Damian-Dick interactions? Those that we have seen, between Nightwing and Batman and Robin have been really great. They spent a lot of time together when Dick was Batman and I wish their relationship was explored more.

    • Yeah, theirs is a relationship that is really compelling for both characters. For Damian, Dick more or less earned his respect, and has taken on this great older brother role. For Dick, I think having a Robin brought his time as Batman full circle even more than putting on the cowl did. I thoroughly enjoy their interactions, and love the prospect of having more of them.

  4. Love the use of “whelmed” guys. I have to agree with most of what you guys say. Dick’s a character with a ton of potential and so is Paragon, I was surprised to see this end so quickly. I liked what we got between the two, just wished we got a little more to this arc.

    Have any of you ever read Peter Tomasi’s run on Nightwing? (Nightwing Issues #140-153, the final issues of the series before Dick took on the mantle of Batman) They’re easily the best Nightwing comics written since 2005 (This doesn’t include any stories featuring Dick as Batman). There are a few ideas here and there in it that seem a little rushed because of the book’s sudden cancellation, but they’re excellent comics and are well worth the look. I think they’d scratch the Nightwing itch you guys are feeling right now (the whole run is available in two trades: “Nightwing: Freefall” and “Nightwing: The Great Leap”)

    I was going to mention the “Penguin: Pain and Prejudice” mini, but I was already beaten to the punch. I never got a chance to read it myself (only so much money to go around!), but I’ve seen nothing but good reviews for it.

    • Thanks for the tip! I’d never read any Nightwing solo stuff before the relaunch, but I’ll certainly consider checking those out. I’d always know Dick’s story, but I didn’t really know him as a character until he put on the Cowl in Morrison’s Batman and Robin. I really liked him there, and I think having a better sense of where he’s coming from would be great. Combine that with the fact that I like Tomasi’s work on the current Batman and Robin title, and that really sounds like something I would be interested in.

  5. Pingback: Nightwing 15 | Retcon Punch

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