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?
Patrick: Ah 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.
For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?