Comic Review -- Nightwing #8: Bloodlines / Kyle Higgins, Eddy Bar
Addendum to this post: I apparently missed a few key plot points while reading this issue, and a sharp-eyed reader pointed them out to me. I've since gone and made corrections to the original post.
Erroneous original material is struck through, while additions or replacements with the corrections are done in italics.
This of course also affects some of my analyses of this story, which will remain unchanged for the time being. They were, after all, valid observations at the time I made them, even if they depended on an erroneous first reading.
Originally posted on my blog, The Comics Cove, not too long ago...
I do like the cover for this issue. The mirrors behind the Talon depicting the different eras in which he operates make for the suggestion of a timeless threat against Gotham. Nightwing is at the ready, and willing to fight, while his hapless victim from the early 1900s looks on in abject terror, showing that things operate differently between the times. It's fantastic artwork, and makes for a great introduction to the story inside.
The narrative switches between two viewpoints for this issue, that of Nightwing, and that of the Talon assassin he ends up fighting against to save Mayor Hady's life. Having gotten Alfred's desperate transmission from the Batcave, Nightwing intercepts the Talon just as he's about to kill his mark, and a vicious fight ensues. The Talon, meanwhile, talks about his life, and how he grew up living on the brink of poverty in turn of the 20th century Gotham, managing to pull himself from the depths by talent and skill as a performer before it was all stripped away from him. As he gets the drop on Nightwing, he reveals his identity: he's William Cobb, Dick Grayson's great grandfather, and he's turned his sights to killing his "traitorous" descendant.
Nightwing has always been a favorite character of mine, and the only reason I can offer for not picking up his series when the New 52 started is that there were too many other entry points I wanted to explore at the time. I know enough about Dick Grayson's history that a re-introduction wasn't necessary, and frankly, I hadn't heard enough about the relaunch title to really be hyped for it. I figured if anything important enough came up, I'd find my way to the title.
Well, something came up. And that something would be Scott Snyder, temporarily connecting all the Bat-titles in the thrilling Night of the Owls storyline.
I have to admit, there's a keen sense of satisfaction to see the Court of Owls being such a big threat that it's far more than Batman will be able to handle by himself, and it's fun to see the others jumping in and lending a hand against such a threat. It stands to reason that following the other Bat-titles for the whole storyline will be optional, but I intend to read them all and see how the story unfolds. Nightwing's fight against his dear old great grandfather is exhilarating enough, but it's the lead-up that really grabs you, when the power goes out and the mayor's aide sees dead security personnel in the hallway.
Now, I do have some issues with William Cobb being the Talon Dick fights in this issue. He was, after all, only recently in Bruce's autopsy lab, and I find it deplorable that Bruce wouldn't find some way of keeping him under wraps. I do, however, see how the story is enhanced by this particular Talon being the one to go after Dick's target, so I'll forgive it, for now. I just hope the resolution in the next issue makes it worth it.
I have to say, I like Eddy Barrows's work in this issue. He does a good job with the detail on characters' faces and bodies, and does action and suspense scenes with aplomb. The fight between Nightwing and Talon is vicious, bloody, and surprisingly well paced for a skirmish that employs the thoughts of both combatants. Very good work here.
Overall, this is a good lead-in to the larger Night of the Owls story, and sets the tone for what the other heroes will be facing in their own titles. The art is good, the story is compelling, and the action is dynamic and high-stakes. Anyone who likes the Batman titles should enjoy this outing. Highly recommended.