Nightwing, A fashionable fascist.
Nightwing: The New Order is a new DC “Elseworld” tale, which takes a unique look at Batman’s first Robin. In a prologue sequence, Dick Grayson has taken down the Justice League, because he has to save the world. It’s a memorable way to open the series, because it raises a lot of questions. The series then jumps 12 years into the future. Nightwing is the leader of a police force hunting metahumans. He also has a son named Jake, and a lot of the story is balancing his life between his duties as a father and a leader for this new world.
Writer Kyle Higgins definitely knew how to craft a great hook for this series. The issue keeps the reader invested in the mystery of this universe, and what has happened. There’s a lot of great details in the background and in the dialogue to show Nightwing’s influence on this world. There are a few logistical issues in the book (Nightwing took down Superman… really?) and it would be cool to see more of this world. However, it’s still a fascinating read and ends on a great cliffhanger.
Behold the propaganda
Artist Trevor McCarthy teams up with colorist Dean White to show us what this “New Order” looks like. The art is reminiscent of Batman Beyond; there’s a sense hyperbole makes this world seem exaggerated in design, but not unreal. The backgrounds in particular are very detailed. The city shots look fantastic. There are a lot of heavy shadows and a strong use of the color red that keeps evokes an ominous tone in this world.
Overall, the art is strong, but there are a few hiccups. The faces can be a little odd at times; Dick Grayson will sometimes have extra lines of detail that are distracting to look at. Also some of the facial expressions are bizarre at certain times, characters look more menacing than the context of the story implies. It’s not enough to be distracting, but it’s prevalent in the issue. There’s also a few panels that have tilted shots, and it’s confusing as to why. It creates a feeling of uncertainty in what seem to be normal settings. Again, these are minor issues, the art is strong and compliments the writing well.
The Captain Elephant In The Room
It’s probably pretty clear to most fans that this story is similar to Marvel’s current event Secret Empire. The beats are certainly familiar, but there are very strong differences in the how the narratives are presented. Secret Empire chooses to be big and inspect how Cap’s betrayal and turn to fascism impacts everyone. Nightwing The New Order focuses almost entirely on Dick Grayson’s perspective. This makes the series feel smaller than it should. The premise alone could warrant 12 issues at least, maybe even an ongoing.
However, Kyle Higgins was very smart to focus so heavily on Dick Grayson as a complex character here. Because, despite his intentions, actions, and desires that have led him to help create a police state, he’s still Dick Grayson. He’s funny and upbeat yet serious when he needs to be. He tries to lead by example, and hopes for the best even when he knows he’s going to let someone down. This creates a lot more pathos and complexity in our protagonist, because the reader still hopes that deep down he’ll become the Nightwing fans know and love again. He isn’t just an evil mastermind now, but rather the result of a life filled with very difficult decisions.
The Final Say
Some iffy art, narrative choices, and a small scope keep this from being an ultimate must-buy, but the premise is strong and there’s a lot of emotional intelligence here. If you’re at all curious then you should check this out. It has potential to be a very thought provoking and intriguing series. Give it a shot, it’s absolutely worth talking about.
But, if that isn’t enough for you, at least Dick Grayson’s ass still looks great.