Nightwing has had a rough year. The Clown Prince of Crime dosed his ex-girl with Joker-venom, nearly blew him into chunks at the Gotham Reservoir and cast doubt on his former mentor during Death of the Family. Then Dick is off to Chicago to track down Mom and Dad’s killer only to have said villain help vanquish the Prankster. Zero Year hits at the end of an arc and gives Kyle Higgins and crew a chance to take a break and flesh out Dick Grayson’s past. I have some serious beefs with the plot line, but was happy to see the introduction of a key figure in the history (and subsequent demise) of Haley’s Circus. Will Conrad and Cliff Richards put together a crisp cover that actually relates to the interior story and clearly enjoyed fleshing out a certain brain damaged B-list villain from the Knightfall days.
Fate kicks the door open for Higgins to contribute to the origin of a key DC hero and he spews a hackneyed morality lesson? Come on man. You co-wrote Gates of Gotham with Scott Snyder. I know you can do better than this! Same goes for Conrad and Richards. It seems like the quality of work varies from scene to scene. Their rending of the massive power outage is a nice mix of what appears to be retouched photo reference and a crimson sunset that washes the crisp lines of Gotham and it’s denizens in steel blue shadows. Then we transition to a big top trapeze sequence bathed in light where everything is washed out and dulled. I get the contrast and understand the linkage to the story, but why not use spotlighting to make the same point?
There are high and low points in this book in both the story and art departments. Maybe I’m a glass-half full type, but I think there’s a few gems (mainly centered around the debt of gratitude at the end) to make this a worthwhile read for the Bat-nation.
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