As accomplished as Nightwing is, DC has been playing him as a bumbling pretty boy lately. Dreamy Dick is understandably distraught after the disappearance of his mentor and bat sugar daddy. As the book begins, Nightwing is lying in the arms of the pizza delivery guy, who shows up just in time to save his well-toned ass. Luckily, Mr. Pizza is also a gymnast, so he and Nightwing swing and flip their way out of the burning building together. I’ve seen a few “films” where the gymnast/pizza deliver guy shows up to lend a hand, so I know how these things can go. Back at Wayne Manor, Dick bemoans his ineptitude as a replacement for Batman, while Alfred does what he does best: pour cups of tea and advice. Dick has little time for consoling, though, since there’s a faux Two-Face on a crime spree in Gotham.
Clearly, Dick’s feelings of inadequacy are leading up to the new Battle for the Cowl mini-series written and illustrated by Tony Daniel, coming March 11. Nightwing is clearly the heir apparent for Batman’s toys and tights, but if he doesn’t even believe in himself, how can he convince anyone else to believe in him? Ay, there’s the rub. Denny O’Neil’s writing and dialogue, especially Nightwing’s smartass banter, draw a sharp distinction between the experience and instinct of Batman and the youthful bravado of Dick Grayson. Guillem March’s artwork matches this tone nicely, as well, with Nightwing rendered in all his nubile, yet virile glory.
The action in this issue takes a backseat to the character work, which is wholly appropriate for this build-up. With Batman out of the picture, his protégés (and even his enemies) must now define themselves without him as a point of reference. I am definitely looking forward to seeing this drama play out and am hoping Dick gets his groove back soon.