This review contains minor spoilers.
Does the world need a Nightwing miniseries? That’s like asking if a second scoop of vanilla ice cream is necessary. The answer, of course, is a resounding yes. It also doesn’t hurt that Nightwing: The New Order brings together the creative team of Kyle Higgins, who rejuvenated Dick Grayson during the New 52 era, and artist Trevor McCarthy, who provided killer artwork for the series in the early 2000s. It’s an all-star affair that looks set to produce a kickass storyline.
This Elseworlds tale takes place in an authoritarian Gotham City in 2040 where superpowers have been eliminated and outlawed. No longer Nightwing, Dick is the man responsible for it all and has now become the leader of a government task force called the Crusaders. His team hunts down the remaining metahumans to keep the world “safe,” ensuring that the former Boy Wonder is the least-favorite person of any superpower-enhanced individual.
In his personal life, Dick enjoys the fruits of Bruce Wayne’s fortune as the fabled Dark Knight appears to have passed on as well. Alfred is still alive, though, and gets on fairly well with Dick, even if he doesn’t agree with his methods. The biggest surprise, however, is that Dick has a son, Jake. The identity of his mother hasn’t been disclosed yet, but judging by the hints and the reveal on the last page, she’s a metahuman as well. While the obvious answer is Starfire, something tells me that it might be Supergirl here.
Higgins uses this first issue to set the stage and timeline effectively. While he could’ve fallen into the trap of over-utilizing flashbacks to explain what’s transpired, he does a terrific job of weaving in the answers into clever conversations between the characters. Having Jake as the main narrator proves to be a shrewd move as well, since we get the view of someone who’s close to Dick but still has the ability to see things from a different perspective.
Considering the series will only consist of six issues, Higgins held back on pulling the trigger here, which is actually a good thing. The narrative feels organic and not like it needs to be rushed out because of the limited time and space. While most of us (me included) like the fast-paced, in-your-face opening issues, this one does things a little differently and it performs just as well.
On the art front, McCarthy surprises me. Since this is a world set in 2040, you’d think that it would be futuristic and like something out of Batman Beyond, but nope, it looks like any modern city of today. Then, it hits me. The design and aesthetic serve as a metaphor of how humanity’s ignorance (especially in this story) will prevent us from further advancement. We will stagnate and stay the same – if not move backwards – if our thinking doesn’t change. It’s a subtle touch but clever.
Overall, Nightwing: The New Order #1 doesn’t disappoint. In fact, it strengthens the argument that Dick might be one of the strongest characters in DC Comics. If he can take down the entire Justice League and all their rogues, who can actually stop him? And no, he isn’t a Nazi.