COMIC REVIEWS: Nightwing #1, Red Hood & the Outlaws #1
Bought RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS and NIGHTWING, this week.
NIGHTWING was a lot of fun. All you HAVE to know, going in, are the things everybody knows about Dick Grayson: A young acrobat’s parents were killed in a circus “accident,” he was adopted by Bruce Wayne, became Robin, went off to do his own thing as Nightwing, substituted as Batman for a year, and now he’s back being Nightwing.
The circus Dick used to work for is back in Gotham, for the first time since his parents passed away. Grayson decides to stop in and say hi to all his old friends. I really liked this idea, as I’ve never really gotten a good look at Nightwing’s life before he was Robin, other than the occasional quick flashback.
Meanwhile, some guy arrives in Gotham, totally out to kill Dick Grayson. Whaaaaaat?
After he visits with the carnies (including a smoking-hot, redheaded trapeze artist… I suspect we’ll be seeing more of her, later. Dick + redheaded ladies = ratings), some crazy ninja robot assassin guy attacks Grayson. The cops show up, giving Dick the distraction he needs to duck into an alley and put on the tights, to go out and fight the assassin guy. WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?
The issue sort of presumes we’re at least tenuously familiar with Nightwing’s high concept (though still refreshes us on the high points without getting too exposition-y), so it spends time refreshing us of the important parts of his history, as well as building up both the first villain, and quickly introducing us to some supporting cast, at least for the first story. Without realizing it going in, this is exactly what I wanted out of a NIGHTWING #1. The story takes place in Gotham, so there’s plenty of room for other Gotham citizens to appear in the future, but this isn’t another Batman book, despite the titular hero’s ties to the Bat-family. It’s a Nightwing book, so if you don’t care about Batman, you’re in the clear.
On top of that, Eddy Barrows’ artwork is sharp and clean. It’s a very modern-looking comic, with details in the places that need them, and a lot of moody blacks. It’s clear the story takes place in the dark, gritty Gotham City, but it’s a more light-hearted take on the burg.
I dug it. I’m sticking with this one for the long haul. Of the New 52 books I’ve read, this one is my favorite.
As for RED HOOD & THE OUTLAWS… hoo-boy.
This was one of the New 52 titles I was looking forward to most, as I dig Kenneth Rockafort’s artwork quite a bit, and Scott Lobdell wrote UNCANNY X-MEN during the point when I think that book was at its most interesting (the mid-1990s). Now that I think about it, when I started reading GEN 13 with issue #45, it was Lobdell handling those writing chores, as well. Obviously, the creative team had me pulled in.
How about the characters? Well, I haven’t read TOO much with Jason Todd as the Red Hood, but the half-dozen issues or so where I’ve seen him appear were pretty rad, and that UNDER THE RED HOOD movie was fantastic. I haven’t read anything with Roy Harper/Speedy/Arsenal/Red Arrow/whatever he’s going by now, since he decided to be a dickhole, so I’ll give that a shot. And Starfire… makes for some amazing visuals. I’m most familiar with her as the girl who just moved to town and is trying to fit in in the TEEN TITANS animated series, and as the confident and unashamed-of-her-body warrior in Geoff Johns’ run on TEEN TITANS from the early 2000s. But, given that she has 30 years of comic history, and I grew up as a Marvel Zombie, there’s plenty of Starfire that I’ve missed, so she’s basically an unknown commodity to me.
So, a good creative team, and characters I’m notionally familiar with and am interested in learning more about. Sounds like it should be a good match, right?
We start with Red Hood breaking Roy Harper out of jail, and they have a shoot-out with the prison guards. Meanwhile, we get thought boxes from the two characters thinking the other one is kinda nuts, but probably better to have on your side than against you. Alright, we’ve got kind of a buddy cop movie thing going on here. That’s cool. The duo get in a Jeep, and are about to run into a couple of tanks when the artillery explodes, courtesy of Starfire. Roy asks, “Is she with you?” to which Jason Todd answers, yes. And “yes.”
Oh, alright. So Starfire bounced from not marrying Robin #1 to being “with” Robin #2. That’s a little weird, but I can run with it. New Universe, new rules. Sure.
And then a very awkward scene where Starfire is posing all sexy… for nobody. And we learn that she can’t really tell humans apart (we all look the same to her), but they’re good for a little bit of dirty fun. Todd meanders off to talk to his invisible friend, who tells him that someone from the past is messing things up, and he’s the only one who can save the day. Fair enough, a Mission Impossible-kinda scenario. Alright, cool. And Starfire just flat-out asks Roy if he wants to do the nasty.
To his credit, Harper DOES make sure that Star’s not Jason’s girlfriend. But as soon as Starfire says no, he’s ready to rock, as it were.
MEANWHILE, SOME MYSTERY GUY FINDS OUT TAMARANIANS (Starfire’s alien race) ARE NOW ON EARTH! WHAT DOES THIS MEAN!?!
And Red Hood is assaulted by people that are either strange cultists or zombies. Or maybe some third thing that’ll be explained next issue.
So… that’s kind of a lot to take in. It’s not quite what I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think considering the three characters involved, I was expecting something a bit deeper and more internal. But, instead, what I got was a big-budget, flashy, summer popcorn flick that idolizes badass dudes with sweet guns, and objectifies sweet chicks with badass, erm, guns.
I’m curious enough to follow up with issue 2, and, actually, probably the first story arc. Though, I’m not sure if I’ll be in it for the long haul. Depends on how the next few issues go.
However, I can definitely see other people really enjoying this comic. If you haven’t read it, I say give it a shot.