Sunday, June 3, 2012

Comic Review -- Nightwing #9: The Gray Son / Kyle Higgins, Eddie Barrows, and Andres Guinaldo

Great cover on this issue.  Nightwing and Cobb the Talon are locked in a vicious, intensely personal duel, and the intensity comes through nicely.  It really sets up the premise of the issue, and the artwork, colors, and setting really make it pop.  Very good work.

Nightwing, who is now bleeding like a stuck pig, instructs the mayor to hide himself in a panic room before starting a duel with another Talon, his great grandfather.  As their fight spills out into the streets of Gotham, we alternate between Cobb taunting his descendant and seeing glimpses of both Cobb's past life and the way he had primed the Grayson family line--the "Gray son"s of Gotham, as he'd called them--for service to the Court of Owls as Talons.  Hearing all of this, Nightwing, who has lured Cobb into the subway, bursts the lines containing liquid nitrogen, putting Cobb on ice and rendering him ineffective.  He takes Cobb into custody, stating that he doesn't believe destinies exist, signifying his right to make his own choices about his life.

Another compelling part of the Night of the Owls saga, this story nonetheless had me asking about the sudden onset of snow, which I couldn't remember seeing in any of the other related issues.  Then I remembered that Victor Fries was attacked by the Talons in Red Hood and the Outlaws #9--also a Night of the Owls story--and that the mayor's office could be located relatively nearby, as Fries--or Mr. Freeze, as some may better know him--can be rather... well, cold when dealing with unwanted guests.  So, question raised and quickly answered there.

It was a little creepy to me that Cobb had seen Nightwing and Batman in the cave earlier, and then recounted the episode to Dick during their fight/discussion, but I suppose the Court of Owls in general has been a rather creepy idea.  Cobb's obsessive succession planning for the Talons was also a little unsettling, particularly when you consider that Dick likely would have become a Talon if not for the tragedy at the circus that took his family from him and eventually led him to become the first Robin, then Nightwing.  I also felt like Cobb was Darth Vader to Dick's Luke Skywalker, alternatively taunting him about what a disappointment he was and then trying to persuade him to join him as a Talon.

I did enjoy all of it though, from the creepiness of Cobb's obsession to their wide-ranging and vicious fight to Dick's resourcefulness and outsmarting of his dear ol' great granddaddy.  It all flowed very nicely, and even the flashbacks interspersed throughout the narrative didn't feel like too much of a disruption to the present-day action.  It was well-handled, with enough character development to give Cobb a personality, balanced with the action and dynamics of Nightwing's fight with him.

Artistically, I continue to enjoy Eddy Barrows's pencils.  He really likes to make Nightwing bleed, and the scenes of a bloody, struggling Nightwing are actually among some of the most beautiful illustrations in this issue.  I also have to give props to Barrows and Guinaldo on their action scenes and the detail on the faces of the people they draw.  It all strikes a fine balance between realistic and cartoony that really works for this story.  Excellent work.

Overall, this was an enjoyable installment of the Night of the Owls saga.  The story moves along nicely, the action and drama are taut, and the artwork is wonderful.  Definitely a must-read for Nightwing fans, and anyone wanting more Night of the Owls.  Highly recommended.

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