Nightwing: The New Order #1 Review

Posted August 23, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Comic Books

Written by: Kyle Higgins

Art by: Trevor McCarthy & Dean White

Published by: DC Comics

Traditionally, I tend to be skeptical of superheroes-turned-dictators storylines, and the political climate that we find ourselves in has only served to exacerbate that skepticism. Over at Marvel, Secret Empire killed what little interest I had left in the storytelling device. Clearly the big two were not going to be the place for hard hitting social commentary, and attempts at trying would be mediocre at best.

Nightwing: The New Order chooses to ignore attempts at commentary almost entirely, instead angling itself as a more personal narrative. That choice is a double-edged sword: it avoids a poor attempt at such commentary that would ultimately do it a disservice, yet it lessens the overall impact the book has.

For those out of the loop, The New Order follows Dick Grayson at the head of… well, you guessed it, a new world order. The society Dick has manufactured is one devoid of superhumans. As the propaganda-inspired poster suggests, the keepers of the peace in this world take more after Nightwing and Batman than they do Superman. Very little time is spent explaining the world. Aside from a brief prelude, the reader is left largely in the dark concerning the events that allowed Dick to implement his vision.

The New Order is ultimately better for it. Minimizing the exposition allows Higgins to dive straight into the heart of the book–Dick’s interpersonal relationships, specifically the one he shares with his son Jack. I was a bit taken aback at just how much the Dick we see in this book feels like the Dick in the current status quo. He may be over a decade older, but he’s still the light-hearted character that audiences have latched onto.

His charisma seems to be enough to convince nearly everyone that surrounds him that he is in the right. Of course, there are exceptions, most notably Alfred, who makes his position known almost as soon as he is introduced. Alfred’s conversation with Dick over the dinner table is one the few times Higgins shows any form of dissent to Dick’s vision.

The other comes from Dick’s own son, who narrates the issue. We meet Jack at a key point in his life, just as he is beginning to come of age. As his mind expands, he begins to question his father’s actions. The two don’t quite clash, but both struggle to come to terms with the stance of the other. The emotional conflict–especially considering this issue’s cliffhanger–is engaging. More importantly, Higgins writes it in such a way that it feels incredibly genuine.

The dialogue and narration don’t quite create that on their own, however. Trevor McCarthy’s art adds a level of believability to the characters that writing on its own could not accomplish. Stylistically, McCarthy doesn’t break from what we’ve come to consider DC’s house style. At times, the inks are a little rougher, and the tone of the book demands art that is a little harsher than your run-of-the-mill DC comic. Regardless, McCarthy’s visual storytelling is excellent and fully in sync with Higgins.

Further, McCarthy’s vision of Gotham city is breathtaking. We’re only afforded brief glimpses of it, but it calls back to the Gotham of the Animated Series and Batman Beyond. The skyscrapers are overbearing, and the streets are claustrophobic. It’s here that McCarthy truly gets to draw something visually distinct, pushing his art from “effective” to “excellent.”

Dean White’s colors and Clayton Cowles’ letters tie The New Order together into an excellent package. White brings a muted color pallet to the book, setting and complementing the tonal work from Higgins and McCarthy. Considering how dense Higgins’ dialogue is, Cowles was undoubtedly faced with quite the challenge putting it all together. He does so in a way that prevents the dialogue and monologue from intruding on the art, a feat that some writers and letterers are incapable of.

Nightwing: The New Order succeeds because it breaks from convention. The pace is methodical, and the dialogue is incredibly effective. I look forward to seeing the direction this book takes going forward, especially after a start as strong as this one.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.