By Kyle Higgins, Trevor McCarthy, and Dean White
Writer Kyle Higgins returns to a character he is very passionate about. He had one of the best runs of the titular character during the New 52 era, so it was wonderful news to see him return to DC with a new Dick Grayson story to tell. Ironically enough, though, New Order takes place outside of DC continuity, similar to an “Elseworlds” title. In this world, Nightwing led a charge against all metahumans, including the superpowered heroes he fought alongside countless times. After that event, in regular dystopian society fashion, all people with abilities were required to take inhibitors to suppress them. Now, as commander of the law enforcement in Gotham City, Grayson faces complications that call into question all he as done in the name of the betterment of society…
On the surface, this book may seem like a dystopian future tale that even uses the clichés associated with the sub-genre, but Higgins and the art team, consisting of Trevor McCarthy and Dean White, do everything they can to fully realize this vision of a world with repressed metas. Higgins’ writing may seem dense and takes up quite a bit of real estate on the page at times, but it’s nowhere near as bad as some other contemporary comic book writers. The positive side of that is that it has a rhythm and flow to it and doesn’t seem superfluous. Each character has a clear, distinct voice, especially his Nightwing. This is, at its core, a personal story about family and the “greater good” (yes, a Hot Fuzz reference felt appropriate) and this creative team never loses sight of that. There is more time devoted to Dick Grayson sitting to dinner with his family and his work family than there are action sequences. This may detract some readers who desire more fights or chases in their comics, but the dialogue-focused scenes have a lot to offer verbally and visually.
There isn’t a moment where one would think that this comic was done half-cocked or without passion/vision. Trevor McCarthy has a sleek style to his artwork that is complemented well by Dean White’s palette. Their collaboration gives the material a sense of noir dread in Gotham, but with a modern feel, which suits the setting perfectly. It is also distinctly different from Batman Beyond’s futuristic Gotham, which is a pleasant surprise. Something important of note is the fact that McCarthy makes sure that the characters have individual body forms. He makes each one unique and the result greatly helps with keeping track of all the new characters and giving them their own sense of worth within the story. The detail in each panel is impressive and paints this Gotham as a real, lived-in location. It’s easy for the audience to fall into the story. Pay close attention to the color schemes used for the command center in Gotham and those in Wayne Manor, where Grayson lives now. White’s use of extreme contrast and shading gives proper dimension and complexity to a narrative that hinges on questioning what is the right and safest path.
Overall, Nightwing: The New Order is a solid comic, albeit with familiar elements. The creative team does their best to frame these elements in a new light that serves the purpose of telling a different kind of hero’s journey. Nightwing fans should absolutely pick this up, as well as readers wanting something a little different, heavier than what they typically read.