NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 by Kyle Higgins and Trevor McCarthy
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
While the story suffered from some slow moments, Nightwing's futuristic journey to end all superhumans is filled with interesting moral discussion, brilliant characterization, and fast paced action.
87 %
Nightwing Gets Serious
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In a world where superhumans exist, can the average human being ever be truly safe? Even the best and brightest in the superhero community have caused their fair share of collateral damage. Consequently, it would seem that for every success, for every bank robber captured, superhumans seem to always cause twice as many problems. Most would argue that this failure humanizes the hero. It shows that they can make mistakes and rise from their ashes a better person. Yet as Kyle Higgins and Trevor McCarthy explore in NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1, these failures are warning signs.

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In the futuristic society presented in NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1, superhumanity is a punishable offense. A private, Batman-inspired police force called the Crusaders has instituted a series of regulations to keep the world safe from metahumans. Any citizen displaying superpowers is captured and injected with a neutralizing agent that temporarily rids them of their abilities. Heading this group is former superhero Dick Grayson and, in his eyes, the world has become a brighter place. Dive into NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 for more answers. Some spoilers ahead!

The Big Boom

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1
NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 begins in the year 2028. Metropolis is a dead zone filled with ruined buildings. In the center of it all is Nightwing. He carries a strange device, one that has stripped the city’s superheroes of their powers. Superman lies skewered on the Daily Planet’s masonry, and Hawkman lies unconscious at his feet. When Superman asks Nightwing why he betrayed them, Nightwing says six simple words: “I had to save the world.”

Fast-forward twelve years and Dick Grayson lives in a crime-free Gotham City. A single dad, Dick leads the Crusaders to confront illegal superhumans. When the issue opens, Dick captures and injects Arthur Light with a neutralizing agent. Later that night, Alfred Pennyworth pays a visit to Dick’s apartment for dinner. Dick reveals that he feels no guilt for his actions twelve years earlier. He did it to make his son’s world safer. This mentality, though, is about to be tested as a new case assembles the Crusaders. A case that can potentially tear Dick Grayson’s family apart.

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I didn’t know what to expect opening NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1. I assumed that the “New Order” bit of the title had to do with Nightwing’s current role in TITANS. As of last month, he was revealed as a mole for H.I.V.E. Yet, NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 is a completely separate storyline. It isn’t even wholly clear if this story is strictly canon, or if it’s just an Elseworlds story. A futuristic, semi-science fiction police narrative was not on my list of possibilities.

Leaping Forward

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1
NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 page 9. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Nightwing is my favorite superhero. He carries this purely likable spark, one that set him apart from his mentor At his core, Dick Grayson is probably the most “human” and relatable character in the DCU. Even among the scores of powerless DC superheroes, Dick isn’t a super-genius. He isn’t the strongest or the fastest, but at the end of the day, he stands on his own two feet and catches the bad guy. No matter how many times he falls, Dick Grayson stands back up and laughs it all off.

Seeing this cheerful hero heading an anti-superhuman movement was jarring. With obvious ties to current political and racial tensions, this story makes sense, but not as a Nightwing story. Yet, Kyle Higgins sold me on the idea. Despite the serious tone, Dick Grayson is still his same old self. Sure, he’s a dad now, and he’s officially recognized by the US Government, but he still has that lighthearted nature that has defined him for years.

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Underneath that lightheartedness is an essential seriousness. Higgins opens the story with Dick’s attack on the Super-Community, but he shifts it almost immediately into the familiar. Grayson leaps between rooftops, chasing Doctor Light and shouting quips at the villain. However, it’s only when he catches the former villain that the darkness becomes apparent. Light fears Dick Grayson, fears the inhibitor drug. He doesn’t get a fair trial. By existing, he is guilty. Normally, such a drastic change in a character’s persona would be a warning to ready your pitchforks, but I never felt wronged by Nightwing’s portrayal.

A Family Tale

Nightwing: The New Order #1
NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 page 15. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

While reading NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1, this moral shift may turn you off. Nightwing turns to profiling and discrimination, putting innocents in the line of fire. However, he isn’t the protagonist. His son, Jake, narrates the entire issue. Dick Grayson is the antagonist. This bridges the uncertainty that this story inspires. Higgins masterfully characterizes these two, and by doing so, the events feel personal. Dick and Jake only have each other. NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 is about family, and we fully experience both sides of the argument through these two characters.

As Jake Grayson narrates, we learn about his uncertainty. We see a conflict between Jake’s parental trust and the injustices he sees. More importantly, Dick Grayson gets to share his views. Every villain is a hero in their own mind, and Higgins details Dick’s reasoning. Most writers would warn against dinner scenes for the lack of action. However, when Dick and Alfred debate, that kitchen boils over with tension. Alfred sees the good superheroes have done, while Dick only sees the damage they cause. With that said, though, Higgins has a lot to do to invest me in this moral shift.

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The plot of NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 feels deep and cohesive, bouncing between settings and scenes with care. None of the important moments felt rushed. The Doctor Light chase was brilliantly executed, and the dialogue fit without falling into cliche. In fact, the only fault that I found was that it was very expositional. This was a world-building issue, with little action, meaning that it felt slow at points. While Higgins’ writing is strong throughout, I did feel some information overload.

Final Thoughts: NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1

I almost feel like I’m betraying my favorite superhero by saying that NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 was an excellent first issue. While it was slow-paced, the attention to the world-building and the characterization kept me interested throughout. Also, the plot clipped along at a good pace, and Trevor McCarthy’s frenetic and heavily inked line work gives this story beautifully textured visuals. So, at its heart, NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 is a story about a family struggling with new developments and that human link eases the reader into Higgins’ world.

NIGHTWING: THE NEW ORDER #1 isn’t a perfect comic book. Yet, its stark view on discrimination and the future of law enforcement gives it intrinsic worth. Dick Grayson might not be the man we all know and love, but Higgins and McCarthy make me want to understand how he could have fallen so far.

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