Nightwing: The Great Leap – Peter J. Tomasi

From the Publisher:
“Stepping out of Batman’s shadow, the original Boy Wonder now breaks the circle of crime and corruption on the mean streets of New York City as Nightwing. When the Dark Knight’s adversary Two-Face steps in to take a bite out of the Big Apple, it’s up to Nightwing to pluck the city from the crazed madman’s grasp. NYC’s only hope may lie in the hands of an old flame from Two-Face’s past–but Nightwing better hurry before an assassin’s bullet cuts her down.”

In Peter Tomasi’s hands, Nightwing – formerly Batman’s original Robin – is this vulnerable, resolute, deeply human character whose circus/trapeze background gives him a contrarily graceful edge, whether he’s slipping unknown into the lion’s den or taking on a dozen bad guys with stolen FBI badges. But he is, after all, human, and not impervious to pain, which leads to a serious injury and the reader seeing scars scored into his skin, proof that the battles he has waged while fighting the good fight have taken their toll. The panel art in the first segment of the story is particularly compelling, and the scene mentioned in the previous sentence is heartrendingly effective. As the pages turn, you come to care more and more about Dick Grayson/Nightwing, leading up to an emotional scene that finds the superhero juxtaposing his and Bruce Wayne’s pasts, specifically how they both lost their families and how that single event changed them, which seals the deal. If you weren’t a fan of Nightwing before, you will be after experiencing that moment with him.

Aside from the title character himself, there is a great deal more to like and enjoy about The Great Leap. Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, for instance; his manic, chillingly psychotic personality switches lent the story true menace, and his previous interactions with Dick, back when he was still Robin, amplified the tension as events progressed. Also, there was Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s valet and the man responsible for raising him after his family was murdered. Dick and Tim Drake’s (the current Robin) relationship with Alfred is beautifully depicted in this story; it is exquisitely clear how deeply these men care for each other. And finally, there were cameo appearances from several of Batman’s most tenacious enemies (as well as members of the Justice League of America), which provided a few interesting moments.

The art was quite good – though not nearly as striking as that fantastic, eye-catching cover – and, for having been done by several different pencillers, fairly consistent throughout. Don Kramer’s work in the book is perhaps my favorite.

If you have yet to meet Nightwing, The Great Leap makes for a great introduction, though it does not dig deeply into his past, and you’ll likely want to seek out other, older titles to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind, too, that Nightwing is one of the superheroes that DC is rebooting with their New 52 series, releasing Nightwing, Volume 1: Traps and Trapezes in October.

Check the catalog for Nightwing: The Great Leap

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