Yes, my first review, on one of my favorite characters as well.
Nightwing #13 reintroduces one of the major femme fatales and deadliest assassins in the DC Universe: Lady Shiva. Shiva did appear in Nightwing #0 last month at the end, and that is referenced here as well. I have to admit that I know Lady Shiva best for two things: being one of the potential mothers of Jason Todd, and being the sadistic trainer for Bruce Wayne when he wanted to retake being Batman from Jean Paul Valley during the Knightfall Saga. Yes, I know she’s also Cassandra Cain’s mother, but for this issue, this isn’t that important.
With Joker back, you’d think the criminal element in Gotham would be looting in the streets as the populace panics. Nope, because the apparent arrival of Lady Shiva has sent them into hiding. This isn’t Nightwing’s first rumble with Shiva; as we learned last month, he fought her in his first night as Robin and nearly cut his crime-fighting career very short. With the criminal element wanting to save their own hides, Nightwing has to do something pretty hard: protect Shiva from being killed.
Tom Defalco, the guest writer for this issue, writes at a blistering pace and has already given me one of my favorite lines at the start of the second year of The New 52: Penguin calling Nightwing “Batman-Lite”. This shows that while Dick has stepped out of the shadow of the Bat and become a true hero in his own right, there are those who severely underestimate him. However, the best written moment is Nightwing’s interaction with Batgirl, who is dealing with Joker’s return pretty badly. When Nightwing attempts to calm her down, it backfires horribly, leading her to yell at him for “already moving onto another case” and “I need someone I can count on. Someone who won’t flake on me when the going gets rough.” This reminded me of a similar scene in Batgirl #3 where a similar moment occurred. I’m seeing rough waters ahead for Dick in the female department; he’s in love with two women, one hates his guts and the other’s father was the man who killed his folks.
The art by guest artist Andres Guinaldo helps capture Nightwing’s acrobatic movements with action and speed. One of my favorite scenes is Nightwing going into his loft and utilizing his new security system: a series of laser tripwires that he has to flip and tumble through. Every movement done by Nightwing in this issue is filled with energy, even in the flashbacks to his time as Robin and as a Flying Grayson. The concluding fight sequence, a mega shootout at the docks, is filled with electricity, literally and figuratively, as Nightwing plows through several thugs trying to make a name for themselves. As for the end, the plot and art are literally hair raising in many ways.
However, I do feel the bit of plot where Dick is dealing with Sonia Branch and her flirtatious assistant slows the story down and could have been replaced with more action or more conversation between Nightwing and Batgirl to see how rocky their relationship, both as friends and ex-lovers, has become due to time and the Joker’s return. And if not that, a little bit more of Shiva and her plans would have gone a long way.
Let’s see how the action heats up next month as Nightwing is dragged into fighting Shiva and the Joker’s return
Nightwing #13 – Written by Tom DeFalco, Pencils by Andres Guinaldo, Inks by Mark Irwin and Raul Fernandez