*Note: if you read both Batman and Nightwing, read Batman first this week*
“This is a story about love. About sacrifice. About betrayal. This is the story… of how the man I will kill tonight is Gotham’s worst betrayer of all” is how this issue opens, in early 1900s Gotham, where we see a young street performer juggles as some of Gotham’s finest citezns, Alan Wayne, Edward Elliot, Theodore Cobblepot and Burton Crowne walk by with their family. Unlike those men, the boy juggling is not a child of Gotham.
The boy’s father was a ironworker who lost his life in the explosion during the construction of the Cameron Kane bridge, and since then he had been performing on the streets in secret to help his mother financially. One night while performing for a group of on lookers, a man pick pockets one of his audience members, but with quick reactions and a baseball to the back of the thief’s head, the boy stops the robbery. Impressed, the man who had his wallet temporarily stolen offers the boy a “change in venues.”
In the present, Nightwing is investigating the double homicide where one of his escrima sticks was found. But something’s odd about this, usually if a “bat” weapon turns up at a crime like this, it’s a media firestorm, but it’s been a week and nothing. The investigation will have to wait as a distress call from Alfred goes across the network of all of Bruce’s allies, warning them of the Court of Owls’ Talons, attacking high priority targets within Gotham. Being close to the Mayor’s office, Dick tells Alfred he’ll go protect Mayor Hady.
At City Hall, Mayor Hady is up in his office, doing the usual sketchy shit trying to prevent Bruce Wayne from rebuilding the slums with some council peons, when the lights are cut. One of the councilmen goes out into the hall, figuring the security forgot they were still there, and finds the bodies of three security guards on the ground. Then, he soon finds his head on the ground, because, oh yeah, a Talon cut it the hell off. The Talon then places his focus on Hady, and tells him the Court of Owls has sentenced him to die, as he peruses the corrupt mayor with a broadsword. In flies motherfucking Dick Grayson, kicking the Talon to the ground, and breaking all the tendons in his knee, figuring it’ll take a little while before the regeneration to kick in… or not, as the Talon gets back up, ready to fight.
Back to the past, the boy leaves his mother to join Haly’s circus so he can help provide for her. The boy became a talented knife thrower, then as the years passed, his fame grew, and he was celebrated as a star when he showed up in Gotham. He had finally become a “child of Gotham.” It was also in Gotham where he met, and fell in love with Amelia Crowne.
Back in the present, Dick fights the Talon in order to buy enough time for the Mayor to leave. The two cross swords, both landing strikes against each other. Dick doesn’t hold back, and ends up completely impaling the Talon through the chest, but it doesn’t do much… So, Dick takes one of his escrima sticks, and literally shoves it through the Talon’s head, through the eye socket, as it would take some serious work for the Talon to regenerate with a stick through his brain. (Note: The Talons are technically already dead, so you know, stick through the brain doesn’t count as killing)
Back in the past, the love story between the boy and Amelia grows, they had dinner, they slept together, and Amelia would watch him preform. Despite how happy they were, the boy recollects that this was the beginning of the ends.
The narration continues into the present, as Dick carries the Talon’s lifeless body out. The boy says that in the months following his relationship with Amelia, when everything was stripped away, he felt like it was the ultimate betrayal. But now he see’s a bigger betrayal, which makes everything he sacrificed worthless. Dick feels a sharp pain, and falls to his knees, finding multiple throwing knives in his chest. The betrayal the boy sees is Dick Grayson, his descendent. William Cobb has some how regenerated and escaped from the Batcave, and now plans to kill his great-grandson.
This issue was fucking awesome. Hands down, and I mean, with out a fucking doubt, the best issue of the series so far. I did not see the twist coming with William, as I thought the story we were getting about the boy was the Talon we saw Dick fight. Then I went back and thought, “oh shit, it makes so much sense!” The Gates of Gotham callbacks were awesome, as I really did enjoy that series so it was cool to see it revisited. You know what’s even better? It’s not just Dick who likes red-heads, it’s in his blood! Hilarious. The action in this issue was top notch. Dick really fucks up the Talon, which was completely surprising to me, but since the Talon’s are just really high functioning zombies, it works. Finally, the art was fantastic as well. It was Eddy Barrows, and Eddy Barrows only, and the time off shows, as this was also easily the best issue he’s drawn on the series.
That’s all I got. So far the Night of the Owls is off to a strong start.