Remember way back in the early issues of Nightwing, where Jimmy the Clown made a wise crack about being a clown in Gotham? Well, that wise crack comes back to haunt him, as he soon finds himself starting to crack up laughing in an alley while suffering immense, tearful pain, all the while a figure in the shadows who supposedly looks like Jimmy just can't see the resembles... that is until Jimmy dies with the signature clown look, and Joker steps out from the shadows finally seeing the resemblance.
Elsewhere, Dick Grayson is out in Gotham with Barbara Gordon when he get the call. Panicked, Dick rushes down to Amusement Mile to find a crowd around Jimmy's dead body stung up above the gate, with a sign that reads "Nobody likes a knockoff."
Dick addresses the circus members, and Sonia Zucco who has shown up, seeing that she's heavily invested in the circus. Dick tells them to get out of town, immediately, but a young acrobat brings up the question, "what about Raya?" who had previously been broken out of Black Gate by Mr. J himself.
Speaking of Raya, she wakes up in an abandoned hanger, asking where she is. Joker tells her to quite down, as he holds some clothes for her, saying she'll ruin the joke.
Early in the morning, 5 o'clock shadow and all, Dick sneaks into the morgue to get a sample of Jimmy's blood. While doing so, Sonia gives him a call, having not left Gotham, despite Dick's demands, informing him there's paperwork he needs to sign to halt construction. Despite Dick still believing Sonia should leave town, he agrees to meet her, and also finds a nonessential part of Joker's toxin in Jimmy's blood, jet fuel.
Dick takes his sweet time getting to Sonia's, doubling back to make sure no one funny follows him. Inside, Dick signs all the paperwork while Sonia tries to comfort him, due to recent events. The two share a... let's say conflicted intimate moment, that's broken up by Dick getting a notification on his phone about the chemical analysis on the jet fuel.
Dick tracks the fuel back to an abandoned hanger, and soon after he enters, is attacked by a smiling figure in the dark, with two blades. His attacker is way too agile to be Joker, and sure enough, Dick soon finds out that it is Raya attacking him, infected with Joker toxin, blades taped to her hands, and in a makeshift Nightwing costume.
Joker appears, seeking compliments on his handiwork from "Bat-Lite" and leaves the two of them to play. Raya continues to attack Dick, who refuses to strike back. Raya gets a few good swipes in, but before she can do anymore damage, the toxin begins to wear off, and Raya gives off a terrible laugh, that is more a scream.
Dick rushes to Raya's side, trying to keep her with him, and injecting her with an antidote. As Raya begins to come to, she reaches up, touching Dick's cheek, and apologizes for everything, then begins to slip away. Dick attempts to revive her with cpr, but after ten minutes, he realizes it's too late, she's dead.
Before Dick has a chance to grieve, he notices something through a hole in Raya's costume. Tearing it at the stomach, he finds quite literally an invitation to a surprise party being held at the circus. Knowing Joker's next target, Dick rushes back to Amusement Mile.
Remember how Nightwing's "Night of the Owls" tie ins were the best of the lot? Well, Kyle Higgins and Eddy Barrows did it again, coming back in a vengeance. After the last two issues of the series, this one is practically a godsend. Joker was barely physically present in this issue, but he's already hit Dick the hardest so far, by actually straight up killing people. The issue is named "Cleaning House" for a reason. You can't help but feel terrible for Dick, everything he worked for in the series has seemingly gone up in flames, all thanks to the Joker. Have I mentioned the art? No... well damn. Eddy Barrow's best issue to date. He may have left the title already, but man he's going out on a high note. The two instances where we see people infected by Joker toxin is the definition of how you draw that effect. He nailed the juxtaposition of the huge smile, with looks of pure pain and agony. The tears coming from Jimmy's eyes was a fantastic touch. Gah... this issue was so good.
Nothing. I have a general gripe with colorists not giving Joker the same mismatched eye color that FCO gives him in Batman, but that's not a problem unique to Nightwing, I've just failed to mention it before.
The Bottom Line:
Like I said above, this is by far the best tie in series of the bunch, already. Even if you don't like cross overs and don't buy all the tie in books like I do (I'd be buying the books anyways, let's be honest) this is a book that you owe it to yourself to pick up, because it's a flat out great "Joker fucks up someones life" story.