Dixon (w), Land (p), Geraci (i)
reviewed by JYD
I don't know about the rest of you but this new art team gives me chills. I don't know who's idea it was to take a penciler who clearly excells in drawing babes (see "Birds of Prey" and "NML" #0 for more info) and allow him to address one of the eerier cities in the DCU. The look to NW now that McDaniel has moved onto "Batman" is vastly different--we, as readers, are getting an entirely different take on the stories. But I will say this again--the new art team gives me chills. I felt tense as I was reading the story. I felt like all of the light in the series had been drained, leaving only a murkey layer we are staring through. I think this largely has to do with the heavy inking and the drab color pallete being used. Whereas "Detective Comics" is being treated in a noir sense, NW is moving into the realm of the black & white seriels ala "Twilight Zone." This artwork gives me the creeps.
Check out Blockbuster. McDaniel drew him as this superhuman monster with bulging veins and a brain that was about to explode from his inhuman head. Land changes it around--now, his stare...the man has no eyes. His head is rumbled and alien. This THING that was Blockbuster is something horrible out of Greek myth. Equally scary, but in a different twisted sense, is Tad whose persona "Nite-Wing" has crossed the line Jean Paul Valley was merely toeing. Did you see the delight in his eyes as he tormented those goons? What's more--the image of those goons' legs (ruined, torn up legs)... To think someone could do that to a person... Dick definately has his work cut out from him.
Even the pages that were supposed to be "lighter" and more cheery turn out to be misleading. It's almost as if the entire book has become a facade--up until now we, the readers, were fooled thinking we had us a gangster series full of kinetic energy (due to Scott's pencils). Now, enter Greg Land and the new color scheme. I'm not fooled any longer. This new direction, while addressing the former subplots, is anything but kinetic. The characters are slow moving and deliberate. The shadows are longer. This level of darkness is not CURRENTLY being addressed in any of the other bat-books. Not even "Detective" which, while a DARK book, is treading another path. We're talking psychological studies here. Something akin to the Mr. Zsasz stories and the early stories from "Shadow of the Bat" before it became just another bat title. This is a combination of that fun loving Robin and "Picket Fences"--of weirdness and moving through a looking glass into another realm. Bludhaven has changed. Not for the better. Not for the worse. It has always been like this. But now, through Land's pencils, the glasses are off. We are seeing things as they always were. Maybe we were just distracted by all the action earlier. I don't know what to say.
Onto the story--I don't buy Dick's story (that he was in intensive care for 5 months) and I wonder why the guy in charge did. Why didn't he ask for proof? I know Dick would have had that end covered and maybe he supplied the neccessary info, but if I was presented with that very...strange...story doubt would have been #1 on my list of reactions. But moving on. This issue was clearly intended to be a "hop-on" issue, where new readers would have an opportunity to board the train before things got rolling again. It was far more successful than the "Azrael" issue but I believe that any new reader would have a hard time coming on board cold turkey. The sub-plots are too complex. Dixon should have borrowed a page from "Starman" #29 and done a 4 page written prologue. Maybe even gotten us older readers reattached after NML.
This review is getting long so I'll finish this up in three sentences. My friend Trickster doesn't like Dixon's writing. I think he and anyone else who doesn't read NW should give him a chance b/c, as I explain to him, this is different than anything else Dixon writes, even "Robin." To conclude, NW has become an ever twisted and more troubled sister to "Batman"--for the first time in recent memory, Batman's squire is the darker knight than his mentor.
The JYD's grade: A-